"I address everything that, in my opinion, is going wrong on our planet..."
"Retro Cassé" is the name of the debut album that was released in early 2014 by the Alsatian rapper Yenich. Far from the typical hip-hop stereotypes, this man with his relaxed flow and dark, penetrating story-telling voice goes his own separate musical way. In an in-depth interview with Gypsy Music Network, Yenich explains to us how he sees things and why French radio is a "clown".
As one can easily deduce from your name, you belong to the Yenish ethnic group. Is there a large community of Yenish in France?
That’s right, I am part of the Yenish community, although I can’t tell you exactly how many of us there are in France. But I believe our community is about as large as those of the Roma and Manouche here. We settled down mostly in the eastern part of France, in Alsace especially, where I also come from. Like I said, I belong to the Yenish, but I didn’t grow up as a Traveller in a caravan, but was born and raised near Besançon.
Tell us a bit more about the Yenish in France, we know very little about them.
The reason why many Yenish in France settled down has a direct link to the war of 1939-1945. As we all know, Travellers during this time were heavily persecuted, unfortunately, and that led to many of them being forced to take up residence. Back then, the Yenish were primarily basket weavers (in France they were called “vannier”). They sold the baskets as street hawkers or in markets. Today, the Yenish work mostly in the scrap metal trade, but many also earn their living as dealers in second-hand goods.
Sure, we are an independent ethnic group, however, with time we have adapted greatly to the French culture and have adopted much from it. Still, we have remained true to certain things from our origins and have kept certain customs. For example, we often live together and keep to ourselves and rarely marry into other ethnic groups.
Do you speak Yenish and does some of that become part of your lyrics?
It’s a shame, but I don’t really speak Yenish, although we have our own slang here, a derivative of Alsatian and that has some Yenish words in it. I sometimes use this slang in my lyrics, but not very often. My intention is that my music be understood by the maximum amount of people in France. And that’s why I usually use normal French, so that I can be understood everywhere.
How long have you been making music?
My father is a guitarist, and as a result, I have always been surrounded by music. When I was 14, I discovered hip-hop music and it hasn’t let go of me to this very day! I’ve been writing and rapping ever since.
What kind of music did you hear growing up? What are your musical influences?
I love any kind of music and therefore have quite a large number of different influences. I grew up, of course, with the fantastic and greatly varied French music: Jean Jacques Goldman, Serge Gainsbourg, Alain Souchon, etc. .... But also rock such as Dire Straits and Bob Dylan. Soul music like Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, etc. Reggae from Bob Marley, and of course, rap: De La Soul, Dr. Dre, Eminem, 2 Pac, Biggie, Kendrick Lamar, Oxmo Puccino, Booba... then there is also blues, jazz, electro and so much more that I like!
I took French for 5 years at school. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten just about everything and understand almost nothing of your lyrics. What are they about?
My lyrics are multifaceted and revolve around a wide range of topics, but are almost always very intimate and very personal. I talk a lot about my own experiences in life, about my music, my dreams, my youth, my mistakes, my conflicts and defeats, etc. I also address what, in my opinion, are all the things going wrong on our planet and in our society, the things going wrong in our world that shock me and very often bother me... my lyrics are involved and authentic and only very seldom superficial.
I saw the clip “Coupe La FM”, which I really liked. What is the video and song about?
The “Coupe la FM” clip is about the one-sided media coverage of rap in France – for me, this coverage is absolutely catastrophic. The big French radio stations play almost only superficial rap with no content or depth. Music that revolves solely around sex, drugs and violence, conveying a very negative and destructive message.
In the song, I portray French radio as being a “lying clown”, which mocks us all through the spread of mediocrity... Music that diverts from this superficiality and mediocrity that tries to convey content with depth, is laughed at and receives hardly any attention in the media. That is why my message to listeners is: turn off the radio and lend your ear to what’s essential. Very simple!
If you could choose, which American rapper would you like to work with?
If I could record a song with a US rapper? (laughs) With 2 Pac or Biggie, of course! Which would probably be a bit difficult though! Otherwise, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar or Wizz Khalifa ... but there are quite a few that I could imagine.
How can we get your music and where can we find out more about you?
My music is available on all legal digital download portals such as iTunes, Deezer, Bandcamp, etc. Also on our YouTube and Vimeo channels. All news and information about me and my label mates can be found on our Facebook fan page Yenich, on SoundLoud and Instagram, and coming up on our label website “Maryjmusic”, which is currently under construction.
What are your next projects? Will there be a new album out soon?
Yes, we are already working on my next album which is due to be released at the end of 2015. Apart from that, we have lots of other projects going on. Every year we organise the reggae and rap festival “Il était une fois dans l'est”. We’re also working on a short film, a documentary, giving a writing workshop in prison, organising and giving concerts, etc...
Is there something else you would like to add?
Greetings to all the readers of Gypsy Music Network. We thank you very much for your interest in our music.
Thank you, too, Yenich, for the time you have given us. And continued success!



GMN small 2  newworldorder 268x168Jasha logo BLACK extrasmall

Grooovestation Radio