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School's out for Krewella

Duo offers an auditory education brought on by the fusion of singing and dubstep



It's a near-Herculian task telling your parents that you're dropping out of college. It's almost as daunting to say you're not going to college in the first place. But when you stand on the precipice of making your dreams come true, you bite the bullet and tell them your plans — even if it's both situations and you're telling via a letter.

"If it had only been one of us, it would have been harder," says Yasmine Yousaf, of the decision she and her older sister, Jahan, made to focus on their music. "We were each other's support system in the beginning when we talked to our parents. It was hard to tell them that I was never going to college — well, for the time being, at least. Jahan was dropping out. It was a hard thing to do. Our parents didn't take it very well."

(Photo: Nikko Lamere)
  • (Photo: Nikko Lamere)

Yasmine and Jahan felt that in order to be successful, they had to spend all of their time focusing on their electro/house and dubstep group, Krewella, instead of having the distraction of grades and classes. As the two singers, along with DJ Kris "Rainman" Trindl, saw Krewella's popularity grow, they knew it was the perfect time to concentrate their efforts. (The day the two made the decision — 6-8-10 — has been tattooed on each sister as a reminder.) And their parents have grown more supportive as Krewella's music has become more popular.

The increased mainstreaming of electronic dance music has caused DJs to flood dance floors with genre-bending tunes that transcend labels. Krewella is taking that same approach from a different direction, incorporating two singers within its fusion of styles. Live singing would also help set apart its live show, if only things hadn't happened so quickly for the Chicago-based trio.

Having released four songs and a couple of remixes, Krewella was solely focused on creating music — Jahan and Yasmine singing over Rainman's beats — when they were offered live gigs. Not ones to turn down opportunities, the sisters learned to DJ and started performing. They focused on mixing the music within the confines of a booth and kept bigger ideas of incorporating live singing in the back of their minds.

"We were only thinking about creating music, until we saw that we had a growing fanbase," Jahan, 22, says. "We never thought shows were a way to make money. Once there was interest, we had to figure out how to perform it. We figured we had to take advantage of the moment to play and start DJing and figure out the live singing later."

There's plenty of energy in the music — the trio's recently released debut EP, Play Hard, features six songs complete with dubstep drops, synth fills and dirty electro-house grooves. Yasmine, 20, who joined the group when she was on the verge of turning 15, is happy with the album's name. "We had planned to name it '6-8-10' to show what we've done in the last two years since then," she says. "The album is meant to make you sweat, rage, party and go hard. I think Play Hard embodies the sound perfectly."

Jahan and Yasmine are excited to talk about where their performances could go in the future — singing live, bringing in a drummer, having a larger production and taking their music out of the DJ booth and onto a stage.

"We want to come out with a big bang and not a mess," Jahan says. "That's why we want to plan it before we go back on tour. It will be a new era — the next time we come back to a city, we'll have something different. But it's definitely still going to be a DJ show and a rager where people can just fucking go crazy."

Krewella with DJ Red, DJ Frenzy. $10-$25. 10 p.m. Aug. 23. Phoenix.

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