If there’s one word to describe Yulia Niko, it’s diligent. The Berlin-based producer and DJ is steadfast in her approach to her craft, today releasing her debut album ‘TWINSOUL’ on Armada Music. As Yulia stands poised at the threshold of the next stage in her artistic journey, she reveals profound mastery within her intimately crafted collection of ten tracks, each imbued with a deeply personal resonance.

Yulia’s musical origins begin when she was fifteen, after a car accident left her in serious condition, hospitalized for two months. To pass time, she dove into old Ibiza discs, trance and progressive tracks, Ministry of Sound CDs and classic house records, building up an arsenal of music that she later credits as being key to her recovery. A year later, she was playing her first gig. “To me it’s more than just music, it’s my life and passion,” says Yulia Niko. “I was always the different one at school and university. When I first discovered my passion to play music, I found my way to stand out.”

Yulia reflects on her early 20s as the turning point in her career, when she moved to New York to study music production and improve her technique amongst local artists and renowned DJs. At this time, she was primarily listening to house, cultivating a deep connection with the genre: “House to me, is intelligent music,” Yulia explains. From a small studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Yulia zeroed in on her sound by drawing inspiration from classic Detroit and Chicago producers to meld a fusion of deep house, techno and progressive genres, defining her distinctive minimal style.

Now, at a pivotal moment in her career, Yulia is driven by her unwavering optimism to leverage the transformative power of music. The same philosophy permeates her debut album, ‘TWINSOUL’, a highly personal body of work that she produced in honor of her father after his death. Yulia considers the project a work of art rather than merely a reflection of her sound, experimenting with real instruments and live, original vocals to create an emotive and confessional opus tinged with an authentic human touch. 

Entrancing listeners with its hypnotic groove and lush atmosphere, ‘Satisfaction’ spearheads the album, accompanied by the track’s official music video.
‘TWINSOUL’ is just the beginning for the burgeoning producer. “I am taking it super slow and easy, inching closer and closer to my goals,” Yulia says. “I’m on no one else’s timeline but my own.”

We sat down with Yulia for a Q&A and delved into her personal and professional journey, her inspirations, the making of ‘TWINSOUL’, and her upcoming plans.

Congratulations on the release of your debut album, ‘TWINSOUL’! How does it feel to finally have this deeply personal project out in the world? 

I feel very happy, and kind of relieved. In the beginning, many people were trying to make me change my mind and not release an album, due the fact that maybe it’s too early for this stage in my career. But it took more than two years so actually now it is the perfect time. It really was a lot of work and involved a huge amount of creativity, beyond just producing the album and signing it to the right label. It feels like I am releasing a “baby”. Everyone seems to be excited though, which is great.

Can you share a bit about the inspiration behind these different sounds and vibes of the tracks on your album?

The album is a mix of many things and styles. That was the first inspiration; to make something timeless, like a real song which is not common for a Techno DJ. I wanted to reconnect with my fans more spiritually and make something more meaningful, which is why each song has a story behind. 
For today, a huge impact on my style is coming from Henrik Schwarz. First, I love Jazz. Some of my singers on the album are Jazz musicians, including Sil Romero who I worked with on the song ‘EXITO’. The last song on the album, ‘Satisfaction’, is a mix of minimal/tech house groove with Jazz arpeggios, with my own voice on it. I love when music is happy, organic, sexy, jazzy and groovy. 
But back to those days when I just started, I was a true fan of Luciano; not just his music, but also his dance moves. All those things made me inspired to actually make it until now, where I am. The whole album as you already know is dedicated to my father, which also confirms that all songs on the album are more accessible as I had an idea to create something that my father would like as well. Which is not easy; to please a 64 year-old guy who went to war and had not much of an idea about music. Unfortunately it would be too late to check. 

Your musical journey began at a young age, with influences ranging from Ibiza to classic house records. How did these early experiences shape the artist you are and sound you have today?

As I mentioned before, I like positive, uplifting, groovy music, which I was brought up on. I am very happy that those DVDs from Ibiza in 2002-2005 were my first education on house music. I sample a lot from old records, as you’ll hear in the album. For example, with the song ‘Satisfaction’, I always wanted to do something with Benny Benasi’s record. When I was working in the studio I tried to jam with the mic and the lyrics just came to my mind, firstly as a joke. I still play lots of classic records, and my own edits on them. Funnily enough, often I notice that people on the dance floor don’t recognise them because they are too young and for them it sounds new, so better for me I guess! Nothing compares to those old records, I have a big vinyl collection of tracks which were recorded on old analog recorders!

The track ‘Satisfaction’ seems to be a standout from the album, even accompanied by an official music video. What was the creative process like for this track, and why did you choose it as a focus?

It is the last track (outro) to close out the album. I wanted to have some fun and make something funny. No particular concept or moral of the video but I definitely wanted to show that you can feel “satisfied” from anything and a few examples like massages, eating donuts, singing, dancing (which i didn’t do for a long time) and just enjoying yourself. We recorded it at some local studio not far from my home and my friend, who is a professional dancer, participated too. She is so beautiful and young. I needed help, who wants to watch just me?! The rhythm of the song is so sexy, we were just trying to be sexy but again, nothing too crazy, just having fun with my favorite song of the album, which has also my own voice on it, so it is absolutely unique and original. 

You’ve moved from New York to Berlin and now perform globally. How have these experiences shaped your music and approach to DJing?

New York was, for me, more of a school of life and I went there for production school. New York is a great city but let’s agree in terms of music, Berlin is a capital. A lot of artists live in Berlin and there a lot of labels, shops and local clubs; the scene is spectacular. My first single was released on the Berlin label Get Physical Music and it definitely changed my sound so much since I moved to Germany. I guess my main style and identity was born in Berlin, and funnily enough sometimes when I play with other DJs, they tell me that I sound “like a real German”. I really love to hear that feedback!
I am really happy about my decision and very grateful for the Watergate club for adopting me on the first stage. It had a big impact on my development as an artist and DJ status worldwide. I’m so grateful that on my path, there are only kind and nice people, the same as the Armada Music family, who have been such a pleasure to work with on this album.

With an extensive tour ahead, what are you most excited about? Any cities or events that stand out to you? 

Usually, I look forward to each show! You really never know where the best show of your life is. So I try not to expect and just to be surprised. When you expect so much of something and at the end it’s not that good, you get even stronger. That’s why I plan to just enjoy the food while traveling, kidding. Well, seriously though, I’m super excited to be back to Berlin’s Ritter Butzke on 13th of April, because last time was just insane “best show ever” energy and you can see that as confirmation in the full set on YouTube.
It’s also my first time in Canada, so I’m super curious and have no idea what to expect. I have two shows at Tomorrowland Winter, that’s been beyond exciting since they announced it. Same with the Californian festival Lighting in a Bottle. I saw videos and decorations there that looked like another trippy planet. Extrema Festival in Belgium, it’s my second time there but this time I will be back to a bigger stage with support for Dixon and Âme. I am certainly ready for this year and this summer seems already like one to remember. Hope to see one of you around there or on the dance floor.