The distance between Amsterdam and Los
Angeles spans 5,550 miles. Despite that physical separation, the cities share
quite a bit in common, remaining creative hotbeds for their respective
continents. Both locations fortified the foundation of YELLOW CLAW’s second full-length album, the appropriately titled LOS AMSTERDAM(Mad Decent). For the first time, the Dutch electronic duo—Jim Aasgier and Nizzle—enjoyed an extended stay in the City of Angels in order to
write and record before heading back to Amsterdam to fine-tune their
compositions throughout 2016. The process mirrors the musicians’ distinct sonic
alchemy, fusing elements of European dancefloor panache and gritty American
“Over the past year, we’ve been thinking
about how Los Angeles and Amsterdam are very similar cities,” exclaims Jim. “They’re based on a lot of
creativity and diversity regarding genres, people, and work ethic. LOS AMSTERDAM represents that
spirit. At the same time, there’s this big music industry in L.A. with all of
these writers making all types of songs. In Europe, there’s a dance industry
with artists making beats and drops. Combining those two things was our goal
from the start as we’ve been trying to mix pop and dance music for years. We like
to bring stuff together. On a personal level, the balance on this album is
everything we’ve been working towards.”
2010, YELLOW CLAW has been quietly
inching towards electronic dance music supremacy. Their November 2015 debut, Blood For Mercy, bowed at #1 on Billboard’s Heat Seekers Chart and Top/Dance Electronic Albums Chart and
scored an Edison Award—the Dutch
equivalent of a GRAMMY. It spawned the mega-smash “In My Room” (feat. Ty Dolla $ign, Tyga, & DJ Mustard), which
notched over 104 million Spotify streams.
The album illuminated their penchant for studio synergy as they welcomed the
likes of Pusha T, Ty Dolla $ign, Tiesto,
Flux Pavilion, DJ Mustard, and
more into their creative ecosystem.
Along the way, Rolling Stone named them among “10 Artists You Need To Know” as they received further acclaim from
many more. They’ve enamored audiences everywhere from Tomorrowland and Ultra Music
Festival to Coachella, Bonnaroo, EDC
Las Vegas and Jack Ü’s New Year’s Eve at Madison Square Garden.
By the time the boys headed to Los Angeles early 2016 to begin work on LOS AMSTERDAM, the vision
for their next evolution had come into focus.
“The process of making Blood For Mercy was
sort of a chaos,” admits Nils.
“We were working with people all
over the place, and it was very unstructured in a way. We just started making
songs, and then we placed them together on a tracklisting. We didn’t want to do
that again. We really wanted to take our time and construct a record from top-to-bottom
as opposed to fifteen or eighteen songs we just so happened to finish.”
In late 2016, YELLOW CLAW teased out the impending
full-length with two Yade Lauren collaborations: “Invitation” and “Love &
War.” Propelled by the group’s propulsive production and the singer’s heavenly
delivery, “Invitation” clocked 19 million Spotify streams, while “Love &
War” amassed 14.6 million in less than a month and landed on the Huffington
Post’s “Top 10 Workout Songs for January 2017.” With robust hooks and palpable energy, the new
music reflects a conscious progression.
“We really believed ‘Less is more,’” Jim
continues. “In the past, if something didn’t work, we would throw a lot of
production on top of it. We stripped everything back and focused on the core instead
of adding or changing stuff that didn’t work.”
As a result, each moment stands out. The airtight “City
On Lockdown” (feat. Juicy J & Lil Debbie) begins with the echo of
chiming industrial pipes before snapping into Lil Debbie’s incendiary
declaration, “Bitch, I’m on fire. We ‘bout to burn the fucking club down.”
Following a mind-bending drop, Academy® Award-winning Memphis hip-hop legend Juicy J struts
along with a signature, swaggering verse, “Damn right I’m trippy, ain’t no
better way to be.”
“Lil Debbie really killed it, and I’m a big Juicy J fan,” smiles Nils. “’Stay Trippy’ is one of my favorite albums of all-time.
The song has a dance thing. It has a hip-hop edge. It’s exciting for us.”
“Good Day” (feat. DJ Snake & Elliphant) echoes eighties
new wave before slipping into a snappy and warbling vocal transmission from
Swedish songstress Elliphant, “It was a good day.” It marks YELLOW CLAW’sthird collaboration with French titan DJ Snake, continuing what’s become
“Snake is a genius,” Jim goes on. “He has the perfect
ear, and he put his Snake magic on it. I was really interested in doing a pop
song with Elliphant. We did
two songs with her. The first one was
hardcore techno punk song but after that we wanted to make something beautiful. That ended up being ‘Good Day’ on the album.”
Elsewhere, “Open” (feat. Moski & Jonna Fraser)
volleys between dream synths and an ethereal chant, while the shimmering “Light
Years” (feat. Rochelle) beams an iridescent energy all its own.
Then, there’s the
powerhouse “Stacks” (feat. Quavo, Tinie Tempah & Cesqaux). The
bombastic soundscape provides the perfect landscape for Quavo of Migos
and Tinie Tempah to turn up with inimitable bars and an ear-catching
arguably the hottest rapper in the U.S. Quavo and the biggest rapper in the UK
Tinie Tempah,” says Nils. “It’s everything we hoped it would be.”
Amsterdam is the destination for electronic music in 2017.
hears this, we want to let them know that we’re not taking a break or going
down the easy road,” he leaves off. “We do this for the fans and hope this is
music they can listen to in heartache, in the gym, in pre-game mode, or at work if your boss isn’t looking. We’ve
been pioneering this sound for the last seven years, and we’re going to
continue it for a long time.”
CLAW’s Los Amsterdam will be released March 31, 2017 on Mad Decent.