Sep 11, 2017
Oliver Heldens In Full Force
As his massive summer winds down, we caught up with Oliver Heldens before he headlined mega club Echostage in Washington, D.C. It was a special night as his self proclaimed two biggest role models, Chocolate Puma, were warming up for him, while friends Ephwurd were closing down the party after him. There was a special vibe built from Oliver and his crew assembled and it gave us a great chance to discuss his growing relationship with those duos as well as what his ADE party will entail. Read on and you’ll also find a look at the strong influence techno has had on Oliver and many of his latest tracks, including his ALOK collaboration “Alien Technology” and some unreleased HI-LO material.
What brought you and ALOK together to work on “Alien Technology” and what was that experience like?
I remember when I first heard ALOK’s stuff – it was kind of different, but also really old school electro. It’s not really the stuff that I play live necessarily, but we really wanted to work on something together as he was also a big fan of mine. He came to Amsterdam to visit me and to be honest, we had a pretty tough day in the studio together. It was hard to find the right balance, but then he showed me a project that he was working on with this really cool vocoder sound synth. I used that as a jump off point for the break and then we did the drop in the HI-LO style. It was really inspired by the Drumcode sound actually. Specifically artists like Enrico Sangiuliano and Dense & Pika, I love their stuff. “Alien Technology” has that HI-LO heaviness, but is also kind of progressive and it’s working great in my sets!
The response to your edit of Aevion’s “The Journey” has been massive! What made you decide to work on that track and how do you feel you’ve taken it to the next level?
Aevion is a really talented guy from the UK who I’ve been following for a few years now. He sent me a track, actually my favorite track he’s ever done, but the production was not that tight yet. I basically asked him for the stems, muted the kick and bassline, added my own of each and some extra layers and that was it. The track has so much impact when it drops, I’m super happy that I did it. If we would have just released the original version, it still would have been an amazing track sure, but I was really happy to do something with a young talent who really inspired me.
Tonight’s a special night as the lineup features two sets of artists that you’ve grown close with. Can you tell us a little more about your relationship with Chocolate Puma and Ephwurd?
Well if you would ask me who are my biggest role models, it would have to be Chocolate Puma. When I was 12 and I first really got into house music, I was listening to a lot of mix compilations and mixtapes. When I started DJing two years later, I would always go back to these mixes to find tracks for my sets. For some reason, every time I went back I would find so many Chocolate Puma tracks that I loved. I played kind of like commercial house parties, before the big guys, so I would want to play more of like the Sneakerz house sound, and tracks from Fedde Le Grand and Chocolate Puma. I would mix my sets up with some tech house, some tribal house, and that’s kind of how I got to know music. Chocolate Puma are just a really great crossover between the underground and mainstage.
Ephwurd, they’re quite new still, but they’ve done a great job in the bass house world. We know Datsik of course from dubstep, but what a good move this has been for him and Bais. I met Datsik before Ephwurd even started and he was telling me about the new project and showing me some of the music. I wasn’t 100% convinced yet, because it was just two remixes that were good, but not great. From there though, everything has grown, Troy would keep sending me stuff, then “Rock The Party” came out, and now we’re here!
Fun fact: they sent their track “Gud Vibrations” to me first, but I was too late with replying so Tiësto signed it to Musical Freedom. I love that track, certainly going to play it tonight!
We wanted to explore the Chocolate Puma connection a little deeper. René and Gaston are celebrating 25 years together this year and during their ADE event you will be appearing as HI-LO, so can you tell us what that means to you?
It’s an honor. For me they are legends. As I said before they’re my biggest example and I love working with them. Especially with the HI-LO brand, it works really well when we play parties together. This summer we actually did a surprise b2b at Sziget Festival in Hungary. There was a lot of overlap in our crowds, you could see our merchandise during both of our sets, and we ended up doing a b2b for a half an hour and it was really, really fun. We’re really on the same level music wise.
Looking into your sets right now, how would you describe the direction that they’re headed?
Music wise my sets are going more clubby. More bassline driven. I’ve been really inspired by the progressive techno sound, but at the same time I still love disco throwbacks and my roots are really electro, tech house, and house based. Set wise you can expect a proper mix of club music.
What have been three tracks that really work in the clubs?
Definitely a highlight in my sets now is “Alien Technology.” The breaks are progressive, and it’s kind of empty, but the drops are heavy. Reminds me a lot of when I released my track “This” with Sander van Doorn. It’s hard to describe…it does such a weird thing live that works so well. It’s the right crossover between techno, bass house, electro, whatever you want to call it.
There’s also this track “Let It Ring” by a French guy, Damien N-Drix, which is just crazy! We’re actually working on something together at the moment. It has this phone interference noise that he uses as a rhythm for the main sound and it has a sick bassline.
And a really inspiring track for me is Enrico Sangiuliano – “Ghettoblaster.” It is really mind blowing, kind of like “This” with Sander van Doorn, but more techno.
Are there any new tracks of yours that you could tell us about?
I have a new HI-LO track coming called “Man On Mars,” and I feel like it could be a turning point for HI-LO. Actually three days ago I sent it out to a few DJs as a VIP promo and it’s insane. Fatboy Slim is picking it up, Kaskade, Don Diablo, Fedde Le Grand, Sander van Doorn, a really diverse crowd. There’s going to be a lot of hype building around it.
For your Heldeep ADE party, we hear that you’ve got something extra special planned…
It’s going to be a really crazy party. I was really inspired by my China tour where we did ten shows in nine days and nine of those shows were clubs. Cities like Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing, the clubs were all insane. The promoters would check my music videos and incorporate things that they saw into the venues. I remember this one club had a really high roof and at some point during my set I saw a guy in a bunny suit flying through the venue – it was crazy! Overall, they just did the craziest shit. I was really inspired and I’ve decided to bring some of that inspiration to life. During my ADE night there will be well organized chaos, in a good way!
Hearing you talk about it, the atmosphere sort of reminds us of an Elrow party. Do you think the vibe will be similar?
Actually yeah kind of like that, but more in my style! The lineup is also really exciting, I’m going to have Chocolate Puma, Gorgon City and Nora en Pure, and I’m really happy with those last two as they represent something a little bit different.
Oliver Heldens presents Heldeep goes down Wednesday, October 18 during ADE at Paradiso. You can get your tickets here: http://bit.ly/
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