: By: Camila Álvarez
Isabella Douzoglou a.k.a. Uchi has bright, purple hair and she constantly skips, as if walking was just too boring for her. She has cat eyes and her voice and cadence are so sweet, sometimes you want to hug her when she’s talking to you. She seems to be your typical cute, spoiled 23 year-old girl…
But she’s not.
Uchi, who went from watching Fantasia 2000 every night before going to sleep, to obsessing over Boards of Canada when her friend from high school taught her how to download music illegally, has one of the most eclectic tastes in music in this city.
Her techno/house sets are dark, deep, and spacey, and her self-produced tracks, kind of sad and melancholic. She takes us on journeys through crazy vortices, always leaving space for us to catch our breath and cracks for light to come in…
“I think the melancholy came as my eyes were opened to the way the world really is. My childhood was amazing, but definitely felt like it was a bubble wrap universe created by my parents. Also, I think it comes from past relationships and how people pass by. I guess now I’m finally seeing the light in the darkness of mortality and temporary magic, but that’s just the way it is, and will always be.”
Her music career started in 2011 with “Dead Air”— a WVUM radio show she hosted for 3 years. She used her laptop to sync for the first year, but then taught herself to beatmatch, when she realized that the radio show was just going to be the beginning of a life-long affair with the beats and the turntables.
Since then, Uchi has been waving her magic wand in Berlin, New York, Tampa, San Juan, Montreal, and in the best spots in Miami, sharing her life and tunes with the rest of the creatures, who, just like her, don’t want to conform to the mundane.
We talked to her about the qualities she looks for in sound and about CYBORGS, her monthly party…
R17: How’s a day in the life of Uchi?
UCHI: I wake up and I stay here in my room listening to music, or I start a new project, or I look for new music for DJing. Literally, the whole day passes in here and all of a sudden it’s 7 pm, so then I eat dinner and maybe go to my friend’s or go out see people, listen to more music. So yeah, basically I can fiddle wherever I wish and work on my own schedule, which is really cool.
WE ASKED UCHI TO CURATE A MINI MUSIC FESTIVAL FOR US. THIS IS WHAT SHE CAME UP WITH:
How did you get into electronic music, do you remember?
Yeah, I do. It’s funny–there were parties when I was really young living in Venezuela. Whenever you had a birthday party, our parents would hire a radio DJ and it was during the mid/late 90’s, rave culture was really present then. They would play things like Eiffel 65 and we had disco lights and glowsticks. These parties were pretty common, and I had been going to them from age 5 to age ten, then I moved to the states. But technically, I didn’t get into this specific kind of music until high school, when my friend showed me how to download music illegally in bulk, and I started listening to Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada, Massive Attack, Telepop…that was the beginning, age 15.
I read that you like electronic music that is “futuristic and scientific and different.” What do you mean by that?
Futuristic is an oxymoron because the sounds that I like were designed in the 80’s, so I guess that I’m talking about what is perceived as future.
What’s the perception of future in terms of sound?
It’s not natural, anything electronic, so the human ear has been only exposed to this for like 50 years and we’ve been around for millions.
Scientific, I guess come from my nerdy side because I love science and math. There’s a lot of math in music and the science of creating it is also fascinating to me. You can really explore the spectrum of sound and the way frequencies affect you. Although, I always overanalyze everything.
Do you think about all these things when you’re listening to music?
I don’t think I do it consciously, although when I’m writing, I do think it’s a science, a spectral puzzle.
I know Holden is your favorite producer. What is it about his sound that you like?
I think it’s a combination of complexity, emotion, and technique. Technically, I think he’s one of the most brilliant. I aspire to be like him.
Yeah, he’s also a mathematician. He uses Beta, Alpha, and the different waves to affect how his listeners feel. That’s why we go into these trances when we listen to him.
Besides Holden, what other producers and DJ’s do you like?
Roman Flugel, he’s an amazing DJ. I play a lot of Robag Wruhme, and right now I’m really into Ghost Culture. But it’s so hard, there’s so many!
Yeah, I guess I was asking you more about the classics…
Oh, Boards of Canada, they’re definitely my favorite.
What are the qualities that you look for in sound?
It’s more about how I react to the sound, what I feel when I listen to it.
So it’s purely instinctual, you don’t really think about what you’re looking for…
No, not really.
Have you found any patterns in the stuff that you like?
Yeah, there’s a pattern. There are pads I love, and I like things that are very stripped down, things that are mellow…
Yeah, exactly. I’ve actually found that the things that I like are very influenced by BOC.
