For 10 years now, sisters Yasmine and Jahan Yousaf, better known to the masses as Krewella, have been steadily climbing to the heights of the international electronic dance music (EDM) scene and developing a reputation along the way for working hard and delivering powerful live performances. The duo’s gorgeously poppy, hook-laden and ridiculously catchy brand of EDM has landed Krewella in top spots at festivals all over the world, a partnership with dance-fitness company Zumba, as well as a veritable army of fans across the globe who affectionately refer to themselves as “The Krew.”
Recently, Krewella dropped the first of two highly anticipated EPs, New World Pt. 1, and announced a headlining tour that will lead them all across North America through November. CULTURE had the opportunity to talk to Jahan and Yasmine and hear all about everything that went into the making of the new EPs as well as their thoughts on cannabis.
“I mean, it’s so disturbing how easy it is to get a prescription for opioids. It’s such a big problem. I recently fractured my metatarsal in my foot and went to urgent care, and they just wrote me a prescription for Norcos, and I almost wanted to lecture them. I smoked weed a couple of nights later and was totally fine.”
Congratulations on your EP, New World Pt. 1. Can you tell me a bit about how this EP came together?
Jahan: Well, we started working on the songs around a year ago without the intention of it being an EP. Then about six months ago we realized we had dozens and dozens of songs that, once we’d filtered through and picked the best, could make a cohesive body of work. That’s usually how it starts for us, we’ll just aimlessly write in the studio without really thinking about how to package it or box it in. Then it’ll usually naturally form into something where we hear some type of string of cohesiveness or theme throughout, where we’ll realize that some of these songs together would complement each other.
What do you personally see as the overarching themes or strings running through New World Pt. 1?
Yasmine: Well, it’s not really a concept EP.
Jahan: Yeah, it’s not a concept EP, but the idea of New World actually came from a song that isn’t released yet. Yasmine and I were both raised in a multicultural household, our dad is Pakistani and our mom is American/European, and it’s something we didn’t really talk about and sort of brushed aside in the beginning of our music career. But, in the past few years it’s become something that’s really important to us, and we’ve just been diving deep into who we are and what is more authentic to who we are as people and as artists. This idea of New World is something we talk a lot about in the studio especially considering the fact that we’re in a Trump era. So much is changing that affects people on all levels regardless of what status you are, how much money you make, what religion you follow or what type of household you grew up in. We talk a lot in the studio about these social conflicts we’re having in this country and how the youth and cultural diversity is going to be what fights back against all of these old ways that are really suppressing new ways of thinking and open mindedness.
I know it has been a little over a year since your previous EP, Ammunition, was released. Were there any major changes between the way you approached New World Pt. 1 versus your approach to Ammunition?
Yasmine: I think Ammunition would have to be what I call a purge of emotions, and it was a necessary EP that Jahan and I felt like we had to do. We had a lot of things pent up inside of us—everything from bitterness and sadness, anger and frustration, as well as love and happiness; the whole spectrum of everything we were going through. We had to purge it into this one EP, and once we got it out there into the world, we felt a weight off our backs. Moving forward from that, we just wanted to make music freely that flowed out of us without too much thought. I think with the Ammunition EP we let go of a dark passenger and began to move on to making music that was a little more free and a little bit lighter.
“I also think that the medical system legalization is important because we’re only just beginning to discover the wonders of marijuana. My dad always says, ‘When in doubt, go back to nature.’”
Can you tell us how your song “TH2C” developed?
Jahan: Well, with that song the verses actually came first. We had a lot of fun creating an image of a girl lyrically using people we know personally and on the internet as inspiration. So, the verses came first, and then the hook came out almost as a stream of consciousness in the room. We kind of flowed out, “I’m too high to care, I’m too high to care,” because it just felt like it was what that girl would be singing at a festival or something. We felt like we didn’t have any rules while we were making it, and we could say anything we wanted. Then, once we had the title written up, “Too High To Care,” Yasmine was the one who said “TH2C” and everyone in the room immediately went, “Woah! That is some genius shit! That needs to be the title!”
