EDM Life:. I’m here with UMEK at the Clevelander Hotel – Winter Music Conference 2014. Okay, so first question. We know you’re from Slovenia but your name UMEK, does it mean anything? Does it stand for anything? Is it your initials? Where did that come from?
UMEK: Of course. UMEK is actually my family name. So when I was thinking, “What should be my name?” you know? My DJ name? And everybody was already calling me UMEK, so I just said, “I’ll be just UMEK.” It is my family name so it was an easy choice.
EDM Life: Well, that makes a lot of sense. Now, you have your own record label, 1605, but you put out a lot of releases on other labels. I see a lot of Toolroom Records, and you play with those guys. I read that you are trying to get up and coming people more for 1605. Is that right? Or do you ever have plans to have any of your own releases in the future coming out on that label? Or are they going to be on Spinning or Toolroom or other label(s)?
UMEK: I’m actually finishing my album now, and we are talking with Spinning. So my album’s going to be released on there, I hope. Then I usually work as well with the Toolroom guys because they are just so professional and their label is amazing. They can reach those listeners that I cannot reach with 1605, but 1605 of course we are bringing big names, you know. Trying to sign as good of artists as possible. But then again, I started the label so we’ll sign fresh, new names as well. So I’m going to give them a chance because these days, it’s all about selling music and how many copies you sell and how high you are on Billboard. And if you don’t have a big label and big boss owner, you know, then it’s almost impossible to sell. I was always thinking, “Yeah, I would love to bring up new guys and sell some copies because this label is strong,” so I give them more chances to be recognized all over the world. And this is what I was always doing, and I will stick to that. So sometimes maybe we’re not going to be on the top ten charts, but then again we will bring some new names and give chances to unknown artists.
EDM Life: Sure. Now, are there any artist that you signed with releases on 1605 coming out that we should be on the look out for? That you’re really excited about?
UMEK: I really love the new tune called ‘White Island’ from Heartik. I’ve actually heard the new stuff from Mike Vale and Simon Doty. This is an incredible and I just released my next single with Mike Vale ‘All I Want’ yesterday. There’s also some new compilations and new signings. There’s a lot of stuff going on always.
EDM Life: The song you just did with Groovebox, the Sweet Harmony track. Would you consider basically a remix or a remake or you just sampled it? How would you define it?
UMEK: Yeah, I consider it a remix as well. It’s just a thing that is all about technicalities. If the original artist wants to be involved in it or now. And then when I did the idea, I originally took the sample of Liquid completely, and even though Liquid sampled this, he stole from another guy. An old classic kind of disco-ish tune, and I sampled it. And you knew it was going to be problem to get permission of how to get a sample. So Spinnin’ offered us professional keyboard player so they could play the same type of piano and the singer sang the same phrase, so when we got it we could use it. It’s so much easier to clear that thing up so we could use it. But I wouldn’t mind to be UMEK and Groovebox featuring Liquid or anything, you know? It’s just a matter of technicalities.
EDM Life:. [Liquid] It was an old school rave track. XO, was that label?
UMEK: XO. XO is one of the biggest, break beat, hardcore. It reminds me of my childhood. I was so happy when my version was finished.
EDM Life: How did the idea come about? Had you just been looking at older songs and wanted to do a remake, or you just hold the sample recently? Or how did the idea come about for that?
UMEK: You know what, back in the day I used to listen to a lot of old school break beat, hardcore. It was one of my favorite tunes. I was just talking to Groovebox, “What should we do? We should have this amazing piano and try to do this.” I made that original idea, sent it to him, he played over it, and we just exchanged ideas. But it was just a tune that that I loved. You know, there were some other tunes that I would’ve loved to remix. There’s a problem that they don’t have a sample. A sample is not always a piano standing alone. It’s always like a section, and it’s hard to use those samples. With Liquid, the piano is only on there and it’s so easy to sample.
EDM Life: Right.
UMEK: That’s how the idea came out, you know.
EDM Life: You do a charity party in August called Part With A Cause. It didn’t give much more information about it than that. Is that something you’re doing….the press release or whatever I read just kind of referenced it. Is that something you’re doing again this year, and how did you come up with the idea to do a charity party? Where do you do it at? What do you raise for? What’s kind of the story behind that party?
UMEK: Yeah, we “Party with a Cause”. It was just an idea that we would do a charity event in Ljubljana.
EDM Life: In Slovenia?
UMEK: Yeah, it’s in Slovenia. It’s actually kind of in the park in the middle of Ljubljana, and it’s an amazing location. It’s literally a 3-minute walk from the City Center. It’s an amazing location for gather people today. And of course it’s all about the cause. We donate money to different organizations. For example, the money last year was donated to an organization that was educating people with how to apply for jobs properly because jobs are missing. This money went to the charity of the organization that helps with this. A lot of people got a job because of it, so we do this together with a phone company, second biggest phone company called Si.mobil. They give us an amazing support and amazing exposure, and we [raise] a lot of money. And it goes to the right hands with the right cause.
EDM Life: Any other big news coming out?
UMEK: Actually, I finished my own sample pack so producers will be able to use my sounds that I use in studio. It will be out soon on Loop Masters, and I’m really satisfied with it. It’s a big pack with a lot of sound banks, with some reactor ensembles and rhythm sections, melodies, stuff like that. So it’s a big sample pack. I’m really looking forward to that.
EDM Life: Okay. When is that out?
UMEK: No, it’s not out yet.
EDM Life: Do you know about when?
UMEK: I mean, it’s finished. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to set up the product properly, but I guess a few months.
EDM Life: Okay. As you may know the phrase or letters ‘EDM’: Electronic Dance Music when at first was used 5 years ago it kind of meant everything. All dance music. That was the original. Now it’s kind of a dirty word. It talks about just cheesy house music. Now you play a lot of festivals like Ultra, Insomniac parties like EDC that have part of that [EDM] crowd or that music is there. How do you think those people relate and like your music? Especially because didn’t you play the main stage last year at EDC?
UMEK: Yeah, I played a lot of main stages lately. I think for Insomniac, they have big balls to do that. There’s a big crowd over there. They’re mostly into like more commercial sounds. But you know how I feel. I feel like I’m stealing fans from somebody else. It’s not the usual place I would play. I usually would play the 2nd biggest or 3rd biggest [stage]. So I feel when I go there, I’m going to steal the crowd of some commercial DJ or at least I’m going to represent something different to the crowd so they will realize there’s something different going on. They will hear it with proper effects and a proper sound, and they can decide if this music is actually really great. It’s so comfortable to go in a techno club or big house club where everybody knows you and have a good party, but the different thing is to go to a EDC main stage where half of the crowd doesn’t know who you are. This is where you get your new fans, and I actually really, really love it. I don’t get the same reaction as I get as the Swedish House Mafia, obviously. I’m representing my own [life], and I want to spread it as wide as possible.
EDM Life: Right. And I agree. Some people that only hear the radio dance music, the Swedish house mafia, The Avici… some of you will hear you for the first time and go, “Wow, what’s that?” And they go look you up on Soundcloud or Facebook and they might start going in that direction a little bit. We hate the term ‘educate’, but some people will expand their range.
UMEK: Exactly.. Yeah, but this is the right thing. They’re going to expand the range of the music they can check, and it will definitely go to see what I’m going. When they find out about me, they will look at other artists. It’s actually opening doors for so many other guys around. A bit more unknown. And I would love to see people dig more into the music. If they don’t like it, they can always go back. Just dig and try to find different sounds, you know?