From his base in Turkey Ulas Koca, aka Surrender!, has been beavering away for nine months to produce his self-titled debut album ‘Surrender!’ – with his tracks finding there way into the CD wallets of Digitalism, Treasure Fingers and Aeroplane he is already making a name for himself with his unique blende of futuristic electro and 80’s disco.
The Turkish-based producer is about to release his debut album via Sharooz’s London label La Bombe at the end of September and with his latest EP ‘Hurry’ out today we took 20 minutes to sit down Ulas Koca to pick his brain about his influences, his studio, growing up in the Netherlands and Turkey and how he sees the future of dance music.
HBF: How has growing up in Turkey affected you making electronic music?
You know what it hasn’t influenced me that much. I actually lived in the Netherlands for 5 years, which is when I got into dance music. It had a massive influence on me, more so than Turkey as electronic music is pretty dead here. Right now they’re obsessed with hard-style music, it’s kinda like gabba, but more dance-y. When I lived in the Netherlands I was listening to a lot of pirate radio stations and recording them so I could listen back. I also listened to a lot pop like Michael Jackon & Prince. Then I moved onto metal music like Slayer, B-side – which is really hard metal music. Then I came back to electronic music, with a bit of hip hop in there, too – like Wu-tang and RZA. I have always been the quiet type so I don’t go to that many shows – but if I still lived in the Netherlands I would probably go to a lot more shows, but in Turkey there aren’t that many on.
HBF: Who has been the biggest influence on you musically from your family and friends?
I don’t have any musician familiy members, but my mum was a singer – but she wasn’t a professional, so I don’t think she really influenced my music.
HBF: Who did you work with on the album?
We have Jhameel who’s on vocals on ‘Hurry’ and we have Daryl, a friend of Sharooz, on the final track ‘The End’.
HBF: Is the album sample-based or is it completely new compositions?
It’s a bit of both. Most of the time it’s completely new material, except we had to clear 3 big samples for ‘Conflicted,’ ‘Locate’ and ‘Travellers’ – other than that it is all-new material with a bit of micro-sampling; so taking little things and completely changing them.
HBF: What does the Surrender! studio look like?
I don’t have any hardware synths, I don’t even have any monitors – everything is out of the box. I use some really old Altec desktop speakers and TC Electronics Desktop 6 Soundcard. I think I would like to buy a Juno 106 and a good pair of monitors – but other than that I wouldn’t change anything. I started originally with Reason, then I move onto Cubase and now I’m on Ableton.
HBF: Are you planning a Surrender! tour to promote the album?
We’re planning a tour, but we don’t know what sort of demand there will be – so we will wait until the album is out.
HBF: How do you qualify success in electronic music?
It’s difficult, you have to be really patient. It’s not gonna happen in one day. You have to be really strong and not give up. I always thought it would take time, but I didn’t think it would take 3 years. Also, you have to have someone backing you up with money, you cant just sit there making music as you have to survive. So far it’s going well, but when the album finally comes out it will make things a lot better when it comes to touring and promoting the album.
HBF: What have you got planned for after the album launch?
I’ve produced a new EP which will come out after the album, but I don’t know exactly when. I love producing slower music, not so much dance music, so I have been experimenting a lot. I would love to continue making albums. I don’t really like making EPs after EPs. Making an EP is really, really easy. You don’t have to have a team with you and you don’t have to make them sound too different. With an album you don’t want it to sound like a compilation, they have to complement each other – so I like making albums more as they’re a lot more challenging.
HBF: Are there any Surrender! remixes on the way?
I don’t know if I’m allowed to say anything but I did a remix for Eskimo Recordings and I have done a remix for a really famous producer, but I don’t really know what going on with them. I also have some remix swaps going on; one of them is for Blende and the other is NAPT. Blende and I have started making a track together – so were exchanging ideas trying to come up with really good tracks and hopefully something will come out of it soon.
HBF: What electronic albums have you heard this year that you have liked?
I haven’t listened to that much electronic music this year. It’s not that exciting anymore. It’s too generic. It like it works on a formula and there’s a formula for every genre. The only album I liked was the new Justice album. Musically I loved it. It’s the same Justice; good melodies and songs, but slightly different and that’s why I think it was a good album.
HBF: Were you pleased with how the album came out after hearing the final master?
Well I wanted to Nilz to master it at the Exchange, but he passed away this year a week before we could send it to him. So that was really sad for me. He mastered Daft Punk and Justice so that would have been a dream come true for me. I thought the songs sounded good before. There wasn’t that much change – but you can definitely feel the analogue feel of the hardware that it’s processed on. What I hate about mastering is some if your sounds you want to keep them the same, and then when it comes back they’ve changed stuff. I want it to stay as it is. My tracks have this punch and after mastering it seems to disappear sometimes. My main goal is to be able master my own tracks and then still get it mastered but only for a bit of eq’ing and limiting.
HBF: If your house/studio was on fire and you could save one thing, what would it be and why?
I would wouldn’t save anything. I like the idea of completely starting again musically.
By Andrew Rafter