Current jazz-heads are pretty much all influenced by hip-hop aesthetics in some way and the results are consistently cutting edge and constantly evolving. Dutch bass player Joop de Graaf literally lived through those subcultures and took that inspiration to craft some raw ideas in his bedroom before going into the studio to record them live with a handful of musicians. The results are pretty exciting and we're hyped to share the first track of the forthcoming Lost But Here EP today.
Y.O.P.E. is a brand-new project from the Netherlands, which is led by the 28-year-old bass player Joop de Graaf. This project will be his debut EP as a bandleader, but the journey that led up to this point is pretty interesting already. Joop is based in The Hague and started his musical path as a DJ playing vinyl records at the age of 14. At first, he was mainly focused on playing hip-hop records and groove-based music from the 70s and 80s, which led him to open up for various hip-hop artists and play at breaking (breakdance) events. Later on, a friend got an MPC-2000 and they started flipping their record collection into sampled beats. At 18 years old, Joop decided to pick up the bass guitar and started studying music. He first studied music production in Rotterdam, after that he went to the Conservatory of Amsterdam to study jazz bass guitar. Joop met the Portuguese drummer Luis Possollo there, and their musical kinship instantly aligned. An important piece of the Y.O.P.E. puzzle fell into place.
Joop is a busy man, constantly challenges himself, and currently plays bass in several bands, such as Dandana, Eskina, IEWL, and Brintex Collective. It was with Brintex Collective that he met the multi-instrumentalist and synth-wizard Tommy van Leuken, which completed the search for the final piece.
Last year they came down to Amsterdam and did an amazing studio performance for the series we did with Amarte Studio Concerts & Flowriders Studio. Watch the video below and keep an eye out for their upcoming live shows, such as the North Sea Jazz Festival in July, and hopefully a release. Brintex head honcho and pianist Brenn Luiten will also feature on one track of the Y.O.P.E. EP but more on that in the coming months.
With Luis and Tommy on board, Joop had all the ingredients he needed to bring his Y.O.P.E. project to life. The ideas originally started with Joop creating beats in his bedroom and now he had the right people to play it live with. So they went to The Womb Studio in The Hague and recorded all 7 tracks there. The intimate space is filled with a bunch of analog gear, tape machines, a vintage mixing board & more fun toys to craft a fat sound with. Sounds like a recipe for dopeness.
The EP is inspired by Joop's musical journey from those early days playing hip-hop records for dancers, up till today with the contemporary crossover-jazz sound that incorporates a lot of elements from electronic music styles. For example, the current wave of UK jazz musicians is playing their semi-electronic sound for dance floors & festivals around the globe and it works. Just look at people like Kamaal Williams, Yussef Dayes, Moses Boyd, and many others.
The first single 'trees' sits somewhere in the middle of this, but also beyond all of it. There are 3 changes in the song, and it has a 3/4 time signature in there as well. The music consists of all kinds of elements across the spectrum, but the freedom of jazz and head-nod-quality of dirty hip-hop beats are surely at the core of it. They've succeeded in creating a fine balance of heavy grooves fused with experimental synths and odd time signatures that give it a raw leftfield sound. This is pure fire and truly embodies the sound of today.
“The vision is to create danceable beat-music with the improvisational elements of the drums and bass rather than solo instruments. It is about the grooves and having a good time playing it.” - Y.O.P.E.
'trees' is the first single taken from the forthcoming Lost But Here EP and will be out on March 25th via Wicked Wax.
Steppin' Into Tomorrow stands with artists & labels and encourages listeners to support by buying their music directly from Bandcamp.