Life and career
Raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, Tumor started making music at age 16 as an outlet away from "dull, conservative surroundings." He taught himself how to play drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards. Describing his experience growing up in Tennessee as unpleasant, he moved at age 20 to San Diego, and after college to Los Angeles, where he met Mykki Blanco in 2012, with whom he later toured for two and a half years throughout Europe and Asia.
In the early 2010s, Tumor recorded as Teams, and made music which AllMusic described as "post-chillwave". He debuted his Yves Tumor project in 2015 with an EP for Berlin's experimental club label Janus, and another one for Blanco's label, Dogfood MG. That same year, he self-released his first album, When Man Fails You (which would later be re-released by Apothecary Compositions on April 29, 2016).
In September 2016, Tumor signed with PAN Records and released its label debut, Serpent Music. He had worked on the album for three years after moving to Leipzig, Germany. The album was recorded between Miami, Leipzig, Los Angeles and Berlin. In Pitchfork 's review of the album, critic Andy Beta compared Tumor's musical style to James Ferraro and Dean Blunt, and noted his use of "unsettling percussive loops and field recordings to create a mood as if lost in a strange urban landscape".
In September 2017, Tumor released a compilation album titled Experiencing the Deposit of Faith for free. Later that week, it was revealed through a tour announcement that Tumor had signed to Warp Records. Following the announcement, he embarked on a tour with a new audiovisual show.
In September 2018, Tumor released his Warp debut, Safe in the Hands of Love, with no prior announcement. It was preceded by the singles "Noid" on July 24, "Licking an Orchid" featuring James K on August 29, and "Lifetime" on September 3. The album received universal acclaim from music critics. Pitchfork 's Jayson Greene stated in his review that the album "dwarfs everything the artist has released by several orders of magnitude. The leap is so audacious it's disorienting."
Tumor's fourth album, Heaven to a Tortured Mind, was released on April 3, 2020, preceded on March 3 by the single "Kerosene" featuring Diana Gordon. Alexis Petridis, reviewing the album for The Guardian, awarded it Album of the Week, describing it as "extraordinary: experimental, capable of any genre, with an internal logic powering its shifts in mood.
Tumor uses both gender-neutral pronouns and masculine pronouns. Tumor believes his gender or sexuality should not define his art, and is quoted as saying "I really like to drop hints in the way I express myself, instead of making my gender or my sexuality or my feelings about equality my personal brand. That’s not why I do what I do."
Tumor has cited Throbbing Gristle as a major influence, saying: "There's something about their music, like the hypnotic trance vibes, that really influenced me."