When Eduardo Urbaez was 14 years old, his mother remarried. The Venezuelan-born teenager had been living in Miami for most of his life, but his mother’s new marriage forced him to move to Spain. In this foreign country, he wished desperately to fit in and assimilate into the local culture. He needed entertainment, stimulation. He found it in electronic music.
Europe offered Urbaez an intimate look into the world of house music, a culture he had not seen in the U.S. He versed himself in the music of Ti?sto and other premier European producers. One day, a Spanish friend introduced him to a music software that allowed samples to be stacked on top of one another.
“It was pretty cool,” recalls Urbaez. His passion for electronic music production was ignited, and he began experimenting with rudimentary electronic beats. Urbaez was drawn to the uniqueness of the sounds – sounds he believed could not be created with physical instruments. “How do you make these sounds”? he wondered. “A guitar cannot make these sounds. A piano cannot make these sounds. So how are you making it? That’s what got me into it.”
Just as Urbaez found himself conforming to the Spanish EDM scene, he and his family moved back to Florida. In Miami, he was introduced to a famous Brazilian DJ, who suggested he take production classes at an institute in Miami. Enamored by the prospect of creating his own music, Urbaez enrolled. Four months later, at the age of 15, he had finished the course. He immediately began DJing house parties for people his age and nearly twice his senior. When he realized such concerts would only take him so far, he organized and played his own weekend music festival.
Suddenly, people were intrigued. People started calling, offering him gig after gig. Urbaez watched with enthusiasm as his fan base swelled. Fast forward to 20 years old and Urbaez is enrolled at the University of Wisconsin Urbaez – who releases music under the name SoundKill3r – has amassed more than 13,000 fans on Facebook. He has played the Orpheum and Segredo on multiple occasions. For every concert, he dons a unique skeleton mask and jumps energetically to his beats.
“I want Soundkill3r to be an icon,” Urbaez explains. “For electronic music, for partying, it’s basically just a way for me to have fun. I could say I want to change the world, but I just want to have fun doing what I love – and make other people have fun with me.”
Urbaez expresses his love for electronic music with the utmost enthusiasm. He describes trance music concerts with the uninhibited vigor a child might project when explaining a trip to Disneyland, rattling off fragmented descriptions of the concerts’ awesomeness.
“For me, the best concerts have been at the beach, 6 p.m., when the sun is about to set. It’s time to party. When the sun sets, everybody’s raising their hands, trying to reach the sky; it’s a really powerful feeling,” he said. “The DJ’s enjoying everyone as well. The DJ is worried about his music and stuff, but they also have time to enjoy the audience – leave the beat going for ten seconds, lift your hands and watch the crowd.”
When Urbaez moved to Madison, he wanted to share this enthusiasm for electronic music production with the UW campus. Naturally, he formed the Electronic Music Production organization. Because Urbaez had to pay money to learn how to make music, he wanted to create a free service available to anyone interested in creating electronic music, regardless of previous knowledge or skills. The group meets weekly, working with Abelton and Reason softwares. Urbaez instructs members on how to create electronic music of all sorts – be it dance, rap or jazz. What Urbaez has done is organize a community of EDM devotees, each member learning from one another. “Sometimes they ask questions that I don’t know how to answer. It forces me to push myself, and I learn from it,” admits Urbaez, who has been creating music for five years now.
“There’s always a divide between the artists, and those who want to be an artist, but have some sort of problem,” Urbaez muses. “Thanks to the Internet and a computer, you don’t need anything else.”
Urbaez fully believes in this democratic nature of electronic music. Although it is derided by many as “too easy” and not exemplary of “true art,” electronic music, Urbaez explains, is very much an art.
“Art is basically a form of expression, but something that is organized. Even if you’re throwing paint at a canvas, it is organized already because it has a space and you’re just throwing it into that space. Same thing with electronic music: Even if you’re not a good artist and you’re just slamming the keys on a keyboard, you’re still putting dedication into it and trying to make it organized.” Urbaez’s organization on campus works to foster and expand upon this philosophy. With electronic music, “It’s the music, the ambience,” he explains. “You forget about your problems and it’s just the party.”
In addition to performing regularly as SoundKill3r and running the Electronic Music Production organization, Urbaez teaches free Abelton music production courses through the DoIT department’s STS (Software Training for Students). Urbaez couldn’t be happier with where his life has taken him.
“Things have been fun so far. I don’t regret anything.”