Relentless Beats

RB Exclusive Interview: Chocolate Puma, Pioneers of Electronic Dance Music

Many beautiful years have past between their first monster hit “Give It Up” and now. Born as first generation house producers, a complete musical revolution has taken place right in front of Zki & Dobres eyes: From the first simple sampler, to a complete digital studio built into a laptop.

Those newer to the scene probably know Chocolate Puma because of the amazing collab they recently did with Oliver Heldens, “Space Sheep.” The track went viral and the reaction from fans was wonderful all over the world. It contains the classic Oliver Heldens’ futuristic sound we all love and combines that with the experience and wisdom Chocolate Puma have. They even have an awesome music video out for the track you can catch below!

Oliver Heldens & Chocolate Puma – Space Sheep (Official Music Video)

We had the awesome opportunity to chat with the guys behind Chocolate Puma and ask them about the new track. Being one of the biggest house producers in the world for the longest time, they were able to give us a lot of awesome insight on how the industry has come in the last 20 years or so.

So how long has Chocolate Puma been around and how long have each of you DJ/produced?

We’ve been producing records together for 25 years now. We used to release records under a few other different aliases, but we’ve been using the Chocolate Puma name since 2001. We’ve been DJ’ing since the 80’s, first separate from each other, but since 10 years or so as a duo.

Your latest hit “Space Sheep” with Oliver Heldens has been on charts all over the place and seen great attention. How does it feel to have been in the industry for the time you have and still be reaching these charts?

We feel so blessed that we’re able to still touch a lot of people with our music! That’s what it’s all about, making something that we love and to see that other people feel what we’re doing. That never gets old.

What makes “Space Sheep” so different from any of the other tracks you’ve done before?

Well, first of all it’s a collab with Oliver. So as with all the collabs we’ve done with all these different artists it is always quite unpredictable and also very exciting to see what happens when you go into a studio together. You get inspired by each other, you make other decisions than working alone, everyone brings their own flavour to the table. So the end result is always different from anything you would have come up with if you hadn’t do a collab. So in this case with Oliver and making Space Sheep it was us being inspired by Oliver and coming up with a melody we thought would connect with what Oliver would like. And basically doing lots of silly stuff and making stupid jokes. 

How did you and Oliver Heldens meet and decided to get into the studio together

We first met Oliver back in 2014 when he played at our party at Miami Music Week. We invited him because we loved his records and we were really impressed by a mixtape he’d done at that time. We also found out that he liked a lot of our records so it was a no brainer to ask him to do a track together. Oh and he is such a funny, cool and humble guy, that helped too! So we made like 3 or 4 tracks which we didn’t like till we came up with Space Sheep. And along the way we also worked on a Hi-Lo & Chocolate Puma track! 

The Goodmen – Give It Up (Extended Mix)

The first song you had ever released as a duo was “Give It Up”, how do you think “Space Sheep” compares to this track and how have you evolved since it’s release?

We just saw a tweet by Laidback Luke where he said that listening to his early records is like looking at his kindergarten drawings haha. We were young, the scene was still in its early stages, Gaston was still living with his parents, René lost his job, so the whole context in which we made Give It Up was totally different than what it is now. We’re still proud of that record though! But what still is the same is the pleasure we get out of making music. That is still the core of what we’re doing. We love making music, period.

In 2001 you changed your name to Chocolate Puma. What was the reasoning behind the decision to rebrand yourself?

We had like a 1000 different aliases and projects at that time. In the 90’s it was very common for producers to have all these names. Look for example at guys like Todd Terry, Armand Van Helden or Masters At work. The also had so many aliases. So in 2001 Chocolate Puma was one of these many names. But after a few years we saw the scene changing and evolving, so we decided that it was important to have one strong recognizable brand instead of being the anonymous producer behind all these projects, and we chose to stick with Chocolate Puma.

Have you ever gone through any other aliases that people may not have heard of before?

Lots, haha! But often people are very suprised that we’re behind Jark Prongo or Riva. René is responsible for SIL – Windows with Olav Basoski and Gaston used to run Touché Records with Jamez and release records as Trancesetters & 51 Days.

How many tracks in total do you think you guys have put out? How do you come to that final conclusion that a song is ready to release?

Hundreds. A record is ready when we feel that there is absolutely nothing left to tweak. That can happen after weeks, or after 2 days. But sometimes after a release we sometimes think, damn that kick could have used a bit more gain at 60hz haha.

Since you’ve been in the music industry for the amount of time you have, you’ve gotten to see everything grow from actual hardware to virtual technology all in a single laptop. Did you ever think back in the 90s that it would get to the point where it is now?

When we first started it was all hardware. An Atari computer running cubase with only MIDI, a few synths and a hardware sampler. When the first hard disk recording came to the market, and after that the first plug ins and software synths, it was for the first time we thought; what if computing power gets so high that we could actually run our whole studio in a laptop? This was a pretty wild idea, but after we heard that Secret Cinema switched from hardware to totally producing in the box in the early 2000’s, it was clear for us it was possible. But still it amazes us that we’re able to travel with our whole studio in our backpack, and still have a million times more possibilities than we had back in the 90’s

So how crucial is technological development in our industry for growth?

The ideas are always more important than all the technological bell and whistles, but at the same time technological developments are the core of what makes electronic music. So it’s important to find a balance between telling your story and using technology to enhance that story.

Where do you guys think technology is taking us next?

Hopefully towards a better connection between your ideas and the machines. So better interfaces, more human interaction, use of artificial intelligence to break down the barrier between your brain and software.

What’s the best life advice you could give to someone?

Be kind.

Anything else you want all your fans to know all over the world?

We’re humbled by the love we get from you guys. And through our music we try to give some of that back.

Connect With Chocolate Puma: Website | Twitter | Facebook

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