Interview: Redressing the Balance – A Conversation with Uone

Hot on the heels of the digital release of Uone’s Balance release, The Waveform Transmitter‘s Simon Huxtable talks in-depth to the producer about sacred feathers, blue Moon eclipses, and, of course, the thinking behind his epic compilation.

Uone might be a new name to many, but the plucky Aussie DJ/producer has played on the world stage for many years and is only now realising his full potential. Newly signed to leading compilation brand, Balance has yielded a gargantuan double mix CD filled with exclusive artist tracks and collaborations with the cream of the dance world.

Ewan Scott began his journey many years ago, and over the past decade, has honed his skills in the studio and the DJ booth to the point now where he has Burning Man, Rainbow Serpent and Subsonic festival gigs under his belt and tracks signed to Katermukke, Sprout, and Stil Vor Talent.

Speaking exclusively to The Waveform Transmitter, we unpick the track selections, get under the hood of the artist and peel back the onion layers of this new addition to the hallowed halls of Balance HQ.

Waveform: Hi Ewan, how are you? 2018 has been some ride already, hey? Tell us about the Balance CD. It’s solely your own productions made in the last two and half years, right?

Uone: Growing up listening to Balance Music compilations, it really has been a dream to produce one of my own. With so many special mixes in the stable of Balance, I knew I had to bring something totally unique. The concept came very naturally to mix all my own tracks and collaborate with friends. 

Stand out moment: The vocals you can hear on ‘Space Between Love’ are sung by a beautiful lady called Briony Taylor-Brooks. I had never meet Briony before but my musical sister Philosophia recommended we work together. Upon Briony walking up the stairs to my Ranch-o-Relaxo studio she was carrying a Wedge tail Eagle feather. I instantly ran down stairs into the house and got my feather from my box. At this point when the two feathers meet something special was born. Briony’s voice reminded of Dolly Parton, it has this beautiful natural vibrato and naturally matched the vibe of the track.

Waveform: I imagine you were road testing a lot of these tracks before finally choosing the running order. How many tracks didn’t make the mix and what was the creative decision behind leaving them out? Any plans to release them?

Uone: There was also supposed to be third CD for the Balance compilation, it was going to be more of a sofa beats, lounge room after-hours style mid-tempo mix. It would have been under my other alias called Fallen Giants. There are around eight tracks laying around the studio that need to be completed and I would aim to release them in a continuous mix on my label called Beat & Path.

Waveform: The pressure must have been intense. Not from Balance, I’m sure they were cool, but the pressure you put upon yourself to be perfect. Were there times you wanted to ditch the project? What kept you focused?

Uone: It was only in the final weeks leading up to getting the pre-masters ready for submission that I realised that the tracks had to be perfectly mixed down. So, I sought out help from longtime friend of mine, and mentor, Jamie Stevens. Jamie and I worked extremely close on mixing the tracks down together. Danny Bonnici who did the mastering of the album also offered me so much moral support and advice to put the final touches on the tracks and full mix.

Waveform: Given the time scale, what was the biggest learning point for you putting this album together?

Uone: Music is precious and should not be rushed. Take time with projects and give them time to breathe, as often you can become too close to the project and lose sight of where the original intention was going. Parking it for a day, week or month can be the best thing.

Waveform: I remember reading an interview with Sasha shortly after he’d finished Involver 1 saying how he couldn’t bear to listen to the mix anymore… can you relate?

Uone: Yes, it really has been a long journey to produce this album. We had a blood moon eclipse ceremony recently to celebrate finishing the project. On my property called Ranch-O-Relaxo we decided to have a huge bonfire whilst the blood moon eclipse was happening. The soundtrack was the 147min full digital mix, upon the last track playing I was throwing pieces of wood in the flames, also screaming and yelling at the fire. This signified that, finally, the project was finished.

Click the image above to buy Uone’s compilation.

Waveform: Awesome! I guess that comparison, while flattering, is pretty accurate to what you’ve achieved with Balance. Did you have a game plan going in or did the flow of the mix reveal itself organically?

Uone: I have been DJing for close to 17 years now. I remember it was very daunting looking at all the tracks I had in a folder and thinking how the bloody hell am I going to tell a story out of them. So, I fired up the CDJs and opened a bottle of whisky and just started jamming tracks together. Through the course of the night I wrote down transitions and tracks that blended well. I also stuck up a wall of butcher’s paper in my studio and wrote down keys, track feeling and story boarded the mix out on paper to bring it into physical reality.

