I first saw Oliver Heldens at Lollapalooza this summer in Chicago, IL. A good friend of mine had turned me onto his music a few months before and mentioned that I needed to see him live.
Oliver’s live show is as good as it gets for dance music. The Dutch DJ always has a smile on his face, and keeps you in a constant state of Euphoria through his set. His build ups, old pop remixes and massive bass drops makes Oliver a perfect fit for Austin’s best electronic festival.
We caught up with Oliver about his visits to Austin, his early hit ‘Gecko’ that got him on the radar, and other interesting questions about his musical career. Check out some videos of his Euphoria set, and learn more about this unique DJ who is taking the dance culture by storm!
Make sure you follow Oliver Heldens on JamFeed to stay up to date with everything he is doing in music!
Interview with Oliver Heldens:
What other artists have influenced your musical sound?
When I was 16 I was mostly listening to UK deep house, which inspired so much. Stuff like Julio Bashmore, Disclosure, Shadow Child Influenced my sound a lot.
How much did growing up in Holland influence your musical career?
It definitely influenced my musical career. Dance music has always been around in Holland, so I got in touch with it really early in my life.
Did you grow up on house music? Or did it evolve with you as you grew older?
When I was 15 I really got into progressive house and electro. I was even really inspired by hardstyle for about a year. Besides that, my father was really into music when I was little and he would play a lot of different stuff. He was really into techno, funk, disco and drum and bass.
Did you think your single ‘Gecko’ would be the song that really launched your career?
No, I totally didn’t expect it to blow up like it did. ‘Gecko’ was basically the combination of all my musical influences like UK deep house and the 2006-2009 club sounds. The success it had resulted in people seeing me as a pioneer of this whole new house wave, which is really crazy to me.
Have you ever been to Austin, TX before this year’s SXSW / Euphoria Fest?
Yeah, I’ve been to Austin loads of times. I’ve played Life in Color there in 2015 and had my own show last year during my US bus tour.
Are there any other places you want to live in the near future?
I actually just bought an amazing house in Amsterdam! Although, I also really like Los Angeles. When I’m there I’m always really productive because of all the crazy studio sessions with the insanely creative people that live there. So maybe in the future I will move to LA.
How old were you when you got into producing music?
I’ve been making music since I was 12, but it wasn’t until I was about 15-16 before I started to get really dedicated to it. When I heard dance music at my high school parties, I knew I wanted to make music like that for people to dance to.
Is it tough to find balance between touring / playing shows and also creating new music? How do you balance the two?
For me it is no problem. I try to produce a lot on tour, because I get a lot of inspiration when I’m on the road. Besides that, I plan in studio blocks at home, like one or two weeks. Although I’m not day and night in the studio on those days. I just make music when I feel like it.
How did you get connected with Tiesto / Musical Freedom?
When I made ‘Gecko’ Spinnin’ Records told me it was too hard to be considered deep house and too soft for big room. So, when I noticed that Tiesto was playing more deep house in his podcast I sent the song in as a demo and he responded within 15 minutes that he wanted to meet because he thought the song was something special. That was big ‘wow’ moment for me.
What made you want to sign with Tiesto / Musical Freedom? vs a major label / being independent?
Because Tiesto immediately wanted to sign ‘Gecko’, I thought that it would be a really noticeable track in between all the big room house he usually signs to Musical Freedom. That’s what made me decide to do it.
Where do you see the future of House music / EDM in the next 5 years?
There are so many new sounds and genres being discovered and explored, which is a good thing. So I definitely think EDM will still be going strong in 5 years.
What do you want to accomplish (as an artist) in the next 5 years?
My goal is just to make music that excites my fans and myself, that makes us happy.
What other artists do you listen to for inspiration / creative ideas?
I listen to almost everything for inspiration. For example, I love how Sander van Doorn keeps his sound fresh, but lately I’ve also been listening to some old school hip-hop. Stuff that’s really different.
If you could bring anyone on stage to play live with you, who would it be, and why?
It would be Throttle. Actually we did this a couple of times in the past already. Where Robbie joins me on stage with his guitar. We did a track together, Waiting, and he just plays along with the melody on his guitar. Really cool!
What is the coolest / wildest crowd you’ve ever played in front of?
The coolest crowd was in Scotland in December 2016. I did my own show and with 10.000 tickets sold it was sold out, and everybody went crazy. This was a very special night. I still have fans texting me about this night, how they wish to experience this again, and when I will be back.
What software do you produce your music on? Have you always used it?
I started out with FL Studio and still use it to this day.
What advice would you give to an aspiring musician on the grind to make it big?
Find your own sound that feels personal and don’t blindly follow trends.
How do you want to change the music industry for the better? What do you want to be remembered as by your fans?
I hope to keep on inspiring other producers and I hope to be remembered as that always laughing bearded Dutch guy, haha.