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Umek
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Umek Biography:

Renowned as one of the greatest techno DJ/producers to get behind the decks and as a pioneer in Slovenian dance music, Umek has helped define the realms of EDM far beyond just techno. He was a driving force in helping build the rave scene in Germany and Eastern Europe back in the early ’90s. Umek is also responsible for co-founding the highly influential techno labels Recycled Loops, Astrodisco, and 1605 – Sixteenofive. Since then, Umek has become a recognizable name all over the globe playing festivals world-wide and carrying out his residencies in Ibiza. Today Umek frequents DJ Mag’s Top 100 chart and is often a best seller on Beatport. On top of that, he recently won Best Beatport Artist in 2011 by staff pick, showing us that while he stays true to his original techno sound, Umek still remains a favorite among the newer generation. Our Ibiza representative, Shea Hausen got a chance to speak with the talented Umek. Check out the interview after the jump!

Umek – One More Sound (Original Mix) | Beatport

TB: How are you doing today Umek?

Umek: Actually I’m dead tired, as I’ve just spent 24 hours on planes, taking three flights from Los Angeles back home after a three weeks long tour in Asian and Americas. I’m home now, taking couple of days off as I’m fighting heavy jetlag. I don’t drink alcohol and take drugs, I’m not a real party animal while on tour but I can’t sleep on planes, so this long distance flights are killing me.

TB: You just recently played EDC in Las Vegas. Can you tell us about the experience?

Umek: It was great. This whole tour was amazing and the EDC and after party in Hollywood the day after were a grand finale. EDC was even better than the last year: huge mass of people, great selection of performing artists, production and decoration of stages, performances and additional program were outstanding, so I can’t wait to be back next year. ☺ Americans really know how to produce big festival shows like that.

TB: How does it feel knowing electronic music is getting larger and larger every day and you are one of the front runners leading the way?

Umek: It’s interesting to follow where things are going right now, especially in the USA. The explosion of big EDM festivals is obvious, the scene is growing with unbelievable pace, but on the other hand the clubs are still a bit different story. Maybe that’s just my perspective but American clubs are much fancier that the ones in Europe. Most of the people in the USA still come to parties because of all the hype happening around the EDM right now, so promoters still have to educate them to grow genuine taste for electronic music. People in the USA know most of the big artists and they like to dance to this music but in Europe there’s also a much more educated and demanding crowd, which is normal as the EDM culture was strong for the last 20 years and it’s kind a new thing in the USA. But each of both worlds has their own advantages and they could learn a lot from each other. For example: European scene could learn a lot about the business side of this whole thing, about how big spectacles should be produced and promoted. On the other hand Americans should select some more underground artists for their festivals along the big stars, as the EDM has so much more to offer beside the most obvious mainstream acts. Europe needs a bit more show, and the USA needs a bit more variety in music. And there’re such bizarre things as waving hands during the set: in Europe it was till recently a blasphemy if an underground techno deejay waved his hands during the set and you were almost cast out of the scene if you did that. In the USA this is not just desirable, it’s something people expect from a DJ to do. For me that kind of things are interesting to watch and see where the whole game is going.

TB: Your sound is obviously very European coming from Slovenia, but your gaining notoriety all over the U.S. Do you tweak your sets for the American crowd versus a European crowd?

Umek: No. I play my fingerprint sound wherever I’m invited, regardless if that’s Asia, Slovenia or the USA. So people all over the world get “the real” Umek, when they come to my gig.

TB: What’s your take on the EDM scene in America? How do you like playing for the US Crowds?

Umek: Americans are fanatic partysans, passionate, very extroverted and responding crowd, which is always good for building that explosive party atmosphere on the dance floor. I believe that’s part of American national character. Just the other day, one of these fans of mine came to my tour manager Bizzy and started talking to him how he listens to my music for the last ten years and that he’s so happy he can finally talk to me – not realizing it’s actually not me who is he talking to. And it’s really hard to mistake Bizzy for me. It was funny, but Americans are like this. They want to talk to you and to get in more personal touch with you. At first I’ve had to get used of this, but now I actually miss a bit more of that in Europe. And you don’t even have to go to the party to see how Americans are much more open than most of the Europeans. When I fly in Europe, people in business class tend to mind each other’s business and nobody says a thing to other people except the polite hello, excuse me and goodbye. In the USA it’s totally opposite: everybody is interested in who you are and what you do, they want to talk to you and in a single flight you get to know not only the person you’re flying with but also his whole extended family. For me, as a European, that’s a bit unusual. In the beginning I was wondering what these people want from me, but in time you learn that’s just the openness of Americans that we, typical introverted Europeans, have to get used of. After a while this began to change me, and I am much more open person now, that I used to be. And that’s cool.

TB: What are some of your favorite places to play and some festivals or clubs that you think are a must for any fan of your music?

