Written and Interviewed by Erika Kirchmayer
Alex Saldana, known as UHNK Music, joined us in anticipation of his latest release, a track called, ‘Grit’, out now on Soundcloud. UHNK is one of the many talented musicians on the Producer Dojo team. The brain-child of ill.Gates, Producer Dojo, is an organization that strives to grow musicality within the hearts of talented producers. UHNK, the April 2019 Ninja of the Month, has been a member of the Dojo for over a year, with his original music regularly included in ill.Gates’ live sets. This self-proclaimed ‘genre-less’ producer’s in-person presence is only matched in the personality and cheekiness of his tracks. Read on to learn more about UHNK’s experience with music production and about his upcoming projects.
When did you begin your music production journey?
ALEX: “About 2 years ago, I was at a show and I decided I wanted to produce. I was at a festival that Bassnectar was headlining and had thought that I could make music as good as some of what I was hearing at the various stages… I might not be able to reach the very top, but I could at least make music good enough to secure a spot on stage. I think people want to hear it. In my first production, my buddy Jimmy who used to make really terribly produced half-joke, half-serious rap beats told me to get Ableton. Then we sat down and did a 20-minute crash course where I learned basically nothing and all I wanted to know was how to make high hat rolls. Then, I essentially locked myself in my apartment for about a year and made 150 songs all of which were absolute garbage. *laughs*
Around the second year is when I joined Producer Dojo. The first 6-8 months there I was lurking– watching videos, not really interacting with anybody, just trying to absorb the content. Then I went to do a studio day with Dylan [ill.Gates], so I hung out with him for two days. Right after that, the first song I created when I came back home made the mixtape, a monthly thing at the Dojo, to my surprise because I still had no idea what I was doing! It was with this guy Richard 6 Street, a good friend of mine. It was a collab where we each made a song and exchanged the stems, and then we each made a new song and those are the ones that made the mixtape. The song I made after that was ‘Power,’ which is the one Dylan, ill.Gates, really likes and keeps playing live. And from there on out, there has just been progress made in every new song. The song ‘Power’ solidified that somebody likes my music, that I’m ‘good’.”
Would you say you have a source of inspiration when it comes to producing? Are there are specific artists that inspire your original music?
ALEX: “Sure, each song is usually its own source of inspiration. As far as artists who I look up to go, there’s Bassnectar, I really like all of his stuff. I grew up listening to a lot of Drum N Bass and Breakbeats stuff like Crystal Method, Chemical Brothers, Noisia, and Spore. Musicians now that I really like are G Jones, Sub Focus, Tropkillaz, ill.Gates… obviously I love all of his stuff, and Marian Hill which is very different from the rest of those but it’s just so good!”
Would you say you have a sweet spot regarding BPM? Do you have any comments regarding BPM and genre?
ALEX: “I wish I was better at writing 140 BPM. It’s just that every time I try and do it, I find myself getting frustrated while I’m writing it, although I do have some decent 140 BPM songs. I really like the high tempo stuff though, 170-185 is currently my bread and butter. I’m trying to slow it down some just to practice. If I had to pick one BPM, you know how the drums play out and the general flow of the song, it’s definitely 180. I don’t even have to think about it and I don’t get frustrated. I can make the song in one go and that’s it. 180 is awesome.
As far as genres go, I don’t care what it is, even in my music. I do have a specific type of sounds I usually go for, but I just throw everything I like and that sounds good into a song and call it done. And then I’ll let someone else decide what genre it is afterward. I don’t really care about genres. I still don’t know what genre my music is, nobody will tell me! *pauses to laugh* Any tempo, every sound.”
Do you have any upcoming projects / things to look forward to as the year goes on?
ALEX: “Oh yeah! Wreckno collab is out! I love that guy. The song is called, UHNKNO. It’s a banger, everybody likes it. We’ve heard great feedback so far. You may have seen a snippet of it someplace! That just came out today, and then later this year I will have an EP out on Producer Dojo. That’s gonna be awesome, it’s a four-song EP. Other than that, songs in between that I’m working on.”
If you were stranded on an island without civilization, what are three things that you could not live without?
ALEX: “Oooh, I mean the practical side of me says, a knife and some way to make fire, but we’ll skip that stuff. If I had to pick the things I would want to have near me, definitely a computer. Whatever world we live in today, a computer is the gateway to all of it; so let’s just group together computer and internet access, that’s one. Yeah computer and internet access is by far my number one. Maybe a soccer ball to keep me busy. I don’t really even need three things.”
Is there anything that your fans might not know about you?
ALEX: “Oh yeah, there’s one main thing and that’s what the name UHNK means. Half of it is that sound you hear when you hear house music, that *untz untz*, it’s like the dirtier version of that. That grimy uhnk sound or whatever. And then the other half, I hate to have to say this to you but I won’t explain it today. Maybe one day I’ll tell everyone. Here I’ll make this concession, if I ever get to headline a festival and actually get to do music forever then maybe I’ll tell everybody what it means. But until then, definitely not and it’ll just be a riddle.”