Umru: A Master Of Curation, and Why His Take On “movinglikeazombie” is More Than Just a Remix

As we currently stand today, we have laid witness to what can only be described as pop music’s gradual progression into its most unfounded era yet — an era that has been defined by attitudes and approaches that are just as transfixed with facets of the past as they are with nuanced and forward-thinking attitudes. This surge towards a brand new future has come to fruition due in large part to that very dichotomy as it is, but more so because of the talent that its earliest progenitors showcased while defining those aspects.

These now-solidified pop ideals have been and still are in the hands of a variety of camps across the grander music landscape, as this development has resulted in such acts as Dorian Electra, 100 Gecs, and the all-encompassing force of PC Music being the most shining examples of the succeeding sound of mainstream music to come moving towards the future.

But with such a blatantly progressive nature infused in this new era’s overall methodology, it is extremely easy to see why developing scenes under this far more widely known cast of influence are springing up so quickly. And perhaps even more impressive is how this near-entirely teenage-based scene is coming to carve their own niche into this free-forming pop world, practically creating yet another purveying force that will soon find its way into the mainstream world in its own right.

This scene’s honest, upfront, and ever-diverse place within the greater music world is unignorable at this point — which is exactly why PC Music’s own Umru has now placed himself at the most vivid intersection between these two adjacent pop standpoints. Capitalizing off of one of the latter scene’s most iconic singles to be released thus far, his remix of “movinglikeazombie” by rising superstar ericdoa’s alter-ego Dante Red has a symbolic weight to it that extends so far beyond being an entertaining and perfectly executed remix by itself. Rather, it may very well be one of the most landmark moments that either of these respective scenes have come through with to this day.

From a strictly musical perspective, the track sees Umru doing what he does best in such an emphatic manner — transforming what was originally a barebones, yet supremely infectious instrumental from Odece and Karasu into an absolute odyssey of a track that brings with it an ocean of differing instruments and corresponding passages, a cinematic and purposefully momentous demeanor, and above all else, a seamless collaborative spirit that aligns its 9 respective contributing verses with all the grace in the world.

The essence of that all-around collaborative nature is exactly what drives the remix’s inherent meaning home more than any of its baseline musical aspects ever could by themselves. The presence of prominent figures from the previous and still-influential era of pop like Lewis Grant, Tony Velour, and of course Umru himself standing in the same collective setting as the genre’s youngest and most current set of talents like SEBii, Angelus, Kmoe, Savepoint, Emotegi, d0llywood1, and 4kmirage is one of the most important single moments to happen to the genre from the widest spectacle possible. It truly represents something of a catalyst for the sound of popular music to burst even quicker than it already has into these new avenues.

And it could not have been done without someone as efficacious and prolific as Umru leading the way as a curator for all of this to come together. What began as a simple remix of a silly, yet richly appealing 2-minute single from a fictional character soon turned into a statement piece for the future of pop music in its entirety, and it could not have happened in a more organic and natural way if the mastermind behind it all was not there to take advantage.

LL: Describe what led up to the moment where you decided to take up remixing the song.

I noticed someone talking about the acapella after (ericdoa) uploaded it, and I knew I had to remix it because it’s just such a good song. But I was working on my set for PC Music’s Halloween show, and when I saw the acapella I knew the “zombie” theme would be perfect for the show. I started getting features for it when I asked SEBii to get on, because the only people I’ve done sessions with in person this year were him and Eric. After that I just started thinking about more people to get on before my set was due for the show. 

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LL: Musically speaking, you were able to take such a simple-sounding track and turn it into such a thematic and involved experience. What was the process like from a purely production standpoint?

I really started out from the intro to the song and just moved from there. Like I knew the intro had to be this atmospheric and epic version of the song with the original acapella, and I never even thought at first to even have any drums at all after. But then I just started working on it more and it started to come together. The original instrumental is so different obviously, but it’s honestly just super good on its own, so I was kinda worried when asking people to feature on it that they would just prefer the original one instead of mine. But I think it worked out because people seem to take the new version as really different and refreshing. 

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LL: What was it like being the main curator in all of this and playing such an important role in bringing all of these people together from different parts of the pop world?

It helps that the original is just a really good song on its own, so everyone on the track obviously knew it pretty well. But people like Lewis Grant definitely don’t talk to a lot of the people on the song for the most part, and the only reason I was even talking to Tony Velour about it was because he had literally just met Eric at the time and it just worked out that way. I never planned out a specific number of people to be on the song, and there were even a few people that I asked that just didn’t have time to do a verse. But for the people that did end up getting on, everything just worked out so perfectly. Like I reached out to Kmoe after hearing his own remix at Lavapalooza, and he point me onto Savepoint’s remix which was also so amazing too. 

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LL: Beyond getting those two and others for this remix alone, have you seen yourself being influenced by this rising scene in your own work?

Yeah definitely, I’ve really just been listening to a ton of it recently. I’ve been trying to get in with them and work with a lot of people when I can, but I’m not trying to force anything. I wouldn’t say that I’m trying to make music in the same style as them, but I’ve just been sending them the stuff I make to see if their into it. Sometimes I feel like an outsider to some of the younger artists, but I love making music with them because they’re all so good at what they do.  It’s crazy when stuff like this happens though, like how Dolly is just on the Dorian Electra album because they really just love her stuff. 

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LL: Does bringing all of these people together and making such a momentous track speak to anything specific about your own artistry and the way you work?

I honestly feel like this remix is a lot different compared to how I usually work. Normally I overthink things way too much and spend a lot more time than I should on all my stuff, so making this song so quickly and also dropping it right away was honestly so fun to do. I feel like if people didn’t know about it and they weren’t so excited, I might’ve waited like a month and worked on it so much more than I ended up doing. And I don’t know if it would’ve been the same if I had done that. I just had as much fun with it as I could, especially with a song like this because of how much I just love the original.