By Jacob Katel
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When quizzed as to why he became a DJ, a perplexed Gimeno concedes, "I have no idea! I have to admit I was always the kind of guy who would go to a friend's party and take over the sound system. I would get hypnotized by the sounds, and doing it on a bigger scale on a huge system was very appealing. And having someone pay me to do it was the craziest part. To this day it's still a weird thing for somebody to pay somebody to play records."
And play records he did -- all over town. Beginning as a host for college radio station WVUM-FM's (90.5) The Underground, he moved on to spin at clubs such as KGB, Groove Jet, and Liquid. He also cofounded and participated in theme nights like Interstella at Lincoln Road's Third Rail (where Score now sits), and Top Secret Lounge and Jet Set at the former 821 with DJ Shannon. When the WOMB was still a pirate station broadcasting illegally, he hit the airwaves with the Ursula 1000 Show.
With a name like Ursula 1000, Gimeno had many fooled. People expected to see a female DJ in the booth, but soon much of Miami found out what Austin Powers mistakenly claimed about his boss Basil Exposition's mother in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery: "She's a man, man!" A fan of the actress Ursula Andress, Gimeno adopted part of her name, thinking it very futuristic sounding. ("There's something about the r's and the s's; it just rolls of the tongue nicely," he says.) Then he began pondering products that had numbers in their name, like Botany 500 clothing for men and Alberto VO5 hair products. "I originally thought of Ursula 500, but it sounded too much like an auto race," he says dryly. "Then I thought Ursula 1000 had a neat product kind of ring. A lot of people have asked me if I'm going to change it at the end of the year, but I never even considered it. I think the 2000 would date me in a weird sort of way."
Futuristic moniker aside, Gimeno and machines are not always the coziest of pairs. He admits to feeling some trepidation when he first experimented with the sampler. "I had a little techno fear," he says. "I've never been very good at manuals, so getting into the whole sampler thing, that whole aspect of making music with machines, was intimidating. But once I got the whole hang of it I couldn't stop!" The cutting and pasting of one song escalated and soon Gimeno had a finished demo on his hands, but nowhere to grow musically in Miami. He began to feel stagnant and believed a move to New York or San Francisco was the solution. He chose New York. "Had I stayed here any longer, I wouldn't have finished this record," he says. "It was time to make that move. I would have regretted it if I wouldn't have done it. I figured if nothing happened I could always go back to Miami. Coming here that first week, though, was crazy; the amount of people I met was incredible. All these people that I had dreamed about meeting. There was no need to send all these crazy packages to labels and then never get any contact. Here I met the actual label owners or artists."
Ironically the record company that signed Ursula 1000 was one of those to whom Gimeno sent a package while he was still living in Miami. Eighteenth Street Lounge co-owner Rob Garza recalls receiving a CD-ROM in the mail from Gimeno. "We really liked it, so we called him right away and asked if he was working on anything else," Garza remembers. "In the next day or so we called him again and told him we'd like to sign him to our label. The whole thing took place in about a week, which was very quick."
Locked in ultimately unsuccessful negotiations with Palm Pictures, Eighteenth Street Lounge Music delayed signing Ursula 1000 and getting a record out for nearly a year. In the interim Gimeno pressed 50 copies of his album and took them to Other Music, one of New York City's central stops for record-hungry hipsters. They sold out in a weekend's time. As Gimeno wondered if he should establish his own label, the supremely confident Eighteenth Street duo came calling again and a deal was sealed. "We always had a good relationship with Alex. I don't think that [losing him] was something we were scared about," Garza says. "He's someone that we really wanted to work with, and we thought that he'd really have a place here at the label. His music represents what the label is all about."
What Ursula 1000's music is all about, despite its smorgasbord of sounds is, unwittingly on Gimeno's part, a Latin beat. "People have said that you can tell I'm from Miami because you can hear the whole Latin influence, and I say 'Really? Okay. I guess it's there.' I honestly didn't consciously do that," he explains. "It's funny because my parents are Latin but they're from Spain, so I never had a kind of mambo or salsa background, but somehow that Latin percussion vibe came across on the record on a lot of tracks. It definitely comes from being a drummer, from liking rhythm and drums."