Since 2018, Yeahlena has worked closely with the Berlin-based Ace Tone and Tax Free, helping them to shape unique underground sound system parties that also feature her special D'n'B selections on the decks. Additionally, she has played played out of town in venues like the Golden Pudel Club in Hamburg, Arkaoda in Istanbul and also curates the monthly “Heavy Duty“ radio show for Munich-based Radio80k.
In her home country Yeahlena works with Roots United from St. Petersburg, that regularly invite her for hard hitting sets at their events, bringing her distinct selection of heavy steppers, dub, liquid dancehall, leftfield bass, jungle and D'n'B to the East.
For The EDWIN Music Channel, Yeahlena has produced a mix that melds liquid late '90s tunes from Serbia by artists like Ultraphunk and early UK D'n'B tracks like “Back to Back” by Jazz Juice, “Can't You See” by B.L.I.M., and “Latin Jungle” by Peshay.
As ever we sat down with our host and spoke about her first musical steps, the hard-edged party vibes of her home country and more.
Check the spell below and get ready to step!
Q. Yeahlena, you are relatively new to the vinyl DJ game. When did you start to buy records?
A. Well, back in Russia I did not buy records. At that time, I did not have any idea about djing. I was going out a lot in my teenage years, but I had no idea about genres really or what was going on. I was still only a passionate dancer, and even today, that's mostly what it's about.
I already loved the music that I heard on local radio and it was difficult to buy vinyl in Russia back in the day, so we checked Russian social networks for music instead. At that time, you could find anything, and it is still the same today. I started to buy records in Europe but mostly jazz to begin with.
Q. So that was when you moved from St. Petersburg to Berlin?
A. Yes, after St. Petersburg I then spent three years in the Swiss mountains, but the rose tinted glasses slowly fell, and I needed something very different. Maybe also music attracted me, but I never really liked the music in the Swiss clubs and then suddenly in Berlin it started to be a lot about dancing again, like in my childhood.
Q. Did you hear much D’n’B in Berlin.
A. Almost never. I was already hooked on D'n'B back in Russia as a child. When I drove with my father to figure skating classes, we often listened to a nice radio station. That was the beginning of the 2000s and it was a pirate radio station dedicated to D'n'B and rave music. It was always a two-hour drive everyday with my father.
Back then it was mostly liquid old school UK D'n'B that they played, and - as I remember - other leftfield stuff. Because western music used to enter Russia with some delay somehow. That’s why I could encounter the golden jungle/ D'n'B tunes already when I was eight/nine years old. And I liked it a lot. But one day they announced in the morning that from now on they will only play Russian D'n'B and dropped some very cheesy tunes. My father didn’t like it and played a Thunderdom CD instead.
So, from that moment on I I disliked Russian D'n'B, too. I only remember it, because I missed my liquid trips out of the car window so much, that I had to represent this injustice into a graffiti tag at my English school, that said “Russian D'n'B sucks”. After this I did not listen to D'n'B for a long time. But at one point it happened again, and jungle is now my all-time most favourite music to play. Especially in Russia. Because they really love fast and hard stuff over there. It's very common for Eastern Europe.
Q. Why is that?
A. I was thinking about it. If you look at Russian traditional dance music, it's also very fast. Music from Caucasus is quite fast too, and so on. And they know how to dance and let go. But there are many other reasons for it as well. And I must say that D'n'B and other bass music made in Russia is actually very good, so my school tag is cancelled.
Q. Did you perform your first DJ gig in Russia too?
A. No, my first real DJ gig was in the Berlin at club About Blank. This was in 2018. A friend was doing parties there and asked me to play last minute, because one girl couldn’t make it. So, I had to fill in the one-woman-at-least quote. At the time I just had a small collection and didn't really buy music constantly. I had to open before a b2b of my friend and Skee Mask, so knowing what they like I was courageous enough to play hard, low frequency loaded stuff, mostly on 7inch. I was playing technically very bad, but everyone still loved it somehow, and the bass was heavy. Then accidentally a party at Golden Pudel Club on the date of my birthday came up and I played only jungle and D'n'B. Back then I had no idea how to mix D'n'B at all, but the Golden Pudel club has a beautiful crowd, that knows how to dance and sing along to ragga lyrics. It was very energetic, and I was hooked.
Q. What are some recent gigs you remember vividly?
A. In early autumn I played at the Dub.Raw camp high up in the wild nature of the Caucasus mountains on a huge sound system. Being and playing there with my friends like a dream.
Q. And what are your future plans?