Yuko Yuko’s Elias Elgersma owes a lot to the internet. Not just his ’90s VHS tape album art, or his dozen-plus Bandcamp releases, but the fact that he managed to gain a fairly large following in Mexico before anyone in his native Holland really knew who he was. He’s since released two EPs on Mexico-based web labels Bad Pop and RVRB and is set to release the third, Babes, in two days on the French label Beko Disques.
Today, we’ve got the premiere of that EP, and it’s really good. Eight tracks of Glazin-era Jacuzzi Boys mixed with ’80s drum machine plastic-ness and woozy, co-ed harmonies. Babes is out officially on June 15, but you can stream the entire thing below while reading Elias’s thoughts on the EP, being famous across the world and feeling lonely while Patrick Swayze always gets the girl.
First, can you give me a little bit of background about Yuko Yuko and why you started making music?
I started three years ago when I was sixteen, but when I turned seventeen I started picking it up more seriously, like recording my own stuff on my computer, and that got hyped on the internet in Mexico. I don’t know how of all places, but some bloggers there, rich indie kids with bracelets and two iPhones, started blogging about it. So a label in Mexico [Bad Pop] contacted me and said “Hey dude wanna record an EP?” and I said, “Yes of course!” I didn’t know what it was exactly, I was 17 years old [laughs].
So I did that, but it didn’t get that much popularity, especially not in Holland—nobody knew who I was here. But then another label from Mexico, RVRB, also said that they were friends with me from the internet, they were from the band Hawaiian Gremlins, and they said “Wanna record another EP?” I said “Yeah, of course.” And there was Cultlove which came out earlier this year in January, and I was kind of busy with that for a long time last year. And it received some popularity here in Holland and then in France and in Mexico, again. So once I gained popularity in my own country it started getting me gigs, and I had to form a live band around it and started getting more seriously busy with it. And then suddenly another label came from France, Beko Disques.
How did you find your bandmates?
I’ve played in a lot of bands, like The Homesick, the Wet Dreams, Fearless Queers—all small bands from just my country. So I knew a lot of people who wanted to be in my band because it was the band from my hometown that got more successful. So I chose a few people, like my best friend Jaap [van der Velde], he’s the guitarist now, and the drummer and bassist. And of course Marrit [Meinema], she sings on a lot of the songs. She’s the girl singing on Crying In The Discotheque. She had to be in the live band, and that’s how I formed it. We did our first show in March, and since then I think we’ve been playing each week one gig.
Now that you’ve played a couple of gigs, is it getting easier?
Yeah, we have kind of a difficult set up with the electronic drums and stuff, so it was hard to do it right in one time, but we all played in a lot of bands so it wasn’t like we would get nervous or something. But it was very new to be, like, a band everyone knew, but you haven’t played live before. So that was kind of scary. But it went well. The first gig I pretended to be very not caring, and now I’m more dancing and stuff.
So when you started making the Babes EP, what did you want to do differently from previous EPs?
With Cultlove I did a lot of things on just one EP of eight songs, with a lot of different styles on it. With Babes I aimed for just one particular sound overall. So I recorded it in a very short time, I think in a month, each song did just in a day or something. It’s more fast in tempo, it’s more grittier, more emotional sounding, but not that much lyrically. With these songs I feel like I could perform them with a fist in the air. Cultlove was more technical. I think Babes is more from the heart. Lyrically I’m just fooling around [laughs]. It’s all inside jokes, but the music itself is more emotional sounding.
All the lyrics are inside jokes? I remember hearing this one line that was like, “being lonely like Patrick Swayze.”
[Laughs] Yeah, that’s about a friend, and he was on Facebook while watching a romantic comedy, and in those romantic comedies there’s always a happy ending with a couple getting back together or something. He was just feeling very lonely, just eating crisps, and they have a happy ending while the only thing he has is just his bag of crisps.
Ha ha…Was it Dirty Dancing?
No, he didn’t even know what it was, he was just posting it on Facebook in a personal chat. [Laughs] I wasn’t watching the movie at all.
Apparently a lot of people compare you to R. Stevie Moore. Did you listen to a lot of R. Stevie Moore when you started making music?
Not before I started making music, just when somebody said to me, “Hey, you sound like R. Stevie Moore.” I mean, I like him very much, he has about 7,000 songs. It gave me a lot of inspiration to do even more songs. R. Stevie Moore is like an old grandpa and I’m just nineteen years old, but I think there are a lot of similar things in our daily routine. Maybe also in personality, but he’s a lot older, much older. But I think I see some kind of Dad in him.
So what’s next for you? What do you have planned in the next year?
A new record called Music From the Morph. It’s demos and outtakes, a collectors album with 25 songs. There’s probably gonna be more stuff like that, so it’s not very special. I want to do more EPs this year. I think at the end of this year a new one will come. I try to record as much as I can, and I’m not signed for more EPs on the label I’m on now, so I can do whatever I want.
Are you planning any kind of international touring?
No, because there isn’t any money for that. I am going to do a Dutch tour at the end of this year, and we’re planning on a French one, but it’s not all figured out at the moment. But we’re aiming for this little international breakthrough.
Yeah, maybe it’ll happen this year.
I hope so! It would be very quick, because before this February nobody had heard of me, even in Holland.
So what do you want people to think about when they’re listening to the new EP?
I want people to think about their ex-girlfriends, I suppose.