Relentless Beats

EDMbiz 2015: Team Oliver Heldens

With Oliver Heldens just announced for Mad Decent Block Party in Phoenix, what better time than to now to get to know a little more about the future/deep house wunderkind. At EDMbiz in Las Vegas Insomniac holds a panel each year where we get to sit down with a DJ and the team behind their operation. Last year they sat down with a DJ and his team who have proven very successful and have been a long-standing success in the industry; this DJ was Hardwell. This year they took a different approach and sat down with a DJ who has just recently made a meteoric rise to fame and has not been acquainted with the industry for nearly as long. Lets take a look inside the mind of Oliver Heldens and his team:

To begin, Oliver gave us a bit of insight into how he started off producing and what it took for him to be discovered. He revealed that he began producing at the age of 12 or 13 and that a lot of his early influences were from the Netherlands House scene. It wasn’t until he reached the age of 16 that he really began to focus in on improving his production skill and creating tracks that he would want to listen to. Still with the influence of Netherlands House, Heldens began hone his skills. Finally, after having worked at it for recreation for the past six years, and having worked at it seriously for two, Heldens finally had his big break at the age of 18 with his hit track “Gecko”.

When asked how he was able to get “Gecko” to different producers who would support it, Oliver gave us a quick rundown of how some producers were quick to turn him down. He had an agent to help him get the word out, but many of the DJs were saying that his track wouldn’t fit into their sets, that it was too different. They couldn’t classify his song in any one genre and therefore it wouldn’t blend well with tracks of other classified genres. Heldens states that he believes his music is a fine mix of Dubstep, Drum and Bass, Hardstyle, and UK House. With so many different genres, how can you find an in? Well what ended up happening was he sent his tracks to Tiesto, Armin, Hardwell, and many others. One of them took a risk and added his track to their set, and the next thing he knew, it was playing all over the world. The track blended so nicely into sets that it shocked everyone, but the track was a dance floor hit.

When you look at the list of artists that Heldens is influenced by, it is no surprise that he would somehow find success with his music. The artists he list come from the entire spectrum of electronic music: Headhunterz, Fedde Le Grand, Chocolate Puma, Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, Dusky, Disclosure, and more. But, when you listen to Oliver’s music you may hear the influence of the artists listed, but his music does not sound like theirs. He states that it is musical identity that really defines an artist. He has created a music identity for himself that has spawned many artists who have been influenced by his unique sound. Oliver is a pioneer in his sound and that is quite a feat for a 20 year old.

Speaking on his youth, it can be quite a difficult life change to go from being an 18 year old high school student to being known around the world and traveling from city to city playing for massive audiences. But apparently, it wasn’t so tough for Heldens. As he says, “The only thing that changed for me was I wasn’t going to school, I was traveling the world.” The ONLY thing. Not too drastic right? I guess when you just fully embrace the path that your life is headed, what is the use on looking back and wondering what might have happened otherwise? His manager stated that he has good karma and that is why his success and transformation was so easy, he is “the guy”.

But despite his near instant success, Heldens didn’t always play for huge crowds. His American Manager, David Brady, told an interesting tale about how Oliver was booked for EDC Las Vegas 2014 as the opening slot for day one of the festival. He was scheduled to play as the gates opened, but the gates opened a bit late. Despite the late opening he still had to play. So there he was, at the Kinetic Field Cathedral playing to a crowd of 15 people, and all of those people were his staff. Once the gates finally opened, people started to fill in, but his set was already a good way in. Luckily, the following act, 3lau, was running a bit late so they told Oliver to keep playing, by that point more people had showed up and his audience was beginning to look promising. A small crowd it might have been, but EDC Las Vegas is EDC Las Vegas and for some who just took off, I’m sure it was still an amazing experience. This year however, Oliver had a prime spot on the line-up and got to make up for the mishap last year in a most remarkable way.

To close, I would just like to make mention of Heldens’ outlook on the future of his sound and on the future of the industry. When asked where his sound was headed, Oliver stated that “it is limiting to look in a crystal ball.” You don’t want to say where your sound is going because then, in your mind, you will have this idea that that is where you need to take it. He thinks that it’s better to go with the flow, go with what comes to you. You don’t want to make false promises to your fans; just surprise them. According to him, dance music has yet to reach its peak. It is all about diversity. Producers must be willing to create new sounds and build identities for themselves through these sounds. There is a big issue with the creative mind vs. the market. Certain DJs make music that they know will sell, but it is also important to create music that is creative and different. That is how you will set yourself apart. Its important to design specific songs for clubs vs. festivals vs. for self. Don’t limit yourself or cave to market demands, its not the way to succeed.

Now that you have all you need to know on Oliver Heldens, don’t miss his appearance at the Mad Decent Block Party on September 18. Let’s all bunny dance to the melody with our gecko and koala masks on and celebrate the success of this humble all-star producer. Oh and also, straight from his manager, keep an eye out for a soon to be announced Oliver Heldens label. Exciting news!

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