YL Hooi is the project of Valya Ying-Li Hooi, inhabiting a subtle and mysterious realm of furtive, dubbed-out song, sparse electronic percussion, and distant winds. Active in the Melbourne underground scene since 2017, Hooi is a member of Kallista Kult (with Sam Karmel and Tarquin Manek) and has recorded and performed with artists including Jonnine Standish (HTRK),
Jarrod Zlatic (Fabulous Diamonds) and Rohan Rebeiro (My Disco). Her debut album Untitled (first released on cassette by Altered States Tapes in 2019 and reissued on LP by Efficient Space in 2021) was widely praised, finding a spot on many year end lists including the number 1 spot on Boomkat’s Discoveries l ist and being described by Boomkat as ‘an immaculately frayed conception of dubwise dream-pop’. Moving seamlessly from angelic song to gritty tape gunk, Hooi’s work opens onto a multitude of genres and directions while retaining a distinctly personal stamp through her obsessively zoned-out dub production tactics. ‘These are songs that seem to emerge in plumes of smoke, magician’s tricks conjured from the ether’ (World of Echo).
Both live and in the studio, Hooi’s work is produced in close collaboration with Tarquin Manek (known for his eponymous solo work on Blackest Ever Black, as well as a swathe of aliases including LST and Static Cleaner Lost Reward, and membership of groups including Kallista Kult and F ingers). In the live setting, the pair use voice, trumpet, bass clarinet, guitar, bass, drum machines and synths to reimagine the carefully produced studio material anew for each performance, keenly aware of improvisational possibilities and the vicissitudes of audience, venue, and acoustic space. Touching on the fringes of many genres and traditions – post-punk, minimal synth, dub, krautrock – Hooi’s protean music is haunted and seductive, her voice trailing off into an echoed infinity anchored to body-shaking foundations.