”Written byChristian Staines
“We kind of like taking the piss, we’re not trying to be massive DJ’s or whatever. It’s all just for fun.”
If you’re ever wondering what it takes to make the best eggs, here’s the Yoke recipe. You’re going to need three things: an hour’s worth of good music, one trendy name, and two choms from the heart of Franschhoek. Tom Pretorius and Kai Grapow met in high school and built their friendship over a shared love for music and fucking around. It was only two years ago that they hatched a plan to perform, and in that time they’ve become a name that’s hard to egg-nore.
Yoke? Why not Yolk? Firstly, it looks cooler. Secondly, it’s the result of what Bob Ross would call a ‘happy little accident’. “The L just made no fucking sense to us, but I think we also just didn’t know how to spell it. We just spelt it Y-O-K-E and then when we looked on Google we realized we had it completely wrong. But yeah, it kind of just works.” And this mistake mimics the duo’s style to a tee; a light-hearted and genuinely comical take on the whole situation. “I suppose one of the biggest things for us is that Yoke is not a serious thing at all. ‘It’s just a platform for us to fuck around and put some creative energy into something.’ In essence, Yoke is one of the best jokes to have been made since the dawn of eggy puns.
So what music can you expect to hear when tuning into a hand-whisked Yoke playlist? Tom describes it like this: “All things fucking groovy, like disco, funk, a bit of afro-beats and everything in between. Something that’s nice and has got a very good positive energy, nothing too dark and scary.” The kind of tracks that would be playing during golden hour on a cool summer evening – sunny side up of course.
What’s interesting is that despite their shared music taste, Tom and Kai have adopted different mixing styles. Usually, this might be a bit of a problem when you’re performing as a pair, but they’re not trying to hustle each other for the limelight. They alternate songs and play to each other’s strengths depending on the crowd’s energy:
“Some of the genres we play require a very sharp change over and some have a very extended transition so just us coming together creates a blended unified style of playing. In the beginning, if we are wanting to just set the mood then we start slow, but if the crowd is raving then we want to make the transitions sharper and fuller. We just try to feel what other people are feeling and then just feed them more and more of that energy until they are fucking losing it.”
“It’s just a platform for us to fuck around and put some creative energy into something.”
When it comes to equipment, they’ve managed to find the holy grail of mixers: the Technics turntable. One of the most sought-after DJ turntables of all time and a classic piece when it comes to mixing vinyl tracks. Tom and Kai started off on standard decks supplied by friends but when chance brought them face-to-face with a Technics turntable they decided to switch up their ingredients. “We’ve been slowly trying to make the shift to vinyl-only because, not only from a DJ perspective, but that’s the hardest way to mix because it’s all by ear. So for us, it’s like the superior sound compared to digital. That warmth you get from vinyl is like nothing else.”
Vinyl not only sounds better but it also gives you the chance to brush the dust off of some long-forgotten bangers. Songs that haven’t been heard in aeons that deserve another night in the spotlight. “We just really love digging for music and keeping it fresh every time.” Often when you go out, it’s usually a lot of the same music played by different DJ’s. Yoke want to break this cycle and give the crowd the chance to listening to something different. It might not be new but it’ll definitely be something you’ve never heard before. Listening to these unheard tracks offers you a “completely new experience” from what you might generally get from your standard party.
When it comes to Yoke, they’re all about inclusivity. They’re here for a good time and want to make sure as many people as possible are feeling this. For me, their collaborative merch is the pinnacle of fun foolery. “With the Egg theme it’s endless. With our tote bags we collabed with this guy who does Toast Record Bags and so when he approached us we were like ‘Eggs? Toast? It’s a match made in heaven.” Sadly, the only thing Yoke keeps wholly exclusive is their patented egg rings: “There are only two, and there will only ever be two.”
So what scenes are you likely to have scoped them at? If you’re familiar with HamShack Radio then you may have heard Yoke whipping up some tasty specials on their airwaves way back when. If not there, then perhaps you attended one of the BookClub events and were able to catch them live in action. Or maybe, during your travels, you stumbled across one of their famed SoundCloud playlists and smacked the shit out of that like button. Wherever it may be, Yoke are sure to have gotten you moving.
“We just try to feel what other people are feeling and then just feed them more and more of that energy until they are fucking losing it.”
The main course of this article comes in the form of an appetizing annoucement. Yoke are releasing their next playlist in the highly anticipated ‘SCRAMBLE SERIES’ which will be available on SoundCloud next week. Jot it down in your calendar and save some space for what’s in store.
A short while ago, Yoke were kind enough to throw together a special ‘CCC x Yoke’ playlist on SoundCloud which absolutely slaps. Click here to give it a listen and get grooving. But if you’re wondering what’s up next for the panfried duo, then they’ve got another session lined up on HamShack radio in the coming weeks.
(last one I promise)