Concert preview: Krewella turns ‘strange childhood games’ into EDM gold

By Columbus Alive
From the October 17, 2013 edition

While Krewella only recently wormed its way into public consciousness with the June 2012 release of its debut EP Play Hard, the electronics-and-vocals trio actually formed in 2007 — a veritable lifetime ago in the EDM world.

In tracing the crew’s history, however, one quickly learns its roots reach even deeper, back to when sisters (and bandmates) Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf were just a couple of youngsters messing around with a toy drum kit in the basement of the family’s suburban Chicago home.

“When we were kids we’d write our own little raps and poems,” said Jahan, 21, who joins both her sister and fellow bandmate Kris Trindl for a concert at the Bluestone on Friday, Oct. 18. “Every kid has their own weird, quirky game they play, but usually they grow out of it … and start doing normal things like going to the mall and talking to boys. But we were still playing strange games when we were probably too old [to do so].”

It’s a playful, anything-goes vibe that spills over into Krewella’s major label debut, Get Wet, a hard-hitting, beat-heavy collection of songs about laying waste to the competition (“Killing It”), living for the moment (“Enjoy the Ride”) and hitting the clubs with an intensity that might leave even renowned party animal Andrew W.K. calling for a breather (“Live For the Night”).

Despite the group’s recent successes — Get Wet debuted in the top 10 on the Billboard charts following its September release, and the trio is currently headlining its first cross-country tour — there were a number of times its future prospects were in doubt.

On June 6, 2010, the bandmates decided to drop out of school, quit their day jobs and commit themselves to Krewella full-time. To commemorate the date, all three had a fan-designed 6/8/10 graphic tattooed somewhere on their bodies — each of the Yousaf sisters on the back of the neck and Trindl on his arm — a move, Jahan said, meant to symbolize their commitment to the group and a rejection of a “normal” nine-to-five existence. But more than a year after receiving the tattoos the aspiring musicians had yet to release a single track, and there were serious concerns the project might dissolve completely before things ever started to take shape.

“We got to that point quite a few times. We were struggling artistically and we didn’t know if we’d be able to survive having Krewella as a career,” Jahan said. “But all along we had this belief if we stuck with it we’d eventually make it.

This belief was rewarded when the trio’s breakthrough single “Alive,” which the musicians recorded in their Chicago Meat Packing District loft in the early days of 2012, hit the public sphere with the same impact as the massive drop that introduces its buoyant chorus. The song has now registered more than 500,000 sales, and is largely responsible for launching the trio into the upper echelon of the EDM world.

Even so, Jahan said the group has no plans to simply spin its wheels because it found a larger audience, and she envisions Krewella’s music will continue to mutate and change over the coming months.

“People want to see more from us, and our plan from the beginning was always that we’d evolve,” she said. “We still love a challenge, and we still like doing things that aren’t obvious.”