When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by? So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out.
During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from Eastern Europe, the Slovenia-based techno talent UMEK (aka Uroš Umek).
What’s it like where you’re living? Like in most countries, public life stopped in Slovenia in early March. Since then, the clubs here have been closed. During the summer months, there was only some heavily regulated concerts with no more than 500 capacity allowed. At the peak of the first wave, we were limited to only stay in our local area, which meant, in my case, I could not move outside of Ljubljana city limits. Slovenia is a very green country, so at least there are plenty of parks, woods and fields to walk in and get fresh air. To be honest, apart from gigs and traveling, my life did not actually change that much. A lot of DJs are quite introverted, and happily spent a lot of time locked in our studios… often it is somewhat of a self-imposed quarantine.
How are you coping? In the past three months, things were getting better, but recently we seem to be stopping public life again. Traveling around the country is limited and all the restaurants, bars, fitness studios, etc., are closing again. But it wasn’t all bad, because for the first time in my life I got to spend three months off, and spent that time on the beautiful isle of Hvar in Croatia, as my wife, Senka, runs a popular beach bar there.
Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? Sure, we had a nice summer tour planned with lots of big festival appearances, but due to the pandemic I have not performed live since early March. I have been busy in the studio, but the income from selling music has fallen also – clubs not being open means DJs are buying less music.
Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? I’ve started doing one-on-one online courses with young producers, where I’m sharing my knowledge and production skills. I quickly realized this is something I really like doing, so I’ll continue even when life gets back on track. When I am playing gigs again, I probably won’t have the time to tutor as many artists as I am now, but I’ll keep doing it to some extent. It’s rewarding to see how talented artists are advancing through this process of coaching. As their sound becomes better, it’s great to see them become satisfied with their newly obtained skills and confidence. Linked to helping others with their music, I have finally had time to put together my new sample pack, which I hope producers will find inspiring. There are other things I’m working on that I can’t share in detail yet, but I was recently approached by somebody from the automotive industry for a very innovative project. This could be a very original and creative challenge for me.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? I’m actually quite satisfied with my own music, and the tracks signed to my label 1605. I’ve worked really hard to get the label noticed by the industry, and its had quite an output of releases during the summer, and we also have a lot planned for the fall. It looks like gigs are not happening in the near future, so there certainly won’t be any shortage of releases, as I’m filling my time listening to demos and making my own tracks.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? I’ve discovered normal life, and have started going to sleep at 10 p.m., then waking up early in the morning, which is a routine unknown to me since I was a teenager. I like this slower pace and enjoy being active in the bright part of the day. When I have slept properly and feel relaxed, then I get so much more out of everyday life.
Have you done anything online recently? Have you seen any DJ video streams that impressed you? I’ve done a couple of streams myself, mostly for Slovenian event promoters, but also for Beatport Live, plus some others, including Burning Man’s Playground Project (virtual desert festival), and Insomniac’s EDC. It is interesting to see how this segment is developing right now. Some artists and companies spend a lot of money showcasing amazing outdoor sceneries. Cercle was the pioneer of this, but other event producers have accepted the challenge lately, and are pushing the concept even further. I just watched Roman Weber’s performance at the Kölnbreinsperre, which is a colossal dam in Austrian Alps, and a combination of impressive music selection and video production. I’m not really into Twitch, but I see that some artists are creating interesting projects on there, plus other platforms as well.
Any themed tunes recommended for the moment? Well, thank you for this question. I believe the title of my latest release, the remix of Yves Deruyter’s “Calling Earth,” perfectly suits these crazy times. In all this media hysteria, fear and stress, that’s causing a lot of people to lose touch with reality.
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? Don’t abandon social media completely, as there’s still lots of interesting things to do and see. But try to stay away from false information and mass hysteria. Patience and self-discipline are the ways forward, but often these things are easier said than done. So take small steps towards your goals, and try to enjoy the simple things in life. Right now, we live in crazy times, so let’s all try to stay humane, safe and healthy – to get through this we need to take care of each other. Techno is not just noise, it’s also a lifestyle, and a positive attitude towards life. Everyone in the world might not be so like-minded as us, but we can set an example of how to love and respect each other.
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.