UNKWN: A Masterclass In Musical Versatility

The year is 2014. A younger Phillip Chang and producing partner Jon Ney enter a Beatport remix competition and end up as winners. The love from the audience is immense, praising their creativity and production skills. They go on and win it again. “The last person to do that was Zedd” one reviewer writes. They go on to score another Beatport Top 10, hit the iTunes Dance USA Top 10 and release with acclaimed labels including Spinnin’ Records, Sony, and Armada. Their major DJ support reads like an Ultra Main-Stage flyer: The Chainsmokers, Hardwell, Tiesto, Major Lazer, Dimitri Vegas, Gareth Emery… Their staggering fanbase propelled them to an EDM.com #1, over 10 million cumulative plays on Soundcloud, over 115K followers on Facebook, and a merchandise launch which sold-out in a day.

The YouTube numbers on some of Chang & Ney‘s releases are staggering: 48 million, 9 million, 4.7 million… They’ve beat the one-hit-wonder allegations, if ever there were any, and continued displaying their skills both as producers as well as performers.

Those are the formative years of today’s Phillip Chang who now goes by UNKWN – a name the producer community loves and praises. From starting one of the most acclaimed sample libraries “UNKWN Sounds” to producing multiple records for Russ, Tyler, the Creator, The Game, Nipsey Hussle, Jeezy, G Herbo, Joyner Lucas, Dave East, French Montana, Zedd, The Chainsmokers, Diplo, Veigh, Bow Wow, Desiigner, Connor Price, Spotemgottem, DJ Drama… It’s a crazy extensive list.

With 700.000+ monthly listeners on Spotify, a roster of 80+ producers on UNKWN Sounds and a consistent output of exclusive releases, UNKWN has proven time and time again that he has a plan and knows exactly how to execute it.

Our short interview takes us through the past, the present, the technical, the creative, highlighting the amazing work and consistency across various ventures from the man known as UNKWN, an instrumental persona in building the sample-making community of today.

1. Your career has been super interesting and diverse, you’ve found success in practically everything you’ve done so far which is super inspiring for every producer and musician pondering about longevity and diversifying their skill sets. How and why did you expand from DJ-ing and producing EDM to being a Hip-Hop powerhouse that started one of the most notable modern sample libraries – UNKWN Sounds?

2. With the output and influence you’ve achieved, not to mention constantly trending on WAVS with every release, there must be something in your creative process and overall mindset that influences your consistency. Are there any notable tips or parts of your process and mindset that you can point out as super integral to what you’ve done so far and continue doing? 

3. What inspired you to start UNKWN Music Library, and what were some of the initial challenges you faced in establishing it?

4. How has UNKWN Music Library impacted the producer community and the broader music industry? Could you share any notable successes or milestones achieved with the library?

5. What are some of your favorite plug-ins or pieces of equipment AND what is a plug-in (or pack, or tool) that you feel can up a producer’s game instantly?

6. What’s UNKWN’s go-to plug-in or chain for processing drums and crafting a great beat? You’re well known for having both your drum game and sample game on point so it’d be good if you could share some tips that may be of value to producers focused on drums and samples.

7. And finally, what’s next in store for yourself and UNKWN Music Library?

My next focus is on getting the producers releasing under the label placements. I aim to begin A&Ring samples to my network with the ultimate goal of connecting them with top-tier producers while ensuring they have everything sorted out correctly, from publishing to split agreements and beyond.

In the ever-evolving landscape of music production, UNKWN continues to inspire and innovate, shaping the industry with his creativity, expertise, and unwavering commitment to supporting emerging talent. As he paves the way for a new generation of producers through UNKWN Music Library, his legacy as a visionary and trailblazer remains unparalleled.

sample unkwn’s catalog here.