Named “mass murderer” by DJ Rafik, crowned twelve times by the German community and three-time Champion internationally: no doubt about it, we are talking about DJ Unkut. With his recognizable style and his champion skills, he excites the scene with sounds from electro and bass to hip hop and to dubstep and breakbeat. This powerful mix makes Unkut a one of a kind at gigs and battles.
Are you coming straight from vacation or straight from the studio?
Straight from vacation, with a fresh tan.
Digitization is getting to be more and more common – especially in the DJ scene. What skills do people need today to become a DJ?
Of course it varies depending on which audiences you want to serve, but I think even in the digital age you still need a healthy serving of analog skills and some kind of unique feature. If you can incorporate the advantages of a DVS system too, all the better.
How are German audiences different from international ones?
To be honest, my best gigs have always been abroad. I just played 5 gigs in France, and I can definitely say that people there have a much greater awareness of DJ skills. I mean, they’ll throw tomatoes and bottles at you if you don't work some beat juggling or scratch parts into your club set. In Germany, I sometimes have to keep doing that in spite of what the people want, so they complain at first and then go home at the end of the evening saying, “Awesome, I’ve never seen or heard anything like that before!” I wish Germany would move away from its love of mediocrity and stop basing a DJ’s craft on whether you play people’s favorite radio hits enough, or indulge their ’90s R&B/hip-hop nostalgia for what feels like the 4 millionth time. Berlin and Hamburg are a little different, in my experience. At least when you compare them directly to the rest of Germany.
I had a crazy dream about 15 years ago...
You’ve been crowned DJ World Champion three times. Can you name a discipline where you wouldn’t even win a potted plant?
You might think I would be good with my hands, but I can’t really do anything except put together Ikea bookcases. My drawing talent is pretty lacking, too. If I’m supposed to draw a horse (which doesn’t happen that often), it usually looks like a cross between a dinosaur and a dog.
Where did you get your stage name?
I had a crazy dream about 15 years ago, and the made-up word “Unkut” was what stuck with me the next morning. Then I realized it would be a pretty cool DJ name. And then “Unkut" was pretty much it for the next 10 years – I mean, without the musical backup that came with my skills, I probably would have thought the name was kind of silly.
Where to next? What is the ultimate goal for a DJ who has already achieved so much?
In terms of DJing, there isn’t too much that would excite me right now. For a while now, I’ve been spending 80% of my time producing music and 20% DJing, and I hope I’ll be happy enough with it in the near future to get an EP out. A feature with Banks would be one of my personal dreams.
Interview: Fred Romey