A Conversation with Yves Tumor


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There’s something self-effacing to Rahel Ali’s vacillation between extremes and his plethora of musical projects. Yves Tumor is the project that’s featured on the Dogfood MG release C-ORE, but Ali also makes music as TEAMS and Bekelé Bernahu as well, each of them hard to categorize. Ali seems to be constantly oscillating between ambient electronica and harsh noise, a dual sensibility that’s on showcase in the mixes he curates for Novembre Magazine. Adding to the mystery, Ali told me he’d rather not say when answering a couple of my questions, like where he grew up: “I just want to make people work for that kind of information.” He also pretty much refused to send a photo for weeks before finally emailing along this evasive image of himself. When I got him on the phone, Ali had just gotten back to LA after playing a showcase in Australia. Here’s what he did say.

Is it fair to say Yves Tumor is harsher than your other projects?

The project has a wide range of moods, from orchestral pieces to much harsher frequencies.

Do you feel like you’re pulled between those two poles in your life?

You could say that.

It seems like noisy production is having a moment in electronic music, which granted is still pretty niche, but this record with Dogfood is going to have a pretty wide release. Do you feel like people will ever get used to dissonance or is it too ideologically challenging for everyone to be into?

Absolutely. I learned that when I was a lot younger and able to fall asleep to like Velvet Underground. It’s called “The Black Angel’s Death Song.” I remember listening to it when I was 16 or something, and I was road tripping with my parents to Florida. I remember being able to fall asleep to it and I never thought that something so raw and so unpleasant sounding could soothe me. I guess that was the first time I tuned into that side of my taste.

I was creeping your SoundCloud and I saw you tagged a lot of the Yves Tumor releases on there as “goth.” I was curious how much you relate to that word.

I couldn’t think of another genre to describe it. I can relate to that word. But then there’s a sort of ironic identification with it tied into internet nostalgia or whatever. Like health goth and lame shit like that.

Right, that’s why I was curious if it was like ironic or earnest.

Very sincere.

And how did you meet Mykki?

I met Mykki in maybe 2013 or 12. I think he lurked me and my music online a little bit. Anyway I’d seen quite a few of his videos in New York, where he was free styling on the subway in front of these girls and it was just so lit. And then I think I met him at Moustache Mondays at some point. He said what up and we started talking and after that I didn’t really see him for a while. He hit me up online one night asking if I wanted to tour and of course I said yeah. So I began touring with Mykki, Larry B and Boychild for a couple of months at the very end of 2013, and throughout 2014. We’ve been really good friends and helping each other creatively and spiritually since.

Having talked to all four of you now, it seems like it’s not all business.

No, definitely not.