We catch up with the Beat & Path label head and festival aficionado.
Melbourne DJ, producer and event promoter Uone (aka Ewan Scott) has just released his second full-length effort, the cinematic house music expedition The Lone Wranglers. The record was created alongside Uone’s long-time collaborator Western, an alias of Sydney composer, multi-instrumentalist and former DJ Nick West.
The album came together over the course of two years, with Uone and Western frequently hunkering down at West’s Redfern sound studio Smith & Western.
“I’ve known Nick for a good 15 years now. I used to work with him at BEEF Records, but then he transitioned into production for movies and radio and jingles,” says Uone.
Along with co-managing the Beat & Path record label, Uone’s been a touring festival and club DJ for the last decade. He’s a regular at events like Rainbow Serpent and Subsonic and makes an annual trip to Europe for the summer festival season. He also organises the central Victorian boutique gathering CHI WOW WAH TOWN, which raises funds for MS Australia.
The Lone Wranglers is just Uone’s second full length release, however, following his 2018 contribution to Balance Music’s Balance Presents series. The Lone Wranglers is an altogether different beast – a concept album that unashamedly draws on its creators’ love for cowboy iconography, film soundtracks and the psychedelic movement of the late-‘60s and early-‘70s.
“We’d been doing a few deep house-style dancefloor records for some labels – Sol Selectas, Katermukke and my own label Beat & Path – and then we went to see Blade Runner 2049. We’re huge fans of that style of movie and we initially wanted to put into an album concept this cinematic feeling,” Uone says.
The Lone Wranglers remains rooted in deep house and tech house production, but Uone and Western incorporate influence from bands like Pink Floyd and The Doors, Quentin Tarantino soundtracks and Ennio Morricone’s classic Spaghetti Western film scores.
“I was obsessed with old Westerns, anything with John Wayne, anything along the Quentin Tarantino style – we love him, he obviously does modern day Westerns. From there we started to develop a bit of a sound,” Uone says.
The title track samples Tonto, the Native American companion of the leading Lone Ranger in many Westerns. The record also includes three ambient interludes – ‘Let Red Go’, ‘Cotton in the Clouds’ and ‘Forest Walker’ – which offer a gentle reprieve from the extroverted dancefloor tracks and add to the album’s overall cinematic character.
The stylistic direction taken on The Lone Wranglers was partly devised in response to the prevailing trends in deep house, namely the growing melodic emphasis and solitary mode of production.
“I have a love of sampling guitars and live percussion and we wanted to take the music back to [the sound of] the late-‘60s and ‘70s, where to make music, you had to be a band,” says Uone. “You couldn’t just make it by yourself. You had to get together with people and jam and record. That’s what Nick and I love to do. Spending time together making music is a natural process for us.”
Uone’s preference for in-person collaboration ties in with his broader philosophy. Although he often views himself as a lone wrangler, travelling the world for solo DJ missions, he’s driven to do so by a passionate belief in the transcendent, life affirming potential of music festivals and other such communal gatherings.
“I worked on Rainbow Serpent for many, many years, so I’ve grown up in the psychedelic community,” he says. “Rainbow Serpent is pretty much a modern day representation of that culture from the 1960s. Young people want to have the ability to experiment with themselves in a safe environment. They want to celebrate life. They want to be happy. They want to dance to music and they want to experience art and community and connection.
“The older generation that are running our society really have tried to shut that culture down. I really think they don’t see the importance that it plays in the development of people and enabling people to celebrate life.”
In Uone’s view, it’s essential that we fight for the preservation of these sorts of events given how much time we now spend inhabiting the digital, virtual sphere – whether it be projecting a finely curated image on social media or opting to stream rather than attend in person.
“I think it’s important that there are spaces for people to unplug and detach from that day to day electronic meta-verse world that we’re all living in now. It’s important for people to have a journey of self-discovery away from that.”
Uone isn’t just some jaded hippy with a vendetta against social media – it plays a key role in helping to promote his music and events and engage with fans. But he’s keenly aware of the technology’s more deceptive influence.
“Social media is a great networking tool, but unfortunately a lot of it is fake. It’s creating a sense for people that they must always look happy, and when they’re not doing social media, they have anxiety because they need to look or portray themselves a certain way.
“What we try to achieve through our events is a space where people can get away from the phone, get away from the digitised world and connect on a human-to-human level – [connect] with nature, through food, through music, through ceremony. These are very, very important things.”
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