The world famous DJ/Producer, UMEK has been ranked 70th for this year’s Top 100 DJs Ranking and is coming to TOKYO next month to take part in TOKYO DANCE MUSIC EVENT, Toolroom Academy. He was the key person, resident for the party “Revolution” hosted by Carl Cox in Space, Ibiza and also seen in big festivals all around the world. Back home in Slovenia, he’s called as “votter”, meaning father as his presence in the EDM scene since he started in 1993. Let us share an exclusive interview about his talent of being a producer.
Q1. As a well-known international producer, I wonder what made you decide to become a music producer. What were your motives back then?
To first compare the situations then and now – back then you actually didn’t have to be producer if you wanted to be a DJ. That’s almost impossible today, when you are expected to do both, and at least run a label and radio show on top of that as well. But this was a natural call for me. I was obsessed with electronic music and I was eager to learn how this music is being made. If you are into something it’s totally natural to want to know how this thing work. My progress as a DJ was faster, but I learned the art of producing music, step by step, did all the mistakes I could along the way as I didn’t have basic knowledge, access to information, equipment and mentors when I first started but all that just made me better producer on the long run. I always liked music that sounded differently, so I did a lot of music that sounded weird, but trough time I learned I have to follow certain rules in music and started to experiment inside that framework. The consequence of my mistakes was that I sounded rough and unique and that got me first couple of releases, some on very influential techno labels. But there was actually a big lack of knowledge behind this original sound:)
Q2. How do you get the inspiration for producing different tracks? Is it the people you hang out with? The surrounding environment? Music you listen to in your free time?
I get most of the inspiration for my productions from watching people on the dancefloor and how they respond to my music. With my music I try to express the energy and emotions that I feel as a DJ during my sets. And I don’t only think about the sounds, harmonies and melodies, I pay big attention to how it works on a mental and physical level, especially with the bass lines and bass drums. My music is powerful and especially when I play it, I try to build certain energy on the dancefloor that touches and moves people in a certain way. That’s why my production is very functional, purpose made – I always think of what responses will it trigger on the dancefloor.
Q3. What is the most important thing when producing or creating a new track?
That changes a bit with how I produce music and it also depends on the music style I’m producing, but I always pay a lot of attention and spend a lot of time working on my bass and drums patterns. Once I’ve set a solid base of the track, everything else is quite simple. On the other hand, that also happens from time to time, I may hear a nice theme while watching something on a TV or on the Internet and that intrigues me so much that I have to run to my studio, which I’ve conveniently set in the basement of my house and have to get it out of my system. In this case I usually start working with the synths and I might spend half of the night working on a particular idea until I’m content to the extent that I can go to bed and sleep peacefully.
Q4. How is Toolroom Academy so far? Where do you see Toolroom Academy and yourself in a few years from now?
I’m sure I’ll contribute more to this project in the years to come, as it’s a very good support for young producers and I’m glad I was invited to be part of it. I’m really happy that Toolroom decided to give upcoming producers this insight into how tracks are being made, why are certain elements built in a way they are, what are producer’s thoughts in this process, what tools do they use ... I would benefit heavily with a project like that if it was available to me when I was doing my first steps as a music producer. That’s something we didn’t have in the 90s but I was always for sharing knowledge among the artists, as that’s the only way the scene can progress.
Q5. Why did you decide to take part in this Toolroom Academy project?
Simply put, because it’s a great project and it gave me a chance to share some of my knowledge and little studio tricks with young people who want to become better in what they do.
Q6. What’s coming up next for you in the remaining 2016 or early 2017?
One very interesting project I’m involved in right now is Viberate.com, a new analytic app that will come handy to everybody in music industry. We’ve released it couple of weeks ago at the Amsterdam Dance Event. The base for this venture is our https://topdeejays.com/ database, which grew into one of the most useful analytic tools in electronic music business. Viberate is much bigger project and I’m glad my team is developing it. These guys are all statistic junkies, they’ve developed a good initial idea, got some seeding capital and it seems this is going to be another successful story developed by our team. Also check out my latest releases on 1605, I’m working on my new Zeta Reticula production for Electrix and also don’t miss my gigs in Europe, Australia, Asia and North America, including two gigs at BPM Festival in Mexico and Groove Cruise in the next couple of months if you’re around.
Q7. Is Japan an option for you to come do a show?
Sure, I’ll be playing at Womb in Tokyo on December 2nd. I’m really happy that I’m coming back to Tokyo. I’ve been to some other places in Japan in the past as well, but I’ve spent most of the time in Tokyo, which is, at least for me, one of the most interesting cities in the World. The culture, architecture, people … Everything is so different there. You don’t have cities like that in Europe, all that neon, glitter, ‘funky’ feeling. I love that. Parties are always great too, but I’ll fly in couple of days before the gig to spend some time there and enjoy some Tokyo as a tourist.
Q8. Please leave a message to your fans in Japan.
I can’t wait to be back in couple of days. Hopefully you’ll excited about this at least half that much as I am. So see you all on the dancefloor! If you have a chance to catch me, come to Womb!
UMEK says the most crucial skill of being a DJ/Producer is “picking up the ‘right’ song for the crowd to go wild and perform to have fun”. Not only does he make himself busy doing shows and gigs around the world but he’s also established his own record label 1605Music Therapy and releases songs with his own brand. If you all have time please check out TOKYO DANCE MUSIC EVENT and see UMEK teach his skills in track production.