Youceff Kabal
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Youceff Kabal

Phoenix, Arizona, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE

Phoenix, Arizona, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2010
Solo Electronic Chillwave




"NEW Music! | El Yunque. | Youceff Kabal."

Youceff Kabal‘s newest album, El Yunque, could not have come at a better time. Not only does the “feelgoodness” of the record go perfectly with the oncoming warm weather, it is literally a well produced chill pill made to combat all of the current ills of the world. War, politics, classism, racism, GMOs and genocide all seem to take a backseat when you press play on El Yunque.

A great album usually serves as a portal, capable of transporting you to various dimensions and mindscapes. El Yunque takes you to somewhere safe and warm, where you are kissed by the sun and the inviting breeze holds you in a constant embrace.

The album, which takes its name from the El Yunque National Rain Forest in Northeastern Puerto Rico, starts off with a smiling rhythm. “Two Halves” is an endearingly rowdy and upbeat serenade that falls somewhere in between a SoCal beach ballad and a transcending chant. The mood then starts to simmer with “Strange Tones.” The track is mostly instrumental with a driving beat that eventually builds into a quaint monolith of melody. It is the perfect song for someone in transit and on the go.

“Star Cravin'” shifts into a trippier vibe as Kabal’s vocals echo with a dream-like harmony that makes the tune twinkle. By now, you are fully convinced that you are in for something special. Kabal’s ability to orchestrate the overall ebb and flow of the music, making him one of the unsung princes of the chillwave genre.

“Ride for Tide” is a slightly distorted, statical affair and may throw some listeners for a loop; but isn’t a bad song once you get into it. “In the Summertime” is the crown jewel of El Yunque. It is, by all means, the best song on the album. Followed by “Do You Still?”, it is the anthem among anthems. Funny thing is, it is the shortest song on the whole album—talk about short and sweet.

In the end, El Yunque is a precious gift delivered from Kabal’s mind to your ears.
Download Today! - The Quiet Lunch

"Ep Streamz: Youceff Kabal – El Yunque EP"

Last week we shared a new single with you from a producer out of Phoenix called Youceff Kabal, the track was called ‘Ride For Tide’ and it was to appear on his new El Yunque EP.

Well that EP has now landed and it features five daydreaming indie-electronic tunes that are uplifting and invigorating. Youceff Kabal‘s music sounds like a mixture of Total Warr, Tycho and Toro Y Moi, all of who I am a very big fan of.

Check out El Yunque EP below then head over to Bandcamp to grab yourself a copy for keeps. - Acid Stag

"Youceff Kabal - El Yunque"

With his latest project Youceff Kabal has removed the divide between music and self. The 25 year-old Phoenix musician’s decision to transition from pseudonym to government name has proved to be a turning point in his musical journey. On new EP, El Yunque, Kabal is cognisant of his Puerto Rican heritage, allowing Latin, and Afrobeat influence to permeate his unique pop aesthetic. The result is music as distinctive as the forest it’s named after. - supermegatrend

"Youceff Kabal releases new album with Polar Pop aesthetic"

I first heard economics senior Youceff Kabal play at The Trunk Space, a few weeks before the semester was over. My roommates and my friends all piled into a car and drove on over to Grand Avenue and Roosevelt. If my memory serves me right, Kabal was the first act and one to remember.

He played only a few dreamy songs, but his visuals and stage presence carried the act. On May 12, Kabal dropped "El Yunque" which is an anagram of 2015, according to the artist's Bandcamp page.

Take a listen to the embedded bandcamp album, and read a lightly edited email interview I did with Kabal. If you really want to feel 2015, attend the "extended listening party" for the album on Facebook.

Tell me a little bit about yourself!

My dad is Moroccan Berber and my mom is American, from California, with parents from Newfoundland and Puerto Rico. I moved to the USA in 2004 and went to Metro Arts, studied music at Phoenix College, and yeah, I do a bit of everything.

(photo courtesy of El Yunque Press)

When did you start making music? What brought you to this style today?

My neighbor, when we first moved to Phoenix was a rapper, Malik Lowry, and he was making beats next door right around the same time that I was getting into Kanye West and Rjd2, especially for their beats. So he showed me the basics and I kinda went on from there. Then my friend Jason Rudd who also made music at the time pressed me to try singing on my beats and so I tried it and it turned out well enough for me to try again hehe.

I think just the music I listen to, I'll try to emulate, or put my own twist to it. I think tastes define lifestyles, and listening to music, and choosing what to pursue, that's also part of the writing process. Like, "huh, I like what's happening in this song, it's out if the ordinary, and it's triggering something in me that I don't understand yet, and I like it a lot." Wanting to create something like that, the desire to create that feeling for someone else, to feel a little how I feel, that's a big definer for my style.

