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You will find in this category each week, an interview or a biograhpy of a Dj or artist which is breaking the news. All styles are on the “menu” of this category: minimal, house, electro, techno or even trance in some cases.

The topic will be supplemented by other Djs following the latest electronic music news.

 
Techno
05
Umek - Interview

Umek has done this step as early as in the middle of the 90s and so he became one of the most important techno players of the global techno scene, even before the end of the last millennium. He is from Slovenia, country known for its great electronic parties. Not to mention he was one of the 2009's Best Sellers on Beatport and on last year's DJ Mag Top 100 DJs he was placed on 3rd spot in techno and on 39th spot in overall category (in 2009). In the last two months he had two tracks on Beatport's overall chart placed on the first spot – the banging “OMGWTF” track and “Back In The Race”, which he produced with Beltek. He is also the founder of the 1605 Music Therapy Recordings. So today, we have the chance to offer you an exclusive interview with him. And thanks to his management, you can win some CDs and goodies from him, by clicking here.

“Hello Umek,

You’ve just released a track produced with Jay Lumen “Popgirls”. Could you please give use more information about this release?
> If I may start with an interesting observation: it’s been only two days since the release of this track and I’ve already got this question for the second time today from the journalists from totally different part of the world. I like the way the information spreads and how observing the journalists are. I’ve hooked up with Jay Lumen spontaneously, trough the Skype couple of years ago. I liked his music and we touched base for the first time in 2008 when he created a really good remix for the track Army of Two, which I did with Beltek and it was released trough one of Armada sub-labels. At that time his sound was still quite progressive, but he got something special in it that caught my attention. I immediately noticed his immense talent and since then we’ve recorded “Sinful Ladies” for Munich Discotech vol. 6 on Great Stuff, did a remix for Rah Band’s “Clouds Across The Moon” on the same imprint, “Popgirls” for 1605 and we are already working on some new stuff.

With “Sinful Ladies” he sent me the basic idea, I’ve changed the rhythm section and the arrangements, we were playing and exchanging the ideas, sending the track back and forth, till we were satisfied and I finished the project with the final mix. For the Great Stuff remix he presented the idea and I did the beats, and for the “Popgirls” I did the first two minutes of rhythm section, he threw out what he didn’t like and added his own elements, sent it back to me and I did the same and so on, till we were satisfied with the sound of the whole track. There’s no rule how we do it but we obviously connected as all of our tracks performed really well on the Beatport and other shops all over the world. And the most interesting thing is that I’ve never met Jay in person, although I’m from Ljubljana and he’s from Budapest, cities which are only four hours of drive away. We’ve met on-line and we do everything trough the Internet. Some artists have problem collaborating that way, for me it’s great to have all this creative minds just a mouse click away.

What will be your next one?
> December is quite busy with my fresh releases: track titled “Novi Sad” is coming out on Great Stuff, there’s my combo with PHNTM titled “Freaks On The Floor” on 1605 scheduled for the December 20th release and I’ll mark the 50th jubilee release of my 1605 with my collaboration with Traumer. And there’s also my official rework of the “Amphetamine”, classic rave anthem from Drax Ltd. II that is already doing a true mayhem on the dance floors all over the world.

2010 will be over in one month. For 2011, what we expect from you? New tracks? A compilation maybe?
> There will definitely be a lot of new music coming from my studio in the early 2011. The next couple of tracks that I’m releasing will have this distinguished techno-disco feeling that I’ve already explored successfully with the recordings such as “OMGWTF”, B”ack In The Race” (ft. Beltek), “Ljubljana”, “Firefight” (both on Intec) and “Novi Sad”. This is a very melodic, warm and funky sound, just the right stuff to dance to. But I can’t say past that. I always let myself get lead by the music everywhere it takes me when I get in the studio. I sit down, start working and what I get out from my speakers at the end of the process is quite unplanned and unexpected. I’m also remixing a track from Tocadisco and working on some new material with Jay Lumen, Beltek and Tomy Declerque. And yes, there will be a new compilation with my name on it. I’ve already recorded some exclusive track and I’m in the middle of selecting the material for my own installment in the Toolroom Knights compilation series that will be out in early 2011.

