Legends

UTO KAREM

Tirelessly hard working and globally successful Italian DJ, producer, radio host and label owner Uto Karem has stopped by for a quick chat about his evolution as an artist, his techno roots and what’s coming up in his busy schedule. Thank you Umberto, for giving us some moments of your time.

To get the ball rolling, can you give our readers your description of the style of music you produce and the sound that you play in your gigs?

Well it’s always a bit difficult to describe electronic music, people and magazines are always chasing to find new ways to describe what’s coming next. From my point of view my musical style can be described as a mix of funky techno, groovy tech house and some classics re-edited.

You hail from Italy which has seen an abundance of quality techno artists hail from its shores. Do you think your homeland played a major part in your development as an artist or do you think your time growing up in London was more influential?

As an electronic artist, my influence by Naples techno scene during the 90’s was very important, at that time there were some amazing parties going on and we had the chance to listen to many artists coming from Detroit, London and Berlin…, many of whom have become the big players of today; so as a young guy that scene surly made a big influence on me. From the early years I spent in London I received the influence and the love for the electronic and pop culture of the 80’s.

The Uto Karem story seems to be going from strength to strength, where will the next chapter take you?

The truth is from the start of this year things have been quite busy, I have joined Safehouse Management, which are a great team of very

During 2002 I was producing and playing so called “techno groove” sound. During 2003 I got in contact with Dave Angel and his Rotation Records label, where I had the chance to release two EP’s, “Rhythm Imprint EP.” and “Agile EP”. At that time vinyl was the most selling media and I was very proud when we sold out both of them. Soon after there came other releases for labels like “G-Force Records” and “Ethink Groove”. But at some point i started to lose interest in those sounds. At the same time music started to slow down, getting darker and more minimal, so I thought of starting a new project with a new music direction, and that’s where Uto Karem’s project came from.

After DJing for a long time and making your mark with a number of successful releases on some of the biggest labels in the game, you launched your own label Agile Recordings.
What inspired you to start your own label? Can you tell us about the vision you have for your label and what you look for when deciding on what material is going to be released?

After releasing many tracks and remixes on some great labels I felt the need to start my own platform, where I could express my musical tastes without limitations, and also give the opportunity to new forward thinking artist’s to release their material.

When I listen to new demos I use two simple criteria: first sound quality and originality, and secondly I always ask myself if I would play the tracks in my sets; once I have tested them in front of the crowd, and seeing the people’s reaction, I get a perfect picture to know if it’s going to work or not.

You studied audio engineering and were involved in testing and reviewing music production and DJ software for a number of years. This solid foundation can clearly be heard in the intricacies and sound design of your music. Is this an area that you enjoy focussing on when producing your music?

I really enjoyed my years working at the magazine; they gave me the opportunity to meet clever people with the passion for technologies. I still have that passion today and I really like keeping myself updated and to keep an eye on what’s new and what’s to come; sometimes I spend hours talking with friends about new equipment I want to try both in my set’s and in the studio. When producing, I have two main areas I develop; when its sound design I can spend hours trying to find that right sound, and whenever I am laying down a track or a remix I am more focussed on getting down the ideas, trying to keep the flow running fast.

For the audiophiles and budding producers out there, what pieces of hardware or software are your favourites in your kit? Are there any tools that you couldn’t live without production wise? 

Talking about hardware, I used to have an analogue focused studio with 909, Access Virus, Emu Orbit synth’s, Akai sampler, etc. Nowadays my studio has turned more to digital, but I still keep on using and loving analogue summing mixers, compressors & EQ’s. Even if with today’s new technology people can re-create all the hardware vintage equipment using software, I still believe that the warmth & harmonics the analogue equipment reaches is not available on a digital level.

Recently I bought an analogue kick drum module, and the dynamic of this little box is amazing, I also had the opportunity to try the new 303 cyclone replica and I was very impressed with it. Lately we are seeing all these small analogue boxes coming out, and that’s a cool thing because it gives the user the opportunity to get into the analogue world without spending a fortune.

The techno scene is one that continues to commit strongly to tools that built the scene like vinyl, turntable etc whilst at the same time embracing the continually evolving and rapidly changing technologies for making and playing music. There is often debate about whether the new ways or old ways are better. What is your opinion on this debate?

In my opinion, whenever it comes to making music it’s not about how many tools you have at your disposal; it’s about having a great idea and finding the right way to translate it into a musical masterpiece. Both analogue and digital have their strengths and weaknesses, at the end of the day it’s a personal choice of the right tools that fit better the way we want to work.

Do you prefer vinyl & turntables, new technology or a combination of old and new?

At the moment I prefer a combination of both; I have played with vinyl for many years and I still love to do it, but nowadays, with all the new technologies available, it’s difficult not to want to access to all these new ways of performing. My actually setup includes digital controllers, analogue effects, drum machines and loopers.

You have over the years made many trips to Ibiza to spin tunes on the party island. How have you seen it change over time? Is it still one of the ultimate party experiences?

I always love going back to Ibiza; it has that special energy that is so unique. Of course it has changed over the years with new clubs, new parties, but the magic of the white island is still there. This summer I have already been there in June at Privilege Vista Club, and will be back in August for Carl Cox The Revolutions at Space and in September at Booom for Circus, so I’m really looking forward to it all.

Your schedule is jam packed with bookings across the globe, productions and remixes constantly being released and a number of projects on the go. Do you ever have time to sit back and relax to enjoy the scenery?

Whenever I have the chance to visit a beautiful place I always like to stop for a few days after my gigs, whether it’s for discovering a new city, its people, or a new food to taste.

Where do you go or how do you like to unwind in between your busy calendar?

I am lucky enough to live in a beautiful sunny place near the sea, so whenever I am free I love going to the sea side, both in the summer and in the winter; it would be difficult for me to live in a city where I wouldn’t be able to have it.

The Uto Karem story seems to be going from strength to strength, where will the next chapter take you?

The truth is from the start of this year things have been quite busy, I have joined Safehouse Management, which are a great team of very professional people, and I am very proud to be part of it. I also made changes with my label, joining a great promotion and management team “Press & Play”, for what I am very happy as well.

Next chapter for me will be to keep doing things with love and passion and discovering new territories and new countries.

So how are feeling about playing at Circus London this July? It’s quite a line up, are you excited?

Yes, I’m very happy to be back in London and to join the Circus crew for this event; I am always very excited to play in London and especially at Egg Club where I have many friends and a great connection with the crowd.

Where can our readers come and see you play and what releases should they look out for over the next few of months?

This Thursday I will be at Tomorrowland, in Belgium, where I will be playing at the Carl Cox & friends’ stage. Saturday I will be in London for the Circus party and then on Sunday I will fly to Madrid for an open air party. And the following Saturday I will be playing in Aquasella open air festival, in Asturias, also with a big bunch of good artists, so I’m also looking forward to all my upcoming gigs.

And very soon there’ll be coming new releases on Agile Recordings, Tronic and Suara, plus and a few remixes I made for The Advent on Hybrid and Heartik on Agile, so keep an eye on them! 😉

Thank you very much for your time and we look forward to more amazing releases from your stable.

Thank you, and thanks to all the great people enjoying & supporting my music.

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