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Herb Sundays 85: Yu Su
The Vancouver-based musician and DJ in reset mode, somewhere in the world.
“on sundays a lot of time i would be spending hours at airports or on an airplane, which is the beginning of a two days weekend DJing recovery process. these are some of the songs i would keep going back to mellow myself down, switch my mind back to music making. this music is good for just staring into the distance as well. make sure to listen with some sort of noise canceling headphones.” - Yu Su
When you can’t beat the bio, just post it…
Yu Su is a Kaifeng-born, Vancouver-based musician, DJ, sound artist, and occasional chef. She works alone, performs with a band, and loves to host intentional food and listening experiences. Her music draws from house, dub, psychedelic rock, “fourth world” experimental, and the sounds of her native country to create downtempo oddities and slow-burning club tracks that transcend time and place. This has also established her highly personalized storytelling style as a DJ, constantly traveling through different genres without skipping a beat.
Yu Su has released records with labels such as Technicolor, Rvng Intl., People’s Potential Unlimited, Music From Memory, and her own China-based bié Records. She’s a very dependable party rocker of a DJ and holds a regular show on NTS and (similar to Herb 78 Avalon Emerson) also plays with a live band occasionally. She’s produced with artists such as John Carroll Kirby and Duval Timothy (who appears on this mix) and has become an in-demand remixer, lending her sound to acts like Parquet Courts, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, and Carmen Villain.
I had clocked her name on 12”s at stores like 2 Bridges NYC for a couple of years but became a major fan of hers after hearing her album Yellow River Blue in 2021. An astounding release, the record wins on both its sense of effortlessness and rich sound design. It’s an album you put on and keeps demanding your attention back to it, moving between genres in an earnest way.
Will Lynch reviewed the record for Resident Advisor:
On my personal favorite, "Gleam," a beat like a creaky wheelbarrow rolls through what I can only see as a misty forest scene, conjured up with cooing pads and the sound of water dripping in huge, sonorous drops—maybe some of Su's field recordings. It just kind of drifts along, always moving but never headed anywhere in particular. There is no payoff moment, no tension and release to speak of. Like all of these songs, it's more about being there than getting there.
I finally got to meet Yu Su this Spring when she was in town for Refraction Festival this Spring. Her love of finding good restaurants led us to a Japanese spot called Davelle (yes I took a picture of my toast) and after our snack, she was off to a very cool shop called SOS Chef for cooking supplies. A lot of the great aesthetes I know are also drawn to cooking and food culture for obvious reasons. We also talked about her love of fragrances and more. I anticipate more surprises from Yu in the coming years.
Her childhood in China kept most Western music out of her cultural diet so it was only much later that Yu was “switched on” to dance music while at college in Vancouver after a friend dragged her out one night. This connection to the burgeoning scene there helped her find an on-ramp into the sound.
Yu Su: I attended the first party of my life at Love Dancing. I think a lot of the Mood Hut hits that came out way later were already cooking up. I know that all of sudden there was this “Sound of the Canadian Riviera” because of the support from people like you, Ben (UFO) and Sam (Floating Points), who brought the music from here to the other side of the world…I mean, honestly if it wasn’t for the move, I really wouldn’t be who I am now.
Her Herb 85 playlist is equally sublime and unencumbered by rules, rolling from Pharoah Sanders to contemporary downtempo. It shares a theme with Jacques Greene’s Herb 75 in that it’s music for airports and airplanes, resetting back into yourself. Yu Su is a young master at work, feeling out her place in the sound.
Big thanks to In Sheep’s Clothing andfor the kind post on Herb:
“Dig in the crates all you want, but if you don’t have a clue what you’re supposed to be finding, or are unaware of the various signifiers that lead to uncovering diamonds in the rough, you’ll likely be disappointed during record shopping sojourns. Which is to say, the more you know, the more you’ll find. Which is to also say, newsletters such as Sam Valenti IV’s Herb Sundays will help you find the good stuff.”
From The Field: An electronic mix
CCL with a set of darker peak time “steppy techy stompers… for summer mood swings, running while stomping, etc 🔪” from Final Taipei
Herb godhead CFCF guests on Swami Sound’s Two Step Verified radio show via the great Dublab and the results are sterling
Barnstormer acid and electro realness from Laura Sparrow aka LNS live from Helsinki.
Up-and-coming font foundry Sharp Type has been putting out a grip of good mixes lately. Tornado Wallace shares “The feel-bad mix of the summer!” which “contains only music used in films from 1987-2001: Chungking Express, Lost Highway, Opera, Perfect Blue, Trainspotting, Leon: The Professional, Fallen Angels, Cruel Intentions, Hackers, Johnny Mnemonic, Cool World, Strange Days, Ghost In The Shell, and more.”
“I seem to be wired towards sharing my state with others. I quite like giving the work to people. I sort of want them to have it. Gradually, I’m beginning to understand that the work that I've done is about me – but in a way that it becomes about you.” - PS