Let’s talk about your mixes. Can you talk to me about the track selection process and your creative process when making a mix?
Well, I’m always looking for tracks every day because if I don’t then I’ll go crazy. Most of the times I record mixes from gigs, and then take the recording and maybe make some edits, fix the sound, add an ambient track in the end, upload. The creative process is mostly instinctual, but there are some mixes that I did think through to the core, and those are still some of my favorites, but in general music is mostly instinctual, unspoken, and unwritten. You can have a certain level of control, but you also have to remember to let it control you.
So you never pick the tracks and the order of the tracks that you are going to play on your sets?
No, I just feel it out. It’s a feedback loop. You have to feel what the crowd is feeling and what you are feeling, gather all that, and keep going. [laughs]
When did you start producing?
I got Ableton from the same guy who taught me how to download music (Joey, 2007), and I never took it seriously. It was more what I used to do for fun with my friends, or alone, but I would just make a little loop or something, and then call it a day. It wasn’t until last summer when I said to my self “sit down and write.” I guess it’s been 8 months since I’ve been really focused on that.
You mentioned earlier that mixing and producing are completely different processes. Can you talk to me about that?
When I’m writing I’m more focused on my own thoughts. When I’m DJing I want people to have a good time, so even though I don’t usually go outside the boundaries of what I like, I do think about the crowd a lot. When I’m alone, I can only feel myself. Most of the things that I write that like the most are when I’m actually having a mental breakdown, or I am very sad, or going through something crazy. It’s very therapeutic, I put whatever it is that’s going on into what I’m making.
So, you’re more on the sad side?
Yeah, I guess so. I think I’m usually more on the sad side. Whether I’m smiling all the time, I’m still sad. [laughs] But actually, it’s neither sad nor happy. It’s right in the middle, melancholic.
Why this affinity for the melancholic sounds?
I think the melancholy came as my eyes were opened to the way the world really is. My childhood was amazing, but definitely felt like it was a bubble wrap universe created by my parents. Also I think it comes from past relationships and how people pass by. I guess now I’m finally seeing the light in the darkness of mortality and temporary magic, but that’s just the way it is, and will always be….
Yeah, I feel you. I think that the best music you find has a lot of melancholy in it. And what about CYBORGS, your monthly party?
It happened when I graduated university and I wanted to have a party, and also celebrate the ending the three years of the radio show I hosted during school. I spoke to the Electric Pickle and they said it was cool. It went pretty well, so I organized one once a month since then. It was mostly for my friends, or to bring someone that I wanted to see play, but very low budget, very DIY. Recently, I moved it to Bardot to give it a try, and work with David Sinopoli for a bit.
Bardot gives you a budget now?
Yeah, now there’s definitely a budget for me to bring artists that I couldn’t bring before.
That’s really cool. I how did you get Valentin Stip to play at your last party?
I actually met him at Bardot, one time David booked us both. I also saw him play again in New York a few weeks after, and when I moved the party David asked me who I wanted to book and I said “Valentin,” and he said “done”. So yeah, it was pretty awesome!
UCHI’S GUIDE TO WMC
Tuesday, march 24th
Wednesday, march 25th
Ellen allien official fanpage
Dusky (extended set)
@the electric pickle
Beatport & the electric pickle present scissor and thread : miami stories
Frank & tony [miami music week exclusive]
Bob moses [live]
Basti & friends (downstairs)
Thursday, March 26th
@the albion hotel
Mmw: do not sit by the pool
Alexi delano | ambivalent| atish | bedouin | behrouz | butane| camea| chaim | clarian| eduardo castillo | lee burridge | matthew dekay | matthias meyer| monkey safari| nastia | yokoo
Magnus sodamin’s “infinity split”
@the electric pickle
Beatport & the electric pickle present hallucienda : miami 2015
Tini and the gang meets next wave (by linkmiamirebels)
Room 2 tini and the gang
Friday, march 27th
@the broken shaker
Slap & tickle oasis
Benoit & sergio | bob moses (live) | clarian | 3.27
Maeve showcase – room 1 (official resistance afterparty) by link miami rebels
Mano le tough
Saturday, march 28th
@the electric pickle
Black coffee miami 2015 exclusive 7 hr set
@south beach lady yacht
Life and death * an ocean affair*
**tale of us**
[ life and death ]
** james murphy** exclusive
[ lcd soundsystem / dfa ]
** dj tennis **
[ life and death ]
** nancy whang ** exclusive
[ lcd soundsystem / dfa ]
** thugfucker **
[ life and death ]