“I never actually came to Ibiza as a clubber. I had some offers in the past to come out before I did, but I wanted to do it right. I didn’t want to be playing some side-room in exchange for some crap exposure.
I always felt with Ibiza, that if I was going to do it, it had to be done with the right people — people who share a similar way of working to myself,” says Catalonian DJ/producer Uner.
It’s safe to say that Uner’s slow and steady approach has handsomely paid off. Unlike a slew of his contemporaries, he approached the biggest shop window in electronic music with caution and confidence, always mindful of the fact that he didn’t want to screw up his one big chance.
Now a regular face on the Ibiza and global circuit, the past few years have seen him emerge as one of Spain’s foremost producers and DJs.
His opening Ibiza set this season, for example, saw him lock horns at the Ushuaia Opening Party alongside the likes of Sasha, Nic Fanciulli and Paul Kalkbrenner — proof indeed that he’s hit the big league in an impressively short space of time.
The fact that he’s done so on his own terms — without replicating anyone else’s style or jumping on any bandwagon — only adds to his allure. If ever there was a DJ keen to pave his way on merit alone, then Uner is surely it.
As such, the Catalonian is also something of an authority figure on the Spanish scene, and it’s no surprise to learn that he was drafted to Ibiza to attend a seminar at the IMS (International Music Summit), where alongside the likes of his good friend, Paco Osuna, he gave his thoughts on the changing face of the Spanish underground movement.
It’s a subject he feels particularly strongly about, and you can detect the pride in his voice when he talks us through the evolution of his country’s electronic music scene.
“The new generation of Spanish artists think a bit differently to those who have come before,” he tells DJ Mag over coffee in Playa d’en Bossa. “In previous times, the typical Spanish DJ was one who concentrated on ‘easy’, loop-driven house music. All they were concerned about was having a Beatport Top 10 and the money and success.
But that’s not what it’s about. You only have to look at guys like John Talabot and Pional to realise that we’re in the middle of something really special in Spain right now. And it’s been a long time coming.”
DJ Mag can’t help point out, for example, that a relative dearth of Spanish producers exist on the global underground scene — a fact that’s lent some credence in light of the far-reaching influence of Ibiza. “The thing is,” he continues, “is that the international aspect has always been very important in Spain.
The promoters and the clubs often need huge, famous names to fill the clubs. But if you check out the line-ups in Ibiza and on the Spanish mainland, you’re beginning to see a lot of Spanish artists headlining, which is a really positive development and great to see. Paco Osuna and myself, for example, we’re playing everywhere, which is great recognition for what we’re doing. And in turn, that helps other artists break through.”
While his patriotism is most definitely admirable and genuine, Uner himself is quick to point to the fact that even he hasn’t always followed such stringent and calculated paths. Like numerous others before him, he’s made mistakes along the way, although in his case they’ve most definitely held him in good stead.
“I’ve worked in music since I was a kid, with different styles and sounds and under different aliases. But for a while I was too focused on what the people want. When I realised I had to do what I want and follow my heart, that’s when it started working out for me.
So I came up with Uner, a new name where the music I make comes strictly from the soul.”
If you’ve already sought out Uner’s recently released debut LP, 'Tune 432', then you’ll be acutely aware of the nuanced and ornate sound structures that permeate his work.
A full-length that’s brimming with carefully executed thoughts and ideas, it’s very much the sound of a producer at the peak of his powers — and one who’s arguably entered his most mature and prolific period to date. He has come a long way since first bursting on to the scene back in 2008 with the brilliant and bouncing ‘Raw Sweat’, a collaboration with his compatriot, Coyu (another Spaniard, incidentally, who is making great strides right now courtesy of his Suara imprint).
Arriving at the tail-end of the minimal era, ‘Raw Sweat’ was symbolic of a time when the public was growing weary of boring, soulless, insipid electronic music. Full of wild drums and furious energy, it was a track that ignited the floor like few others at the time, with everyone from Steve Lawler to Carl Cox placing it on heavy rotation.
Released on Solomun’s Diynamic label, it also proved the catalyst for a period of rich success for involved parties. From here, Uner set off on a purple patch that proved beyond any doubt that he was no one-trick pony. Tracks like ‘Baby Allfunk’ and ‘Sol’ compounded the point (and highlighted his eclecticism), while remixes for the likes of Pleasurekraft proved he’s just as adept in that domain also.
While the album has undoubtedly been a long time coming, it’s also further indication of the producer’s measured approach to his music. And much like all the best artists, Uner is constantly at pains to challenge himself further and evolve his sound.
The next few months look typically busy, with Uner currently in the process of starting a new, as-yet-unnamed label, as well as a “100% new live show” which promises to better anything that he’s brought on to the stage before. With regards to the live set, Uner has promised us that it’ll break even more new ground for him music-wise.
And as you might have anticipated by now, he’s not one to take half measures where his music is concerned. “The live show is not easy, because you have to develop a lot of things and be comfortable with it all. I don’t want it to be a typical show and I’m happy to be patient with it, so loading up Ableton and playing off two controllers isn’t really something that interests me.
When I was 15, I was playing solely with hardware. And for me, that’s the future of my live set: to go back to my roots.”
But what does he attribute all his recent success to? In typically outspoken fashion, Uner tells us “I think the biggest thing about this industry is picking the right choices. Family or dinner? Music or family? Dinner or studio.
I’ve no problem with people drinking, for example, but for me, I’d rather ignore the after-party so I’m fully focused for my gig the day after. If people are paying money to see me perform, I want them to know that I’m putting 100% into what I do”.
One man who definitely shares a similar ethos to Uner is Carl Cox, the self-styled King of Clubs who first drafted the Spaniard over to Ibiza — and specially, Space — way back in 2009. “Carl really believed in me, and I owe him a lot for that.
In Space, I was always playing before Carl during my first season here, and that was a DJing experience that you can’t really get anywhere else. I did five sessions that year and it was always packed, which was really great for my progression as an artist.”
Now that he’s conquered Space and reached an almost unparalleled level of success for a Spanish artist, we’re curious to discover what keeps Uner on his toes. With 'Tune 432' finding a home on Diynamic, for instance, Uner views it as the “completion of a circle” which started in earnest all those years ago.
Having fully established himself as an artist under the banner of the Hamburg imprint, he’s set to pop up on other labels soon, with the seminal Visionquest label amongst those set to prove a medium to his talents over the next few months.
Back to Ibiza, and Uner’s season looks to be just as hectic as ever, with appearances at Ushuaia for Ants and a series of gigs at Space amongst his impending plans. Even so, he hasn’t always been smitten with the island and admits that before he came here, he saw it as a “sort of commercial place where DJs come to play and to party and then go home”.
“I never thought for a moment that I’d be given the freedom to do as I please musically, but the fact that I have is what’s worked in my favour. So my advice to somebody starting out is this: don’t try too hard, express yourself and don’t repeat somebody else’s story.”
In this increasingly cutthroat and competitive world, Uner acts as a timely reminder that hard work — and dedication to your craft — are still very much a solid basis for success.
Catch Uner at DJ Mag Sessions at London's Ministry of Sound on 5th July. Tickets are only £10!
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