Krewella’s Jahan Yousaf says her music cannot remain “stagnant”

In September, the electronic dance music trio Krewella, which began in the Chicago suburbs, released their first full-length album, “Get Wet,” which the group has since taken on the road. Since they released “Play Hard” in the summer of 2012, they’ve been quickly rising to fame.

Krewella, which consists of sisters Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf and their friend Kris “Rain Man” Trindl, will perform to a sold-out crowd at the Canopy Club in Urbana on Wednesday at 9 p.m. The Daily Illini interviewed Jahan to learn more about the new album, the message behind the music and what fans can expect next.

Daily Illini: What’s changed since 2012 when you performed at the Canopy Club?

Jahan Yousaf: When we were there in Urbana, that was on our first college tour. We were promoting our “Play Hard EP.” Now, you’ll notice that compared to the last one, this is predominantly Krewella-original material. And I think our fan base has grown.

DI: The songs on “Get Wet” are fairly distinct in their sound. Was that distinction a conscious choice, like what we hear in “Human,” which is much slower than the rest?

JY: Writing that song meant so much to us because we started realizing that we have a deeper connection with our fans, way deeper than a party jam. We got letters from fans and messages on Twitter, and we realized that we stand for so much more than club anthems, which we still love to write. That song reminds everyone that you’re not the only one.

DI: Were there any stories that were particularly influential in creating the album?

JY: Absolutely. We were playing a show, and a group of fans wanted to meet us because their friend had passed away, and his favorite song was “Alive.” They came backstage to tell me about how “Alive” was the song he would listen to every single day. They would ride in the car together and listen to “Alive.” And he passed away because he committed suicide, and it was the song that they played at his funeral, and it brought me to tears. It changes the way you make music because you realize that you want to send a better message, but not necessarily censor yourself. And you’re crafting the lyrics around that to send a better message.

DI: Krewella is an EDM group that is led by women, something we see pretty rarely in this kind of music. How does that feel?

JY: We don’t think about it that much because we don’t treat ourselves as victims or as extra special just because we are women. Yasmine and I, we don’t put beauty and image and fashion before music. Because it’s not looking pretty and polished and fashionable, it’s about raging as hard as you can. Yasmine and I literally just ignore that whole train of thought, and we are just doing our own thing.

DI: Where do you see Krewella going in the future?

JY: I think one of the most important things is that an artist does not stay stagnant, so we really challenged ourselves with this album. But on the next album, how do we write compelling lyrics and have even tighter production? How do we evolve the dance music genre? We don’t really have a set plan.

DI: You do shows with live vocals, which diverges from several other EDM artists, and you’ve been praised for this often, but there are critics that say it’s hard to know what your voice really sounds like in an album because of the processing of music like this. Do you hear critiques like that often and how do you respond to that?

JY: We don’t hear critiques like that often. Ever since we started in 2007, we’ve been completely open to embrace technology. But moving forward with the next album, I want to have more of an organic sound in the vocals because I know people crave that.

DI: What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?

JY: Working hard is obvious. Take risks. I don’t think there is an easy route. You can’t let when people say you’re not talented get to you. This is a very cut-throat industry. You have to persevere, which is one of the most important things I can tell someone.

Ryan can be reached at [email protected] and @ryanjweber.