Dystopian & Apocalyptic Electro from Lyon

This week we had the pleasure of chatting with UMWELT, who’s one of the most influencing and interesting artists in the electronic music scene. As a producer hailing from the underground Rave scene of the 90’s, Umwelt has gone through the ages without ever feel the need to be under the strobe or follow the hype. Author of an important discography including on his own Rave Or Die and Newflesh labels, his productions play the card of a specific and excessive electro-techno sound. In DJ set, always faithful to the vinyl support to the point of cutting his own copies, or in live behind his machines, Umwelt delivers a fierce, dark and cinematographic music at the crossroads between the classics and an assumed modernity.

Hi Fred, You’re one of the most well-respected and genuine artists out there, approaching every project and set with such energy whilst garnering support from both the younger and older generations of listener.
How have you managed to keep yourself going at such an intensity for over a quarter of a century?

As long as I love what I’m doing, hearing and playing, I will keep on beeing into music. Maybe the more important thing is to stay passionate and curious of what’s happening around.

You come from the French Rave scene musical background.
What are your views on the scene at the moment & how does it compare to when you started out?

It’s difficult to compare because your vision changes, your experience is richer. In the 90’s, when we were 20, we discovered a new musical trend, often combined with drugs, a new way of partying, outside the clubs, by squatting a building downtown, a field, a wood, under a bridge, a warehouse … with the politics and police pressure. That was crazy but something normal when you disliked the clubs and the mainstream music they proposed. I guess this is the same feeling when you are 20 now excepted the situation is harder now for partiing in 2020 and probably in 2021 too!

The biggest changes are in the way people are using the technology, the softwares for producing and mixing, and using the social networks to promote themselves. It’s easier now with these tools that are often very cheap and easy to use. The drawbacks are that thousands and thousands girls and boys who want to be famous, produce thousands and thousands tracks that sound all the same. Thousands and thousands djs are playing similar stuffs. To me, it takes a lot of time to find fresh artists, in producing and djiing.

Do you think there is a certain philosophy and beauty about the rave culture?

There is a philosophy, of course. The rave movement was against materialism and individualism. It was a place of freedom where the time stopped for hours, a place without social, sex or race differences.

One constant across all your projects is the dark and apocalyptic atmosphere.
Your sound seems built like the soundtrack of a dystopian movie where main characters evolve in a hopeless future, which expresses the filmmaker’s fear and dissatisfaction with the modern world.
What is the connection you are trying to highlight between your music and the environment?

Of course, I’m influenced by what I see, what I feel, by what’s happening here or there. By the Humans’ madness.

‘’Rave Or Die’’ focuses on techno sound and redefines the Golden Age of Rave music back in the early 90’s.
What is the idea behind it and what is special about your own productions you choose to release there?

“Rave or Die”, is a slogan from the 90s, when the police raided parties, when people refused to stop dancing. This is what I have in mind when I select a track from another artist or from me to release it on the label.

Has the label’s mission changed at all over the years?

From the beginning, the goal is to show different waves from rave sounds. As long as underground movement and spririt are living, Rave Or Die will live.

Nowadays, when electronic music is mostly made on software, the factor of the unknown and the appearance of mistakes is almost completely supplanted.
Coming from a strong Rave foundation, how do you approach the machine, and do you consider anything a mistake?

I think that mistakes are parts of life so starting doing music from a mistake in doing a sound is often a good start, indeed ! The purified and cleaned sounds sounds weird to my ears:)))) I like raw and distorted sounds. To me distortion is giving life the a sound that was maybe very clean at the beginning.

What is your relationship with visual arts as a musician as an individual.
Moreover, could you talk about your favourite art works or even particular art movement that inspires you?

I like watching movies, distopian thems, with thriller, horror or cold stuffs. At the end 2020 was a very good dystopian year no?

As you know, our Christmas slot represents a special date for our series.
What kind of mix have you prepared for Sounds From NoWhere this time, did you have a certain focus in mind before making it?

2020 was a special year and I would like to finish with special think. I’ve decided to share a mix of 3 recorded lives made in 2019 and early 2020 (Dekmantel in Poland, Mutabor in Moscow and Up To date Festival in Bialystok). It’s the first time I share my new live on network. I were supposed to play a lot of live sessions this year but …you know the story.

This has been a very different year than usual, every corner of the electronic music scene has been profoundly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
We’re ending on a positive note, hope for the future…

It’s hard to find positive thinks. The politics have been going very far away from people real life. We need freedom, we need love, we need to meet people, to dance, to listen to music very loud with other people… when the parties can start again in conditions, this will be the time for RAVING!!!!!

Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us, we greatly appreciate your courtesy.

Thank you, I’m happy speaking with you!


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