Tobias Lee, known as Why Be, is a producer and DJ based in Copenhagen. Why Be’s tracks are often approached with a high energy, pulsating approach almost masking the its foundation comprised of darker, moodier elements. Highly fragmented with attention focused on the particular areas of divergence, Why Be’s production can, perhaps, be akin to the process of stream of consciousness and the emotional flux associated with it. Tobias spoke to us about the current sounds he is inspired by and the images behind his music.
Is there a story behind your name, “Why Be” and can you share it with us?
I've had a few names, but the most recent one was 'yung bukkake’. At some point it became too problematic to have that name so I shortened it to ‘yb’. Around the same time I was getting into footwork and Dj Nate made a track called ‘Yung Bangerz' where 'YB' [is] being repeated throughout the entire song. My friend Lisbent heard that track and found it funny that these Chicago kids were on this existential tip because he thought they said 'why be'. It's not deep at all.
What sounds are you inspired by and/or want to incorporate into your sets?
At the moment I'm really curious about sharp pointy noises. I never cared for processing or shaping, but I'm more aware of that now I guess. For my sets, I’m always trying to play and mix as many sounds as possible. I will make you love every heavy metal drum version of every track.
How would you say is the best way to listen to your music?
Watch all the 'Matrix' movies in a row and then 'Embrace of the Serpent', down a gallon of matcha and then maybe something cute comes out?
Your music has very futuristic elements to it, how do you imagine or, rather, how would you want your music to be listened to in the future (let your imagination run wild here)?
Maybe as conscious supermarket music? Spaces that challenges one's idea of sound. I once listened to a M.E.S.H. track during heavy turbulence and it was like raw virtual reality, it was so fun. That track is now forever violent to me, though most people wouldn't agree with that [point of view].
Can you tell us more about the images/artwork behind your music? (i.e. on soundcloud)
A lot of it is friends whose work I adore. Chino, Seychelle, [and] Jamie have all done stuff for me and I always let people do what they want. In those cases I don't look for a specific aesthetic, but someone's brain and what's in it. The rest is images I remix or abuse. Being Euro–Asian puts you in a funny place and a lot of what I do is born in between the burning gap of those two trembling continents. Not a cause I'm going to hunger strike for (am I?), but I want to create a tolerable corner of Euro-awareness for my un-born children.
Images courtesy of TOBIAS LEE
interview PERWANA NAZIF
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