It’s safe to safe that Slovenian techno producer UMEK has made a solid mark on the global dance scene. For almost two decades he has built an empire from humble beginnings in the small Eastern Europe nation. About to embark on a massive world tour, it’s safe to say UMEK won’t be home for quite some time. We had the chance to exchange some words with him en-route to LA for the start of this global stint. Djing is often described as the best job with the worst commute. Constantly jetting around the United States, South America, the Far East, and India over the next couple month, this tour proves that fact. With probably more flyer miles per-capita than any other job, DJs are most definitely rulers of the road.
Slinging hard techno across the globe is no easy feat. With niche genres fads coming and going with the wind, it seems increasingly more challenging for artist to keep true to their roots while ensuring their set works with the local fans. Obviously one makes the argument that fans come to see a headliner and once producers reach star status there shouldn’t be much deviation. Though even UMEK has been surprised by the positive response received in the often-conservative spectrum of American genre trends.
”At first I was a bit skeptical about playing in front of big crowds as I wanted to stay loyal to my style of music. But my recent appearances on Insomniac’s festivals, where I rocked the crowd from their biggest stages, proved that there’s no need to put famous vocals in my sets in order to move Americans. They also damn well know how to react to a bit harder beats.”
Despite UMEK’s European upbringings he seemed pleasantly surprised on the state’s reaction to driving techno. As the evolution of electronic music interested in the west continues to astound producers, acts that once thrived only in Europe are visiting stadiums across the globe.
Like many major producers UMEK leads his own army with experimental techno imprint 1605. Along with releases on majors like Toolroom, Armada, and Cr2 the active touring Dj has over 80 releases under the name UMEK on his label. Constantly on the move, it’s no doubt that at this stage he hosts an in-house staff for promotions, label management, and more. This resume and team has built a global reach all from an artist originating in a country with a population about a quarter the size of New York City. Yet UMEK has managed to bring beats to all corners and often finds his countrymen along the way.
“I have quite a lot of fans among stewardesses and cabin crew as I’m flying around all the time and I really love it when I see Slovenian flag or meet some Slovenes away from home. We’re a very small nation and there’re not many cities with Slovenian emigrants, so it’s very special when I meet somebody speaking my language…”
Not sure about your experiences but our run-ins with stewardesses are always good (at the very least on the eyes). It’s no surprise that the dude comes in contact with a large amount of airline employees. Rumor has it airlines are adding a new level of frequent flyer about platinum, Dj. New York City scratch master even created his own site to showcase tips and tricks learned on the way. Out there it’s the little things that matter. Some guys have blow up dolls or cakes on their rider. This Slovenian comes in pretty easy with bananas and some energy drink on request. As much as you want to hit the road as a touring artist, integrating long distance travel into your every day schedule kills your social life. Friends become airline employees and your daily companion becomes a laptop. Sure Siri is appealing but Apple products can only satisfy so much.
“I have quite a case of aerophobia, which means every flight is quite a stress for me. I tried everything to get over but nothing really helps. I’ve made it at least that far that I can go on a plane and fly if I distract myself by working on my music. Now I can also do other things when Internet is available…. That makes flying a bit bearable experience as I distract myself and I have some touch with other people that I like. “
Next time you get pissed because the dj would trade kandi with you consider he has to go back to the hotel and work on that track your going to download for free next month. Sure with a passion for dance there is nothing else the headliner would rather do. That’s not to say it doesn’t come with a price. When it comes down to it, veterans like UMEK know who buys the tickets and often hits the crowd after a gig to show some love.
When is comes to organic techno UMEK is no doubt the man to hear. Now on the road is a perfect change to experience the power of heavy hitting European electronic. Pairing up with Insomniac and other big American promoters, you can guarantee massive events. Check out his schedule to see if he is stopping near you (you probably will hear it for sure). Also keeps tabs on 1605 Recordings if you can’t get enough solid techno.