As he prepares for his first six-hour set as part of the What Matters 501 series, we talk to the Diynamic and Cadenza-affiliated producer and DJ about why it’s worse to see 30 people not dancing in a small club than 3,000 looking bored at a festival and who he’d book to play at his dream party.
Attack: The main idea of the new 501 series from Mixmag and What Matters is that it’ll focus on parties in smaller venues, nothing bigger than 500 capacity. Do you enjoy playing to smaller, more intimate crowds?
Uner: I’m super excited for this event. I love to play everywhere, but playing in small venues is always extra special because you can develop your mix in a different way than when you play something like a big festival. And when you play a small venue for six, seven or eight hours, it’s even more awesome. It needs a different kind of preparation, because during a six- or eight-hour set you can play on a super-mind-trip mode and you can play so many different kinds of music that you never have the opportunity to play in a two-hour set. I’m sure it’ll be a great night with a lot of different styles.
What’s the biggest crowd you’ve played to in the past?
I’ve played at huge festivals, like Sónar or Monegros, as well as huge clubs like Space and Ushuaia in Ibiza. It’s a great experience. It’s an amazing feeling when you have 10,000 or 15,000 people in front of you, dancing and going crazy.
Does playing to a huge crowd like that change the way you play?
I think a DJ should be ready to play in small clubs and big events because the way you play is always different. The concept of the BPM in your brain is totally different in a huge venue.
One of the main skills in DJing has always been to read the crowd and respond to the energy of the room. Is that idea outdated now that we have superclubs and crowds of thousands of people? Aren’t you always going to have some people going crazy while others stand round looking bored?
I think it’s easier to play at a huge festival than a small club. Energy spreads much faster in a big venue. But the feelings themselves are more intense in a small club and the people come with more taste and an understanding of the music at a special night.
It’s worse to see 30 bored people in a crowd of 500 than it is to spot 3,000 bored people within 15,000 people dancing, because you can actually see it in their eyes. So you always need to read the crowd for sure, but of course you have less chance with thousands of people in front of you. It’s impossible to play the right set for everybody with a crowd that big.
It’s easier to play at a huge festival than a small club. Energy spreads much faster in a big venue.
There’s only one headliner at the 501 events and, as you mentioned, you’re playing a six-hour set. Why do you think shorter sets are becoming the norm for so many club nights? Is it just about getting as many names on the bill as possible to try and sell more tickets?
I think these kind of events are becoming more and more popular. First of all, DJs love to play. If you’re playing alongside two or three other artists, the club doesn’t have enough time for everybody so the DJ set in a normal event is only two or three hours. That’s why the crowd is always more excited to see a long set and go on a huge mind-trip with their favourite DJs, not just two hours.
It’s definitely easier to sell tickets for a line-up with three top artists than just one, but clubs, DJs and clubbers always need this kind of special event to push thinking in music forward. That’s the most important thing, not always just the business.
Clubs, DJs and clubbers always need this kind of special event to push thinking in music forward.
So you find that longer sets give you a much greater opportunity to explore music and to take the audience on some kind of journey?
I love to play long sets. I haven’t played a six-hour set before, but normally I try to play no less than three hours, because an hour or two is just too short for me. With six or eight hours you can really go on a journey. You have the chance to maybe play some different styles of music that you normally don’t have time to play in a short set. For me it’s amazing to have six hours to show all my different faces and play almost all the kinds of music I love to play. You have to come to this event and join us on a special mind-trip!
We will! Finally, since the 501 series is about redefining the rules of what great parties should be, what would your dream party be?
I really love to listen to long sets from different artists. A perfect sound system to feel every detail is one of the most important things for sure. An amazing atmosphere and people with the same feelings, listening and enjoying the music. And good friends to share it all with. Who would play? I think Laurent Garnier would be the one for me.