Podcast 612: Unai Trotti

Deep, intergalactic rhythms from the Cartulis head.

With nearly 10 years at the helm of Cartulis, one of London’s most popular underground electronic music events, Unai Trotti has made a name for himself across the UK capital. The Spanish DJ, born in Bilbao but raised in Madrid, launched the series in October 2009, just a year after relocating to the UK in search of work as a sound technician. With a penchant for DJing growing, he wished to give himself a platform to play records and also rediscover London’s warehouse party spirit, which he’d heard so much about. In his early 20s, and with a friend’s birthday on the horizon, there was no excuse not to. “We threw a party just to play records,” he says, “and that was really it.”

Trotti’s love for electronic music began early, much in thanks to a small record store in Móstoles, a small town in Madrid. With the store-owner forced to close, he gifted the turntables to Trotti, who, aged just 13, gleefully took them home and taught himself to mix. He began playing small private parties with friends, pushing what he deems a “hard techno” sound.

The London scene proved a catalyst in Trotti’s artistic growth. Outside of partying, where events like Lokee, Toi Toi, and Fabric exposed him to a vast array of labels and artists, he spent his time waiting tables at Café1001, where where he met Gabby Lopez & KID AM, who invited him to join Brickbeat, a collective of DJs, VJs, and free-thinkers recognized for bringing new talented artists and famous international guests to its parties.

Recognizing Trotti’s enthusiasm and taste for new music, they invited him to play some events at Café1001, and this proved integral in shaping his sound and technical abilities. Word quickly spread of Trotti’s burgeoning abilities, and he was being invited to London’s most prestigious venues, recognized as one of the city’s up-and-coming tastemakers. In line with this, his tours through Europe, North America, and South America, where his intergalactic rhythms have pricked the ears of the likes of Nicolas Lutz and DJ Koolt, are being increasingly frequent.

Cartulis’ growth has followed a similar trajectory, transforming from a one-off event into a much-loved party series that has booked some of the finest DJs in minimal house and techno; you don’t get to book Zip and Baby Ford unless you’re doing something right. With the 10-year anniversary just around the corner, with Koolt, Z@p, Laurine, and more on the bill, Trotti offered to compile a mix for the XLR8R podcast series—a taste of the records he’s playing now, his latest productions, and a glimpse into the bag that he keeps stored away for mixes such as this.

As with all Trotti’s sets, his XLR8R podcast is dynamic, groovy, and deep, compiled with records that you are, quite frankly, unlikely to hear again; it really is a sound like no other. It begins slowly, with some low-key dub rhythms, but the intensity picks up around the 20-minute mark, before dropping off and rising again. Place it next to the Nicolas Lutz and Melina Serser mixes for XLR8R; and, like those, it’s likely to be one that you come back to again and again.

What have you been up to recently?

Making music, looking for music, working on the label, and organizing Cartulis’ 10-year anniversary for this November.

Talk to me about your journey into music. How did you become a touring DJ?

I’m not sure how it happened. People tell me that finally, I’ve gotten what I deserve after many years of hard work, but I’ve never felt like it’s been hard or a job; I am doing this because I need it in my life. It’s my passion and it comes naturally to me. I love spending all day at the studio making music, and reaching the point where you have lost the sense of time and space; when you’re in this creative music trance. This is what people need to find in life, especially creative people. To become a touring DJ, money is something secondary.

You find some really obscure records. How do you go about record shopping?

Record shops, private collections, and mainly the internet, especially Discogs and Juno for the new stuff. I also share music with friends, if I am digging and I find a track that for example is Raphael Carrau sound, I send it to him, and he does the same to me. I love to share music with my friends.

When and where was this mix recorded?

I recorded it at my house in Hackney, London, on Sunday, August 25.

How did you select the tracks that you included?

I had some records on the side for a podcast, some records that I love, some Cartulis new releases, and one track that I have recently produced.

Is there a wider concept to it?

I just went with the flow. This mix is different because I usually get the records I want in the mix, and then I try to find an order. This time I said ok, let’s record it just in case, so I started to record it, and the structure is different and actually weird. I go from down to up, back down, and then up again. At the end of the mix, I open my record bag to the stuff I’m playing these days. I listened to it, and I liked it!

How does it compare to one of your club mixes?

With club mixing, you have a crowd in front of you, and that completely changes everything. You need to play for that situation and analyze what is in front of you. From a personal point of view, I play podcasts at home or with headphones when traveling, maybe before a night out or in an after-party at home. I personally think that this mix is cool before going out.

What’s next looking forward?

To keep growing up as an artist, and more importantly as a human, and, of course, to be surrounded by the people I love. And there’s also the Cartulis 10-year anniversary!

You can download the podcast here.