While the business of electronic music is often griped over by bloviating bloggers, many of whom have never smelled fresh vinyl; having recently bungeed into the deep house hot streak or bass jumped into the 808s-laden trap.
From: The Netherlands
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “Still waiting…”
Dutch-Turkish dance titan Ummet Ozcan used the extra time he had at home during the pandemic to write his own audio program. He hopes it will one day be as popular as his highly emotional sets, and plans to make it available to the global producer community with some first software releases in 2022.
As anyone who has seen his Instagram recently will know, Ummet also spent plenty of time working on his bulging biceps and getting his body-fat percentage somewhere close to zero. He also got a new family dog named Indy, and experimented a lot with his productions. He says he found himself switching to a more “progressive, techy yet very danceable sound”.
He has also seen the value to his mental health of slowing down a little. “I have realised that mankind is very vulnerable to worldwide threats or outbreaks. I guess it is a wake-up call. We have to change our perspective on how we handle things on our little blue planet. We can and must do better.” Amen to that.
How was your first gig back after lockdown?
“It felt so good, it’s unbelievable that we’ve been in hibernation for almost two years. Can’t wait to be back on tour.”
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
“Actually, not much. To have a good balance between work and normal life has always been of importance to me.”
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
“We could try to make festivals more climate neutral by using clean energy, get rid of plastic cups, recycle materials.”
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year?
“The last gem I added to my studio gear is a candy apple red Fender Stratocaster.”
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?
“The ‘Dune OST’ by Hans Zimmer.”
Unlike some of his peers, Ozcan Ummet is not afraid of hard work. It’s this hard work that’s kept fans around the world happy via regular appearances in the United States, Asia and Europe. It’s no wonder they keep voting him into the upper reaches of the Top 100.
Ummet’s diary has been as packed as ever this year, with several lengthy solo club tours being supplemented by no less than 17 headline appearances at festivals in Europe, Asia and the United States. These include triumphant appearances at Dance Valley and Tomorrowland, two of Europe’s biggest and most vibrant events.
Despite almost constantly being on the road, Ummet has somehow found time to re-build his studio — and renovate his home, somewhat surprisingly — as well as offer up a couple of typically kaleidoscopic and thumping singles on his Oz Records imprint. More excitingly for those who love his sound and make music themselves, his long-promised Genesis Pro VST soft-synth has finally been completed; it should go on sale in early 2020, some eight years after he first announced it online.
Do you submit your DJ setlists to the relevant royalties collecting society?
“Yes, though it’s quite hard to keep up because my sets change a lot and are quite dynamic. We should make the process easier.”
What more can we do to combat the mental health crisis in our scene?
“Every DJ is more or less in control so when you think it gets too much, you can just take a step back. There is a lot of complaining going on but you never hear stories about them partying too hard. It all adds up.”
Are you personally doing anything to improve the gender balance of line-ups?
“I’m an advocate of having more female DJs in the scene, but in the end, it’s the promoters’ choice.”
What changes have you made this year to be more environmentally friendly?
“I believe it’s an ongoing process to keep the environment clean. When I see opportunities to do something that will help to achieve this goal, I will do it without hesitation.”
What was your favourite toy when you were a kid?
“I played a lot with nunchucks as I was a huge fan of the Bruce Lee movies.”
What’s your guilty pleasure?
From: The Netherlands, but with Turkish roots
DJ style: “Electronic music.”
Best known for: “Just being me, a guy who likes to produce music and sounds.”
Fave tune of 2018: “W&W x Vini Vici ‘Chakra’ — officially from 2017, but I’ve played it in every set throughout this year.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Brooks.”
Ummet Ozcan has had another busy year, but one tainted with sadness. “We’ve lost an inspiring artist and soul this year,” he says of the sad loss of Avicii.
His own tour diary has been dizzyingly busy, with stops in China, the UAE, Cyprus, Singapore, Myanmar, Japan, the USA and all over Europe. In between these shows he has tried to take as much studio time as possible. “I want a constant flow of releases,” he says, and to aid him on his mission, this year he launched his own OZ Records label. It will deal in the same electrifying, hard and big room sounds as his own productions, which this year include ‘Change My Heart’ with Laurell, and ‘Trash Movement’ with Coone and Villain.
“Style-wise, I constantly try to evolve, just because it’s fun to explore other music and experiment a bit,” he explains, while admitting that he and his team have been working hard to create stunning visuals and new elements for his shows, which may well explain his success this year.
Words: KRISTAN J CARYL
Turkish/Dutch talent Ummet Ozcan has made his place in the Top 100 a permanent fixture, thanks to his growing worldwide 'Ozclan'. Still a mainstay on Spinnin', tracks such as 'Bombjack', a fidgety, bassline electro monster featuring the vocals of Ambush, and the ADHD-fuelled 'Showdown', which moves through dubstep, trap, hardstyle and trance like a demented EDM symphony, provided fuel for a non-stop summer of festivals — from TomorrowLand to Ultrasonic. His latest, meanwhile, the chirpy 'Everything Changes' featuring Chris Crone, finds him casting his musical rod into the streaming and radio markets.
2017 was also the year that he took his sound into the huge emerging market of China, playing 13 shows there to build on a global fanbase already cultivated via his weekly and widely syndicated Interstate Radio show.
While he's been forging his own way ahead, Ozcan might also have been unwittingly helping his rivals. Some main stage stars' hits have been surrounded by suspicions of ghost production, but when Ozcan isn't putting out epic belters he's helping produce soft synths and sound banks for the likes of Rob Papen and Access Music. If anyone can, Ozcan can.
Ummet Ozcan's techno-influenced trance made something of a seamless transition to gain huge popularity amongst EDM fans, but that's come as no surprise to the man himself. “I am not bound to any musical conventions, I just produce whatever I like. People tend to put things in boxes. I personally don’t do that,” Ummet tells DJ Mag.
Of course, not every DJ or producer actually has a hand in creating the things that make the actual noises that are used to create tracks either, but Ummet is famous for providing softsynth and soundbank designs for some of the biggest music software houses too.
When it comes to making your own music, Ummet has a tip or two for aspiring producers: “There are certain elements that work better for your song than others, but the magic appears only with the right parts that fit the puzzle… but let’s say it helps to have a festival mindset before you start producing,” he advises.
Citing Tomorrowland 2015 in Belgium as one of the highlights of his past year of playing out, plans for 2016 look likely to see Ummet spending more time in the studio. “Producing is sometimes hard to combine with tour life,” he explains, before quickly adding: “My records are equally important. So that is one of my aims for 2016.”