yaeji wants you to rave with her in a warehouse in brooklyn
The artist tells i-D about 'Elancia,' her end of summer party featuring DJs Soul Summit, Papi Juice, Hot ‘N Spicy, and more.
Evidently Yaeji doesn’t believe in taking time off. Hot on the heels of her first Asian tour, the artist and DJ is throwing a rave in New York. The epic event titled “Elancia” is Yaeji’s love letter to the “parties, DJs, and friends” that have made New York feel like home. On September 6 at 592 Johnson Avenue, DJs from across the city including Soul Summit, Sublimate, Papi Juice, Hot ‘N Spicy, and School of Hard Trax will come together in Brooklyn. “It’s almost like a reunion or something, without having been to the same school,” Yaeji laughs. “We all know each other and I think some of the crews know each other. I think it’s exciting for us to all be in the same place.” i-D caught up with the artist at her studio, to learn how a Korean RPG inspired her to bring New York nightlife together.
Hi Yaeji! Tell us about Elancia.
Elancia is a really fun project for all of us. The name Elancia itself comes from when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, and I’d just moved to Korea from Atlanta, Georgia. It was my first time living in Korea, and I had difficulty meeting people, making friends, because even though I was Korean I couldn’t really speak the language and all these things. So I started diving deep into the internet. I was a homebody, internet kind of kid. I really got into gaming, and Elancia
is the first real RPG game that I was obsessed with. It was online, so you can meeting other people online. And it was this fantastical world. Their whole [catch]phrase or whatever is “This is a fantasy world where East and West coexist.” I’m playing it recently just to get the feel again. The aesthetics of it all first of all are gorgeous, and we have trading cards coming out that are based off of it. The illustrator Ram [Han] who created the poster is playing the game too, so aesthetically it still lives in that world.
Thematically lots of things overlap. There’s a real sense of freedom. You can really be whoever you want to be in this game, everyone starts from zero. You can choose your race, gender, rank and either a merchant, fighter or an explorer. But what’s interesting is throughout the game you can change any of those by going on quests, which I thought was amazing! And I never thought about it as a child, but it was really ahead of its time.
Walk us through the rave!
They’re all DJ sets, it’s a warehouse rave pretty much, which as far as I know hasn’t been that frequent recently, with all the new venues opening up it’s harder to find these DIY spaces. It’s a throwback to when that was happening in New York. There’s a courtyard zone in the middle of everything, and that’s where the bar is, and that’s where the food is prepared by Kichin. That’s where the store is going to be. They’ll be selling snacks and cute little knick-knacky things, so you can take a break from dancing and stand outside, drink a thing, and shop around. To the right, when you enter, there’s going to be an ambient zone, with a bunch of cushions and pillows and lanterns. We felt that was very necessary, especially for a warehouse party, from my experience having a breather and giving your ears a break.
And then, when you enter to the left, that’s the rave hall. There will be a DJ booth, custom lighting. The DJs I invited are all local crews that are doing these really amazing things. All the way from Soul Summit, who have been going on, from what I know, for maybe 16 to 20 years. And you know the Papi Juice vibe. They are so fun and cute so posi. I see that with all of the crews but all in very different and special ways.
What does it mean to you bringing all these crews together?
It is, without even having to say, so much about diversity also. All of the crews really represent a different type of diversity that really makes New York special and safe and home for all of us. And i think that’s what we mean by world building. All of these crews have been creating their own worlds, and own dance floors that have felt really good, really posi, really family, and really safe. These parties are working so hard to make this happen, but ultimately as the organizers, the resident DJ’s and people that run these parties are not able to enjoy their own. It’s a lot of work that goes into throwing a party. It’s super fun, but if you’ve ever experienced it there’s a lot of work that goes into it, and I think Elancia is a place where I want them to kind of enjoy the fun bits of it. And also enjoy the crowd focussing on them and not the invited guest DJ from the UK or a different state. This is really about those people who are making it a special place. It’s their moment to shine and have fun and express all these things. So it’s almost like a thank you. “I know what you’re doing. I know how hard it is.”
It’s almost like a reunion or something, without having been to the same school. We all know each other and I think some of the crews know each other. I think it’s exciting for us to all be in the same place.
How long does it run?
It is going all night, I believe officially until 5. Something like 10 to 5.
It’s a long chunk of time. Many different moments will happen in between. I think that’s why the ambient room is important.
You’ve just got back from your first tour of Asia, how was that?
Just seeing the crowd, and so many people that can actually speak and understand Korean, or are Korean — even the fact that these people look like me, and really get this, and fuck with me, was a whole other experience that was completely different from touring here or Europe. That was really special, and to show that to my team was really special.
Our last show in Asia was Seoul, in Korea. My whole family was there, my grandparents were sitting side stage with The Queens who were performing for a few songs, side by side. Really crazy worlds clashing, but also so harmonious at the same time. Just tears of joy, I could not stop crying at the end of the set because I was so happy, and I was talking to everyone in Korean, and I’ve never got to do that. That was mind blowing. Like “Wow I can talk to you in this language I talk and dream and sing in sometimes.” This is a side of me I don’t get to let out as much, only in my music, and that happens in a studio and I’m alone. And otherwise with family when I’m on the phone. I feel really happy right now coming back from that experience.
Did that change the way you think about writing songs?
I’m always thinking about my Korean lyrics, ever since I’ve been putting them out into the world, not just Soundcloud. It’s definitely been on my mind, [that] people who actually understand this are listening. What kind of conversation am I having with them? But in a way it’s become more and more casual, andIi almost feel like I’m talking to a friend. So it’s influenced my lyrics in a great way I think.
How do you find performing?
I’m learning through my job now that I’m pretty introverted. I am an introvert in the sense that meeting so many people at once is a lot for me, as it is to a lot of people I imagine. Stage fright, and performance anxiety, is a real thing for me too, but I will say that there is almost a different side to me that clicks when I step on stage and when the set starts. Where I can almost channel this different side of me that’s not thinking about all those things. So I think I’m learning to be a better performer and a more comfortable performer. It’s really like a new instrument and I enjoy the learning process.