One of the most exciting artists set to play The Great Escape this year is multi-instrumentalist, Youngr. His refreshing blend of electronic pop is one of the most captivating sounds to have emerged from London in recent years.
Youngr is the stage name of Dario Darnell and it has been since he started producing. “It’s actually my middle name, my dad chose it literally as I was the youngest out of me and my brother.” Performing live as a one-man band, he plays all the instruments himself and layers them in a way that sounds highly polished. Blending elements of house, pop, funk and soul his influences are extensive. “I love Prince, Michael Jackson and James Brown, but heavier stuff like The Red Hot Chili Peppers too.” There’s also a definite nod to the production of modern pop giants like Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake.
Latest single, Out of My System was released about a year ago and has been incredibly successful. Since then he has released various alternate versions including one with Indian folk band Kutle Khan. He spent last summer playing festivals and recording his live videos in different locations. “I’ll never forget playing Guatemala – that was crazy.” He played his first Brighton gig last October co-headlining Party At The Races festival, alongside the legendary Basement Jaxx.
Youngr didn’t come out of nowhere, having been performing for about 15 years, and it’s apparent his family have been integral to his career. He was previously in duo Picture Book with his brother Lorne, who he says he still regularly writes with. He cites his dad, August Darnell, as another major influence – aka Kid Creole of 80s funksters Kid Creole and the Coconuts. “Just being around that kind of scene was so cool, it definitely inspired me hugely.”
An album is on the horizon but he doesn’t want to rush it. Building up a huge international following from his unique live music videos has worked so far. Adamant that “as an artist it’s important to think outside the box”, he accepts we’re in a disposable age and believes artists should look for new ways to get their music out. “People want something they can watch quickly, share online then move onto the next thing.”
The longevity of dance music is always uncertain. Youngr’s current formula is certainly working; he’s been releasing tracks on a regular enough basis to keep people hooked. “At the moment I’m just loving every minute.” As much as his sound has the gloss and catchiness of chart-topping pop, it also has a refreshing breeze of originality. You’d think it might be boring to watch just one person play a whole set but you can see how much fun he’s having performing and the audience feed off that.
It will be interesting how he builds on the success of Out of My System. There should be a new single out soon, he says he’s just trying to figure out “what the vibe will be.” At the end of this month he is set to go on his largest tour yet, with dates across Europe and North America. “It’s nice to feel like it’s working out.” He’s clearly genuinely talented and in the business for the fun he gets out of it.
We’ve had some great British producers over the last decade but there’s been a definite lull for a few years now. The one-man band is a tricky route but when pulled off it can be captivating. Obviously comparable to Jack Garratt but he has the potential to be up there with the likes of Disclosure and Flume.
Catch Youngr at The Great Escape in May