The band was originally formed by Boris Blank (keyboards, sampling, percussion, backing vocals) and Carlos Perón (tapes) in the late 1970s.
Meier (vocals, lyrics), a millionaire industrialist and gambler, was brought in when the two founders realised that they needed a singer. The new band name, Yello, was chosen as a pun based on a comment made by Meier, "a yelled Hello".
Yello's first release was the 1979 single "I.T. Splash". The LP Solid Pleasure, featuring the original short version of "Bostich" (extended to a hit dance single in 1981), was released in November 1980.
In 1983, Yello received substantial media attention with the release of "I Love You" and "Lost Again". Perón left the band in 1983 to start a solo career. With their 1983 album You Gotta Say Yes to Another Excess, the band began a working relationship with Ernst Gamper, whose "corner cut" logo would represent them for three albums, and who would design covers for the group beyond the demise of this logo.
Yello's sound is mainly characterised by unusual music samples, a heavy reliance on rhythm and Dieter Meier's dark crooning voice. Yello has been instrumental in spreading and developing the use of sampling, along with Art of Noise, Paul Hardcastle and Depeche Mode, especially in the construction of rhythm tracks, such as one of their signature tunes The Race from 1988.
Boris Blank has taken a couple of vocal turns; on "Swing" (from You Gotta Say Yes to Another Excess) and "Blazing Saddles" (from Flag), and guest vocalists have included Rush Winters (the first female diva to be featured on a Yello recording), Billy MacKenzie, Stina Nordenstam, Jade Davies, Shirley Bassey and Heidi Happy. The group has shared writing credit with MacKenzie, Winters and Happy.
Yello rarely use samples from previously released music; nearly every instrument has been sampled and re-engineered by Boris Blank, who over the years has built up an original sample library of over 100,000 named and categorised sounds.