It’s an extension of myself and my music,” says DJ, producer and sound designer Ummet Ozcan of his brand new home studio. “It’s everything I’ve dreamed of for the last 15 years – I can’t quite believe that it’s here.”
From the age of 14, when his instinctive skill with the flute and keyboard revealed the first signs of emerging musical talent, Ozcan has been creating and recording his own music.
His first single, ‘Chica Good’, arrived in 2006 but it was 2011’s ‘Reboot’, swiftly followed by 2012’s ‘The Box’ that cemented his reputation as a genre-defying artist with a knack for topping the charts. In the years since, he has produced not only a string of hit singles but also collaborations with peers including Paul Van Dyk and Tiesto, while continuing to push his own limits with the development of soft-synths and soundbanks.
Most of that work was produced in less than ideal environments. “The first space I worked in… I’m not sure I could call it a studio,” he says. “It was in my parent’s home, in the attic. I just had two speakers in there – actually just two hi-fi speakers. Then I moved to an apartment and I had a room – I put some acoustic treatment on the walls, some bass traps, and just two monitors and a sub. I made my music in there for years but when my friends came to visit I’d tell them to stand in the corner because that’s where they could hear the bass properly. If you took one step to the side then the sound changed completely.”
In contrast, his new studio is a revelation both sonically and aesthetically. Designed by revered studio designer Jan Morel – once known as the designer who preferred to work in white – Ozcan’s room is a blazing celebration of neon, seamlessly shifting between colour schemes to suit the mood of the artist. Sculpted acoustic panels from Artnovion adorn the walls while Morel has even recreated Ozcan’s logo on the ceiling. “When you close the door, you’re in a different world,” says Ozcan. “It’s amazing.”
“I have a dream board, I put pictures on it to represent the goals I want to achieve,” he continues. “I found it again when I was moving into this house and there is a small picture of one of Jan’s studios! I had completely forgotten that I had pinned this on the board but there it was. And now we’re here, it’s manifested in my life. This room reflects my energy.”
At the centre of the studio is Genelec’s smart active monitoring (SAM) system. Two 1234A are installed as main monitors, accompanied by a 7382A subwoofer, equipped with three 15-inch high-performance woofers. Adding symmetry, what appears to be a second 7382A is, in fact, a customised bass trap designed around a Genelec grille. In addition, two 8351B acoustically coaxial monitors from The Ones range are installed on Ozcan’s desk for near-field listening. The DJ describes the sound as “mind blowing”.
This is Ozcan’s first experience with Genelec, though he was quickly convinced by the recommendation of a friend. “Jan introduced me to Genelec, but I knew he had also previously used them in Hardwell’s studio, so I texted Hardwell and asked him what the speakers are like,” he explains. “He texted back, all in caps, THEY ARE AMAZING!”
Crucially, Morel was given the creative freedom to build the studio as he saw fit. “When we started the creative process there was no house, just some drawings,” the designer recalls. “It’s very important to have a lot of freedom on a project like this. If there’s too much interference, all of the positive energy disappears and it just becomes a job. But Ummet explained all of his wishes and I translated them into this room. I was able to spend long evenings here just with one panel. I didn’t need to hurry. There was the creative space to make something beautiful.”
Toward the conclusion of the project, Morel and Ozcan shared the process of calibrating the Genelec system for the room. That work began with GLM (Genelec Loudspeaker Manager) software then was completed by ear. “We went very deep into the process,” says Morel. Yet ultimately, little tuning was required.“You don’t have to do much,” explains Ozcan, “with almost no tweaking it sounds fantastic. You feel it in your chest and it gives you goosebumps because you can hear everything. I can hear things I’ve never heard before!”
While Morel acknowledges that it can be hard to walk away from a project such as Oz Studios, as the room is now known, he is nevertheless thrilled to introduce it as one of his proudest achievements. “This is in the top three studios that I’ve created,” he declares. “Certainly for the design, this is number one.”
For Ozcan, meanwhile, there are those mornings to look forward to. “I’ve been in this house for a matter of weeks and every day when I wake up and come down here to the studio I’m like, oh my God… this is what I worked for.”