INTERVIEW: Umek at Ultra Music Festival 2014
One of the biggest names in the dance music scene, Slovenian-born producer UMEK has been packing out dance floors for the last two decades. Releasing over 200 tracks with the likes of Armada, Renaissance and Audiomatique, the techno master also manages his own labels Recycled Loops, Consumer Recreation and 1605 – a platform established to take care of unknown newcomers on the block. We sat down with the techo don backstage at Ultra Music Festival in Miami to chat about life on the road, his new album and what he thinks about the Australian dance scene.
MTV: How has your Miami Music Week been so far?
UMEK: I arrived in Miami on Monday and then on Wednesday I played at the Deeperfect party at Clevelander, then yesterday I played a poolside gig and today I’m at Ultra. On Monday I’m finally going home after a month of touring around South America!
MTV: Where was your favourite show on the tour?
UMEK: Argentina is always, always, always crazy. I mean, the whole tour was amazing but Argentina was slightly better than everywhere else. For some reason, the crowd there is always brilliant.
MTV: Are you used to having fans all around the world yet?
UMEK: It feels really good, of course. But I’ve been DJing for 20 years and you get used to it, you know? For me, it’s just about going on stage, doing your job, and then when you’ve finished, trying to relax. And that means sitting in my bed and watching movies *laughs*.
MTV: Do you ever work on music while you’re on the road?
UMEK: Always! I wasn’t in the studio all of last year because I produced my entire album on the plane. I’m scared of flying, I hate turbulence, so what else am I going to do? I can make a lot of tunes on 12 hour flights.
MTV: Have you had any studio sessions with other artists while you’ve been in Miami?
UMEK: No I haven’t. What we do lately is exchange material over the internet, so if I do some verses thing with a DJ, I would make an idea, send it to him, he’ll say ‘eh this is not good, I’m going to send you my one,’ then we start to work on the drums and the bassline together. It’s just a back and forth kind of thing while exchanging ideas. It’s kinda cool. When I go home, if I have time, I want to sit down with a good friend of mine and make some new music from scratch.
MTV: Have you worked on any collaborations recently?
UMEK: Yeah! I’ve done a lot of tracks recently with Mike Vale. We did a remix for Chris Lake which is coming out on Ultra in a month or so and we also just remixed Mason’s ‘Exceeder’ track which turned out really great. We always produce a lot in January because that’s when I have holidays! So I always go to Maribor in Slovenia, where Vale lives, and we go snowboarding one day and hit the studio the next.
MTV: What do you think about Australian dance music?
UMEK: I’ve been to Australia a few times and I still remember all this old school stuff I did with Simon Digby. It was about 10 years ago when he was called Wet Music, and they are some really cool memories. But the last shows I played in Australia were at Stereosonic and Cream Fields about three years ago, so I haven’t heard much new music since then.
MTV: What do you think about Australian festival crowds?
UMEK: In Australia, it’s hard to judge because I don’t think that tech house and techno is as big there. I always play the small stages when I go there, but then one gig out of three would be in a big room with an amazing crowd and I just love it. When it’s good, it’s good! Sometimes I think we should work on promoting the kind of sound I play in Australia. I should visit there more often!
MTV: What’s happening with your new music this year?
UMEK: I’ve just finished my own samples for Loopmasters so producers around the world can use my own sounds. Then of course, well I hope, my new album is going to come out. It’s nearly done. Then there’s Ibiza season, and I’m getting a lot requests for residencies there. I’m about to go back to Europe for a month and a half and then I’m back in the States in June to play TomorrowWorld. I don’t even know what’s happening after that, I can’t really keep up.
MTV: Last question, what would you be doing if you weren’t producing?
UMEK: I would love to play basketball but I’m 37 years old now, so my career would be over. Maybe I would train young kids how to play basketball. Or I could be a chef!
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