Unai Trotti: Blade Spinner

He’s been an integral part of the London scene since Cartulis Day was born 10 years ago in his adopted city of London. But there is so much more to the nerd from Bilbao (cartulis meaning nerd in his dialect). In fact, Unai Trotti’s musical journey did not begin with techno in London but in Madrid as a sound technician for famous artists, travelling the globe as a crew member on world tours. But for him the parties really started when he moved to Hackney…

We catch up with our favourite Hackney boy and listen back to a highlight of the year: an extract from a 5 hr set recorded for Cartulis Music // Fold London. Setting the scene, Reade Truth had just finished his (debut) live. It was still dark but as the sunlight crept in through the shutters of the blinds, Unai told his story, transforming the space with patterns of his own. Dancers glued to the floor, music continuing to revitalise, energies and emotions running high, all the way through to the closing by Craig Richards & Nicholas Lutz.


Three reasons why you’d do Off Sonar again next year.

On a professional level, Off Sonar is a key date on the International festival circuit and it’s important to us that Cartulis is present wherever our audience is, to showcase our sound and label. On a personal level, I love Barcelona and it’s an opportunity to meet a lot of friends and people from around the world…. and obviously the sea and the food!

How would you describe your US tour?

Was a great experience! I was really happy because the tour was in the West Coast and East Coast.

I started in the west coast, San Francisco and LA. I played in LA for Cyclone; they were amazing, throwing a warehouse party, big stack of Function Ones and also the after party was great – it was in a house with a perfect garden, palm trees and it was super warm and sunny in December!

Then I caught a plane to the east coast, my first stop was Washington at Flash Club – sick venue.

Then New York. That city gave me a lot of London vibes to be honest. I was feeling at home there, especially when I played for Resolute in Bushwick. I felt like I was in Hackney Wick. You know, the dirty warehouse with people dancing into the late morning.

And the last stop was Miami, I was playing for Un_Mute, Benjamin and his crew are amazing!


From a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being perfect) how perfect is a Sunday morning set at Houghton?

My set time will be Sunday midday at Terminus, which was my favourite stage last year, so it is obviously a 10/10.

That stage and that festival inspired me a lot last year. When I’m in a record shop and I’m listening to records I imagine different situations, for example how that record fits in a club or an after party etc. I kept imagining the Terminus stage at Houghton before even I knew I was going to play. It blew my mind. It’s a hole in the earth, surrounded by trees, melting with nature. There was something really special going on there, with such a good energy between all the people and the sound was sick… so yes, I would give it an 11/10.

If you had to pick your favourite acts from last year?

There were really nice sets but one of the acts that really blew my mind was Radioactive Man at Houghton. He was on the main stage, just driving these electro breaks, drum and bass, rave sound, acid and even garage. It was next level.. He’s a huge talent in electronic music. Really low profile, but I can tell you he is one of those people that got touched by god to make this kind of music. I remember that set… it was me, Sabri and Rapha. It was raining but it didn’t matter. This guy is really something special. We were super impressed.

The most fun you’ve ever played a b2b with (top 3)

I have many many of them, mostly with friends. Last Sonar with Rapha we played b2b for 5 hours. We had a really nice flow. We were always talking with each other: “let’s bring it down, let’s go deep, let’s go breaks, I’m going to put this track that is not a massive bomb, but you bring in a bomb track, ok?”

Another amazing one I had was with Nando Zap at one afterparty of Cartulis at The Lion & Lamb and then the other one in my memory is with Davy at Furturepast at Fuse in Brussels.

Another amazing one I had was with Nando Zap at one afterparty of Cartulis at The Lion & Lamb and then the other one in my memory is with Davy at Furturepast at Fuse in Brussels.


 Miss video

If you could pick any dj or act (dead or alive) to play at Cartulis…

Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Cabaret Voltaire, Mr Fingers aka Larry Heard, Drexciya, Autechre… and many, many more.

