Delivering continual, infectious soundscapes that leave you in breathless anticipation for the bass to drop, EDM’s sister act, Krewella, emit waves of interstellar energy that rolls off the stage and seeps into the veins of fans showing up eager to break free of the world’s cage and ready to fucking rage. The boldly empowering hybrid who have lived richly seasoned lives are simultaneously shaking up the status quo and empowering their listeners beyond the decks to dig within and bring to life their inner glow. I caught up with Yasmine and Jahan to discuss their artistry beyond the music, their ethnic roots, tattoos and more.
Let’s start off with a bang. You have developed a notable mark for being musicians who are strong and unafraid to speak their mind. What life experiences led you to this state of vulnerability?
A huge part of it has to do with coming from a family that is really emotional open and sensitive. Especially over the past few years, our Dad, who raised three girls in a household of women, has encouraged us to speak the truth and not be afraid to talk about how we feel. Our Dad is a self-proclaimed feminist who really opens up himself, which really encouraged us to do good things. It really boils down to family. We have a great support team and people that we can always talk to and communicate with. I can’t imagine what it would have been like growing up as a single kid or being a DJ that travels alone. All of our life experiences led us to this state of vulnerability. We are constantly evolving and are much more open to being vulnerable, as you said, compared to how we were even five years ago. As artists, we are in a position where we can be vulnerable, and it encourages our fans to open up and not feel ashamed of whatever they are feeling. We are on that road of evolution or I’d say, on that path, of being more in touch with our feelings as artists.
Yeah. I perceive that it also leads you to be a lot more in touch with your fans, The Krew.
When you muse upon your own family history, how have you ladies incorporated your Pakistani roots into your artistry?
It’s something that we actually just in the past couple years decided to revisit because we were raised on all kinds of music. Bollywood was something that we always had in the household. Whether it was a tape, CD’s of Bollywood music, or watching Bollywood videos on the weekends and having our family members translate for us; Bollywood is a huge part of our DNA and a part of our style, music taste, and fashion. I think that we forgot about our identity for a little bit as we were growing up as teenagers and trying to figure out who we are and how we fit in, which I think is a struggle that a lot of young adults have. But, as you get older, you revisit your roots and realize that it’s a huge part of who you are. It’s your make up. It’s something that we chose to dive back into over the past couple years by incorporating Eastern sounds whether it’s more tribal percussion or Eastern melodies that we’re writing, we want to fuse that with the electronic sound.
You have released very intimate written work highlighting the relationship between the two of you, who are sisters, on your Tumblr. How has your sisterhood transformed and evolved over your nearly decade-long career in the public eye?
We grew up making music together. And we had no idea that this would be our career. It’s funny to look back on more than ten years of us making music together.
It brought us closer in so many ways that siblings could never quite experience together until you go into business with someone in your family. It’s amazing because you know that you are in your line of work with someone who is always going to have your back. Always going to protect you and make sure that everything is going to happen in the best interest of your family. It has made us so much closer than we ever could have been without Krewella.
Sexism is widely acknowledged yet often overlooked throughout the music industry. I perceive that you do not turn a blind eye to it. Speak out about your experience and transcending gender.
It’s something that we are aware of. Some people make assumptions that females in the music industry don’t have a work ethic, or are not as dedicated and rely on other people to do all the work for them as they use their sex appeal to climb the career ladder. There are all of these assumptions, but, there’s a fine balance of being aware and just being real, upfront, straight up and realizing what the current state of what people’s mindsets are in society. But, at the same time, it’s really important as the actual artist to stay focused and to keep moving forward. It’s something that doesn’t cross our minds every day; we just go in the studio and write songs. We are not thinking about how we are “victims”. It’s important for females to be aware of what’s going on, but also at the same time, don’t see yourself as someone that is extra special in a unique situation. You just have to see yourself as a human being. There is a constant tug-of-war battle between the two. We do speak out when it is brought up and we do mention how there is still a struggle, but, at the same time, we focus on beings humans. And I think that’s an attitude that people need to have rather than focusing on the negative aspect. It’s an amazing thing that on a lineup of 30 dudes, we are the only females, and the fact that we can rock a show with 20,000 people in the crowd at a festival with more than half of them being dudes is an incredible breakthrough.
Let’s talk tattoos. Tell us about some of your favorite personal pieces and the artists that brought them to life.
Johan and I just recently got tattooed by Bang Bang in NYC, which is pretty fantastic, because I think that we have both been wanting to get tattooed him for a while.
The shop owner of Bang Bang? Keith McCurdy?