Moreover, you’ve have just been awarded by a number 50 position in the DJ Mag 2010 chart between James Zabiela and Paul Oakenfold. How do you feel about it? Do you think it awards a year full of productions like your second authorial album “Responding To Dynamic” released in March 2010?
> Well, position no. 50 in the Top 100 DJs poll is 11 places down from the last year. That’s a fact. But another fact is that I’ve never had so busy and successful year so far in the sense of touring as well as releases and the set/airplay. It just seems some other artists were working very hard too and the trend of techno artists loosing places is still present. In any case being 50th in this pool is, at least for me, that I’m basically a part of the music underground, still a good position. If in 2009/2010 I’ve made a big step further in the eyes of music professionals and now media is really taking notice of me, probably people who are going to the clubs will be supporting me in that kind of polls in 2011 a bit more passionately. In any case I’m not sleeping on past success and slowing down. I have built a really strong team around me and we are working all the time as this is a very competitive scene and you have to always do your best if you want to stay on top of the game.

After we gave this little introduction about your music news to our readers, we wanted to get back to your origins. Indeed, could you please tell us in a few words, how did you become a DJ and producer?
> Although I’ve learned most about music and electronic dance culture on my own I’ve had some good mentors. Aldo Ivancic, who was involved in electronic music projects Borghesia, for example, let me warm up for his gigs at the club K4, which was a cradle of alternative culture in Ljubljana, and is still my favorite venue to perform, my home. But I didn’t really have big international break in terms of releasing one big record that started everything and sucked me into the scene as it became quite normal nowadays. In the middle of the 90’s there was still a small gap between production and deejay scene. Or they at least weren’t so unified as today when producers have to perform for their living and deejays have to produce music to get exposed. I decided to do both, producing and performing, quite early in my career and I was a bit frustrated as I’ve already had more than 30 releases on good labels out before promoters really took notice of me as a deejay. My reputation grew slowly and consistently and I came to where I am today, step by step, strengthening my profile with consistent flow of good releases and performances. It was the hard way, but the only right one, and in the process I’ve also proved my quality and I still work hard every day to be among top names on the techno scene.

In the beginning it was really hard for me to be in touch with electronic music as the scene in Slovenia was literally non-existing ‘till the beginning of 90s when I’ve discovered Cool Night show hosted by Aldo Ivancic, MC Brane and Primoz Pecovnik on Radio Student. They played all kind of electronic music, from trance, rave, techno, EBM, some really dark stuff … Soon after they started their nights in the student union’s club K4. I became regular and after I’ve got introduced to artists such as Jure Havlicek (Anna Lies, Moob, now working in the neo-disco scene under a moniker Sare Havlicek) who invited me into his studio and show me how this music is done. In that time, I was doing my first steps as a producer, using 8-bit Screen Tracker with 4 mono channels and we sampled our sound from the tape cassettes. It was far from being professional but we’ve spent all the time doing music. And when Jure showed me his Rolands 808 and 909 and all other legendary machines I knew that’s exactly what I want to do in my life. As there was no copyright legislature in Slovenia at that time I’ve started selling pirate cassettes (for pirate recording label) with my friends and soon gathered enough money to buy first proper sampler. We’ve bought it from Random Logic and one half of that project, Gregor Zemljic, still masters a lot of my tracks.

