Yōkai is a self-described "Rock Steady Crü" hailing from Compton and South Central Los Angeles. You might recognize Yōkai's members from their work in the ska band Matamoska!, La Pobreska, Mafia Rusa! The Skacore Cartel, and La Onda T.V.
Their proper debut full-length, Nostalgicated, recently hit all streaming outlets, and was recorded by Taylor Young (God's Hate, Twitching Tongues) at his The Pit Recording Studio in Van Nuys.
I spoke with Yōkai bassist Héctor Rivera about the new album, working with Taylor, and the talented visual artists they collaborated on the new project.
Tell me a bit about Yōkai came together, and where you knew each other from.
We all played in different bands that would play together on the same bills. Danny played with me for a brief period in Matamoska! and I toured with Johnny while he played with La Pobreska.
We wanted to give it a go to play in a band together and play in another totally different genre of music. We all have always been open-minded about [musical genres] and hardcore being one of them.
What does "Yōkai" mean or signify?
Yōkai has a lot of different meanings from “ghost” to “monster” [to] “apparition.” Just the fact that it has different [meanings,] we felt it would fit perfectly with, eventually, describing the music style we’d be playing.
How exactly was the Nostalgicated written, recorded, created, etc. during a global pandemic?
Writing during the pandemic was not as bad, but more [so] patience went towards it. We, initially, where only writing an EP scheduled for [release in] April 2020. When the pandemic hit, everyone, including the band, took precautions and left it [the EP] to a later date that ended up becoming a full-length album, instead.
What would you cite as some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while you wrote the material for Nostalgicated?
For myself, I felt like Trash Talk and some Pantera was a way I saw and heard what riffs Johnny had written and Danny’s lyrics were taking that direction. As for Johnny, he was listening to Trash Talk, King Krule, and Trapped Under Ice.
Also, some of the local homies, as well: Exile, El Gran Otro from DF, Si Dios Quiere from Chicago, and Deviated State.
What was it like working with Taylor Young at The Pit Recording Studio, who single-handedly engineered, recorded, and mixed Nostalgicated?
This was us, as Yōkai's second time going [into the studio] with Taylor Young and my third time. Working with him is very easy-going, but he really helped pushed us towards really evolving the sound and way we play the music.
The fact that he really cares about the project really [helped] drive the way it turned out. The way I see it is, if you want quality work, you go to a quality studio and engineer that will understand the genre and will make that initiative to push you and not just be there to press Record and that’s it.
Would you mind briefly speaking about who created the album artwork for both the digital and physical (cassette tape) releases of the album?
The album [artwork] was made by two different [artists;] one, was Matias Consentino, an artist from Argentina. We had artwork previously done a piece for our first ever single. We loved the painting style he has, which was what we [were] looking for.
The [cassette] tape cover was made by one of Johnny’s close friends named Robert Campos. It was Johnny’s idea for The Simpsons-style aesthetic, due to the album being based on our youth.
How would you personally say Nostalgicated's overall sound, style, and aesthetic differs from Yōkai's previous two EPs, 2020/776-66 and Reap What You Sow?
Nostalgicated, I believe, myself to be the sound of Yōkai, as to compared to our first [EP] and single, I felt the band was still trying to find it’s sound. The full-length is what the band bringing all its influences together was the outcome of it.
In addition to Yōkai, what other bands/projects are you and your bandmates currently playing with?
As of now, the majority of us are just a part of Yōkai. With the exception of Johnny, [who] has a new solo project releasing some music soon named Line.48 and I’m part of [two collectives] named La Onda and Mafia Rusa!
So, this is a bit of a hypothetical question here... but if you could assemble a mixed bill/genre show featuring Yōkai and any additional artists/bands (currently active or inactive) who would you choose and why for each?
Not sure if it’s quite “mixed,” but I would say, for myself, maybe, Pantera, Suicidal Tendencies, Trash Talk, Terror, and King Krule. Those would be my choices.
Now that Nostalgicated has been properly released into the terribly unsuspecting world, what's next for Yōkai?
Well, we’re working on trying to press the album on vinyl. We released a limited run of [cassette] tapes and besides that, we hope that everything, pandemic-wise, starts taking a step towards the better and [a] safer way of things operating. We’re really anxious, as to play live shows.
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