If you could pick any dj or act (dead or alive) to play at Cartulis…

Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Cabaret Voltaire, Mr Fingers aka Larry Heard, Drexciya, Autechre… and many, many more.

I want to bring all my friends as that is what it’s about. We have really good friends who are talented musicians that come every year to play with us and they’re sick.

You play out music made by which young talent?

I am playing out a lot tracks by a young artist that will go out on Cartulis Music. We have signed him to three EPs. The three records will be quite connected. 12 tracks that we have been playing on dub plate and they are completely out of this world! This artist will be one of the future references of electronic music. He’s insane.

If you could choose any record store to be next door to your house which one would it be?

I cannot really say one as I like to go to different ones, and I like the fact of travelling to them too.

But I would love to have NUT Records from Barcelona. I really like Lyonel and Tunello. They are really good friends and they always come to our parties and support. Lyonel’s selection is sick. The record shop is small which is something that I like. If it’s a big big record store I get a bit anxious because I don’t have enough time to check everything. I really like to get crates of records and listen to everything, to go through different genres… there is so much to be discovered, I feel that music is infinite.

If you could choose any club to play in London which club would it be?

I still have really good memories of Crucifix Lane. It’s the club that gave me the experience to play in front of crowds of 400-500 people. And then Fold now is one of my favourite clubs in the world. It’s the perfect place to express myself.

Cartulis Music at Fold London

A sound that makes you think of a robot?

I have to say I really like robots, and I’m a big fan of Sci-Fi movies, one of my favourite movies ever is Blade Runner, a cyberpunk vision of the future, with replicants (robots) and Rachael that was an experimental Nexus-7.

Since I was a kid I been fascinated with synths and electronic sounds … So sounds like synthesisers, drum machines, they all remind me of robots. I really love the fact of putting your soul in the machine, in the end it is a sound created by the human but through electronic devices that form a robot.

Candem, Curitiba Brazil

One night in hackney is what kind of experience?

Hackney is my home and Hackney has been crazy haha. It’s been one place where I’ve partied all my life since I was a kid when I arrived in London until now. Obviously it is not the same as it was before. London as a city is growing so fast so the art side like music is not really welcomed in a capitalist society. But there have been many parties, afterparties, warehouses, houses, forests, everything, friends and really crazy nights of different situations that won’t ever happen in another place (Hackney Wick especially).

On the label we always put “Made in Hackney” because we want to represent this place. About the craziness, the passion of playing long sets for many hours and days.

What is the story behind 125 Blacksmith?

I always try to put names together from different situations in my life. 125 was a pub where I was working in Stoke Newington and Blacksmith is another pub I was working close to Angel. At that moment I was trying to play more, but obviously living in London I had to pay the bills and I was doing like 30-40 hours/week and my boss, he was really supportive whenever I had a gig so I put that name as a thank you to him.

Your translation of la canoa?

It’s just another joke haha. I was with Yuki Masda and we were at my house listening to some downtempo and it felt like we were on a canoe. So when I made this track and sent it to him I called it la canoa. 

Someone who you can have a deep conversation with

My biggest inspiration in life: my father. My father is the one who pushed me to do what I am doing today. He told me that life is about doing what you love and money is something that comes and go – it is not something that will fulfil me. He is a deep person for me and my biggest inspiration in life.

Someone you can’t live without

My family, my girlfriend, my friends. The people I have around me, the motors of my life. We need to take care of them because it’s really important to have them around you. We need to support and take care of each other, to grow up together.

The key to a perfect mix…….

The art of djing for me is about putting the correct sound in a particular space, time and situation. Obviously something that is really important (but not the most important) is the technique which keeps the flow going. The music selection is more about the situation where you are, whether you are in a club or in an open air…night and day, the moon and the sun. For me the perfect mix is when you tell a whole story. When you connect different types of tracks and get a flow going and when you drive the crowd into a trip.



Cover image from Resolute NY

Edited by Kaajal Shah

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