Waveform: How much time were you able to spend with your fellow collaborators? Did you get to travel to their studios at all or work remotely?

Uone: With my touring, booking and event agency, Vision Hound, we consistently have artists visiting to play at our shows. Naturally they stay with me at Ranch-O-Relaxo retreat and we get to spend time working on music in my studio. Most of the tracks were produced at the ranch studio. The only tracks not produced in my studio was the Andreas Henneberg and the collaborations with Out of Sorts. That was done together in New Zealand.

The Andreas Henneberg collaboration was special, I managed to wrangle him into having a studio session with me whilst visiting Berlin. I’ve been playing his music for years now as The Glitz and as Henneberg. I’d been holding onto the Infusion parts for some time and tinkering around with a remix. But it was not until I got to Henneberg’s studio in the Berlin country side that I knew we were going to create something truly special. Andreas’s knowledge and expertise on analog equipment is unparalleled. Its like watching Beethoven or Hans Zimmer conduct their music. This really blew my mind!

Waveform: Let’s switch focus and talk about Uone the artist. You’re based outside of Melbourne, a city with a rich musical heritage in dance music circles. Tell us a little about how the Uone project came about and the influences that drove you into the lifestyle.

Uone: My fascination with music really began from the tender age of 12, due primarily to my mum and her rural Australian bed and breakfast, called The Herb and Horse. Here, I was exposed to a variety of fresh sounds, music culture, not mention characters from around the world due to the transient nature of the backpackers who frequented her establishment. Backpackers would arrive, and I would hound them for any tapes or CDs they had with them. Mum would have wild parties and I would be in charge of selecting the music. I did not realise until my mid-twenties that this was where my love of DJing first started.

Waveform: We understand you’ve played at Burning Man before and some of the bigger Aussie festivals, but you also run a consulting firm for the boutique festivals too. How do the two ends of the spectrum differ?

Uone: I am lucky enough to travel to the best festivals on the planet for a job. I see cutting edge stage design and the way festivals are built. Naturally I wanted to share this and help influence events and festivals in Australia. Of late, we have been focusing solely on producing our boutique 3 day gathering called Chi Wow Wah Town. I personally curate the music, art and design on the event with my partner Danielle. This year we have artists Steve Bug, Andreas Henneberg, Jimi Jules, BONDI, Innellea, David Hasert, Dreems and Von Party coming to headline.

Waveform: Big news in the festival world recently were the tragic deaths at Defqon 1 and the reaction of Gladys Berejiklian, the New South Wales premier. It seems the Aussie government is incredibly conservative towards clubbing generally. How does that affect promoters, who stick to the laws, but end up always to blame?

Uone: I guess what governments in Australia need to understand is people want to celebrate life and experiment with drugs – it’s in our nature. So, the governments and authorities policing events need to work more closely with organisers on a strategy that is going help people understand how to take drugs in safer capacity. This could be done through offering free drug testing stations or advice on how to take drugs the safest way possible. I believe that taking a zero-tolerance approach to drugs is only making it more dangerous.

Waveform: Finally, tell us a cool tour story… about you or something you saw.

Uone: Mojo Filter invited me to play the second last set ever on the Lost Woods Stage at Secret Garden Party 2017. On the Saturday, I was listening to Mojo Filter’s set and I was lucky enough to spot Adam Freeland on the dance floor. I took this opportunity to express to him how much he has been an inspiration in my early days as a DJ (his FabricLive compilation is still timeless).

We got chatting and he mentioned he was going to be visiting Australia in January. I invited him to visit my Ranch-O-Relaxo property and I knew that Mojo Filter would also be visiting the Ranch in this period, so we planned to make a studio date. I naturally invited mentor and close friend Jamie Stevens to join us since he has been friends with Adam for over 20 years. We all witnessed the Blue Blood Moon Eclipse and the day after we produced ‘After the Blood Moon’.

Author: Ste Knight

Editor at The Waveform Transmitter. Lover of acid basslines, cavernous kick drums, and dark rooms. Cut his teeth to Surgeon's blistering techno assault at T-Funkshun in Liverpool and hasn't stopped for breath since.

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