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From Glitch to Soft-core: An Evening with yeule

“Can I ask if you prefer the mysterious yeule or the goofy yeule?” This question, posed by the enigmatic singer themself, set the tone for an unforgettable evening at Webster Hall in the heart of Manhattan’s East Side. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing yeule perform at the Pitchfork Music Festival 2022 after-show, where they immersed us in their synthetic universe with their highly-discovered album, Glitch Princess. From that moment to this latest performance celebrating the release of their new LP, softscars, via Ninja Tune, I can’t help but marvel at their transformation.

The tour that followed the release of Glitch Princess was a testament to their dedication to detail and artistic depth found within the confines of communal online discords and cyber interfaces—an ode to yeule’s mysterious online existence. Much like a true cyborg, yeule embraced the glitch in its entirety, and now, watching their performance over a year later, I see that yeule has continued to embrace the glitch, this time, in the context of humanity. 

At Webster Hall, yeule’s ruptures & emo-infused, guttural shrieks, combined with their ghastly appearance of white powdered makeup and long, black, stringy hair, gave the impression that they were exorcising a past version of themselves. softscars is a project that reflects on the lightness of innocence while reacting to the sadness that accompanies aging, the growing pains, the reflection of what once was. At times it’s humorous, as seen when yeule yelled at the crowd through alternative rock reverb. At other times, it’s poignant, with yeule immersed in a haunting repetition, Real enough to love/If only I could be/Real enough to love/If only I could be. softscars is a mere devotion, referencing old self-harm scars that still linger on their body and in their soul.

The difference between these two performances isn’t just the spunky shoegaze wiz but also the embrace of something that seemed absent in yeule’s previous work: a little thing called humanity. Like an echo, the reverie of retro electro-folk guitar licks and the raw, K-Rock grunge vocals evoke the subtleties of aging—the shared human journey toward greater wisdom and experience, all encapsulated within the software of a single lifetime—25, traumatized, painting white on my eyes. Their performance, concluding with “aphex twin flame”, repeating ‘Artificial, feel so special/Artificial, feel so special,’ set the precedent for all of us, gazing back in all of our meatiness. A reminder that we exist as an infinite space between flesh and firmware, tucked between the virtual and physical. We’re all part of a grand algorithm, one that nature provides. Now, here we stand facing each other in our humanness, listening to yeule belt out one last phrase, “I love you baby.” 

This stands as a last whisper, a truth we hold, that to be human lies in our capacity to love, and our true grace is learning how to.

Words by Mar Christiano, photos by Morgan Winston. See the full gallery here.

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