We are happy to welcome Barcelona native Usmev to our Weekly Mix series for installment #184. Over the last few years the Spanish producer has been one to watch with major releases spanning labels such as Traum Schallplaten, Bogota Records, Alma Soul and Pablo Bolivars Seven Villa’s Music. He brings a very unique style of music that is supremely fun and up-lifting. Bringing those perfect vibes that seem to flow easily no matter what time of day you come across it. PZB got a chance to ask Usmev a few questions this week to help us get to know a bit more about him. Please check that out below along with a full track list from the mix.
PZB: Hello and thank you for the incredible mix you made for us. I have been enjoying
listening to it while putting this interview together. How about we start off and have you
tell the rest of our listeners what to expect from your mix this week.
Usmev: Hello, and thanks so much for taking your time to know my work. About the podcast, I’ve
tried to create the ambience I use to build in a three or four hours dj set but, at the same
time, trying to show most of the music styles I use to play during a longer set. This is an
amazing chance for me and I’m so happy to show my music in your country and
specially in LA, one of my favorite cities, so I hope that you can get this podcast like and
introduction, ’cause I included some of the tracks I’ve released during this year on Seven
Villas Music, the record label of Pablo Bolivar, and three more tracks that will be out in a
few days on Alma Soul Music, the label that are running some good friends in Madrid.
PZB: I read in your bio you are born and raised in the amazing city of Barcelona. It is one of
the most culturally vibrant cities I have ever visited and hope to return to one day soon.
What was the music scene like for you growing up there?
Usmev: Barcelona was a huge music lab during the 60s and 70s with lots of local pop and rock
bands. So the city was ready to receive something to work with from the 80s, when I was
born. The first electronic song I can remember is the Disco Connection version of “Rock
Your Baby” (the original song is from George McCrae), Jean Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield,
Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys or Depeche Mode, with my family at home, but after studying
piano and guitar for ten years I met my friend Victor, who showed me how to play vinyls
’cause his father was owning night clubs in Vilanova i la Geltrú, where I was living before
moving to Barcelona with my family. I started mixing house, new wave and electro: from
Frankie Knuckles, Joe Smoth and Ralphi Rosario to The KLF, Peter Schilling and
PZB: Who were some of your musical inspirations growing up?
Usmev: Once in Barcelona, I was looking for bars and clubs to start djing while studying in a
professional school and working in a Hi-Fi store. But everything changed when I started
to go to Nitsa, Moog, Woman Caballero, Discothèque, Salsitas or FonFone, and some
other clubs and bars where I danced a lot and discovered artists like Danny Tennaglia,
Zombie Nation, Maurizio and Jeff Mills, among many others. Then I finally discovered
what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to compose and produce my own music and
make the people dance in all those venues.
PZB: How did you first get involved in electronic music and producing?
Usmev: I’ve been in touch with computers at home since I was six or seven years old, and I
experimented with a lot of rudimentary music softwares like Fast Tracker or Fruity Loops
while studying classical music. I got my own computer and a professional software when
I was fifteen years old, so I started to compose my first songs white buying my first
records in stores like Verdes, Belletta os Sci-Fi, where I was meeting artists like Angel
Molina, Sideral or An Der Beat. I finally got a residency in a small bar in Poblenou,
named T-Xaco, where I played every thursday during one year while getting in touch
with some other djs and promoters that invited me to play in private parties and raves.
When the building was shot down I started to launch my own parties and inviting friends
and local djs to play with. It was between 2000 and 2005. And finally on 2005 I created a
band with a friend, Usmev Uns Siza. We had no gigs ’cause it was very hard to focus
(but we had lots of fun). I actually use Usmev ’cause of that, I was too lazy to find a
name to perform as a dj by my own jajjajjaa
PZB: Crate digging is such an rewarding experience and if you’re patient and look in some
unlikely places you’ll find some real gems. I noticed some pics of you doing some vinyl
digging on your Facebook page. What are some labels and artists that have got you
buzzing right now?
