Interview by Jules
Fourteen years ago, the brainchild of Uberzone (a.k.a.
!Q! and a.k.a. Timothy Wiles) began producing music
in his Anaheim, CA bedroom. His love of electronic
gear began in his early teens and with perseverance,
creativity, and technical talent, he has made the
name Uberzone synonymous with Breakbeat. His style
is thankfully not boxed in and continues to break
genre boundaries. Inspired by artists ranging from
Kraftwerk to Public Enemy, it's easy to understand
why Uberzone's style is as eclectic as it is. 2004
should prove to be a good year for Uberzone. Having
played recent sets at Fabric in London, the Winter
Music Conference 'Breaksday 2004', as well as his
constant touring across America, he has already created
a healthy underground fanbase and is one of the leading
Breaks DJs. Now with his latest album "Uberzone Presents
Y4K", he is sure to continually gain more well deserved
popularity. Welcoming an opportunity to interview
Uberzone via email allowed me to score some additional
insight into what lies beneath the surface of the
technical master - both personally and in the studio.
Jules: It's mentioned on your
website that your studio (Institute of Gizmology)
has moved - have you settled fully into the new studio?
Uberzone: Yep, though I'm still
doing a little wiring and tweaking here and there.
Is your studio within your home or on separate
property and what are your thoughts on the two different
types of locations in regards to working/creativity?
Well, I've tried it both ways. It works better for
me to have my living and working space in the same
building. The last studio was in a commercial facility
and I wound up sleeping on the couch in the lounge
every night because in whatever spare time I have
I write music and work on studio/Uberzone related
work. So, it makes sense to be able to crawl over
to a bedroom rather than kill my back every night!
How is your new studio different from the old
Good question. The new studio is based largely on the virtual instrument/plugin world, whereas the last studio was based heavily on outboard hardware- synths and outboard processing.
What are some of your favorites in regards to
analog gear, software/plugins, and situations in which
you favor one over the other?
I still love hardware, but sometimes it's just not economically or ergonomically feasible. I love a lot of things in the analog world which I don't personally own. If I had the chance to mix my tracks on a large format SSL or Neve, I'd be there in a sec.. It's great from an experimental point of view. When you mix "in the box" (all native-inside the computer) too much is often accounted for and a mix can be easily overworked. I absolutely adore the Universal Audio UAD-1 Powered Plugins and it's the sole reason I decided to stay all native, which is saying a lot!
With the clarity, richness, and wide spatial
sound you get in your tracks, are there particular
processes you follow every time during a mixdown in
order to arrive at the final mix?
Thanks! It's a process I call "combing". Once I
get the track close, I listen and take notes as to
what I want to improve on in the mix. As I listen,
I try to be as objective as possible. I also subject
the mix to different environments. Initially, I listen
in the studio, then on the home stereo, then in the
car. After doing this a couple times, there isn't
much else write down and I can proclaim the track
"finished". Basically, combing is a process on incremental
Do you do your own mastering? If so, what equipment/software
do you use for the finished product, and what particular
sound issues do you take into consideration (frequency
I haven't in the past but I will in the future. Again, I like the Powered Plugins along with the Waves linear plugins and the Sony Inflator for any loudness maximization. I listen to the mix against some of my favorite tracks that I know sound great everywhere. The mastering process
has a lot to do with where the mix will be predominantly played. If it's for a club I take a bit different approach than I would for a radio mix etc. I like a full wide and tall mix! I want to be able to reach in and grab a sound with my ears.
What is the fine line for you in regards liking
or disliking tracks of yours that have been reworked
by other artists?
I guess mainly style, but good production and mix are important (though less important to me than the creative aspects of music).
Do you have a protocol you follow when remixing
other artists' work? (Boundaries you may or may not
I try and communicate where the original artist
is at. As much as I think people want your take on
a mix, sometimes they have an idea of which "you"
they want to do the remix. I can remix an Acid Jazz
track into a Jamaican folk song if that's what I'm
feeling at the time. I have wildly changing and vast
tastes in music, so it's not a problem if someone
says, "hey I want something that works on the dance
What were the differences in how you approached
your prior album "Digital Mix" versus how you approached
your latest mix CD "Y4K"?
