In this series, Gilles Peterson, one of the world’s most influential DJs, hosts live sessions with innovative and important musicians you’ve (probably) never heard of. In this episode it’s Nottingham-via-east London songstress, Yazmin Lacey.
Although never setting out to be a musician, Yazmin finds herself at the start of what promises to be a huge year in the growth of her career. She fuses soul, RnB and jazz influences into her art which is definitively UK-grown, but universal in its ability to move people.
Gilles and Yazmin discussed dream collaborations, the live music revival and Shazam rules…
Gilles: If you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Yazmin: I have thought about this. A lot of them are local. At the forefront of my mind now are people like Joe Armon-Jones – that would be so dreamy. Or a production team like Joe, Hercules (Fatima) and get a sort of super group thing going
But then further afield, Salaam Remi. I think he has nice vibes, so I think a studio session with him would be great. I’d be able to relax and get loads of stuff out. I think a lot of it is that – I could work with someone great ,but if I’m not able to relax, nothing comes at all.
Gilles: Salaam Remi, he did a lot of stuff with Amy Winehouse.
Yazmin: He did a lot of hip-hop as well and I think he has had his fingers in a lot of different genres. I think he could pull them all together.
Gilles: What is it about music that you feel you enjoy the most, in terms of the experience? Is it the writing of the song, the getting on stage and the response from the people?
Yazmin: I have two favorite bits. The first one is because I never set out to write a song, it just comes out. It surprises me what comes out. It’s like, ok so this is what is on my mind. It’s a good reflector of me.
But the other thing is performing. I’m really starting to love it. I just buzz off it. Whereas before I was like, oh my god, what’s happening? There is still a little bit of fear but I have learnt to control it a bit more. I am enjoying interacting with people now when I’m singing.
Gilles: How do you discover new music?
Yazmin: I spot things. Sometimes I’m really like a magpie – if it’s shiny or it looks great and I don’t know what it is. I want to see if the picture matches up with the sound. The best thing though is through friends. All of the best tunes I know, it’s 100% my friends who are the plug. They tell me – this is a tune, or you need to listen to this.
Gilles: In your band who listens to the most music?
Yazmin: Me and George probably have the most similar taste but the stuff that I didn’t know would probably be Tom.
Gilles: Is there an etiquette of exchange?
Yazmin: It’s funny that you say that; I have rules on things like this. So if I’m at a house party, I feel like you can ask casually but you can’t Shazam people’s sets. I think that’s a bit cheeky. Some of my friends work really hard finding all these records – it’s part of their story and journey. So sometimes you need to be in a place and think, that set was great, and bounce, and leave it at that.
But if I played you something and it came from a friend, I’d have to credit the friend. I think that’s fair. There are set rules. I’m being serious.
Gilles: How do people discover your music?
Yazmin: Loads of people have told me they hear me through the radio. People come up and say, “I heard you on Gilles’ show.” Now it’s more word of mouth, which I think is so beautiful. Their friend recommending me to them, like me and my friends do all the time.
Gilles: How do you feel about this live music community that’s really effervescent in London and the rest of the UK right now?
Yazmin: I’m so pro-UK music. I love UK stuff; I’ve always loved UK music and I feel everyone is catching up. We’re having a wave – everyone is looking towards the UK right now.
Even regionally, people are opening up to appreciating sounds that aren’t from London, respecting the UK as a whole. There are a few things wrong with the UK right now, and I feel music is a really positive thing. It’s bringing people together.
The live aspect is really important. The jazz guys have shown this. The best way to experience something you love is to see it live. It’s in the moment, it’s a connection. Every gig is going to be different. It is revitalisting the industry.
Gilles: If you weren’t doing music, where would you be now?
Yazmin: Every so often I think about this. I was a social worker and carer before so I think I probably would go back to it, but being around music still. I’d quite like to be a person who goes on the journey with someone else. A tour manager or a stylist – just so I get to ride the wave with somebody else.