Usmev: I use to visit two shops in Barcelona every two or three months (Subwax in Barceloneta
and Discos Paradiso in Raval) and I have some friends that are real experienced diggers
that usually suggest some magic as well as the people working in theese vinyl stores. I
can buy both classic and new records, no matter the label or the artist or the year or
whatever, I take it if it makes me move my feet and I feel thad would fit in my sets. Thats
how I discovered artists like Awanto3, Massimiano Pagliara or Robag Wruhme, that are
actually three great influences in my music. About labels, I’m really into Barcelona based
labels like Cymawax, Galaktika Records, Seven Villas, Lapsus or Hivern, but I love too
some more “disco” (and less “tech”) labels like Toy Tonics, Multi Culti, Bons Records or
PZB: It is just really hard to not feel completely uplifted after listening to your music. You have
had some stellar EP’s come out on Traum Schallplatten, Reposal Schallware, among
others and most recently on Pablo Bolivars Seven Villas, and Alma Soul Records. What
can we expect from you in the near future in terms of releases?
Usmev: I’ve recently finished a new release including two original tracks with the voice of my
partner in crime Camilla Luna. We’ve been working together during the last years and it’s
always a pleasure. There is no label for now, but there is no stress on it. This one will be
the 30th release where I take part of, including singles, EPs and remixes, so it has to be
different and special. Now I’m working too in a new live act, practically reinterpreting my
own music and including all the collaborations I’ve had during the last five years. It will
take a lot of time but I’m really excited. And I’m afraid there wont be a moment to
compose new music till next year.
PZB: Tell us about your studio set up please. Which DAW do you prefer and what are some
plug-ins you can’t live with out?
Usmev: I have no doubt: Ableton is the DAW for me since their third version, even I was working
with Logic Audio before. It’s not about sounding, them all are fine. It’s about ergonomics
and versatility to bring your music to the live act. I am an enthusiast of software and
simplicity: I work with a computer running Ableton Live, a MIDI controler including a two
octave keyboard and my iPad as an external MIDI instrument: I build my drums with Akai
iMPC Pro, play all the keyboards with Arturia iProphet, Sunrizer and Propellerhead Thor,
and usually have some fun with Propellerhead Figure and Moog Filtatron. A simple setup
to use both in studio with my monitors and on a stage. I don’t use plugins but the ones
included in the Ableton pack, basically EQs and Compression needs while mixing.
PZB: Some producers have a specific way that they start to work on tracks; like building a
drum rack and starting out with a basic groove. Are there certain things you like to work
on first to get your ideas flowing in the studio?
Usmev: I usually imagine a song, it just appear, and I compose a melody in my head during two
or three weeks. After that, I finally sit in my studio to build the whole idea with the tools I
have. Once done, I think about the lyrics, if needed. And that’s all.
PZB: There has been a lot of talk lately of Digital versus Analog in synths these days. What is
your take on the subject and do you have any soft synths you would recommend for
producers who are just getting started?
Usmev: I really appreciate an instrument as I play piano and guitar since my childhood. But I’m
pretty sure you can get a well defined and qualified sounding production with digital
resources. It will always deserve an analog touch, for sure, but you can do it all with
plugins while composing, mixing or mastering. But, of course, if you are a millionaire with
a huge empty room, go for it! If not, like me, you can find great drums and synths from
developers like Akai, Korg, Arturia and Propellerhead, or you can just fill a sampler with
HQ samples from the best instruments.
PZB: On the same subject do you have any Analog synths you can’t live without or dream of
having in your studio one day?
Usmev: I’d love to get a Juno 106 and a Minimoog Voyager in the future, and maybe a tailor-
made valve compressor. But It would be a whim.
PZB: Ok last one, What are your top 3 places to play in Barcelona?
Usmev: First of all Switch Pocket Club, in Gràcia, a micro spot owned by a good friend of mine,
Sergi, focusing on local artists and pure vinyl djs. Hot as hell, the people is dancing so
close to you and you can really feel the vibe. The second one, my favorite club in town,
Nitsa: the best club in Barcelona since 1994, managed by another good friend, Fra. An
finally a festival, of course Sónar. I’ve never played there but I’d like to do it in the future,
better by day and on saturday, amazing communion and happiness.
01 Jose Vizcaino “Sure I Can” (Seven Villas Music)
02 In2Deep & Artphorm “Space” (L’Enfant Terrible Records)
03 Timelapse & Fathers “Veiled” (Moodmusic)
04 Usmev “My Time With You” (Alma Soul Music)
05 Between Ourselves “Tunnel Vision” (Melokolektiv remix) Galaktika Records
06 Usmev “Back In Your Heart” (Alma Soul Music)
07 Usmev “From Deep Inside Of Me” (Seven Villas Music)
08 Usmev “Fire Groove” (Seven Villas Music)
09 Usmev “You Brought The Light” (Alma Soul Music)