I was gearing "The Digital Mix" to be as much a
technical achievement as a musical one. I had the
idea when I started the whole DM live thing in 98'
to do a mix record way back then, using the techniques
I was using on stage at the time. I knew back then
that this would be something where I could really
bring a different game to the whole mix CD thing.
Plus, there were quit a few Uberzone track on TDM.
The new Y4K mix is a more conventional DJ mix CD where
I wanted to incorporate some more melodic tracks to
the fray and try to aim for listen-ability.
Is there anything in particular that sparks
your musical creation?
Not usually, sometimes movies. I'm an anomaly when it comes to creativity, I think. Most people are inspired by politics or tragedy or life experiences. I'm actually more derailed by things that happen in my life rather than inspired. I write the best tracks when things are smooth and I'm allowed to daydream. I've always been a chronic daydreamer.
...and technical creation?
Yes. My technical creativity is inspired by my desire to paint with sound, the colors being the sound, the mix the perspective and the song the content. I want the mix to be a comfortable place where the song lives, meaning it "belongs" there. I hate to sound so lofty but I'm very philosophical when it comes to creative mixing.
How has your career, yourself, and your life
changed since your initial successes?
I don't think have changed a bit! I'm naturally a shy, sort of withdrawn person so I suppose the music career has forced me out of my shell more than I like. My career has changed in that I'm emancipated enough financially to pursue my dreams, which is all any honestly creative person wants, really. As another musician so profoundly stated, "the entertainment industry allows for extended adolescence", which couldn't
be more true. I've also met amazing people as well as a few of my idols as an added bonus!
If you could start your career from the beginning
again, is there anything different that you would
have done - and if so, why?
Not listened to ANYBODY else when it came to the creative part of my career. I'm naturally an accommodating person and try to be as diplomatic as possible, which is a dangerous mind set to have if you're surrounded by "armchair" musicians. You try and block it out but
it can be quite overwhelming at times. I feel I've always written my best music when no one was looking.
You're quoted on your website as saying "sometime
during my life I turned from a pessimist into an optimist".
If you would, please explain what you meant by the
I saw the futility of pessimism, I suppose. It's sort of like the idea of "self fulfilling prophecies".
If you're constantly focused on what can go wrong, you sometimes can wind up being a cofactor
in things going wrong when they might not of, had you been more optimistic.
Do you feel there are certain habits (positive
or negative) of yours that have enhanced your route
My ability to persevere! Also, my sobriety.
Do you set specific future goals (for six months,
a year, five years?) or do you take life/work as it
I always try to have short and long term goals, though they often have to change as circumstances change. They often do in this industry!
With the now easily available means for nearly
anyone to make digital recordings, are there aspects
of how you work/create that you have purposely changed
to allow you to continue to have your tracks stands
out among the many?
I still listen to everything out there and try and ascertain what I shouldn't write rather than what I should write. I'm not interested in writing music that I can go out and buy, I'm not that patient. I'm driven by the music I hear in my head that isn't commercially available.
Is there any update on the release of a Plastic
PA is a labor of love and now that- NEWS FLASH,
I'm starting a new Uberzone studio album!!!!!! It'll
go on the back burner till the Uberzone record's finished.
I'm VERY excited about the new Uberzone record. I
haven't felt this excited about writing music in years.
I'm loaded with new ideas. I am looking forward to
working on Plastic Astronaut, though!
Somewhat related to the goals question - what
do you see in the future for yourself? (In particular,
are you intending to remain in Southern California?
Or, since you are well-tied with UK arists, do you
see yourself possibly ever moving to the UK?)
I can't see myself living outside the United States as I'm very close to my family though I try not to rule anything out. In terms of goals I want to release more music on a consistent basis. Most people don't realize (so I'll just explain) the reason it's always been so difficult for me to release music on a consistent basis is that I'm constantly touring to subsidize the project.
Your website as of yet does not list promotional
tour information. Will you be touring to promote your
"Y4K" release? If so, please share any info you may
have regarding the tour.
Unfortunately, we got the cart before the horse with
this release. It was supposed to be released in May
and I toured extensively in April/May to support it.
I still have a show or two coming up, but then I'm
back in the studio for this new Uber album! But I
will be touring with a brand new show to support the
album!!!! Now, get out there and buy my Y4K! Thanks!
Thank YOU !Q!
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