By -Last Updated: December 2023-

Funktasy Spotlight presents an exclusive interview with Youngr.

Youngr - Cosmic InsanitySince breaking through in 2016 with his self-released debut solo single ‘Out Of My System,’ UK-based multi-talented musician Youngr has racked up over 150 million global streams and played over 250 shows in 35 countries around the world, including sold-out tours across Europe and North America.

Youngr made a name for himself in the online sphere with his unique one-take live videos of dancefloor-friendly bootlegs scoring viral success. Notably, Youngr’s take on ‘Sweet Disposition’ by The Temper Trap became one of his biggest to date, racking up over 15 million video views within the first two weeks alone. 

Download & Stream “Cosmic Insanity” by Youngr Here.

First off, congratulations on your Australian tour. If you could, please tell us about what you have planned and what led to it?

It’s been eight years in the making… I remember when I put my Sweet Disposition bootleg out seven to eight years ago and it went viral on Facebook.

Since that point, I’ve been invited to go and play Australia by the promoters, but we’ve never managed to make it happen. This is the first year where the stars have aligned and now we’ve got six gigs lined up and my flights are booked.. I can’t believe it!

Tell us about your musical background, and how does that influence your music?

Well, music is in my DNA. My musical background is all because of my dad. He planted it there, he put it in my code, he was sneaky when I wasn’t looking. Nature versus nurture. He used to bring me and my brother on stage and I’d be playing tambourine on stage in a festival.

I was four years old, I used to love sitting at soundchecks, behind the drummer’s stall, and just thinking “Why is this so fucking cool?” And I became fascinated with music. So, it’s just been in my blood, and has always been my way to express myself. 

You have such an impressive setup performing, how do you prep for your shows? 

Zero sleep. That’s what it takes. Especially because I’ve got a one-year-old daughter now. I go to bed at 4 am and she wakes me up at 5:45 am. I go to rehearsal, come home, my daughter goes to bed at 7 or 8 at night, and then I have dinner. At 9 pm, I say to myself I’ll just rehearse for an hour, but it’s never for an hour. Next thing you know, it’s 3 am and then 3:30 am and I’m wired in such a way that I want to make everything perfect so I ask, “is that kick drum the right frequency?” or “Should I segway into that song early?”. Then, it’s 4 am, but I know that’s the price I’ve got to pay for a great show, and my personal life might suffer for a week or two weeks but I’m okay with paying that price. 

The only thing that keeps me going is knowing that I’m going to get on that stage and it’s going to be a banging show. After the gigs, I can chill, and finally go to bed at a normal time and just do my thing. Back in the day, I’d just be rehearsing willy nilly all the hours of the day and it would be good. But I definitely look back now and think, “Man, I didn’t appreciate the time”. Now it’s a new beast and a lot of sleepless nights but the passion and love get me through the sleepless nights.

What’s that centerpiece gear of your life set up? 

I have the Akai APC64, the new one. APC is in everything. I also just got this MIDI Fighter and it controls all my live vocals through Ableton.

I’ve done a complete rehaul of the show now because I’ve been doing these out and about sessions. I set up in a hot air balloon, set up on a boat, go to the top of a mountain and do a set and it’s all USB. And it’s all been possible from the new MacBook M2. The power and the speed is crazy, and no latency. 

It’s impossible to do it live, but this has zero latency. I’m using the manipulator from Infected Mushroom to do vocal effects and all that stuff. 

Your track Out Of My System gained widespread popularity, can you share the story behind that song and how that impacted your career? 

 I wrote that with a close friend, Tim Woodcock, he’s an amazing singer, he’s just got the new Take That.

I just went around to his house, and we just started playing around with some chords and we started jamming some random vocal ideas and just from that innocent session of just writing a song that we thought was cool about me traveling around the world and me being in a wedding band. 

I was in a big 12-piece wedding band, and I was the percussionist. I used to travel around the world, I was single, I was free, I was stupid, I was young and dumb. Based on that, we wrote a song about me just getting it all out of my system before I have a kid and I don’t have any sleep anymore and before I have to get a job and just spending your money and just living, living carefree for a while and when I listen to the song, I even sound carefree in the vocal take and it’s a beautiful encapsulation.

There’s a video of me playing it in a warehouse in London and I remember just getting shared loads. And I always know when a song connects is when my random friends or people I haven’t spoken to in ages, just text me randomly and say they love the new song. There are some songs that kind of get through but then there are other songs that really hit home, and Out of My System is definitely one of those.

You have your own style and you’ve developed your brand. How do you handle branding, marketing, and the business side? Do you have a team or are all those decisions run by you? 