Have you released anything prior to this album?

Yes, I released two albums as YUS prior to this one: "Palms" and "Talisman." And also two remix round-ups, if you will, entitled "Favorites Remixed I & II."

What was it like working on this one? Where and when did you work on it?

All the songs were created at home, some in 2012, some in 2013. I think "Ride For Tide" was the last one I wrote, and definitely felt like I'd reached the top in that mode if you will.

It was cool working on it to be honest, "In The Summertime" and "Star Cravin'" came from a really cool and eventful romantic relationship, and felt really good to make. Strange Tones was a reflection on German krautrock band Faust, and iirc Two Halves was also kind of in that oceanic vibe.

How'd you get the tracks to sound so dreamy?

Hehe there's a bit of a theme of escapism going on throughout, I'm not sure if that's an actual philosophy but let's pretend. But yeah I think it's kinda natural, and more so maybe from living in Phoenix. I think it's fair to say most people like to get out of the city often, and I feel like music is a bit of a trip for me.

Lines like "at peace and far away, that's how I like to spend my day" or "take me where you like to go in the summertime" or even just "why can't I just take it easy?" It's definitely what I hear and feel in the music making process. Like, why can't it always be like this? So, you know, daydreams and dreamers choosing the other route, it kinda all points to this weird aspect of out lives that is dreaming, and the music just ends up sounding like that.

Why the title "El Yunque?"

Ah, yes! It's the Puerto Rican rainforest depicted in the (album) cover, and also my middle name and my grandmothers last name.

I feel like, making the songs, there's definitely a rainy, wetness to everything, and the thing is that my grandparents are all from coastal countries: Puerto Rico, Morocco, and Newfoundland. I feel like I touch a part of the subconscious when I write music, and I feel like often they are the ones speaking out.

At the same time, Phoenix's monsoon has such an influence on my work, I feel like when it rains hard here, it's very much so the equivalent of a rainforest with palm trees shedding their skins all over the streets.

So yeah it's kind of an homage to my cultural heritage and my city, and at the same time is actually who I am by law and by choice.

How would you describe your aesthetic or style?

I called this aesthetic polar pop, because it's very icy, cooling, kinda maybe a little cheap, but I prefer to say affordable, all in reference to Circle K's soda marketing scheme. It's also careless in a sense because genres are very limiting and meaningless. We can't have fun or step out of bounds because everything needs to be classified so that we can make money. It's really whatever to me, and doesn't matter. I want to live and experience, that's really my aesthetic at this point.

What do you want people to feel like when they listen?

Just alive. I hope people open up a little bit. There are so many things going on at all times that we don't notice, and if someone is like, "yeah, that's kinda how I feel and I haven't realized till now" then that's, I mean, that's home base.

The perspective I've adopted lately kinda pushes towards that, that really it's always the case that others see a side of the story that I don't, and there's a lot to learn and the time to start is now.

Where do you usually perform? Any shows coming up?

A bit everywhere, I've played at Trunk Space, Crescent Ballroom, at Third Space with local open mikes Cultiv8n Culture.

I had an under the radar record release party at Urban Beans, and now I'm trying to play a show in Brussels where I'm visiting family currently and in Morocco too when I get there next week. We're planning a larger release event when I return from my travels but we have to formalize things. I'll definitely make it officially known as soon as it's set. - State Press

"Get Me Free #6: Youceff Kabal - Two Halves"

On his current EP 'El Yunque', Arizonan musician Youceff Kabal delivers a platter of ambient soundscapes (not the boring variety where nothing much actually happens) along with a modern form of dreampop that's fairly upbeat and easily absorbed, whilst also being so laid-back it might as well be sipping a cocktail in the pool on a lilo. You could put 'El Yunque' in the same bracket as jj in the way it absorbs more tropical influences. All six tracks are worth investigating, and all are available as a name-your-price download, but maybe shining that bit brightest is opener 'Two Halves'.

It's the most abrasive song here (although using the word "abrasive" is pushing it; this is chilled to perfection and still made for relaxing to in the sun), which perhaps makes it the most immediate too. Along with a repetitive, almost spidery guitar line, are shuffling beats, soft vocals and what sound as though they began life as jagged edges, only to be gradually eroded into the smoother forms they now occupy. Arizona must be a pretty hot place this time of year, and it sounds like the heat has gone to Youceff Kabal's head; 'Two Halves' feels as though you've just jumped into a pool for refreshment, and it's a great feeling. - The Sound of Confusion

"Ride For Tide Youceff Kabal"

Introducing singer/songwriter Youceff Kabal, whose latest single "Ride For Tide" will have you smitten with its effortless, dreamy vibe and silky vocals.

The track is propelled by the delicate instrumentation while Kabal's hushed vocals tug at your heartstrings.

