Everything you wanted to know about UMEK but were afraid to ask

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A few weeks ago, UMEK challenged his fans to come up with for a completely fan-generated interview on his Facebook fan page. Below are UMEK’s answers to some of those questions.

Are you a boob or a butt man? (H Neil Sauer)

Sir Mixalot said it – I like big butts and I cannot lie. Boobs can be bought but butts are usually earned by hard work.

What are you afraid of? (Antonio Sanchez)

I used to be afraid of flying, but I managed to overcome the fear by educating online about things that can happen while in the air. I had panic attacks during flights, so I’m thankful to the authors of the SOAR Course. If you travel a lot and you’re afraid of flying, then go to www.fearofflying.com, it’s worth it.
Most of the frightening stuff is completely harmless, although sometimes it really feels like you’ll fall off the sky.

What do you think about future house genre? Would you do make a song in this style?
(Eduardo Junio)

I’m interested in many different styles, I especially like to explore new stuff. The interesting thing with future house is that my first impression was that reminded me on garage. An interesting mixture between house and EDM, sometimes it even sounds a bit like underground. Definitely it sounded fresh, but I wonder if it will manage to stick and if the guys and girls will be able to push it forward.
Especially in the US, I think that DJs are switching to it from EDM and I see this as a good thing. It sounds less cheesy and more housy.

Can you talk about that one defining moment when you knew you wanted to start producing? (Lucija Juraga)

It’s a natural path when you are a DJ. You’re curious about how tracks are made and you start experimenting. Only I started experimenting decades ago, when producing was very low-tech compared to now. I started out with two of my geek buddies Uros and Vid, who knew their way around computers and we started producing on an old screen tracker with 4 mono channels on an 8-bit sound resolution. We were taking samples from cassettes and sat behind the computer for 15 hours a day for weeks to do a track. It sounded horrible, but it was a start.

Why have you never played at Timewarp and BPM? (Ryan J Bark)

The whole management team is trying to get me to do a gig at BPM, because they want to spend a week in January on the sun and sand. But I love snow and I usually take January off to go snowboarding and catch up with the sleeping. Maybe next year if I can combine it with an overseas show for NYE and then wrap the tour up in Cancun.
As for Timewarp – I used to play there; I even did a compilation for them. But in the past few years I think my sound just wasn’t suitable for such an event, to be honest.

As one basketball fan to another: have you ever attended an Euroleague or NBA match? (Vid Sedej)

Many times. When in the US, I always try to catch a game or two. My favorite one was in Miami, where I got to see LeBron playing against Goran Dragić. One of the best players in the world right now, versus my favorite player, a fellow Slovenian.

I hope that I’ll be able to see Miami Heat in March. Two Slovenians are on the team now, so it’ll be great!

As for Euroleague, I haven’t really seen any matches live, but that doesn’t mean I don’t watch the games on TV. Still, NBA is my first love. Lots of sleepless nights because of it.

Do you play on 4 CDJs all the time? (Gabriel Alejandro Angio)

I’ve rarely played on CDJs, but I did play on 4 vinyls simultaneously when I was younger. It was insanely hard and required so much focus that I had to go straight back to the hotel after the set and crashed into my bed.

Now I use Traktor, which allows me to express myself in so many different ways. I play from three channels and have the others reserved for the effector and Maschine, which means that often you hear 6 channels at the same time.
I still don’t understand the nostalgia and smart asses, who say that using modern equipment isn’t DJ-ing anymore. It’s not about what you use, it’s how you use it. You can suck with any gear or you can master it.

How many pairs of shoes do you have? Are you aware you might have a shoe fetish? (Ashley Hatcher)

Guilty as charged. I’m a big sneakerhead. I have at least 300 pairs, probably more. Sometimes I even customize them myself and I have to brag that I’m not half that bad in it.

Name a ridiculous thing you wish to have in your rider. (Demetra Georgiou)

Not only I wish I had it – I do have it! One of the things is a live unicorn and now promoters compete with one another on who will get me the closest equivalent to a live unicorn. Usually I get a lot of stuffed ones, but the Windtalkers team in Ibiza went the extra mile and brought a live one. Which was actually a really nice horse with a horn, strapped to its head, but it made me drop my jaw when I saw it backstage. And they took very good care of it and made sure it wasn’t exposed to any loud noises.