It’s just me and my manager. We used to be on labels, they were fun, but they kind of just got in the way, there’s too many cooks, you know? I’ve been independent for two years now. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a lot of fun having a team and pushing the music but having a say in all the decisions just makes you know that what you want to do is the right thing. It could change in the future, but for now I’m independent and I’m enjoying it because it’s cool.

I think if I do work with a label again, it will be different now. I’m not blaming labels, but I went into a label unsure of myself and I think that’s one of the biggest issues because the label tells you what to do and you have to compromise certain things, whereas it should be “This is what I want to do”. When someone has a clear vision like that, I think it’s a lot easier to market them and decide which route to go. You’ve just got to be sure of yourself and now I’m surer than ever. All the decisions are made by me, and it just feels natural now. 

You are obviously no novice when it comes to performing live shows. Do you have any hilarious stage or touring mishap stories that you would like to share with us?

Dude, so many. So, how long have you got? 

There are two that just popped into my head. I used to do those one-takes with the cameras going around me. I was in India with my camera guy at a massive festival. My camera guy’s like right I got to catch this new song. He’s coming around me and suddenly, he steps on the power cable and cuts all power from my station in the middle of the stage. And he looks down, and his foot is on the power cable. Everyone’s like woah and I’m like woah. So, I just got a cowbell and played that, and it was great!

Another time I was in Calgary, Canada and I remember it being -20 degrees. I couldn’t even breathe outside; it was so cold. Anyway, my set was two in the morning, we were jamming, and I was a bit tired. It was my sixth day of the tour. A new song comes on and the drops come in and I start feeling sick. The stage becomes tiny, my drum kit seems further away from me, and I can’t move. At the time, I used to wear these big Doc Martens, and the heel of the Doc Martens catches underneath the drum stool. The stool tips over and I didn’t notice. I keep jamming and ask the audience “Is everybody ready for the drop? One, two three!”, I go to sit down and there is NO stool. I fall and it feels like I’ve been falling into the center of the earth for what feels like half an hour. I had no idea why I wasn’t sitting down and why I was just flying through the cosmos into hell. Anyways, when I landed, there were no drums on the drop. There was just this awkward silence. It was the opposite reaction you want from a drop. And I just stood up and I was like, Wow. And everyone was laughing. And then I did the drop again.

To this day now, when I’m about to sit down, I check if the stool is there. And then I sit down because you know that old trick in school? Someone pulls out your chair from behind you when you sit down. It’s the worst feeling. I imagine hundreds of people witnessing that. And staring at you, and gasping.

And you’re like, GASP! I’ll never wear Doc Martens, and I’ll never not check my stool. Live music’s crazy.

Who’s your dream artist to collaborate with?  

Have you heard of Roisin Murphy?

Róisín Murphy, she was in Maloko. You know Maloko? “Bring It Back, Sing It Back, Bring It Back To Me…” She’s the singer from that, and she’s just a super cool artist. Everything she puts out, I’m like, “fucking cool”. I feel like we would do some fun things in the studio.

And if not Róisín Murphy, then someone like Jamiroquai. JK from Jamiroquai because he’s just fucking cool, again, and I like his creative brain. 

Do you have any goals or future aspirations that you would like to achieve in the next couple of years?

This is probably controversial, but I don’t really have goals. I’m just trying to live day by day. Maybe it’s because I just had a daughter. My brain is mush, but I’m just trying to survive and make good music.

How do you choose your bootleg songs? Is it by request, or is it by a personal interest of yours?

It’s 99 percent personal interest. I’m just doing the dishes, and I hear a tune on the radio. If I love it, I do a remix of it. The other way it happens is if someone comments a recommendation, and if it resonates with me then I go “that’s a wicked idea”.  I remember my friend, he texted me “Dude, you need to do something with the bass line from Everybody – Backstreet Boys.”

Sometimes it comes along easy, but I never really go into the studio and play around. If I’m going to start a bootleg, then I tell myself this is what I’m doing today and it’s getting finished today. That’s kind of the idea. But if it doesn’t happen, then I’m just procrastinating and I’m second guessing if it’s good enough. So, when it works, it works.

Any upcoming projects?

Yeah, I’ve a tune that’s dropped recently It’s a Jamiroquai remix, it came out on Friday, December 1st, called Cosmic Insanity.

I did a bootleg of Jamiroquai, one of my favourite tunes growing up and then we’ve got an album coming out in April 2024. So, I’m going to package all the tunes, the singles I’ve been doing, and put a few originals on there. That should be fun. I’ve got the album, videos, and more tours. Stay tuned! 

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