April 17 2015
Oliver Heldens is living every young music producers life-long dream (including yours). After signing to Spinnin' Records at age 17 and being approached by living legend Tiësto to help release his #1 UK debut single, Gecko (Overdrive), you can say the dude's had a pretty bright start to his music career. Amongst the swarm of young producers fighting for a spot on festival main stages, Heldens has certainly been one to stand out with a unique sound and high-end production knack that's no doubt changing the landscape of the deep and future house movement. Heldens has developed from a young bedroom producer to an EDM house icon, creating his own formula for a hit and maintaining total originality throughout. Spending the most part of 2015 performing main stages around the world, Oliver Heldens made his debut in Australia for the mammoth Stereosonic festival alongside big names Calvin Harris, Porter Robinson, Skrillex and fellow up-and-comer, ZHU.
Oliver has been absolutely nailing it in 2015 with mainstage appearances all over the globe as well as a bunch of new releases including his latest future house banger Can't Stop Playing (Makes Me High), which has been dominating charts around the globe. Featuring the refreshing vocals of Ane Brun, Can't Stop Playing (Makes Me High) is much more than a club thumper, rather a commercial house anthem.
Hey Oliver, thanks for joining us. I think it is every producers dream to be asked to sign your track to Tiësto's record label, tell us how that came about?
In 2012 I signed to Spinnin' Records and they found me on the internet. I released a few tracks and that's how Tiësto got to know me. He started to follow me on Twitter so I was able to send him direct messages with new tracks. When I sent him Gecko he replied back within 15 minutes and he was like "Wow this is amazing, I want to sign this. Lets meet up in Amsterdam next week."
Gecko was a little more obscure to your previous tracks. Were you surprised about people's reactions?
Before and during Gecko I was making lots of different stuff. I was mainly inspired by hardstyle and hard EDM. I was also making music based on old Dutch house tracks and then I got to know Disclosure, Duke Dumont - newer, deeper stuff. So when I combined these inspirations with my roots of old dutch house, that's how I came up with stuff like Gecko.
Some fans were like "why don't you make EDM anymore?" and some fans were really happy about it. I got so many new fans at that time also. I remember when I released the first preview of Gecko, I had like 7000 followers on Soundcloud and 2 months later I had 50,000.
You also recently hit a number #1 in the UK with Gecko (Overdrive) with the addition of Becky Hill's lyrics. How did you celebrate?
When I heard it had hit #1 I was at a festival in Belgium with a bunch of DJs including Martin Solveig. He asked me to come watch him play and played a few of my tunes and then grabbed the mic and said, "The next tune is really special. It's from Oliver Heldens and this track just hit #1 in the UK, so lets celebrate!" Then Martin and I were dancing on stage together. It was awesome.
That sounds incredible! Your follow up Koala also hit #1 on Beatport. What do you think is so important about having a trademark sound?
Yeah it's important that an artist has an identity, but it's a complex thing because you want to make songs where people know it's you, but you don't want to stick to just one thing. It's about finding the right balance and identity, because there are millions of producers who want to achieve success.
You're also building a reputation for quirky music videos. Do you play any part in the creative process?
I didn't really have a big part in it but I'm really happy with them because they are original like my music. There were mixed reactions - I know some people can't stand the Gecko (Overdrive) video, but lots of people were like "wow, this is different and original."
We heard you went and adopted a Koala while you were here in Australia, Is that true?
We wanted to support the local crew so I've adopted a Koala. His name is Bill. We took pictures but he was sleeping so he had no idea what was going on, but he will find out later.
For those who are yet to see you live, what can fans expect during your live sets?
My sets are either my tracks or from other people. Most of my tracks are unreleased because I play a lot of edits and bootlegs, or remixes of famous tracks. I play a lot of my new releases too, most of them don't even have a name yet. They are just titled ' Project Whatever' or just the date of the project.
You recently released Pikachu, which features samples from our favourite Pokemon character, how did you manage to create such a sample in to a club anthem? And were there any issues clearing the samples of copyright?
Yes, so someone had to re-record it. There actually was a guy who was able to reproduce the "Pika Pika" sound who was with us in the studio.
Did you have the song ready? Were you after the Pikachu sound?
I was in the studio with Mr Belt & Wezol and they already had the melody and I added on the drop. Then they had the idea to name it Pikachu and use Pikachu samples. I mean, it really fits well with my discography.
You've referenced Bingo Players and Fedde Le Grande as major inspirations to your work. Tell us about some of the older club tracks that inspire your production.
My main inspirations are from the UK garage, deeper house stuff like the new Disclosure, Duke Dumont, but also stuff like Flume. Also of course that old Dutch house stuff from Fedde Le Grand, Laidback Luke, Sander Van Door, Gregor Salto, Chocolate Puma. I play a lot of classics in my sets, most of them are remixes like from The Prodigy or some random euro house stuff.
What is your take on the deep house scene at the moment?
I don't really care about genres, I think my music is far from real deep house. Aritsts like Disclosure and Duke Dumont are successful because they've brought something new into deep house. My music is uplifting enough for the EDM scene, which is why it has given me a lot of exposure.
Aside from your DJ sets, what tracks are on your Recently Played playlist?
I listen to a lot of music for the Heldeep radio show, and sometimes my live sets help me improve. I listen to Zedd's Dead or dirtier, garage vibes. Sometimes hardstyle or trap. I like Flume, because he did something really new with hip hop beats. His sound is so fresh and inspiring.
Can't Stop Playing (Makes Me High) is out now on iTunes.