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In conversation with Gyatso: reminiscing Selects

“DJing is about giving people what they didn’t know they wanted”

As we’re slowly recovering from Selects at TillaTec, still lingering in its euphoria, we catch up with Gyatso – our dear friend and surprise guest gracing us with some explosive sonic energy. Gyatso has solidified his name as Amsterdam’s favourite (think regular takeovers at Nachbar and Radio Radio), expanding his reach to numerous international tours, and it was only a matter of time until our paths would cross. Well, Selects was the perfect occasion! With Gyatso’s unmatched knack for mixing techno, trance, electro, and gabber into one very flammable sound, his sets are always guaranteed to shake up the dancefloor. The killer energy exchange between Gyatso and the crowd was undeniable, as the night exceeded all expectations. We danced and sweated and smothered ourselves in his nostalgia-coded, indulgent beats until the very last minute.

Hey Gyatso! Was so nice to have you Thursday, thank you so much again for stepping in for Horsegiirl! What did you think of the event?
Yeah! Glamcult Selects was so nice! I was told I was allowed to go on for longer because a lot of people stayed, but then I got interrupted by the artist handler, he said, “You’re not even allowed to have a last song because the police are at the door, so we have to shut it down right now.” But besides that, I was super happy with my set. I had big shoes to fill, of course, with Horsegiirl popping out. But I stayed true to my sound while also acknowledging Horsegiirl’s sound. One of my favorite sets of the year so far!

Oh my God, I didn’t even know that happened with the police. That’s crazy.
I was so excited, though. I was like, oh, okay, this is my sunrise set. I was ready to lock in for another three hours.

You also managed to incorporate some of that Horsegiirl energy so well.
I think it was FS Green who once talked to me about what the real art of DJing is. He told me it’s about giving people what they didn’t know they wanted. Big up to him!

Can you tell me a little bit more about yourself and what made you want to do music in the first place?
I’m Gyatso, a DJ and producer based in Amsterdam, for now. I got into music because I used to do a lot of skateboarding, and some skateparks have these fake DJ decks. I was messing around with those things and thought it was really fun. So, I called up my uncle Franklin [FS Green] and said, “I want to get into DJing, can you teach me?” He said, “No, but you can come to one of my shows.” So I went to one of his shows, and it was such a magical experience. I was instantly hooked. I got introduced to Jerrau Vandal, Tera Kòrá, and Jael. It was a very fun introduction to the DJ world.

I was 18 then and took a DJ course from DJ Abstract at Studio West. At the time, I was playing a lot of Hip-Hop, Afrobeat, which transitioned into Afro House and Amapiano, and very edit-heavy stuff until about 2021. Then my roommate Omar introduced me to UKG. We did two songs, a UKG, and Grime edit, which eventually led me into a four-on-the-floor speed garage style and ultimately to techno, which I’m doing now.

What a journey. In your daily life, you’re a photographer, right?
I used to do a lot of photography, but I’ve been a full-time DJ for about a year and a half now. I’m a big believer that if you want something, you have to really lock in. My dad always used to say, “There’s no Champions League winner that is also a MasterChef.” Of course, I have hobbies and do other things on the side, but right now, I’m focused on music. Occasionally, I might do a campaign if it’s a good one because I still love photography, you know? But my eyes are on the music right now.

Who are your biggest musical inspirations right now?
There’s a few. I’m fucking heavy with Skin on Skin and Flansie. Flansie’s music is very pretty, but it also has a sad undertone. And I think that being able to incorporate your personality or your own emotions into a song without using vocals is super sick.

Also, a big inspiration is Paris, Texas. They do rock rap. Yeah, they make some sick fucking music. I love their sound. The vocals are so good and everything just works so well. The shows they do are crazy too. I’ve had the honour to come to two of their shows. The energy I saw there genuinely changed my approach to music.

How so?
The music they make is very emotionally charged. And when I was in the crowd, these fans, they weren’t just fans of the music because they liked the sound. They were fans because they felt seen by the music. And that was such a powerful connection. I finally understood it when people would say “That song saved my life”. Being able to feel seen by some random dude in L.A. that might have been going through something similar to you, that’s just so powerful. It has definitely shaped my experience with music.

You recently toured through Asia, right? How was that?
Yeah, I did a little Asia-Australia tour last February. It was crazy. I was nervous because touring is kind of the epitome of what you want as a DJ, right? I want to be a big shot, so if I didn’t enjoy it, I’d need to rethink things. But it was such a cool experience and being able to meet so many people and travel to all these countries. I’ve never been to Asia like that before. And being able to do that while being paid and being able to spread my own music and absorb so much new culture and new music was just such a blessing.

Do you have a favourite memory of that tour?
Taiwan was the best place so far. I’m sorry to all the other countries. You were all amazing, but Taiwan had my fucking heart. Those sets in Taipei and Taichung were fun, but the people I’ve met there, the experience, the hospitality. Shout out to YUUN. That’s Y-U-U-N. Shout out to the whole crew. 

What’s something that inspires you outside of music?
Definitely my friends and good conversations. I had a great conversation with DJ Chuckie about his journey and how he discovered his path to music. It wasn’t about his music inspiring me, but his enthusiasm and hunger for growth and talent. His energy was super inspiring and extremely contagious.

What’s something you never leave the house without?
I never leave the house without my USB. I never know when I might find a CDJ I need to hook up to. A toy CDJ in the skate park. You never know, man. It came in the clutch a few times. The other day, I was hanging out with Skin on Skin at one of his shows. And then this tour manager was like: “Yo, last hour we’re doing a back-to-back, do you have your USB?” I was like, yes sir, I fucking do. 

Which emoji do you use the most?
Recently I’ve been spamming the plus emoji. I just launched my own party. I’m doing it on the 20th of June. It’s called Plus, at Nachbar. So pull up, come fuck around and find out. For all the black, queer, techno kids. Fuck Fashion Week. We’re going to Nachbar. 

Sounds like the perfect intro to my next q –  if you could make your dream club lineup without restrictions, what would it be?
Gyatso all night.

What else are you manifesting for the rest of this summer?
Manifesting a debut EP / album. Manifesting some cool festivals. If you’re a cool festival and you need a crazy DJ, a super credible, serious craftsman of a DJ, let me know. I’m there.

Can you share anything about the EP yet?
It’s Gyatso. It’s very me. It’s a documentation of my last few months to like last year as a DJ, as an artist and as a person. I’m trying to put myself into this. It’s an ode to Gyatso in 2023-2024. You know what I mean? So I’m just excited to have this and to document that and then to close that chapter and then go down to whatever is next.

I didn’t really know that you produced as well. Has it changed DJing at all?
I’ve been producing for like, probably since March. I’ve been doing this shit for like three months but like every day at this point. Nah, I’ve been locked in and it’s fun. My screen time is literally 17 hours a day at this point. But being able to produce made me more conscious of my mixes. I’m a lot more sensitive to something clashing. I’m a lot more aware of my hats clashing or my kicks not lining up or some shit now. I’m a lot more aware of mixing in key. It’s a great blessing to my DJing.

How nice that you started that, when is it coming out?
It’s still in progress. I’m thinking right before my next Australia tour. That’s also one of my goals. Always chasing the sun. Because what the fuck. How many weeks is it? Are the days getting shorter? In two weeks, right? Yes, exactly. When did we really have a summer week? Global warming is fake man, lol.

Interview by Pykel van Latum

Images courtesy of Gyatso