Interview with DJ Umek

Interview with DJ Umek

by Taryn Haight

Slovenian DJ/producer Uroš Umek has come a long way since first breaking out onto the electronic music scene in the early ‘90s. His reputation spawned from Recycled Loops, Consumer Recreation and his most recent project, 1605 (Sixteenofive), has propelled his Slovenian techno sound around the globe, morphing it into a more internationally-inspired sound for 2010.

DJ Umek has cranked out more releases than most of 2010’s EDM newcomers combined and he isstill putting out new tracks and remixes faster than we can program the release dates into our Blackberries. On top of his time in the studio, DJ Umek has said that his touring schedule makes Jules Verne look likea Girl Scout, but he won’t let that busy schedule defeat him. “It’s quite easy for me to DJ and produce and the club scene itself keeps megoing,” said Umek. “I’m probably not going to stop for years.”

Check out our interview with the long-standing DJ/producer and one of the founding fathers of Slovenian techno music, DJ Umek.

Clubplanet: First and foremost, fill us in on what you’re working on these days.

DJ Umek: I’ve released a few new tracks on a label called Hot Fingers and then I did a remix for a French guy, Sébastien Léger. I’m also promoting OMG WTF bestseller Gatex and in 2010 I created a new version. Then I did a co-production with a guy from France called Traumer, which is coming out on 1605. Then I have a more housey tune coming out on German label Great Stuff called “Novi Sad” which is the name of a Serbian city that I enjoy a lot.

Clubplanet: So are these available online for people to download?

DJ Umek: No, not yet only the Sebastian Leger remix and the release on Hot Fingers, the Italian label. All the other things are coming out in the next few months. One other thing I’m doing is a new version of Brian Coxx’s “Freaks on the Floor.” It was a hit tune that I was playing for ages and I really loved it, and I think this track deserves another chance. I hope it’s coming out soon [laughs].

Clubplanet: I read a blog post that you wrote about how you made Jules Verne look like a Girl Scout because of how much you travel. I was just curious since you are traveling so often, where is your favorite music coming from these days or what country would you say has the best electronic music right now?

DJ Umek: Right now I play a lot of Italian stuff, I play a lot of stuff from Russia or from the Republic of Russia, but this is just this moment, this is changing all the time. There’s a lot of good music coming out of Ireland or Thailand, it depends, you know. I love these countries because there are so many new producers and so much fresh music. I’m always about finding those diamonds that no one else has and I’m always searching for those important undiscovered tracks. Definitely right now you need to search in Italy and I’d say throughout Russia as well.

Clubplanet: And with all the travel and decades of working in this industry, you think you’d be sick of it all by now. What motivates you to keep doing this and keep DJ’ing and producing and working in the industry?

DJ Umek: It’s actually really easy. I mean, I really hate flying and travelling, but otherwise I enjoy DJing and production, so I’m probably not going to stop for years. It’s quite easy for me to DJ and produce and the club scene itself keeps me going, you know. I love to play in front of a crowd, it’s something special with all of the energy on the dancefloor; it’s just something I could not live without.

Clubplanet: What DJs and producers do you think are currently on the rise in dance music and who should we keep our ears out for?

DJ Umek: I mean the guy on my label you need to watch out for is a guy called Worakls from France. There’s really one good underrated producer from Slovenia called Tomy DeClerque and he’s a friend of mine. You need to watch out for a guy who’s actually doing different stuff than I do, but we do some tracks in the studio together, his name is Beltek. He has releases on Tiësto’s label, on Armin Van Buuren’s label and he’s doing a lot of things with Gareth Emery right now. He’s a really fresh name and I think he’s going to explode quite soon so watch out for those guys a lot.

Clubplanet: Is he doing trance music?

DJ Umek: Yeah, I mean Beltek is doing mostly progressive house, but his production is so unique and even though there’s a trance feeling, you can hear elements of techno, elements of house, elements of everything. He combines things so well that I would say it’s really modern progressive house. I’ve done a few records with him and we just finished one called CR2 on a label from England and I think it’s coming out in eleven days.

Clubplanet: As a techno DJ, what effect has the current dance music craze had on techno specifically?

DJ Umek: Right now I think it has two different sides. I would say one side is Berlinand Birmingham dark stuff and the other side is leaning into to more housey, funkier stuff. In techno right now there are a lot of samples from the 80s and stuff like that with a lot of melodies on one side, and on the other side things are getting really dark.

Clubplanet: When an artist is involved in the music business for as long as you’ve been, you see a lot of these trends come and go and you have to evolve to keep up with it. How would you say that you’ve evolved since you started out and how do you think you’ve been able to stay new and fresh while still staying true to your identity?

DJ Umek: When I started in Slovenia, the scene was quite hectic; it was all mixed up. It was ’93, ’94, ’95, I was playing all sorts of stuff—some trancey records, some Detroit stuff, some techno—everything was mixed up. Later on I went into purist hard and dark techno and around 2000, I changed to more tribal stuff. It looks like I’m going to change and develop all the time and of course, since we’re travelling so much,we’re getting bored of the same style. I won’t play stuff that I don’t like [laughs], so it always needs to be fresh and interesting and new. As long as it is, then we’re good to go.

Clubplanet: How would you describe your sound right now?

DJ Umek: I play techno, but it’s different stuff. I can go more into dark, heavier stuff and I can play more housey, funky, soul-type stuff. It’s all shapes and sizes of techno.

Clubplanet: I know you mentioned before the new songs you have coming out, but whatelse do you have lined up for the rest of the year?

DJ Umek: Right now, I’m actually playing with the idea of doing a new album, but I don’t know when it’s going to be released or done. I’ve done two whole albums and decided at the end not to release them, but the third time I made it. But I would love to do a new album, I got some offers from really nice labels for the album and for mix compilations, as well. Otherwise, I have a tour scheduled for Australia in May and I’m coming to the U.S. in December, to Montreal, to Detroit, to India… Just traveling and making music and that’s it.

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