We catch up with UVI co-founder Alain Etchart to discuss the company’s evolution and how his own musical tastes inform the company’s products.
Attack: Hi Alain. For those who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself?
Alain Etchart: Sure. My name is Alain Etchart, I’m a co-founder and CEO of UVI. My background is a mix of scientific studies and musical activities. I have a strong connection with sound and music and I’m still active today making records. I just finished producing the latest MC Solaar album, released last month in France.
What does your day-to-day role at UVI involve now?
In abstract, you can think of a company like a little bonsai; you need the right soil (people), to water it (guide and enable them), and as it grows, prune, to keep it healthy and give it a pleasing shape (managing focus, vision). So in a way my role is that of a caretaker, and I get to work with an amazing and talented organisation.
How do you balance your UVI role with your own music and production work?
At this point it’s very natural. They feed each other, being both technical and creative in complementary ways. You work on one until you hit a wall or burn out, and then you change gears, deep-dive into your other passion, recharge, and often you’ll find solutions for the one buried in the other.
Instruments are linguistic tools, they affect how we think, work and communicate, and they're a communication in and of themselves.
UVI has evolved significantly over the course of the company’s lifespan to date. Can you tell us about that process? How much of it has been planned and how much has been natural and organic?
From an internal perspective our progression has felt completely natural. I can’t say that at the beginning we planned to be exactly here, or that we know exactly what we’ll be doing in 10 years, but I can say without a doubt that whatever it is, it will be the result of a team that’s personally engaged and passionate about their work. I couldn’t ask for more.
How does your own passion for hardware and vintage synths influence UVI?
That’s a great question. They’re profoundly influential, and not just for me. Instruments are linguistic tools, they affect how we think, work and communicate, and they’re a communication in and of themselves. I think they’ve made us particularly sensitive to the quality and character of our sounds, to how influential interface can be on not only how you work but what you create, to be confident in your own voice and to never be afraid to take risks. When we do instrument, I really want the result to sounds like it’s off a commercial record, so it’s not only the vintage hardware, but the whole process around recording it.
Are there certain products which you think reflect your personal tastes more than others?
I have my passion projects to be sure, but often more surprising is how the ones you weren’t as excited about at first can end up influencing you. EGP, a prepared Yamaha CP70 recorded in both electric and acoustic, is a good example of that. Some of the sounds we ended up with were so expressive that I lost hours playing them without realising it.
Sometimes the most profound innovations can be the simplest ones.
Do you think it’s enough for a company like UVI to react to trends in music production or do you have to stay one step ahead of trends and predict what people are going to want to before they know they want it?
Unfortunately we can’t predict the future, but we’ve always walked our own path. Every organisation has their own strengths and their own voice and to succeed you can’t lose sight of that. When we’re at our best our products make it easier for customers to do the things they need to do today while creating opportunities that keep tomorrow exciting.
On that subject, to what extent are you exploring newer technologies such as VR or cloud computing?
We’ve always got an eye towards the horizon. It’s hard to say which efforts will have the best yield but opportunities for innovation are abundant and the products we’re developing now are our most ambitious yet. Sometimes the most profound innovations can be the simplest ones.