Yasmine – “Yes. The shop owner. Thee Bang Bang. That was pretty insane. He gave us our third sister tattoo because we have two other tattoos together. We have 6-8-10 which is our dedication on our neck, and then we have Krewlife. And this third one, we each got one half of a Yin-Yang, except that we told him about our Pakistani roots and he made them look very Eastern; he swagged them out for us. He is such a good guy and an amazing tattoo artist.
Wow. Is it representative of balance? Good and evil?
Yasmine – Yeah. But, we love what a Yin-Yang represents outside of the good and evil. It’s more about how Jahan and I balance each other out in literally every situation. Studio situations. Personal situations. Pretty much, when one person is doing one thing, the other is pulling slightly the other way. We find middle ground, which really works for us.
I know that you ladies are heading to Vegas for your last show at OMNIA Nightclub. Do you have any upcoming tour plans or music that you are creating at the moment?
Yeah. We actually have a song that should be finalized today. It’s called “Team”. Our super hardcore fans have already heard snippets of it because we posted some Snapchats of us testing it out at shows. At the same time that it’s getting mixed today, we are going to start a new song. We are in the process of finishing up some songs whether it’s tweaking the writing, working on production with the producer that we are working with, or starting songs from scratch. It’s a constant flow that we have going.
Any words of wisdom for kids growing up and listening to your music through troubled and challenging times?
I would say that as fans of music ourselves, it’s amazing how we are in the exact same position of our fans. Sometimes, it is a song that can define a moment. Whether it’s heartbreak, an accomplishment, a feeling of anxiety or loss, needing to get pumped up, anger, rage; whatever it is. It’s just incredible that there is one language that millions of strangers from around the world can be united over. As a teenager growing up, that is what really made me feel that I belonged. And that’s within the era of soul searching and figuring out what we were going to do with our lives, how we fit in. Music really made me feel like I was part of a community even if I didn’t physically have that at the time. It’s something that we have really noticed at our shows; the power of our Krew. They have just united each other, a bunch of strangers coming together at our shows. Our fans have used this incredibly powerful and sometimes dangerous medium of social media to bring people together. You know, if someone tweets, “Hey, I’m going to the NY show alone.”, it’s really cool to see other fans boost each other up and say, “Hey, that’s dope. I went to a show alone and sober”, or “I went to a show and met a girl that I like.” I think that’s the incredible, powerful message that our community sends. Our fans are super welcoming and we give them so much credit for that.
I saw what you ladies did a couple weeks ago on Twitter. You recommend their attendance and boosted up an individual that tweeted they were going alone to your show. I really enjoyed observing that, and it leads right into my next question… There is an energy and buzz circulating throughout your shows that bring human beings of all walks of life together. Is this something you are consciously aware of and deliver purposefully on stage? Or do you perceive that it sprouts organically?
Yasmine – It’s almost a synergetic thing. Because their energy is based on our energy, which is based on their energy; it’s just this cyclical thing. If we didn’t have such a welcoming, amazing fan base, I don’t think that we would pursue the way we act as hard. It’s hard to say, but they really do inspire us. We have fans that are coming out to us for the first time. There have been so many moments where our gay fans tell us first, or they come to us with their home issues and problems with their parents. I mean, stuff like that is intensely personal, and it becomes more than just a fan base; it’s family. We all have that effect on each other.
Jahan – I would definitely say that we were surprised; it wasn’t a forced thing. It’s not like we said, “Hey, 70-year-old man, come to our show every night.” We literally almost every night got feedback at the end of the show asking if we saw the grandpa dude in the crowd, alone. I mean, he actually bought a ticket to our show, so that’s cool. That was something that we kept seeing and it’s not forced in that way. It’s definitely organic; I don’t know what kind of energy we are putting out there to have an entire family come to our shows with their five-year-old kids, but I think that’s super cool. Yes, Yasmine and I swear a lot at our shows, and there are so many vulgar moments at our shows. People are crowd-surfing, people will bring sex dolls. I think it’s cool a parent chooses to bring their kid so they can talk about the experience together, rather than banning them from going to the Krewella show.
Ultimately, if those parents were to be banning their children from attending your shows, that’d be shutting them off from the reality of our everyday existence. They can learn through those experiences, and I perceive that is the message that you ladies deliver on stage. It’s contagious. Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?
Thank you so much for spreading the news about our upcoming release. We have “Team” coming out before the end of the year and we are finishing it up literally today. And besides that song, we have so many songs on deck that we are currently finishing up right now. We also have a really good feeling that 2017 is going to be a great year for us with releasing consistent music, which has been something that we have been trying to do for awhile.