Yasmine: I think this is one of the first songs that we’ve ever released that’s written from the perspective of someone else, and it was really fun creating that persona. We had a joke in the studio where we called the woman in the song “She,” and creating her was almost liberating in and of itself because, like Jahan said, there were no rules when writing the life of this character. It was exciting to feel like we didn’t have to stay in a box with it—“TH2C” was a really fun song to make.
Jahan: I feel like we need more multidimensional female characters in the media. It feels like sometimes all we have are these few social archetypes where there’s just the stupid party girl who doesn’t have much going on with her life, the fame whore, the girl who hustles really hard and is super serious all the time, or the Instagram model with a million followers. So we decided to create a girl who is essentially the female Diplo—someone who is traveling the world, is culturally exposed, knows how to fucking party (although I’m basing this all off of his persona online) and is a work machine. Women can do that stuff too!
It seems like the song is so much about strength and independence, but also about having a good time with one of CULTURE’s favorite things. How do you two feel about all of the cannabis legalization going on around the country at the moment?
Jahan: A little disclaimer, I’m not so knowledgeable about the legality of everything, but I’ll tell you how I feel about marijuana as a casual smoker here and there. Smoking
affects my vocal chords, so I’m not the type of person who just goes in the studio and smokes and writes; sometimes I’ll smoke once in a month, other times it might be every two weeks. However, as someone who is really conscious about health and the purity of our food, body products, and really anything we put in our bodies, I just hope that with the decriminalization of marijuana that certain people won’t exploit this new product and pollute it with fillers and toxic ingredients. I just hope that there are people out there, and I’ve heard there are in California, that are doing their best to run organic dispensaries and farms, because what’s going into your lungs needs to come from a pure place.
I also think that for the medical system legalization is important because we’re only just beginning to discover the wonders of marijuana. My dad always says, “When in doubt, go back to nature.” So, I hope we’re starting to go back to nature instead of creating more artificial chemicals that can hurt people. I mean, it’s so disturbing how easy it is to get a prescription for opioids. It’s such a big problem. I recently fractured my metatarsal in my foot and went to urgent care, and they just wrote me a prescription for Norcos, and I almost wanted to lecture them. I smoked weed a couple of nights later and was totally fine. I’d rather just do that than worry about getting addicted to pain medication.
What are your hopes for the overall production of things on this EP?
Yasmine: Well, when we were in the beginning stages of making this EP, there were moments where we were thinking, “How are we going to make this go into a crazy drop?” Or “How can we make this feel more electronic?” At a certain point we threw all of that out the window and said, “No. Let’s just make songs!” After that it kind of got to a point we were really just focusing on the songs, the vibe, and spending a lot of time on the percussion because we were trying to bring more of our Pakistani roots into this New World vibe. So, we were concentrating on a lot of Bollywood-inspired percussion, and because of that the foundations of the songs were all there before we even went into making them more dance-y or whatever direction we were going in. I remember one of the songs, “Love Outta Me,” had an actual track drop on it and we ended up taking it out because it took away from the vision we had for the song. We really just threw out any of our preconceived notions of what an EDM EP should be with New World, and at the end of the day we loved all of these songs. We hope that they really resonate with people, and they end up loving them too.
“I feel like we need more multidimensional female characters in the media.”
With a new EP out and a huge tour about to get underway, that’s quite a bit to have on your plates. Does Krewella have any other ambitions for 2017?
Yasmine: Well, if you think about it, 2017 is strangely more than halfway over, and it’s scary to even think about how quickly time is going. We’ve been in the studio all year making music, so being able to take a look at it all finally is really cool. We have New World Pt. 2 coming out sometime soon, and we don’t know how many songs it’s going to be just yet—probably between six and eight. We have so many cool collaborations coming up that we’re working on and are almost done with. We’ve got this tour about to kick off that will lead to a ton of new merchandise, and the tour itself is going to be a completely new show, and by the end of the tour we’ll be in mid-November. By then 2017 will be pretty much over, so I think we’ve got our work cut out for ourselves. The goals are already in place, we’re just in motion now. It’s all fun though, we’re having the best time making this music.