Artist of the Week: UmekDecember 18th, 2008
Born and living in a country you would not immediately link to a big techno DJ/Producer or a lively music scene. However, Slovenia is where Uros Umek build the foundations to worldwide acclaim and a lucrative musical career that spans over a decade. By shaping and molding his own techno sound and stimulating the Slovenian music scene, Umek caught attention and grew out to be one of the biggest techno DJ’s on the globe. Currently listed 33rd on the DJ Mag Top 100 and with brand new tracks coming up, Umek is still going strong. And he sure doesn’t hold himself to a plan. Umek: ‘I never know where the road is going to take me in the future. I like it this way, because I can surprise even myself.’
It’s the nineties. While on the other side of Europe the beats have already taken over, Slovenia’s dance scene just doesn’t want to shoot up to a full grown business. Umek starts dj’ing in 1993. With the help of some friends he slowly develops the dance music scene, organized the first large scale parties and put Slovenia on the map. Umek: ‘There was only one thing that made it possible – our love for the music. If you have that, everything else is easy. ‘ Though Slovenia still isn’t really the epicenter of dance, it did open up to dance music itself. Umek is quite skeptic about it though. ‘It would be much easier if we had more than 2 million people.’ Good point.
No pleasing the purist
Over the years, Umek grew out to be the fully fledged techno DJ/producer he is today. With more than 60 releases behind him and a whole lot more coming up, it’s obvious this guy knows how to deal with hard work. Umek: ‘I just love to work every day in my studio. If I am not at home, I am working on new tracks while I travel. For the last few years, flights seem much shorter, because I am able to work on the planes, during flights. To become successful, you have to work hard and that doesn’t bother me at all.’ We’re glad Umek is such a hard worker, else we wouldn’t be hearing so many of his typical productions. Over the years, Umek has made impact with several different tracks. From underground hits like ‘Overtake & Command’ and ‘Faithful Nights’ to MTV supported crackers ‘Posing As Me’ and ‘Carbon Occasions’. His 2002 ‘Gatex’ hard-trance banger was picked up by the biggest jocks around, from trance greatness Tiësto to techno king Sven Vath. It was obvious that Umek’s sound went beyond the obvious techno. Better said, it was a blend of techno, house and some trancy influences. That’s exactly how he prevents clichè’s. Umek: ‘I try to combine different influences in my productions, so that it constantly changes. I like it this way, because I can surprise even myself. When I produce, I never think about who is going to play my music. I am glad if someone plays and likes my music and I really don’t mind, if a DJ, who doesn’t fit to my sound, plays my tracks.’
Over the years, Umek’s taste in music has changed quite a bit. Umek: ‘I have been into dark techno sound for many years, but during all these years my taste for music has changed a lot. I still consider myself a techno DJ, but some purists wouldn’t agree with me, hehe!’ There’s no pleasing the purists with this kind of crossover and blending, that’s for sure. And again, who cares if it all sounds brilliant?
Umek & Beltek
Speaking of something brilliant, what about Umek’s team up with countryman Beltek? ‘Army of Two’, released on the Pilot 6 imprint has received quite some support. From Paul van Dyk to Cosmic Gate, David Forbes and M.I.K.E., ‘Army of Two’ was spread out over the crowds. Umek discovered Beltek’s talents right after the guy only just entered the scene. Umek: ‘I was checking his music a lot over the last 2 years and at one moment I approached him and asked him, if he was up for a collaboration. I thought it would be nice if our two styles would mix up. It’s fun to work with him in a studio and I hope our collaboration will open a few doors for his solo career. He really deserves more attention.’
A new bomb is on the way. Their duo-pack ‘Option to Stimulate/ Lifetime Use’ has just been released through the Pilot 6 imprint. ‘Lifetime use’ gives tech-house a whole new approach, as it sounds retro and renewed at the same time. A playful, deep track with a proggy feel. ‘Option to Stimulate’ has the same characteristic sound that was also featured on ‘Army of Two’, but is a bit more melodramatic and uplifting, with a big impact in the break. This duo has got it all down, as their musical chemistry results in a unique combination of styles.
Twelve years after his first release, Umek is right where he wants to be today. When it comes to producing and dj’ing, Umek is secured with a safe position that has him playing at the biggest festivals, most beautiful clubs and play his own tracks, all in the way he likes it. Umek: ‘ If there is a good crowd, every gig is impressive and one can find good crowds all over the world, so I am always excited, no matter where in the world I am playing. I have about 10 EPs coming out on various labels. Apart from that, I have many gigs coming up and I am really trying to enjoy the fantastic life of a DJ.’
Exclusive Mix (December 2008)
Option To Stimulate / Life Time USe
Umek & Beltek
1. Option To Stimulate
2. Life Time Use