At the beginning, did your family understand what you did for a living? And now are they proud of what you achieved along the years?
> Well my mother has been aware of my great passion for music from a very young age and also kind of nurtured this passion by buying me my own radio with tape cassette player. There was always music in my room. Right after I came from the school I turned on the radio and it was usually on till I went to bed. I was doing my homework and studied for the school with the music in the background – which I don’t really recommend if you want to actually learn something. J So, she was aware of my love for music but she didn’t like it when I dropped out of the school and abandoned the basketball team to become a big international deejay and producer. We’ve talked about it and made a compromise to try to get a degree but I didn’t find the school interesting enough so I’ve never finished it. Now she admits that school was not the right place for me and she’s proud of me, as I’ve made something with my life, that I can take care of myself and make a living from being a deejay. Once she realized that I’m really focusing and working hard to get to my goal, I’ve had her full support. She stood by me trough all 17 years of my professional career.

I’ve read that in the middle of December, a documentary named “Techno heavy-weights Umek & Carl Cox in back to back interview” will be released to the world in which you and Carl Cox debate about your past, music and the future of techno. Could you please be more specific about this project? What is it exactly?
> In the late August I’ve invited Carl Cox to perform as the guest of honor at my annual Party for the Cause gig in Ljubljana’s central park and as we recently do a lot of things together we asked him to do a joint interview that we’ve filmed with four cameras. We did it in the middle of the night in a hotel in Ljubljana and it was a really nice energy in the air. We’ve talked about how I discovered each other’s music, how we connected, about the state of techno of the most inventive electronic music genre today and the vision for its progress in the future … We’ve covered a lot of interesting topics. The interview is very sincere and funny and I believe it will be a nice homage to the club culture. The video will be available for free trough all our channels and supporting club media in a couple of days.

Do you have some objectives/challenges for 2011, things you would like to reach and succeed?
> Yes, but that is really very basic stuff: I want to perform at great parties and spend as much time as possible creating more music. This is what I like to do the most and I really enjoy it as the first day of my career.

I’ve seen thanks to your Facebook fan page that since 1996 you’ve released over 200 tracks. What a number! So, how would you describe your process of working / producing, the emotion you would like to share with the public. What are your sources of inspirations?
> I produce music based on my experience in club and at the festivals and I produce it with the dance floor in my mind. I produce music for people to dance. And my studio working process is very intuitive. I usually go to the studio with some loops idea and start working and I try and play and test many different things until the track sound the way that I feel it should. I always let the music take me wherever it takes me. I might start working with the idea of a track and finish with the result that is sounding totally different. I’m also very productive. I really like spending time in the studio and I’m capable of producing couple of tracks every week. There is more than 100 hours of more or less finished but unreleased music in my archive as I only release things that I really thing are good enough to be released. There has to be some selection, you can’t just release everything you do. It’s also very good to live a track for a while after you’ve finished it and come back to it after a couple of days or weeks. This way you can hear if it’s really that good and working as it should. And I don’t play on any feelings. The thing is I don’t really do it that way. The title of my last artist album “Responding to Dynamics” kind of sums what I do with my music. My music is a dynamo and people on the dance floor respond to it differently. Each individual responds to triggers on his or her own. It’s an individual thing. My music doesn’t have some defined message. It’s a collage of sounds to which people create their own story in their minds. I give them colors and they paint their own pictures. The better colors I give them the better and more complex pictures are they able to create. And I mash all this tracks in my own sound. Sometimes I don’t really like how the particular track sounds but it can work really good in the mix so I have to find a way with what and how to blend and edit it to sound really good. This way I create a coherent story form particular tracks that on their own could not work being just played one after the other. In any case, you can get a story from my set. There’s a story, the energy and the power what you get from me any time.

As you come from Slovenia, are there one or two Slovenian artists you would like to introduce us today?
> There’s a whole bunch of great EDM artists from Slovenia. Two that I really have to mention are one of the trance scene’s rising young producers Beltek, who is a very versatile producer with a good ear for house and techno, too. His strongest weapons are the catchy melodies. Another one is Tomy Declerque, which has already scored a UK Top 40 hit some ten years ago but rather opted for the underground than followed his commercial success. He grew into a really skillful techno producer and we really clicked, we share the same vision of how techno should sound, so when I am touring really hard he also helps me mastering my tracks. But there’s bunch of others: Ian F, Aneuria, Mike Vale, Andrew Technique, F.Sonik, BlazV/Reconceal … to mention just a few.

