Every once in a while, an artist comes along who causes us to pause for a moment and wonder, “Why in the hell do we even have genres?” Los Angeles–born, Vegas–satelliting Yultron is a musician of such versatility that the 28-year-old’s path more resembles the forked blaze of a lighting bolt than any sort of linear progression. Cutting his teeth via classical training in piano and violin as a lad, he moved on to rock groups in college, rap/hip-hop collaborations with YG & Honey Cocaine, and his own now-infamous early experimentation blending alternative hooks within hip-hop frameworks (Skywalker mixtape, 2013). Indeed, role descriptors need to be reshuffled to describe this multitalented emcee, remixer, straight-up rapper, producer, and DJ who has of late turned to address EDM full-time, never deviating from his original operating premise: “Why not create something that hasn’t been done?”
His new single, “Ride With Me,” bumps, grinds, and whipsaws on the trap vibration, but with a level of sophisticated simplicity that earns him a Ph.D. in Innovation from Insomniac U.
And a spot on the label.
If we’re playing word association, what comes to mind when I say the phrase, “Ride With You?”
Taking a long beach ride in an old Chevy Impala—you and your girlfriend/boyfriend.
You don’t hear a whole lot of modern dance music that begins with a piano chord, as does “Ride.”
I’m heavily inspired by my feelings and mood when I create music. At the time, I believe my inspiration was rooted in a Major Lazer track. I think it came on the radio, and I immediately went to Spotify, saved it to my playlist, and listened to it repeatedly for a few weeks. I really wanted to create something with similar vibes, because I know how it made me feel: awesome. I play the piano and violin. I was classically trained in both and was in orchestra for a few years in high school.
“I was going through a bad breakup of three years, where my ex-girlfriend cheated and broke up with me. I don’t think it was the direct inspiration for the song, but it was definitely a factor in making it.”
How did you come in contact with, or come to work with, Insomniac?
I’ve been a fan of Insomniac events since I was a kid, waiting to be legal so I could attend these cool festivals and shows. My manager personally reached out and realized that there were friends and people we already knew over at Insomniac Records.
“Milk Was a Bad Choice” was used on So You Think You Can Dance. What was that like, seeing your stuff go worldwide like that? Any explanation of the title of that track?
That was one of the first songs of mine to find traction in the media. I’m a Chinese-American who grew up in East L.A. and never thought I’d be making music that got onto a huge TV show—it was crazy to see it. Watching with my parents, and seeing the looks on their faces, meant the world to me. It was super fulfilling. To be honest, the phrase came from Anchorman with Will Farrell.
How was Leah Culver to work with?
Leah Culver is a phenomenal writer and singer. We have great chemistry in the studio, and she’s so easy to work with. Usually I do all my own writing for lyrics and melodies, but Leah always has amazing ideas. In fact, we didn’t actually have any lyrics or melodies prior to going into the studio! We got in the studio with our friend/engineer Randy Urbanski (Skrillex, Travis Scott) and came up with the lyrics and melodies within 15 minutes.
Whom do you site as influences? Peers? Whether out of competition or admiration, who/what moves you to be your best you?
The Binches: Ookay, Dotcom, Kayzo (and myself). These are my best friends and are probably my biggest influences in my music lately. I admire each of them equally but differently. Whether it’s stage presence, a type of cool sound/song they made, or even just guidance/knowledge and constant support for one another, they’re the true definition of friends who help build you up instead of tear you down.
Is there a story or moment when you knew that being a DJ or producer is what you wanted to do?
I remember playing my first show as a DJ/ producer with my friend Crizzly. I helped support that show in 2015. There was a moment of electricity in the air when I played the oldie “Stand by Me,” and every single person sang along to every single word with their phones out, recording. I had goosebumps and still do whenever I think about that moment. After that, I knew this was what I wanted to do.
Do you have any hobbies? Anything other people consider you an expert in outside of music?
I skated a lot growing up. Although I would never consider myself an expert, I did spend a few years of my life skating with friends and watching a lot of skate videos.
What was your hometown scene like? How would you describe it to someone who has never been?
I grew up poor. My parents were just starting their accounting firm and shared a two-bedroom apartment with another family in Chinatown. When my parents’ business did better, we moved to Monterey Park, which is east of L.A., and then to Pasadena. There was a small rave scene but nothing like what it is now. I grew up with a lot of Asian kids, and everyone listened to rap. Not enough for a scene to influence anyone to be making music, though. My journey in music began in college at UC Riverside, where I started my first rock band, eventually going solo.
What was going on in your life when you made “Ride With Me?” Anything influence/move you?
I was going through a bad breakup of three years, where my ex-girlfriend cheated and broke up with me. I don’t think it was the direct inspiration for the song, but it was definitely a factor in making it.
If your music was put into a gift package for the world and there was a sticker reading “Ingredients” on the outside, what would it say?
My music always changes and is always different. I’ve never liked to stick to a particular thing, because my music is so heavily influenced by my mood, which is always different. Sometimes I’ll be in the mood to kick the day’s ass and write a trap banger, and another day I’ll be in the mood to write something people can get in their feels to. One thing is for sure, though: When you listen to my songs, it’s pretty much telling you a story about me in some form or shape.