By Patrick Smith
Uv Boi’s rise to being one of Australia’s most recognisable electronic acts has been a quick one. Another one of the bedroom producers following in the wake of Flumes meteoric rise, 19 year old Emmanuel John has gone from a Brisbane high school student to selling out national tours in just 2 years. He won a Triple J unearthed competition to play Listen Out in 2014, played at splendour In The Grass, collaborated with Ryan Hemsworth and is now about to set off on a national headline tour in support of his beautifully original debut EP, [L-UV]. Not bad for a kid that learnt to produce on his sister’s music making machine.
Hi mate, were abouts are you at the moment?
I just woke up and I’m still in bed haha.
Sorry to wake you man! Is it true that you started making your music with a movie making programme?
Yeah I did. So I used to love making small videos of random things, and one day I realised I could add two songs to one video and somehow I got the transition just perfect. Back then I was listening to a lot of hard style music so I was mixing that in and yeah, got the transition so perfect that I was like “woah, this is pretty cool”. I ended up making like a whole hardstyle E.P mashup thing, I wish I still had it. Its lost now. From then I moved to some other programmes, and then I was shown fruity loops and started doing a bit on that, and then Ableton. I’m on Ableton now, from then on its history.
The new album is produced without the use of any samples, so you’ve clearly moved on. Do you have much instrumental training or are you all self taught?
When I first began I just had an ear for what sounded good. And then in year 12 I did a year of piano, which was really beneficial. I learned theory and the basics, it really helped me knowing sonically what I’m doing. I’m still teaching myself to play piano right now, its helped a lot. Its so much more rewarding playing the chords that best represent what you feel, so this EP was made that way.
You music is all bedroom production, is this where you prefer working or do you like being in a studio?
I’ve only really been in a studio twice. With my work process, the ideas come late in the morning when I’m in bed, so here at home I can just sit down whenever the ideas come, and then the studio is more for mixing and mastering, or if I’m working with someone else. It’s a lot more comfortable at home, I can just work whenever the idea comes.
I read this new EP is about finding love in an online world. You’re a young dude right smack bang in the middle of this technological era were everybody is just a finger tip away. Do you think this is making people less connected, is that what the EP is about?
Ah sometimes, its difficult to explain. Its not just online love, but the general theme of love. When I was younger I would have a crush on someone but the person wouldn’t feel it back, and that continued over time. And it felt like it was difficult to find love. But online you might meet someone on the other side of the world from you and you just have this amazing connection. But its kind of around uncertainty in attraction.
Someone you did meet on the other side of the world was Ryan Hemsworth. He found your songs on Soundcloud is that right? What was that initial contact like, given he’s such a big name?
Yeah so he found my music on Soundcloud and then it was Nina Las Vegas who made that initial connection between the two of us. So she linked our emails and we spoke and Ryan really love my music and wanted to make a song. And I was like, “yeah sure let’s do it”, trying to play it off real cool and all haha. But I was so excited. Ryan really loves working with people online so it worked out perfect, he sent over some stems and we traded things, and yeah, it was really cool.
You seem to enjoy collaboration a lot. The electronic music industry is such a healthy sphere for creation at the moment with all the collaboration going on. How do you normally tee those things up, are they mates or is it a mutual respect type thing.
I’m quite selective when I choose who I work with. It really just depends, I might really love the music or just what they do. So like some examples; the guys in Brasstracks, when they wrote on the song Luv with me, I came across them online and we made an instant connection, they loved my music as well. It was such a natural thing that happened. Same with EastCoast (for If She, If He), I loved his music and the track I made would have been perfect for him to be a part of and he returned the love.
Everybody seems so enchanted with the originality of UV Boi. Is this something you have to purposefully work towards or is it natural for you to create with such originality?
I think it’s natural. I had a previous project before this where I was trying a bunch of different genres and everything. So seeing as I was listening to a wide range of genres and I am able to create something now that I felt and somehow it becomes an original thing. It’s not something I have to try for I think.
And the tour coming up, are you stoked for that?
Yeah man for sure, it’s so soon!
What’s your live set up like for a tour?
Um it has evolved a lot to what it is now. It began with DJ style sets to now with some instruments and a big visual element. What I have now is my two keyboards and a drum pad and a few other little devices that I get to use.
You’re such a young guy still man, do you get to bring your mates along on tour?
Haha not so much. But my support acts are really good mates of mine. Gill Bates and me have been friends since way before I started UV Boi. And Collarbone, I love their music so its gonna be a really good time hanging out with them in all these cities.
Its been such a quick rise for you, you’ve played some serious festival slots, and then If She, If He blew up and now the EP, How do you stay grounded through it all?
Well man, at the end of the day, I love music. I love making it and if I didn’t get all this attention I would still be doing it. I will continue making music until forever and if I get to so cool shit with it then that’s amazing.
And lastly, I don’t want to ask you about your influences coz I know you hate being pigeonholed like that. But what music do you like listening to? Just kicking back to, especially any Aussie artists at the moment your really into?
Haha ok let me look through my Spotify… I’ve got some hardstyle, I’ve got some 80’s synth pop stuff which really like. I really like a lot of world music, stuff from Brazil and South Africa with indie rock type vibes. And I really like ignorant rap. Haha so a bunch of random things.
And Aussie acts, I really like the DMAs, they’re awesome guys. I saw them at laneway. And of course Japanese Wallpaper, he’s a close friend. And my other friends Cosmos Midnight and Young Franco. They’re all doing some really cool shit. I’m really happy to see everyone do so well.
Sweet, thanks heaps man. We’ll catch you at Jack Rabbits!
Bless man. I can’t wait.
You can watch UV Boi’s new single Show You on YouTube here:
Photo Credit: Uv Boi