However, I’d like to have a rule in place that everyone who wants to take a photo with me or get an autograph start organizing themselves and get patently in line. Because now they sometimes want to tear me apart, by pulling my shirt and grabbing me. Be calm, you’ll get your photo, I’m a good guy. Just try to at least turn on your camera and make sure you have enough space on your phone. You would be surprised to see how often fans are frantically deleting stuff from their phone and have trouble turning on the camera and flash. It’s unfair towards the others, who are waiting.

What is your best and worst experience on the road during your career? (Amy Tigris Hvornum)

I wish I would record every gig, because there’s a lot of amazing stuff going on and I tend to forget most of it. Usually promoters take good care of me, but back when I was an aspiring young DJ, a lot of things went wrong. One time they accommodated me in a student dorm and there was a giant turd, just lying there in the toilet like it pays rent. It wouldn’t go away, no matter how many times I flushed it.

When playing in Industrial Copera I put my jacket on at the end and felt movement in the sleeve. Then a huge rat fell out.

And one time I was playing at some venue in Czech republic, where I fell into a hole in the middle of the stage and broke a rib.To make everything worse, a fan fell into the same hole just minutes before me. Poor guy wanted an autograph and came on the stage and fell in. I still signed his paper. While he was still in the hole. He earned it.
The best experience? Hard to pick one. Everything is good, especially the moment when the crowd starts chanting your name.

Why did the chicken cross the road? (Jorn Tratsaert)

To add more cowbell.

What is your favorite pair of shoes? (James Michael)

What the LeBron 10. I spent $2,500 and the bastard sent me a fake pair. To make everything
worse, I missed the money-back period on e-Bay, so I couldn’t get a refund. Luckily, I managed
to get my hands on a pair of originals later, but lesson was definitely learned. An expensive one.

If you had any superpower, what would it be? (Bianca Lujan)

I would love to travel to the future. I hope the mankind isn’t dumb enough that we’ll exterminate ourselves. I think that we’ll face some kind of apocalypse first, and then get back on track, and make things work.

I might sound like Miss America, but it would be interesting to see how the world would look like without wars and problems. In addition, I’m eager to see all the gadgets the future has to bring.

Why are you a DJ, why not an actor, dancer or a cop? (Take Over)

I can’t really act or dance and I don’t look good in blue. Plus you need a driver’s license to be a cop. But I love entertaining people.

What is your spirit animal? (Michael Muranaka)

Cow. Specifically tenderloin, medium done, with baked potatoes. Apart from one year, when I
was a vegetarian.

What do you eat when you’re not hungry? (Janez Dolinar)

Sugary things. Especially pastries my mom does. It’s not often that I’m actually not hungry.

WTF were you thinking when you decided to join a secret society? Or do they just pay you to wear their shirts? Pretty much every t-shirt you wear has some symbolism on it (BLVCK, pentagram, pyramids etc.)
(Krejzi Kure )

It’s true that I joined the Illuminati and I decided to tell the whole world about it by wearing their merch. And it’s a top quality merch too, it doesn’t shrink at all, even if you wash it on 90 and tumble dry it. I’m not a full-time member; I’m just the replacement for that guy that played piano in Eyes Wide Shut. Apparently, the Illuminati got onto the whole electronic music train, so now I’m playing a set while they yell at Tom Cruise for crashing their party. And the password is still “fidelio”.

Jokes aside, I’m glad that someone finally noticed my shirts. All my friends think they’re dull.
In reality, those symbols represent everything I’m not. However, I read a lot about secret societies, it is interesting stuff. Actually, I stumbled upon a website, where people were talking about me being a freemason. I’m not. Well… Even if I were, I’d have to deny it, right? 😉

Why don’t you focus more on young people? I feel like you could get even bigger with that audience.
(Damiën Terstall)

I don’t know when was the last time I played in a senior citizen home. I usually play for young people, but it’s also true that often I see a grandma here and then, just killing it in the crowd. I love seeing people who don’t give a fuck about age and just let it go.

Maybe there is a certain very young part of the crowd that have different idols. After all, I’m not like them. I’m not a pretty boy, a 20-year-old fitness model.

What do you think about the new toilet paper scented with mamoncillo y chontaduro. It’s the shit! Right?
(Daniel Castro)

True. It’s the shit! But only the 4-ply type. I don’t really understand the point in 2-ply toilet paper. You always fold it in half anyway to get four plies. Economically it’s a waste of money, because thin paper isn’t twice as cheap as 4-ply. Not to mention the user experience, which is horrible if you have to waste time on the toilet by folding toilet paper, instead of reading the news or playing games on your phone like other normal people.

