After a decade-plus-long career, this is what dance-pop sister duo Krewella copes with constant touring, international travel, and making music.
Dubstep and the concept of self-care may seem mutually exclusive, but you can leave it to internationally famous dance-pop duo Krewella to draw the connections.
“With the genre we’re in, you have to find ways to keep your mental and physical health tiptop, or else you can’t create the music you want to create,” says Jahan Yousef, one half of the sister-led band. “Eventually time will catch up with you. The most important part of our journey has been starting to take care of our health, because it has affected every other aspect of our lives: our relationships, the way we feel about ourselves, the music we make, everything.”
Krewella’s latest album, zer0, is their fifth body of work in a decade—proving they’ve learned to run a marathon, not a race, sprinkling in international and domestic tours, the festival circuit, and everything in between.
“I think the main thing that keeps us grounded is our family,” says Yasmine. “We always have a piece of family on the road with us because we’re sisters, and it’s very in-hand with what we do.”
The Yousef sisters recently announced their first US tour in three years after playing for audiences on several different continents.
“We’re so lucky,” says Jahan. “It is trippy to think that our fans all around the world have the power to bring us out to the most amazing places that we would’ve never dreamed of going to.”
Naturally, the pair has solidified a travel routine that incorporates their flair for self-care along with their club gear. We caught up with them at Urban Cowboy, a charmingly rustic boutique hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to learn all about their all-natural beauty tips, how they learned to grow apart while staying connected at their core, and what makes travel an essential part of their music-making process.
JY: I like to have the Kindle. Wikipedia is built in and you can search on it, which was actually really useful when we were just in India. Before we’d go into certain regions that don’t have internet, I’d just download the history of the place we’re in to learn more about it.
I also either bring a journal or some sort of my own work to do—I recently started trying to teach myself Hindi because we spend a lot of time in India.
YY: This J pillow has been with me for about seven years. It looks like a floppy, sad travel pillow, but it’s the most amazing thing ever. It has changed my life and made traveling a lot easier. It’s been slept on for hundreds of hours probably.
“It looks like a floppy, really sad travel pillow, but it’s the most amazing thing ever.”
I also always have my ear plugs with me. They’re actually molded to my ears and block out really harsh frequencies. I can wear them sleeping, if I’m at a really loud show, anywhere I need to protect my ears—especially on planes because some of the worst ear damage happens on planes. It’s so loud, but nobody realizes it because it’s dull. The fact that Jahan and I are on planes all the time, I wear them every flight now.
JY: I cannot contaminate my clean clothes with my dirty clothes. There’ve been times where we run out of clean clothes in a hotel bathroom, and I’ll have to wash them myself. A separate bag for laundry is a must. Shoes can’t touch the clothing either. I always need a backup pair, which I keep in the bottom zip compartment. I’ve designated that as just the dirty things compartment. Especially if you’re somewhere where there’s all sorts of things on the ground, like stray dogs and monkeys—I definitely don’t want that touching the rest of my stuff.
JY: Yasmine and I pretty much transitioned to only purchasing second-hand vintage clothing in the past three years. That’s something we love to do when we travel is thrift and we pretty much wear only thrifted clothing to our shows. I usually travel with jewelry. Most of this jewelry is also from our father’s country, Pakistan. It’s cool to mix and match this stuff with streetwear, like a baggy shirt and leggings.
YY: For my go-to travel outfit, I love Nike Huaraches. I think they’re the most comfortable traveling, running, work-out shoes ever. Then I just have to have sweatpants, a sweatshirt that’s heavy and feels like a blanket when I’m on the plane because I’m always cold on a plane.
Two Cat-Eye Experts, Two Eyeliner Brands
JY: I always need my gel liner. That’s a must. I use this one from Tarte and a Smashbox brush. It’s all about the applicator, but this eyeliner, it withstands sweating at shows—you get really disgusting at shows.
YY: Like Jahan I’ve got to have the cat eye. My favorite is from Thrive Cosmetics and they strive to use really good, ethical ingredients in their makeup. It also doesn’t come off if you sweat. It’s amazing.
JY: Our father is Pakistani, and he wasn’t anti-Western medicine, but he was always challenging us to heal naturally and use even Advil as a last resort. So, I think it’s just inherent in us. Our grandpa was a homeopath, so I think that was probably why our dad was hugely influenced by natural healing.
YY: We’re very much into natural beauty and natural skincare. Cocokind is one of my favorite skin care/make-up companies. Their ingredients are 100% natural. I love this Honest Hazel under eye treatment. They use all-natural ingredients. My favorite healing balm is from this Chicago company called Mojo Spa, and it’s really good for my knuckles, my nose, my lips and it’s 100% natural.
“Our father is Pakistani, and he wasn’t anti-Western medicine, but he was always challenging us to heal naturally.”
JY: In the past two years I’ve stopped using deodorant that has aluminum and other chemicals in it and transitioned to Schmidt’s, which is made with coconut oil and arrowroot. You have to apply every two hours, and I carry it with me everywhere because it doesn’t last.
I try to use toothpaste that doesn’t have weird chemicals in it, too. We’re big fans of Dr. Bronner’s soap. I’ve was recently thinking about the hundreds of soaps I’ve opened in hotel rooms and how after my two days there, it’s just thrown away. So, sometimes I’ll bring my own soap bar in Tupperware or I’ll just refill my own bottle.