"I don't think I can take you where you want to go, it's not up to me now you're afraid of feeling how I do."

If you're feeling this, why not check out his recently released 6-track EP El Yunque.

Nice way to wake up! - Stereofox

"What I Learned at Bandcamp: Youceff Kabal"

Youceff Kabal has been a performer in the Phoenix music scene for years, playing everywhere from Trunk Space to Crescent Ballroom. The Brussels-born artist, also known musically as YUS, sings solo over electronic beats he’s created on his computer.

In May, he released El Yunque on Bandcamp. The six-track EP is available for name-your-price download.
Below, read The Spec‘s interview with Kabal and listen to tracks from the album…

Tell us a little about yourself…
My name is Youceff Kabal, I’m a 25-year-old American from Belgium living in Phoenix and I like music and a lot of other things.

How long have you been making music?
Since high school I’d say. About nine years or so.

Who/what are your influences?
There are so many! My mom I’d say would be the biggest. She introduced me and my siblings to poetry fairly early on and I sang “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” with her in one of our family videos way, way back in the day. Thinking back on it, that was absolutely insane, but I have no idea where that tape is and that really sucks. I’ll also list my older brother Mhamed, we argue often, but he really was a major influence in terms of music and showing me new artists such as Panda Bear and Jai Paul.

I have all or most of my listening history logged on my, for a more in depth look at what I listen to.

What is your favorite song you’ve released and why?
That’s a cool question. Honestly, it changes all the time. I go on kicks listening to my music, like, listening to things I worked on here and there. Right now, I really like “Ride For Tide,” but for a while my favorite was the remix I did for “Newtimers,” and also the remix I did of “Chromatics.” From Talisman, my favorite is “Now.” Also, I collabed with Philippines artist Eyedress on a song called “After Hours” that I really, really liked for a bit.

Upcoming projects, where do you want to go from here?
Where do we go from here?! There’s a bad side to being a musician today in that the zeitgeist managed to make music seem more banal, like something anyone can do, which totally isn’t the case. But what it does is it makes for a very congested internet and it’s really difficult to stand out. It’s more about virality/shock value and sticking to what we know than really good music (like, musicians are literally copying other musicians because fans like that particular sound). We depend on brands like Pitchfork/Hypetrak/whoever to find the good stuff, but there’s so much money being exchanged and those sources aren’t as legitimate as they were (like, there are conflicts of interest everywhere).

So, what do I do? Where can I take this that others can’t? Make really, really great music videos, and be really, really great live, and have really cool people around, so that in a sense we’re just working for ourselves and the plan as a whole is fail proof. If I’m happy with what I’m putting out, and my friends are happy with what they’re putting out, then it really doesn’t matter who’s hyping or not, how many people are listening, who’s booking us for shows. We’re just making great content so that when we’re older, we have our experiences documented and know that we really gave it our all.

Why do you make music?
I’m gonna try my best to not say something epically corny, lol. You know, honestly, it just struck a chord with me when I was young. I just Googled “struck a chord” and one of the definitions is to create an emotional response, and that’s exactly it. As someone who grew up in Europe, I’m very…well, Europeans are very emotional. Like, they’re very public or it feels more in touch with their emotions. Here in the U.S., there’s a weird sense of disconnect with our emotions, and I think it develops in our schools. Like, it’s really not cool to cry at school or to take a leap for something without knowing the potential repercussions. We’re gonna be classified as this or as this. We’re gonna be a nerd, or gay, or boring, or whatever people come up with today. Like, as Americans, we love the scientific method, we love to have a calculated logic for why we do the things we do, so that when people ask us why we do what we do, we don’t sound like a lunatic. The thing is, that’s just complete bullshit.

Music just struck a chord with me and when I write music, or perform music, I separate myself a bit more from what people want me to be, and I’m just more me. I can explain things about myself, or about things that are happening around me, better than I can with prose or language or whatever that is not music. It satisfies my need to communicate, which is actually a very, very deep need, and it’s such a rush when that need is satisfied. I think that’s really why I do it.

Anything else you’d like readers to know that we haven’t asked you about?
Um, if you make music too and want guidance or whatever, you can send music to everything [@] and I’ll listen and you never know what can happen!

Thanks again! - The Spec Blog


2010 Palms
2011 Favorites Remixed
2012 Favorites Remixed II
2012 Nowadays (Single)
2014 Talisman
2015 El Yunque



Youceff Kabal (born March 20th 1990, in Brussels, Belgium) is an American musician and songwriter based in Phoenix, AZ. Under his previous alias, YUS, he released two albums: “Palms” in November 2010 and “Talisman” in June 2014. On May 12, 2015, Youceff released a third album entitled “El Yunque”. Youceff also runs Phoenix-based record
label Manneken Records.

Band Members