Outside of electronic music who were your musical influences? Follow up question:
Star Wars or Star Trek?
(Burke Fralic)

Hans Zimmer. He’s a composer for films. Every time I hear a nice soundtrack and I google it, it’s Zimmer’s.

Star Wars or Star Trek? It’s like deciding who your favorite child is.

How many tracks you finish before getting to the one you are comfortable with to release and what pushes you or give you the confidence to release it? (Carlos Prieto)

I don’t have a pattern. Sometimes I like it instantly, sometimes I need 10 tracks to get the one I want. You need to take time, sit down and work. The production nowadays is so much more complex than back in the days, despite all the tools we have. However, if the idea is good, the equipment doesn’t matter and many of today’s producers still use old gear. When I get a good idea, I write it down and then try to follow it when I come to the studio. I see the music through my feelings and sometimes I even write those feelings down for inspiration. Like last time when I watched a basketball match and it got me – what if I sample the sound of basketball hitting the court and the coach yelling at players.

When finished it’s pretty much as with steaks: you have to let the track age for a while. Although you want to play it immediately and release it right away, it’s good to hold back and test it on a few gigs to see how the crowd reacts to it. Maybe you produce something new in between.

Do you think that the learning of music or any artistic expression could lead a nation’s youth to a more developed and inclusive society? (David García González)

Definitely. I think that schools would have to learn how to discover talented kids and encourage them to further develop their talent and not ignore it like they do now. The education system would have to be more flexible and not the same for everybody. Today, if you possess a talent for playing an instrument, you’ll have to play it at home (and probably not very loud, so you don’t disturb your neighbors). Plus, you’ll get to play it after you finish your homework, even though you know you’ll never be a physicist or a biologist. Sure, you have to get some basic knowledge, but developing your talent is at least equally important.

Also, I think artists are more open, pacifistic, they want people to be happy. However, forcing people into art wouldn’t return good results.

EDC 2012. It is I believe the year the winds took Saturday away from us. You played on Sunday after Green Velvet and YOU FUCKING ROCKED THE HOUSE! You only had a one-hour set and it seemed like 3 hours Immediately after the set I texted my friends and said “And on the 3rd day God created UMEK lol”. Did you feel like you had to blow our socks off because of us losing Saturday? It reaaaaallllly made up for it. Also another question: after your set, the entire crowd broke out into a standing ovation. I have never seen this. And at this point a shadow came behind you on the decks. And to this day when you play Insomniac parties you ONLY play the mainstage? Was that shadow Pasqualle? (Christopher Maryan)

I remember that storm. Too bad, because the audience was extremely wild.
It wasn’t Pasqualle, it was probably my tour manager, trying to unplug everything in record time.

I’m glad you liked my set. I didn’t blow your socks off on purpose; I tend to do that on every gig, because every gig counts, no matter how big the crowd. It would be unfair to play differently for different audience. It’s interesting, however, how different people feel my sets. For some it’s the best set they’ve ever heard and then there are the others, who will never come back to any of your gigs because of the disappointment. It has to be one of the most subjective things ever.

What do you think of the international immigration problem? Do you think that music can break those walls?
(David García González)

I think that the West has the obligation to help the refugees. The first reason is that we’re all human, no matter of the color of the skin, religion or part of the world we come from. We’re all the same species. I don’t understand why people are so afraid of those who seek for help. I mean, have you seen photos of Damascus lately? It’s impossible to live there; of course people will run out. I would be the first to get my family and myself to safety and I could only hope to find nice people on the other side.

Secondly, the West started it all. I’m really fed up with all that propaganda and artificially produced panic. It really makes me sad that people are so easily spooked and manipulated by higher interests. Then there’s greed, that’s the ground root of most of world’s conflicts.

I’m afraid that music can’t break any walls. Active citizenship can break them. Democracy gave us the tools to take control of our lives, but young people in particular are inactive and refuse to participate in building their own future. It really doesn’t hurt to go and cast your vote every once in a while, does it?

Can you describe the feelings you experience while watching us (techno maniacs) jumping, screaming and just having the best time of our lives with the beats your imagination produces? (Blažka Groznik)

Of course the feelings are overwhelming. I think all DJs are junkies for that ecstasy (the feeling, not pills), no matter how long you’re on the scene. Now, that I’m thinking about it, it’s not really fair from our side to not be aware of this every time. Sometimes you forget to enjoy yourself and have to remind yourself how lucky you are to have such a kickass job.

Here’s to the very first interview we did with UMEK, HERE