From Marquee to Burning Man, Yanay has been rising amongst the ranks of house and techno DJs, leaving her mark on the rapidly growing scene. I jumped on the opportunity to connect with Yanay after her opening set for Lee Foss last month—a powerfully groovy set pulsating with tech house and brooding techno—and let her build a narrative around our core questions on DJing and production.
If you could sit across from your sixteen-year-old self right now, with all the current knowledge of music you have, what advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself to learn the keyboard and guitar. I wish I would’ve learned these two instruments at a younger age; it would definitely have been easier. To learn an instrument is the one piece of advice I would give anyone. It is invaluable.
Tell us about yourself. What makes you stand out?
I put a lot of work in my craft, before and during my sets. I always look out at the crowd and make sure people are dancing. I also love to sing. I have a surprise for everyone in the next few months.
Why did you start DJing?
I love house music. I would be out dancing and see how happy people around me would be. I wanted to make all those people happy and dance, too. A friend told me to go to DJ school as soon as I expressed interest and a few months later I signed up for Dubspot where I learned Traktor. I highly recommend Dubspot for anyone interested in DJing or music production. My friend DJ Anthony Velarde believed in me and had me play at La Zarza—what used to be my favorite underground spot in New York. A few months later my friend Brandon Rullan gave me the amazing opportunity to open for him at Provocateur, a place I now call home.
If you were a new DJ today, with no music knowledge or following, outline your schedule and tools you would use in your first year to have the biggest impact on the music industry.
I would start networking as much as possible. Learn as much as I could about the industry. Choose venues where people from all over the world frequent.
Take us through your creative process. Do you have any rituals?
I’ll share with you my favorite ritual: I always listen to the tracks beforehand and dance around to get the feeling and decide which part of the set I’ll place the track in. It’s so much fun—I pick up my kitties and dance with them too.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
Erick Morillo is definitely one that comes to mind. I remember being in Pacha six years ago when he was playing. Right then and there I fell in love with house music. I felt so free. The way the music made my body move—it gives me chills just thinking about it. You could tell he was so in love with the music.
What have been your top three musical accomplishments?
Being comfortable in the booth and enjoying what I’m doing instead of overthinking things is my first and biggest musical accomplishment. Finding my sound and not being afraid to play what I love would be my second biggest accomplishment. My third would be just continually touching people’s lives with my music.
What genres define you?
House, deep house, tech house and techno.
Do you have any advice on promoting music?
Word of mouth and social media. It’s all about social media these days.
What artists have impressed you the most in the last year?
Nicolas Masseyeff. I’m loving his remix of Eddy Romero’s “Back in London.” Also, Joeski has really impressed me. I’m loving “Black Door” which is part of his new EP.
Which set are you most excited about playing?
For the first time I’ll be playing at Burning Man and I can’t contain my excitement! One of my favorite places on earth. My music will reach so many people from all over the world. That’s priceless.
Photography by Steven Ekerovich and Chris Lavado.