They’ve shared apartments, practically finish each others sentences, and now they tour the world together.
Sisters Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf, along with producer Kris Trindl, burst into the limelight earlier this year, drumming their sound into ears around the globe quickly after releasing their debut EP, Play Hard. Soon after, the record was honored with a batch of remixes from artists like Chuckie, KillaGraham and Dirtyphonics. They’ve got high hopes and big plans for 2013 –including their first full-length album and a track with Benny Benassi — but always seem to make room for their posse of friends and plenty of good times.
We sat down with Krewella before they hit the stage in San Francisco with Borgore and 12th Planet, towards the end of six straight months of touring. And to think — they never planned on playing shows at all.
Jahan: We have a break, but it’s not really a break; we won’t be on the road, but we’ll be working still. We’re really excited to be working on our album, which is what we’ll be doing January through February.
Yasmine: Maybe mid-March.
Yasmine: Not entirely.
Kris: Every weekend, or every other weekend, we’ll be playing shows.
Yasmine: Other than that, just working on the album, trying to get it done!
Jahan: Not a specific date, but we’re aiming for late-summer, early-fall.
Jahan: Ultra! Ooops…
Kris: Yes! We have a couple big things planned (laughs).
Jahan: Well, some things are not confirmed yet, so we can’t really announce them. But I’d say definitely the album and a few collaborations that we’re working on and are extremely excited about.
Kris: We’re working on a song with Benny Bennassi, which we’re very excited about.
Yasmine: Nope! An original track.
Jahan: Developing, working our asses off. We’ve been working together since 2007, and in the beginning, all three of us were in school and had part-time jobs. Eventually, we just started dropping out of school and quitting our jobs to pursue music full time. But until then, we were just developing our sound and creating a huge catalog. So when we first came out with our songs, we just picked a few that best represented us, and then the EP we just fished through our work and picked out what we thought was the best.
Yasmine: Oh gosh, Kris is the one to ask about that!
Kris: I disagree though! I don’t think our EP was picking through the songs we had in our catalog. I think we made a song and were like, “Alright, let’s make another song,” and then made another and another. I think we’ve had about 50 songs since 2007, just stuff we’d come up with. We tried so many different genres. We tried everything just to sort of figure out what felt right. And so when we finally put out “StrobeLights,” we had this song, and we were like, “Alright, let’s put that out.” And then after that, it was like we made “One Minute,” and then we made “Killing it” and did a couple remixes, and then we made “Play Hard.” So after that, we just made one song, then one song, and one song, and one song.
Yasmine: July of 2007.
Kris: Last summer, right?
Jahan: It was weird. We always just anticipated making music, and those shows were an afterthought just because we started getting bookings and people wanted to see us live. And it was after “One Minute” when people started putting in requests to see us, then we just taught ourselves how to DJ after that.Play On Soundcloud
Yasmine: Life in general. Just experiences, really. Our most recent single “Come And Get It” we just went in the studio and were like, “What are we feeling today?” And there were things going on that me and Jahan could really relate to each other with, which is pretty common. We’re sisters; we go through a lot of the same stuff. So I don’t know, a lot of the time we just write what we feel. Sometimes it’s just getting out a feeling—A rage feeling, a happy feeling, a sad feeling,
Kris: Or a sexy feeling.
Yasmine: Or a sexy feeling!Play On Soundcloud
Jahan: Yeah, whenever we go in the studio, either we’ll have nothing and we’ll start from scratch, or we’ll have a basic beat to write to. But always the first question we ask ourselves is, “What are we feeling today?” Are we in a party mood? Are we in a sexy mood? Are we feeling like we want to write about something emotional like relationships? We always analyze our thoughts beforehand. And sometimes the chords from the songs will affect our feelings a lot too.
Kris: Well, so we have a date called 6-8-10. Which was the date [Yasmine] had graduated high school, and Jahan had just dropped out of college. I was pressuring her to drop out, and we were both like, “Yasmine, don’t go to college!” (laughs). So as soon as Yasmine graduated and Jahan was on the same page, it went down. Jahan, you did communications right?
Jahan: Yeah, communications then studying mass media. I was in school for two years.
Kris: Yeah, I did two-and-a-half for sound engineering.
Jahan: Kris was a bad student though!
Kris: Oh, I was the worst!
Kris: I would just play guitar instead of going to school. My entire life that’s what I did, just played guitar all day. Played all night. Would miss my class in the morning, got detention, didn’t go to Saturday detention, got suspended, it was bad! But I wasn’t a bad kid, I just didn’t go to class.
Jahan: Yasmine and I wrote a letter to our dad explaining our decision to drop out of school.
Yasmine: It was a scary moment.
