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Breaking Waves: Yama on Human Error//, War Dubs, Pantheon & More. [interview]

“Wave encapsulates the whole range of the human experience, from love to grief. There is something that your heart can relate with somewhere in this scene.”

– Yama on “what does Wave Mean To you?”

If there was an award for ‘busiest wave producer’, it might have to go to Yama this year. In the past few weeks alone, the dude has released two singles, hosted a podcast, and has been promoting the hell out of North America’s first-ever wave festival, Pantheon. Before that, Yama was spearheading the coordination of said festival, as well as the annual ‘war dubs season’ that we all know and love.

If you’re unfamiliar with Yama, you’re in luck. I connected with the artist a little while ago and was able to ask him some questions about all the different roles he takes on in the scene, as well as about this massive event he has been preparing for us all.

So take a listen to his new tunes–“Crush” and “MIZU” (personally, I prefer the former)–and let’s dive in.

Meet Yama:

Photo of wave producer, Yama.

Artist Bio:

“Influenced by the sounds of Memphis horror core and hard wave acts Yama balances smooth melodic soundscapes with dark and heavy beats. Originally bred in a death metal environment on bands like Slayer, Death, and Cannibal Corpse Yama found his way to electronic music through Digital Mystikz “Haunted” and The Prodigy’s “Firestarter”. Yama draws heavy influence from the likes of Burial, DJ Screw, and Akira Yamaoka to create dark, emotive soundscapes ranging from airy ambient wave to chopped and aggressive trap beats. In 2018 Yama launched the independent label/monthly music event Human Error// to push the underdogs in the darker side of underground electronic music.”

biography sourced from the artist’s Resident Advisor profile.

What’s Pantheon?

While we are going to cover this topic a bit deeper in a future article with a subsequent interview, a brief introduction for you is that Pantheon is North America’s first-ever wave festival. It will take place over three days, from December 1-3 ,in Seattle, WA. It is the brainchild of Yama (of Human Error//), RamonPang (of Soul Food Music Collective), and Djedi (of, and features over two dozen influential wave producers from all over the world.

You can get your tickets to the main festival here.

The festival starts off with a “day zero” pre-party on December 1st, featuring huge names like Static Angel, SBU, and MRKRYL.

Tickets for the first day of the festival can be found here.

An Introductory Chat With Yama:

AM: First off — would you please introduce yourself to our readers, and give us a little primer on Human Error//?

Yama: My name is Yama and I’m a producer, DJ, label head, and event runner from Seattle WA.

My primary focus is on the Wave sound, but through my label, Human Error//, we showcase artists of all kinds who I feel are getting slept on.

Human Error// itself started as a small internet collective to just try and find crazy talented producers who were typically under 1k follows and provide a platform to give them a leg up. Over the years it’s evolved more so in the live events space as a major hub for wave music events in the US.

AM: So how did you find your way to the wave scene?

Yama: Back in high school, I was listening to artists like Shlohmo, Brothel, Eastghost, etc., that all had wavey vibes, but this was before the name itself had stuck. I was a big fan of early Yung Lean, and A$AP Rocky’s stuff and that whole sort of cloud rap community tied in to the birth of wave as well.

To be completely honest, I actually didn’t start producing it for a minute. I never thought I was capable of making anything beautiful, but I fell in love with a girl who liked wave stuff, and I wrote her a song that was my first wave track. From there, I’ve just made my entire life focused on this sound and the community.

AM: What can you tell me about ‘war dubs season’? Witnessing it firsthand this year via Twitter– it’s probably one of my favorite examples of the wave community coming together for something, if I’m honest.

Yama: Wardubs was birthed from the first COVID quarantine lockdown and the combination of boredom and being terminally online that it brought. Right before COVID hit, our scene was on a massive upward curve and everyone was riding that high, only to get smacked back down to earth with events and tours being cancelled all over.

I noticed a trend of my fellow producers sinking into writers’ block and depression. And I felt compelled to do something about it.

I was listening to a bunch of grime and dubstep at the time, and decided to tap into their scene’s  wardubs, thinking that the whole “call out” aspect of things would drive people to hop back into the DAW.

I was 100% right. The funny thing about wave is that its normally perceived as very mellow, emotionally driven music, but these people during wardubs season, who normally write nothing but fuckjams and love songs, were making some absolutely evil, cold blooded, and violent wardubs, while having a blast.

It’s now become an annual event for our community, and I love that it makes people step outside their comfort zone and think outside the box.

Find 2022’s War Dubs On Soundcloud:

AM: This next one might have an obvious answer, but how excited are you for Pantheon? Scale of 1-10?

Yama: 11, easily. This is the largest gathering of the Wave community to happen yet, and the fact that we have damn near every wave producer in the United States pulling up has me excited at the collaborative prospects on the table. Post-Pantheon depression and insane collab releases are going to hit the scene like a train for sure.

AM: Do you find it difficult balancing your work as an artist & your work with Human Error//?

Yama: Yes and no. As Yama, I am Human Error//, and HE// is me, and that’s how the community knows it to be.

I do find a struggle in building up Yama focused-stuff because I tend to put a lot more focus into the HE// stuff. Outside of events, HE// operates as a launchpad for underground artists and I’m constantly trying to scout them, guide them, and help them take the steps they need to level up.

It’s more important to me to cultivate healthy spaces and relationships for growing artists because the nature of the industry can be pretty cold-blooded sometimes. I feel that because of my focus on other artists and the HE// business that Yama kinda lags behind for sure, but I don’t regret it or dwell on it.

At the end of the day, I feel the success I’ve found is satisfactory. I’ve helped launch artists who are absolutely thriving now, I run the most consistent wave events on the planet, and I sit among my heroes in the scene with respect. Everything else that comes is just dessert.

AM: Any future plans you’re most excited about? For yourself, or in terms of HE// events?

Yama: I’m currently working on a lot of stuff that I’m very excited about.

Musically, I have an EP with coming next year, a collaborative EP with my longtime friend Stonemist, and the seeds of an album recently planted. I also have some official remixes for Static Angel, Skeler, and Hyades that will be coming out

Visually I’ve been conceptualizing a Yama live A/V set experience I hope to launch with the album.

Outside of the music stuff I’m currently working with some of the finest graphic designers and videographers in Seattle on some music video stuff and live show elements.

AM: And of course — THE question — what does wave mean to you?

Yama: Wave to me is so much more than a genre tag.

Wave is life. It’s family, it’s a feeling.

Wave encapsulates the whole range of the human experience, from love to grief. There is something that your heart can relate with somewhere in this scene. The people I’ve met through this music are people I’d take a bullet for, people I love with my whole chest. We are all united by the vulnerability that we are able to showcase with a reese bass.

I find it hard to vocalize what wave is to people when I first introduce them because it’s something you have to feel. I love this music and what it’s given me.

Keep in Touch with Yama:

Photo from a live Yama set, as provided by the artist.

Want more wave? Check out our last issue of Breaking Waves.

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