Four years ago, Oliver Heldens’ “Gecko” shook the electronic dance music world. He then helped lead future house to reach the masses. An impressive feat.
Over time, Heldens has proven he is committed to creating music with eclectic sounds, and crafting constantly evolving mixes. Through his record label Heldeep Records, he has curated some incredible music, having worked with a lot exciting artists, while also releasing fresh forward-thinking originals and remixes.
“Koala”, “What The Funk” and “Shades Of Grey”, with Shaun Frank, are some his most notable productions. Not to mention, he has an alias by the name Hi-Lo, where he detes from his typical melodic sound, experimenting with a heavier underground style; one that has garnered broad attention.
This weekend, Heldens will be taking the decks for Beats 1’s One Mix for a special set. As for what he’s got on his mind:
Tune in below to hear what the future house star has in store for One Mix.
Oliver Heldens - Beats 1 One Mix
Friday 10th November 2017 - 4pm LA / 7pm NY / 12pm UK
Saturday 11th November 2017 - 4am LA / 07am NY / 12am UK
Before taking the decks, Heldens took some time out to answer a few questions for us, diving into his musical tastes, insights and experiences.
EDM.com: Your first show experience?
Oliver Heldens: The high school I went to from my 12th till 16th threw huge parties in the best venues in Rotterdam. They would regularly book some pretty big DJs as well, like Fedde Le Grand, Erick E, Chuckie, Hardwell. Those parties really got me hooked on House/Club/Electro and it inspired me to start make music myself. At the time I already knew about the stware FL Studio, because my neighbour was producing music already. At the time (before I got really hooked on House music), we were really into Hardstyle and Jumpstyle. We would even make videos doing the Jumpstyle/Hardstyle dances, this was a huuuge hype in the Netherlands. I guess there's where the dancing part already started haha.
The first time you brought your mom to one your shows?
I'm not sure this was the first time, but my first time I played for a massive audience was when I supported Avicii on a few his shows in Belgium and the Netherlands. I took my mom to those shows and that was very special. Also I remember on my first serious gig in my hometown, my dad joined me. He was super supportive from the start, since he's a huge music lover and audio freak (also Electronic Dance Music). He even had a few analog Synths at home
The artist who inspired you to become a musician?
For me it was more the experience going to those high school parties, that made me become a musician/producer/dj. Artists I liked at that time: Fedde Le Grand, Axwell, Laidback Luke, Sander van Doorn, Chocolate Puma, Bart B More, Bingo Players, Sidney Samson, Vato Gonzalez, Green Velvet, Crookers, Hardwell
Also I remember when I was learning to play keys (from my 10th/11th) I found it more fun to try compose something / create something new, instead trying to learn play a certain song. Around my 13th I kind stopped playing keys and just focused more on making music in FL Studio.
Your go-to places for new music?
There's so many places! Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Soundcloud, 1001tracklists... And in my email inbox haha
Your guilty pleasure record?
I don't believe in guilty pleasure records, because I think no one should feel guilty to enjoy certain songs. However I guess most Italo Disco music falls in to this category, so I'll pick: Mr Flagio - Take A Chance, I think it's an amazing record!!
Your dream B2B partner?
Difficult question, I think it really depends on the location/setting and the crowd. Few my favorite b2b's I had were in smaller clubs, for example during Fedde Le Grand's party at ADE, we ended up closing the night doing a b2b w him and Leroy Styles (very well respected DJ from my hometown Rotterdam), we had so much fun. Also I remember at Miami Music Week 2016 I was checking out Benny Benassi's night at Wall and later in the night he invited me doing a b2b. This was also super fun, I ended up closing the night till late in the morning w the resident DJ, who was this 40+ house / tech house DJ. I think it's so beautiful about the DJ / 'EDM' scene how older generations inspire newer generations, but at the same time the newer generations inspire the older generations
Your favourite BPM?
For House music I would say between 124 and 128. When it comes to Electro and Techno it could be way faster, especially with Techno / 'Tech-Trance'.
A piece gear you always need on the road?
To DJ I just need a mixer + cd players, and I always have my laptop w me to make new tracks and edits, and to categorize my USB sticks
Your all-time favourite festival?
When it comes to dance music: Tomorrowland
Crossover wise I would probably go for Coachella.
Experience wise Electric Forest also deserves a shout out!
The biggest misconception about dance music?
I think 1 the biggest misconceptions is how some people see the Dance Music world as just 1 small world or even just 1 genre 'EDM', while within the Dance Music world you have soooo many different worlds / scenes / genres. I've been in those different worlds since I was 10 and I would discover so much exciting new music all the time. There has never been periods that I didn't feel inspired from 'Electronic Dance Music'.
Also a misconception is that people think mainstream appeal will ruin dance music, this is pure bullshit I think. From many different corners in the EDM space there's so much evolving going on all the time. Even new styles emerge, like how Tchami and I get credited for creating and developing this Future House genre. Stuff like this happens all the time
The city with the most underrated dance scene?
The Netherlands have a really good scene considering we only have 16 million people living here and there's not 1 city with more than 1 million citizens, but still there's so much going on.
Your industry prediction for the next year?
I think from like 2013/2014 we're seeing the whole industry in general is moving away slowly from the more 'rage / jumping / crazy' kind music towards the more danceable stuff. I think this will continue more and more.
Your best piece advice for new producers?
Stay true to yourself and don't feel rushed to break through (even though you see people younger than you breaking through already). It takes time to develop your style/sound and sometimes it's better to give yourself more time to figure out what music you really want to put out (or play out as a DJ)
Dead or alive, who would be your dream collaborator?
Damn there's so many! I think in general it would be super fun for me to work with bands, not like rock rock bands, but more electronic / indie / funk / psychedelic. I'm thinking Rufus Du Sol, Foster The People, Tame Impala, Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals, Portugal. The Man, Chic, Jamiroquai, The Knocks etc.
One the unique experiences you’ve had backstage?
Many crazy experiences! First thing which comes up to mind now is this meet and greet with this guy. During the meet & greet he started to cry and then explained that a year before during my show in Chicago, he went there with all his friends and that night he came out the closet. That was a life changing moment for him course! I almost started crying myself during this meet & greet.
Talking about meeting fans, I've multiple fans coming up to me, saying things like 'If it wasn't for your music, I wouldn't be alive right now', that's for me less easy to resonate with though, it's more shocking. When I started making music I was just mostly doing it for myself and w the 'purpose' that DJ's could play it in their sets and not really thinking what impact it could have on people.