The second edition of Tough Box has just dropped at Beatport and across all major streaming platforms. This time round compiled by label artist UKE. We thought it was about time we caught up UKE and had a few words about the project.. and quite a bit more…

01: Who is UKE?

“UKE” is an artist name for me-Patrick Kelly!-An Irish music producer!-The name comes from the martial art that i train in (kenpo karate), it refers to the person who you train with and translates to “receive”.
I love the history behind the martial arts and wanted to include it within the name-incidentally:the first release “five swords”‘ that was signed to toolbox is also a reference within American Kenpo.

02: You’ve been part of the furniture at Toolbox HQ now for over a year and in that time have an impressive back catalogue on Toolbox House and now releases on BOXT.  How did the relationship with Toolbox start and what are you highlights from your time on working on the labels. 

The relationship started through Manchester based producer “Ben Stevens”. I was traveling over and back to Manchester for a while for studio time with Ben.
We worked on a 128 bpm track and got it sounding pretty good. I returned back to Ireland and continued to gather parts for the next project, when Ben contacted me to say that he played the track for Nik Denton. The track was “Five Swords”, and from then on a relationship was formed with Toolbox House. My commitment to myself back then was to continue the relationship and continue making music that might fit with the label. I will always be grateful to Ben for what I learned with him, and also for creating that opportunity, as we wouldn’t be speaking if it wasn’t for him! Highlights so far? That first e-mail confirming my first release with Toolbox House!… And also October of this year, I had back to back releases on both labels!

03: You’ve just mixed Tough Box, your first digital album/compilation for Toolbox.  Did it feel like the pressure was on to deliver the goods when asked to do the album?

Patrick Kelly (UKE)

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do pressure! I just took it as a challenge, it was something different and when i heard i was doing it-i was already planning what was going to happen. I was given lots of time to prep the project-and I didn’t want to just digitally mix 16 tracks back to back. So I knew where I was going with the project from the get go!

04: Tough Box is a project that celebrates the very foundations that Toolbox House was built on, tough house grooves.   When working on a project like Tough Box, how do you approach getting it right?

I took all the tracks available for the project-and listened to them separately. I then made a decision on where each one should be in the mix (early, mid, late). Then they were all brought into Ableton to be timed/Quantized-as each track was then edited within the mix.Sections were switched and parts were looped, so that they would fit a bit neater than just mixing them into each other. Every track was edited in some way.  The mix starts with a 125bpm house track and ends with a 130bpm techno inspired track-that was important, as when I played vinyl sets back in the day-that’s how i used to do it! I got a layout that i was pretty happy with-then i had a few weeks of bouncing to audio to check if everything was sitting nicely. In the end I switched out some tracks for others-just because i felt it was the right thing to do. Overall I’m happy with how it turned out-its perked my interest in mixing again

05: Several of your own productions appear on Tough Box.  Was it important for you to stamp your sound on the album/compilation?

Not really! I’m not that kind of person, that I would want to spam a mix with all my tracks, I actually left off a couple of my own tracks-as they just didn’t fit. It just so happens that the music I produce is pretty high on energy levels-so my music fitted the theme of the mix. It was a label project rather than “my” project. Every track that was added had a genuine reason to be there. Doing this mix gave me a new respect for the people behind the tracks. I might have glossed over some of the tracks originally because they weren’t banging enough, but when you spend hours picking someone’s track apart to add to a mix, it makes you realise the work gone into that track.

Tough Box Volume 2 – UKE

06: 2020 has been a bit yuk!  So make us feel better about what UKE has coming up in 2021!

Fuck knows what going to happen next year-its just been ridiculous lately!Im certainly gonna make more music! More “musical” music ! Tech house is flooded with releases that are technically brilliant, but musically stale. I like my music to have some sort of emotion attached. So, my goal going forward is to concentrate on the musical elements just as much as the technical aspect. I also promise to become a social media whore, something which I avoided for so long-but seems like its inevitable.

07: You’ve just released your new single “Yarima” on BOXT.   Such a great track.  Where does the inspiration come from when working on techno?

Thanks-I actually like that one myself! I’m a huge fan of 90’s progressive house – Nick Warren, Digweed, Sasha.. music with big atmospheric breakdowns and killer hooks. It’s a lost art now, so I’m glad I got to experience it in the moment. So there were elements from that style and the reference track came from “Mojado”- who are a techno/trance duo from 10 years ago. I also go through old techno on vinyl to get ideas, and then look at new techno to get technical inspiration.
My take on techno will never be purist – there are plenty of people who do that style brilliantly. Its more a crossover style that has club influences. Club tracks with techno elements. Thats where I’m at the minute!

08: Finish the sentence: Times like these people want to….

To quote floorshow;.. times like these people wanna get real high real fast ! In other words, people just want to escape the bullshit of daily life! And music is a huge escape for me and millions of other people. I think its just human nature to find a way to escape or divert our attention towards things or activities that give us pleasure. I stopped weekly clubbing a long time ago when I kicked the drugs, but i do sympathise with the whole current situation around club closures. It doesn’t have a direct affect on my daily life, but the reality is our music isn’t making its full journey to the club sound systems.

09: Confederales or R.A.V.E?

For me it has to be R.A.V.E! The track is a bit over the top – but that’s what I wanted. It’s what I would like to hear in a dark sweaty club at 4am in the morning.

R.A.V.E on BOXT (Toolbox House techno sub-label)

10: Finally, tell us something we don’t know about UKE that we might want or need to know?

I DJ’d a lot on pirate radio stations in Dublin although the 90’s – a unique experience that will never happen again. Mixing vinyl while the communication authorities are banging on the studio door really sharpens up your beat-matching!

Finally huge thanks to Nik Denton and the Toolbox artists-it has been a great experience so far!