I always bring CBD and this Reishi tea from Four Sigmatic. Reishi tea is a type of mushroom. It’s a relaxing tea. These are a must for adjusting to time zones or if your adrenaline is going. I’ll drink it sometimes after shows, too.
JY: We spend more time together than anyone else in the world, and more time together than not.
YY: In the last year and a half we have been exploring our separate identities more so than ever.
JY: I personally think about it less as “identity” because identity feels very surface-level to me. With us sisters, I think about it as a shared consciousness. I think in that space, that’s where you start to understand someone more. Our lives have been very meshed together. We only recently started living separately. So, lately it’s been more about energy and respecting the other person’s space or their style of communication.
It’s a weird dichotomy of separation and becoming closer through that separation and knowing when to set boundaries. Knowing when to not talk about work, because it was so easy when we lived together, immediately first thing in the morning, I would find that I would be like, “Hey so that interview. Blah, blah, blah, blah.” I would jump right into talking about work stuff, as if our relationship was built on just that.
“There’s so much more to our relationship than the work we have built.”
YY: There’s so much more to our relationship than the work we have built and the music we’ve created together over the last 11 years, and I think it is really easy to lose sight of that sometimes because you just get in this flow of go, go, go and work, work, work, but that separation creates space for the other person to be themselves and the space for you to be you as well.
But I do agree about the identity thing. As you get older, your outward identity does become a little bit less of an important thing, and it’s more about just being who you are at your core and letting that shine through, whatever that means. It’s important to have those individual aspects of your life shine through, and we definitely still have that soul-connection, too.
JY: We overlap in so many ways, but also have our separate ways.
YY: We’re like a Venn diagram.
JY: That’s a really good way to put it. We should totally do a Venn Diagram.
YY: Jahan is one of the only people that I can sit in complete silence with, and it’s not weird. It’s not awkward. It’s dead air and I think we both have gotten to this place where it’s just like, if you don’t want to talk, you don’t have to talk. I probably don’t want to talk either because I’m exhausted. We make space for each other’s energy in that way. As we get older, we’ve become more aware of each other’s energy, and flexible with each other’s energy, maybe we’re a little bit more flexible with our own energy as we get older too.
JY: It’s interesting to see how the way you transform internally mirrors the way you see and treat other people. When I started realizing I needed more space for myself, I started feeling like I was becoming more compassionate about other people needing their space and taking it less personally.
“The way you transform internally mirrors the way you see and treat other people.”
That extends to travel, too. Like when you’re like waiting in line in customs in foreign countries, it is so easy to get impatient or restless, and I realized when you step outside your comfort zone, it’s just the wild, wild west. You really cannot control things. You can’t control how much time it’s going to take to get through security. Or how long it’s going to take for a driver to come pick you up in India, and I think it’s just about enjoying that moment and the strangers you come across in that moment.
JY: I think when you’re exposed to so many different values and cultures, experiencing the way other people eat and dance and talk and flow with life, you always take that back with you. It comes becomes a part of you, and I’m sure that in some ways it subconsciously makes its way into our studio sessions. I think traveling has added more dimension and color and texture to our music. And you can hear that on the new album. We dug further, deeper into our cultural roots. With our father being Pakistani, we brought in a lot of the sounds that we’d hear there. Or Yasmine’s bangles clanking—that’s featured on one of our most recent songs, “Good On You.”
YY: Tablas, dhols, ubu—these are all percussive elements that were really inspired by the Bollywood music we listened to in our household growing up and we love that juxtaposition with really modern sounds. I’m so intrigued by the old world and ancient roots and going to regions where there’s so much history, but at the same time, we play clubs. There’s so much irony in what we do, but I think that’s what adds so many layers to our project, too.
“I’m so intrigued by the old world and ancient roots and going to regions where there’s so much history.”
JY: Next week we go to Indonesia, right?
YY: We’ll be there about a week.
JY: We have two shows and then we’ll film a music video out there. The environment is just so pretty. Epic mountains and waterfalls. A perfect setting. And we love exploring. We love traveling so much and to be able to incorporate the beauty of this earth in our music videos juxtaposed with dance music—I feel like that really represents us and our interests.
YY: This will be our fifth body of work, and the sheer amount of hours that you spend in the studio creating, and only the tip of the iceberg really makes it to the public, and it’s been hundreds and hundreds of songs and demos made up until this point, and I think still being excited about what we’re putting out is just a good sign to me. It’s like one of those markers on the journey that tells you you’re going the right way.
- 1Away Expandable Bigger Carry-On in Black, $295
- 2Away Bigger Carry-On in Black, $295
- 3Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara, $24
- 4Smashbox liner brush, $20
- 5Tarte Gel liner, $12
- 6Thrive Cosmetics liquid eyeliner, $24
- 7J-Pillow travel pillow, $30
- 8Amazon Kindle, $90
- 9Dr. Bronner’s travel soap, $4
- 10Dr. Bronner’s travel toothpaste, $3
- 11Dr. Bronner’s travel hand sanitizer, $5
- 12Schmidt’s natural deodorant, $7
- 13Honest Hazel eye gel treatment, $15
- 14Zudo rose gold mesh watch, $90
- 15Four Sigmatic Reishi tea, $30