Moreover Umek, what did you know about the French electronic music scene? Are there some artists that you personally know? You particularly love their works? Sebastien Leger for instance?
> Sure, there’s a whole generation of great French techno artists such as Kiko, Agoria, Oxia and Sebastien Leger, who is a very versatile deejay and producer. I hosted him at this year’s Day of Electronica event in Ljubljana and my summer residency at the Byblos, Porec and we’ve also swapped the remixes. I like his style of music, what he produces and what he plays. I’ve also released a track [“Folie EP”] from a young French guy Worakls in the early 2010 on my label 1605 and I’ll be celebrating the 50th release of the 1605 with a track I did with another Frenchman Traumer.

Besides music, what are your hobbies?
> I like to do some sports: fitness, cycling in the warm part of the year and snowboarding in the winter. I’ve just opened the new snowboarding season couple of days ago and it’s always a lot of fun. Sometimes I also pamper myself by going to some glaciers in the Austrian Alps during the summer. I also enjoy watching movies and TV-series, I am very fond of good sci-fi series and sometimes I even take few days off to do some mayhem on the Playstation. And we really shouldn’t forget to mention the basketball. As a former basketball player I am a passionate supporter of my hometown team Olimpija. After seven years of bad performances they are playing really good this year so I really enjoy watching their games.

Before we conclude this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
> No, not really.

Umek, to conclude this interview, we have a few more questions to better know you. Sometimes one word is enough!

The song you advice us to listen in your discography?
> There’s couple of them, but if you have time to listen to just one, check out the “Ricochet Effect” from “Print This Story EP”, released on Manual in 2008. It doesn’t reflect my contemporary sound and I don’t play it in my sets anymore, but it’s the track that I still like listening now or then.

An artist you would like to work with, one day?
> That’s really no problem. I actually really enjoy collaborating with no name artists. You just have to get my attention with some really good music, contact me on the Skype and that’s it. I’m very open to collaborations but a good idea is what I’m looking for.

3 words to define your music?
> Energetic, dance and organized.

Are you using vinyl or mp3 for your mix?
> MP3

One word about France?
> Croissants! J That’s the first thing I can think of when I hear a word France.

The software you use to produce?
> Logic

The best club in Slovenia (name and city)?
> Student Union’s Klub K4, Ljubljana; an underground EDM club in the city center for some 500 people

One privilege, being DJ, gives you access to?
> Hotel room service.

Somewhere you would like to mix one day: in a club or in the nature!?
> In space! And I don’t mind if some aliens are joining us on the dance floor.

Your favorite track these days?
> Christian Cambas’ “Fireball “

Some words about our website Actualités Electroniques?
> Can’t say really say it’s in French and I don’t speak French past some phrases such as voulez vous dancer avec moi, oui, no and merci beaucoup. But on the first glance it looks interesting and well maintained.

Umek, thank you very, very much for the time you devoted to Actualités Electroniques and particularly for this full and exclusive interview. We will wait for sure for your next productions. We hope to see you in France soon maybe for a mixed session and I’m sure you’ll come back soon in Paris. See ya!

Dj Aroy

MORE INFO ABOUT UMEK
Umek @ Juno Download
http://www.sixteenofive.com/
http://www.facebook.com/umek.si
http://www.myspace.com/djumek
http://www.facebook.com/sixteenofive
http://twitter.com/umek_1605
http://www.umek.si/

BONUS – Umek – Responding to dynamic [Free track]
http://www.zweistein.si/members/umek-responding_to_dynamic.mp3.zip

 
Written by Dj Aroy
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