Jahan: But it was a very well-written letter. I think we have it in our email still somewhere. We were basically explaining our decision how we don’t want to graduate college with a nine-to-five job then look back at our lives in ten years from now and wish we did something else. And to this day, we still don’t regret doing that.
Yasmine: Hell yeah.
Jahan: Well, he’s very serious.
Yasmine: Yeah, he was actually very disappointed at first, but they are the most supportive people you could ever ask for now. He’s awesome. Both of our parents are the shit.
Kris: We have a few more collaborations in the works with some people we’ve met.
Jahan: Are we allowed to talk about them yet?
Kris: I don’t think so. I don’t wanna step on anyone’s toes!
Yasmine: ‘Cause some of them are just a hook we wrote over a few chords that they sent us, so nothing’s completely official yet. A lot of the artists we’re talking with are on tour as well, so it’s a long process. When they get to the studio, they’ll send us something, we’ll remix it, maybe then send them something, so it is a long process.
Kris: Yeah. With remixes, they’re really spur-of-the-moment. We’ll hear something we like, or I’ll do a beat quickly, it just happens. Like, a new song will come out, and I’ll be like, “That’s the one!” But we’ve tried a couple and have been like “Ah, that’s not that good” and not put them out.
Yasmine: I think at this point, it’s not really anymore. At first it was a big deal, like, “Woah, chick DJs!” And people would make a huge deal out of it. But now, I think once you put your best foot forward and really make a name for yourself as a group, which I feel like we’re starting to do, it’s really not about male or female. It’s just about the artist. You know what I’m saying? You just become part of the whole.
Jahan: We did them in Australia for Stereosonic. We did a hybrid live/DJ set there. It was so much fun! We’ll bed doing a lot more in the spring.
Kris: That’s sort of part of the big things coming for next year.
Jahan: We’ll be doing it live at festivals and bigger shows.
Yasmine: And then slowly integrating it into our other shows. I’m excited!Play On Soundcloud
Jahan: Oh god!
Kris: Yeah (laughs), we’re trying to figure that out ourselves.
Jahan: We all have our insane moments. I want to say be healthy, eat right, don’t drink and all this stuff, but then I would be a huge hypocrite. But we’re young right now, and probably in a few years when we want to be like Benny Benassi, we’ll probably wake up at seven a.m. and go for a jog.
Yasmine: He actually does that!
Kris: I was still up the night after a show once, and I go down to get hotel breakfast, and he was in there in his jogger shorts like, “Hey, what’s up mate! I was just on jog.” And he’s in there eating yogurt and granola, and I was like “Oh, shit.” Meanwhile, I’m eating eggs and sausage, and I’ve been drinking all night.
Yasmine: It will hit us eventually. I feel like the problem is, though, it catches up to you, and then hits you hard, and then you downward spiral. So hopefully we realize it sooner rather than later.
Jahan: I think it’s important to stay around people that keep you balanced, too. There are people on the road that drive you crazy, and as long as you’re with people you’re close with, it’s good. If I were alone on the road, I don’t know what I’d do. So it’s really good to have a support system.
Jahan: Every release and every piece of content had its purpose, but our entire team agrees that “Killing It” was the one piece of work that we put out that started getting us a lot of attention in the dance community.
Kris: It’s funny because we toyed with the track over three years. And I can’t think of an analogy, but over the years we changed the track entirely, we changed the lyrics entirely, but it’s still the same song and tempo it was three years before. It was definitely a work of progress, not like this grand master piece we’ve been working on for years. But it started as something and ended as something completely different. So it’s really cool that ended up being a song that people are really into. And it’s a good lyric!
Jahan: We actually had no idea the public’s response would be so great. We definitely didn’t think “Killing It” would be that song. It was also the first time we put out a visual. We spent $45 on a video. It’s a very raw video, and there wasn’t much planned. We just had our friends from Chicago come party with us and walk around the streets. Yasmine and I spit our verses. It was just very raw. It was filmed right in the neighborhood where the three of us lived and worked in a loft and created the entire Play Hard EP. That video has a lot of meaning behind it for us.
Kris: For ten months. It was crazy! A tumultuous experience, I must say.
Jahan: We call those the dark days.
Kris, Yasmine, and Jahan: But now we have our own rooms!
The DJZ/10 is a collection of ten DJs that we think you should know about now. Some of them are already familiar to you, others you may have never heard of. The list is not based on (1) a secret computer algorithm, (2) social media popularity, or (3) payola. Every month or so we get together to decide if somebody from the broader A…Z directory is about to break out and should be included in the DJZ/10, or if somebody already on the list, for that matter, is “phoning it in” and deserved to be replaced by another DJ who is more worthy.×