The title of Yendé’s new EP Polizia Romantico literally translates to Romantic Police. Using the image of a police checkpoint as a metaphor, Yendé urges us to slow down, to momentarily stop our race towards the future and consider any emotions, sensations and memories that we might have buried or suppressed. In this interview, the Parisian musician and DJ describes Polizia Romantico as the soundtrack to his last dance with a cherished lover – the EP’s warm R&B tones allow us to delay the passage of time, finding eternity in the finitude of romance.
First off, could you introduce yourself to our audience?
Hello, Im Bamao Yendé. DJ - Producer from Paris with Cameroonian roots. Head of Boukan Records and part of the band Nyoko Bokbae.
Your new EP Polizia Romantico is officially out – congratulations! How does it feel to finally release it to the public?
(Laughs) Thank you, I'm super happy, especially because this EP is a bit different, it's the first one where I sing a bit more and explore part of me I didn’t show too much before. It's kind of the start of a new era for me and I feel very happy about it.
How would you describe the album?
In this project I go deeper in my feelings and I try to explain new stuff with my music. I used to make more club music where movement and the body where at the centre. In this one, I infuse more R&B in my sounds and embrace my emotional side. I think the fact I use my voice to explain what I have in my heart puts more intimacy in[to] this project.
For me, it's also the oscillations we can go through at the end of certain relationships, the different states of thought, it's my transcription of melancholy.
I listened to your first single Sentimientos Bandidos and it’s a personal favourite! What was your original idea behind this track?
I rarely have a fixed idea before starting a song but I know that when I wrote this song, I was quite nostalgic. I had a lot of flashes of good or bad moments and a lot of dreams that almost felt lucid. But not fantastic dreams, it was more like reliving slices of [my] past life, always at the border of reality. It was quite special. Sentimientos Bandidos is a bit like immersing yourself in past stories, side by side with emotions and waking up and getting back on track.
Sentimientos Bandidos has a hispanic sound to it – the beat especially reminds me of reggaeton tracks. However, it maintains your signature dance feel. What inspired this track?
Happy and sad moments, all in a certain blur. Like the last dance with someone you carried in your heart. It’s as if we were in an apartment, dancing our last tango and putting negative things on standby whilst we connect one last time with the person we love.
What’s the meaning behind your choice to use hispanic languages for some of the titles?
I used hispanic titles because whilst researching to find the musical feel that would best transcribe my emotions for this project, I came across samples of female hispanic voices. I found that this is what worked best to accompany my voice. That way, I could use my voice to represent the dream and the misty side, and the female sampled voices to represent the present moment and the earthy side.
The space of the nightclub is usually associated with big crowds, and momentarily losing yourself on the dancefloor. Yet, there is an irresistible intimacy to your tracks, a kind of warmth that is impossible to ignore – why is that? What does the space of the nightclub mean to you?
Since I was little, I have always been very attracted to R&B – it has to be the musical genre I have listened to the most in my life and still do at the moment. I’ve never showed this part of myself too much in my music, until I tried to look for a movement, to create rhythm in people’s bodies and try and make my music sound like something you might want to dance to. With this project I focused much more on the emotions, the body is set back from the heart, it is a step towards the listeners and I get closer to them. I am more vulnerable in this project, I tried to transcribe moments of my life that have delighted me. It is like an ode to moments of my life, good or bad, that have left a mark on me and which are part of my journey.
The space of the club is a space of release, a place where we can connect with other people who share our musical taste. A good party in my opinion is a place where there is a real communion between people or the doors of the mind can open and create new ways of thinking through dance and sound.
What would you say are some of the main themes explored in the album?
It clearly revolves around romantic states, past relationships, it’s a new look at an era. This allows me to infuse the R&B side that slept in me and that I had never really put forward, the first part of a new chapter.
How did the title Polizia Romantico come about?
Polizia Romantico symbolises the stops of the heart. When you get caught up in buried feelings and you have to deal with it. Dealing with these problems is growing and calming the heart, clearing the mind. 5 tracks representing a heart attack, good or bad.
I was really surprised to read you used to play piano at a conservatory! How did the shift from classical to dance music happen? What’s your main takeaway from the world of classical music?
So, I studied [at a] conservatory when I was young for many years, but I never enjoyed it too much. It’s not really a good memory but I learned a lot of theory, even if I’m much less technical than when I was young. When I was at the conservatory, I really didn’t like it at all. When we started our very first collective Ygrk Klub, we were a bunch of friends who were producing a lot, and we were at my friend Jenovah’s or Moku John and we were listening to all the last stuff we had produced and jamming until we were tired. It is thanks to the mix of sounds that we created that I was able to really get back to music, and that I understood the interest behind those years of conservatory.
It’s really the theoretical side that helps me the most now with the piano, and the fact that I want to get closer to more emotional music. There are many things [I] learned in the past that make my daily life easier in the interpretation and understanding of music now.
You tend to mix styles like batida and UK garage, which are quite marginalised and underground in France – what attracted you to these genres? How did you get into them?
I was raised musically with the parties of the social club from Thursday to the old, with the club music of Night Slugs and ClekClekBoom. There were big evenings where DJ EZ also played and it’s these evenings that have defined me musically -  this is where my love of UK garage comes from. I grew up in the suburbs on the side of Cergy and even before hanging out in the discotheque, there were evenings with Logobi sounds – this was a musical movement that had a lot of scope in the Parisian suburbs and in Paris. There were afternoons or feasts for hours on off-cuts, kizomba, tarraxinha, batida. In Cergy there was a strong Cape Verdean and Angolan community. I grew up with my friends’ stuff. They made me listen to big tracks – of course it influenced me a lot musically and it still influences me.
Before leaving our readers to your new EP – if you were a song from Polizia Romantico, which one would you be? And why?
Um, I would say that I am a mix between Time Will Tell and Tornado 360. I try to be a balance between Time Will Tell, which symbolises my past and my emotional baggage, and Tornado 360, which symbolises the future and hope.