Ummet Ozcan has led an impressive career in electronic music. Beginning music production at the age of 14, Ummet has experimented with several genres, including hard techno, trance, electro and progressive house. His monstrous big room productions have included collaborations with W&W (“The Code”) and Nervo/R3hab (“Revolution”), remixes of Tiesto (“Wasted”) and Sander Van Doorn (“Neon”), and unforgettable originals like “The Cube” and “Raise Your Hands.”
In Ummet’s own words, taking main stage at EDC New York 2014 was a high point in his career. Though it was my first time seeing him live, Ummet took charge of the stage and dominated the crowd from the very beginning, starting strong with “Revolution” and W&W’s remix of “Zombie Nation.” Ummet continued to wow the crowd when he dropped his new remix with R3hab of Calvin Harris’ “Summer.” Digging deeper into the proverbial record crate, Ummet played “Scared” by Noisecontrollers and an acapella mashup of Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life” and Just Mike’s “Bias.”
We caught up with Ummet backstage at EDC New York 2014 right before he took the stage at Kinetic Field.
How do you feel about playing at EDC New York? Is this your first time playing here?
Yeah. It is my first time. This year is a great year for me, you know, EDC, Ultra, all these festivals are the biggest festivals in the world and in your career, you wait almost your whole career for this point. And I’m tired now, maybe I don’t seem excited, but I’m really excited to play here! And I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve seen the movies this year and the year before, and I was like ‘Aw, shit!’ I wanna play there. And now it’s finally here, so I’m really looking forward to it.
I read that you have a pretty diverse background, that you’re Turkish-Dutch. Were you born in Turkey or the Netherlands?
I was born in Holland, in the Netherlands. And my parents are Turkish. I was born and raised in the Netherlands.
Does your Turkish background influence your music at all?
Not in a conscious way, but sometimes I think, because I know the culture and I know the music, maybe in an unconscious way that I use some influences, maybe in the melody, but not recognizably.
Do you ever get to go back to Turkey? Have you ever played there?
Actually, last year was the first time I really played over there in many years, and you know the EDM scene is really upcoming right now, and I’m guessing what happened here in the states a couple years ago probably will happen there as well. Yeah, because I can see the crowd is really into the music, they’re really energetic, and I hear about other DJs telling me the same thing. I really like to play in Turkey, and the good thing is that, in the scene, there are not many well-known Turkish names. We have Deniz Koyu and me. Koyu was born and raised in Germany and now he lives in Holland as well. I was born in Holland and raised there but Turkey is still my country. I mean, I’m Turkish. It’s good to have a country standing behind me, they’re really dedicated fans. Yeah, I really would like to have a future in my career over there as well.
You started playing instruments when you were really young, and you started using production programs when you were 14. What were your major musical influences when you were young? Were there any particular artists or genres that made you want to pursue music?
I think my oldest brother, he started listening to the beginning of house music back in the 80’s or early 90’s when I was 8 or 9 years old. He had CDs when they were a new thing. And when he was at work, I was listening to them in his room. I think all those years I got inspired by it. And of course, the Netherlands, it’s the source of the biggest producers and the biggest DJs. You’ve got Tiesto and Armin, just to name a few. You know, it’s a great country to get inspired by a lot of DJs. I think the most important thing is that, if it’s your passion, you can get your inspiration from anywhere.
How did the remix of Tiesto’s track ‘Wasted’ come about?
I just got a request from Tiesto. He was liking my stuff lately, I was getting good feedback on all the tracks. And with his latest track ‘Wasted,’ he just came to me with a request and asked if I’d like to remix his track. I said ‘Of course.’ But first I heard the original, and it was like ‘whoa’ this is a really slow number. I actually really liked it, it almost has a World Cup feeling or something like that. But I like the track, it turned out really great. It’s different than what I usually do, but I think you can still hear the Ummet Ozcan signature in it. It was kind of challenging, I have to say.
I first became a fan of you when I heard your track ‘Airport.’ What was your thought process behind that track?
Well, I think a lot of people don’t know. It is a remake of an older track. Tiesto was playing that like 10 years ago. It’s called Armani & Ghost, that’s why I collaborated with Ghost, Airport. It was almost the same but it was much faster, I think it was 140 BPM, but it’s basically a remake. It’s almost the same only with my kind of sounds, like a few kicks and stuff like that. I was a big fan of the track, I think everyone that knows the track is a big fan of the track. I had it in my mind, I have to make it again. I can still play it again, because I love to play that track, but if you’re going to play the older one, it doesn’t fit in well.
Laidback Luke on his Mixmash radio show recently said that America is getting a little tired of the electro/progressive sound, and he played an entire deep house radio show. Do you see yourself experimenting with other styles outside of electro/progressive coming up in the future?
That’s what I always try to do. You know me from my more electro time. And it’s always interesting, some people know me back from my trance time, and even my trance fans don’t know that before that, I was into really hard techno, like DJ Rush. At some point I tried to do something with trance, and then I stuck with trance a couple of years, and then I changed to be more electro house. And now I’ll switch again back to a little bit progressive. I try to do something with minimal influences, but I don’t know, I like even hardstyle. For me, that’s what music, creativity is, it’s endless and the great thing is if you’re making music you can mix everything up, you can use everything you like, and make your own thing of it, like a signature, and that’s what I like to do. Last year was a real EDM sound with the hard kicks and stuff like that, and now I’ve changed a little bit more to the melodic stuff again, but I’m always looking for new elements, new things I could use in a different way.
I’m not sure if the states are getting tired of the EDM sound, the electro sound. They only want you to do what you want to do. If I’m going to play a set, I present them what I like to do, what I really love to do, and that’s why they love me, because I give them something that I love to do. Some DJs maybe play what the crowd wants, but I always want to do something I really like to do. And it could be trance for two years and then I change to electro, and then maybe I change to drum n’ bass or whatever, if it’s something I like to do. But as long as you do something you really like to do, I think the crowd won’t get bored. If they see you enjoying your set, and you’re having fun and you’re happy, they’ll have fun as well.
Do you have any upcoming releases you want to talk about?
I have a new remix coming up for Calvin Harris - [Summer] together with R3hab. I think he just played it yesterday at EDC. And I have a collaboration with Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, an original. And another original with Nervo. And also a couple of solo releases. Looks great for this year!
Check out some of Ummet’s upcoming releases, and a free download of his full EDC NY set, below.