Unreleased series #6 – Andy Ukhtomsky

Andy Ukhtomsky Unreleased Image

This guy started out quite young in the bass music scene in Melbourne and transitioned later into the house and techno world after a couple of years. He’s been studying Sound Art both in Melbourne and Manchester and he’s planning on incorporating music into his future career. We met up for a late cup of tea and coffee on Chapel Street and ended up getting an audience from a few interested eavesdroppers along the interview.

What got you into electronic music?

“My older brother was always listening to electronic music and I listened to mixed CDs he’ made at home. When I went to Stereosonic in 2008 and saw Vitalic and Booka Shade I got blown away. That’s when I thought ‘wow, this is what I want to do!’ “

When did you start to DJ and what was your music style then?

“I was listening to electro and French house in 2008 when I was finishing school, and then I got really into dubstep and drum and bass. That’s when me and a mate decided to invest in a couple of CDJs together. I was 19 and had been going out for a year and felt that I wanted to be able to do this too.

Music wise I was quite varied at that point and pretty mainstream. I went to all the big festivals and listened to what was the Melbourne sound back then, and also a lot of drum and bass and UK Bass too.”

How long did it take until you tried to get DJ gigs out in clubs?

“I started chasing gigs after a year of playing at home. When I think about it now it was probably a bit pre-mature. I got my first gig at a bass night at The Mercat on a Thursday, which was good fun. I was playing mainly dubstep and drum and bass gigs in the and I played this style for about 1,5 years.

Then lots of artists I was into started changing, like Scuba and Martyn. The dubstep I was into started to sound too much the same and I got a bit bored of it. I started listening to guys like Cosmin TRG who was playing garage house back then and labels like Hotflush Recordings which was my biggest influence at that time. So I got into a bit of an existential crisis of what I was going to do, and it was hard to change because I’ve made good friends with people in the bass music scene and I found it very friendly there.

During my bass music period I also had an assignment at university where I had to make a track, but I couldn’t make anything like that. Instead I tried to do something more like house and techno and it just clicked a bit better for me. “

When did you start to produce music?

“I was looking into it in 2011, that’s when I started producing I guess. But I still don’t think I know enough of music production, but I’m getting there.  My brother was making music on Reason, even when I was in high school, so in a lot of ways he was inspiring me a lot to get into music production.”

Was this when you realised you wanted to study Sound Design at RMIT?

“Yeah, it was kind of the same time, and I started the course in 2012. But now I’m taking another direction, although it’s still within sound; I’m going to study engineering next year.”

I read that you’ve studied sound art in the UK too, how was that?

“It was really cool; I studied one exchange semester at University of Salford in Manchester. I really liked that place, it’s a good party city and cheaper than London. I found they expected more from you at university there than in Melbourne. Sound Design in Melbourne is a bit more art based, whereas over there it’s a bit more technical. I had to do a sound surround project during that semester which was really fun. “

Has the Sound Art degree helped you a lot in your music production?

“I guess it’s made me look at things in a different way and I’m trying to conceptualise my projects a bit more. I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing though because I got into a period when I was worrying way too much about the technical aspects and wasn’t actually making any music. Now I’m trying to be more experimental instead.”

Do you play any instruments too?

“I played clarinet and saxophone in the school band, which I really liked. I’ve been trying to get back into it and I’ve picked up my clarinet again. It would be great to get a saxophone too, I don’t have one at the moment. “

I know that you and your girlfriend Sonia are running CDR projects in Melbourne, which is a global non-for-profit organisation for music producers. How did you get involved with that?

“I entered CDR’s competition for Dimensions two years ago and Sonia thought their concept was a really good idea. She’s more the project management type than I am, so she got in touch with Tony who runs it and said she wanted to do it in Melbourne. Sonia is the project leader for CDR in Melbourne and I’m the general organiser and helper. She started it when I was away in Europe and the funny thing is that I actually went to a CDR session in London before she ran one here. It’s a really good way to meet people within the music industry. “

What is your big goal with music?

“It’s kind of changing all the time, I feel like at the moment I try to incorporate it into a few career aspirations that I have, like working within the acoustics area. I’m trying to get the balance right between career and music, because I don’t feel like I can be working on music all the time. I need something else to keep me going too, but I definitely want music to be part of my work somehow, and it’s a huge part of my identity now.

My big goal at the moment is to bring out some more releases and keep getting better. I would love to release music on some international labels and be able to do a few shows overseas. “

Do you have a certain sound that you’re trying to achieve?

“I’m going for house/techno. I’ve been listening a lot to John Tejada and his new album ‘Signs Under Test’ non-stop for the last month, and I really like that melodic techno sound. I also like Recondite’s ‘Hinterland’ and Petar Dundov’s stuff. I want to be able to play my music at outdoor festivals and bush doofs. “

Is there a story behind your track ‘Precinct’ that you can tell us about?

“When I was making this track I was listening to Steffi a lot, so I was trying to create something similar to her. I don’t think it quite came out like that, but that was the inspiration for the song. I was staying at a pretty horrible place while I was doing my exchange semester in Manchester; it was like commission housing and it was a really depressing place to live in. It’s right near where all these riots happened so it’s a very gloomy place and that definitely rubbed off too in this track.”

That spacey synth sound in the track is really cool – what instrument did you use to create that?

“It was just Analog in Ableton, and Massive underneath. I have a few of those sounds layered with each other throughout the track. “

What other instruments did you use in ‘Precinct’?

“I used Machine a lot which I’m finding very useful. On the Machine I jam out sounds and then I record the audio and cut up it up. The only hardware I brought over to Manchester from Melbourne was that and a tiny midi keyboard from Novation. “

How does your studio look like at home?

“My room is a decent sized room actually, where I have a couple of KRK speakers, a 49-key midi keyboard, the Machine and I still use that little midi keyboard from Novation because it maps really well to Ableton Live 9. Then I’ve got my turntables on the other side. I try to limit myself to what I’m using and just really master those instruments.”

How many tracks have you released so far?

“I’ve got two tracks on Loophole Recordings run by Jimmy Le Mac and Flip3k and another one on Tsugu Records run by Juxtpose.”

Do you have any upcoming projects at the moment?

“Yeah, I’m working on a soundtrack for my mate’s video called ‘The Road’ that’s going to be played at an exhibition at Melbourne University. It’s a very long track for about 15-17 minutes. It’s inspired by Dusty Kid’s track ‘America’. It’s been good having a project like this to work towards, because I’ve been having a bit of a mental creativity block. Later on I want to make it more suitable for the dancefloor.”

UNRELEASED SERIES will feature music producers who will share an unsigned track exclusively at Whono’s Music. This first round will be a Melbourne edition with 6 local producers, 2 each month from January to March. Each blog post will contain an interview with the producer to get an insight into their musical world and who they are.

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