Umek: This is one of the questions I really got tired answering as I enjoy playing music for people as the first day of my career and I get treated very nice and people get excited to party with me wherever I go, so I’m experiencing the best parties of my life on weekly basis. I’ve just got back from a tour in Korea, Japan, Mexico and the USA and it was epic. In the USA I’ve always had nice time at the Voyeur club in San Diego. Electric Daisy and other Insomniac Events are always great to visit as a performing artist or a visitor. A really nice surprise was the last gig of my tour – I was playing EDC after party in Playhouse club in Hollywood on Monday. This is another thing about the USA that rarely happens in Europe. I expected this gig to be very average as it was on Monday, after a big weekend. But it seems people in Hollywood are eager to party as well on Mondays as the club was full. I don’t know if each Monday at Playhouse is that busy but my night was sold out. It was a fantastic experience.

TB: Can you tell us more about 1605 Therapy and what fans can expect from yourself and other artists on the label in the coming year.

1605 Music Therapy is a platform and my 1605 – Sixteenofive label is just a part of this networking project that also includes club and festival events, visual art exhibitions, my global radio show Behind the Iron Curtain and some other things that we think of along the way. In four or five years we’ve already established our name as a significant players on the global EDM scene, our rooster is growing steadily, more and more established artists are releasing their music on 1605 and getting involved in sharing their knowledge and ideas with our younger artists; and we continue to focus on new talents, especially the ones from ex-YU territories and Eastern Europe, as they don’t get that much attention and support from mostly western oriented media and music industry.
If we focus on label – and you can best follow what’s new by tuning in to my radio show where we promote all new music and projects – there are some nice releases scheduled for following months. We’ve just released Stefano Noferini’s Refusal EP, next in line are new projects from Uto Karem and Olivier Giacomotto, in between we’ll release couple of 1605 samplers in which we focus on three or four new talents per project. Speaking of new talents, we’ve just discovered an amazing young producer DJ Fronter from Colombia. I’m not sure how big he is in his homeland but it’s a fresh discovery for us and we’ll release his ADN EP shortly. And we’ve finally spotted two guys from Croatia Adoo & Unique. The weird thing is that the whole ex-Yugoslavia region, Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia … is bursting with talented techno producers but Croatia was kind of black spot in this area for the last couple of years. Sure, there is Petar Dundov and some other guys, but nothing that would really fit in the 1605 sound. Hopefully this will be the first of many further releases of Croatian artists on our label. I’m also doing a new EP for 1605 but THE project we really have to mention is a pack of new remixes of Tomaz and Filterheads’ classic EDM anthem “Sunshine”. I expect this one to be one of the hottest tracks in Space Ibiza this summer, where I’m supporting Carl Cox’s residency for the third year in a row.
Umek – Sunday at El Row (Original Mix) | Beatport

TB: Having such a large number of artists signed with 1605, do you try and maintain a similar sound across the board or do you experiment and bring on people that maybe are completely different?

Umek: The golden rule of producing my own music, selecting tracks for the radio show and my gigs as well as selecting music for 1605 releases is very simple: I have to like it. And it doesn’t matter in which genre it fits or who is signed as the author. That’s why 1605 sound is so diverse. Yes we focus on techno or even a techno of particular taste, but music is a queen and if we discover a really nice track, we release it even if it’s a bit more progressive or housy. From time to time we find track that is really standing out and we usually present these goodies in the form of Various Artists compilations or samplers, as additions to other tracks that are more in the line of our single and EP releases. We sign a lot of fresh artists with not even one or just a couple of previous releases.

TB: Are you working on anything new we might be able to let our viewers and your fans in on?

Umek: I’ve already mentioned couple of things above. I should definitely add that I’m doing a new versus, a rework of a big classic tune, with Mark Knight for his Toolroom Records and I plan to do another one with Stefano Noferini in couple of months. I’ve just released Chosen EP, a collaboration with my fellow countryman Mike Vale, on Great Stuff; next in the line is my single for Stafano Noferini’s label Deeperfect titled “Let’s Go” and I’ve just agreed to remix a track for Austrian jazzy-electronic DJ/band Parov Stelar which I expect to be a lot of fun, as this kind of music is not my usual cup of tea.

TB: What are you producing on these days? Software and Hardware wise what do you have in your arsenal?

Umek: My studio is completely digital for the last five or six years. It’s based on a computer with Logic sequencer and extensive library of synths, effects, mixers, compressors … that I upgrade and refresh all the time. Lately I use a lot of samples again, practically as much as in times of my famous Recycled Loops label. Two sites with the sample libraries that come very handy are Soundstosample.com and Loopmaters.com. Comp and software are my gear and this is the material I’m working with. I don’t see what I do as a fine art, rather as a darn good craftsmanship. What I do is quite similar to building houses from bricks and cement. ☺

TB: Thanks so much for your time today UMEK, Any parting words?

Umek: If you like what you hear – be curious and dig deeper. EDM is a wonderful and colorful world of sounds!

– See more at: https://www.techibeats.com/artist-interviews/umek#.Us8D2GRDuFc

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