Exclusive: Oliver Heldens on Ushuaïa residency and inspirations
In spite of an incredible abundance of electronic music of late, it is still a rare occurrence to come across a talent and musical pioneer like the young Oliver Heldens. The fun Dutchman really stands out from the crowd with his distinctive sound and can be credited for single-handedly ushering the future house genre into the mainstream. The bearded figure has become both a symbol of shifting trends and possesses a musical maturity way beyond his 21 years. With time Oliver has shed any genre-shackling labels to become one of the biggest producers and DJs on the planet.
Recent works by the talented Oliver Heldens indicate he is gravitating toward subtler shades of house music. He is embracing underground influences instead of the future house kicks that brought him worldwide fame. This trend can be heard in his collaborative work “Space Sheep” with Chocolate Puma, and even more so in his remix to Moby’s “Go,” which he produced under his Hi-Lo alias.
During the summer Oliver had the privilege of co-hosting his own residency at the spectacular open-air club Ushuaïa Ibiza. Ushuaïa made sure to complement the fun Dutchman with a residency worthy of that funky cheerful personality. The ‘BLUE’ concept was one that he shared with hit-maker Robin Schulz and was all about tropical beats stirred in with the funky personality and spice that only Heldens can bring.
We Rave You had a chance to sit down with the young hit-maker at the ‘BLUE’ closing party right before his performance on the world famous Ushuaïa stage. Oliver delved into his impressions on the summer season at the club:
“Feeling really happy. The summer has flown by. I’m really happy with all the ‘BLUE’ shows. It’s been incredible. The crowd, the vibes in general but also if you look at the amount of people. So many people turned up while BLUE is still really new – in its first year. The last few nights there were more than 5,000 people. It’s crazy to think about it. I really like the concept. ‘BLUE’ has a lot to to do with music as well. The music goes from day to night as well. It starts more tropical with Felix Jaehn and Klingande and then I play a 2 hour set so I can really take a crowd on a journey in my set. It’s a really good experience – the whole day and night.”
When Oliver Heldens was first exposed to house music in high school, he was emulating fellow countrymen like Hardwell and Laidback Luke. He became enamored with Dutch dance imprint Sneakerz Muzic, and soon started DJing parties and producing his own beats. A lot of people don’t know that he started producing a very different sound.
“When I was 15 I really got into progressive house and since then I started producing more progressive house and electro. I was really inspired by hardstyle for about a year. So my roots are Fedde Le Grand and Chocolate Puma – the more electro sneakerz kind of house. A mix of electro and tech house. Those were my roots of house music. I also had a huge love for the harder styles of dance music and then through my father who was really into funk and disco and jazz so all these things together made me make a lot of music. Then suddenly for me there was a big change when I was making electro which was inspired by hardstyle. In 2012, I really got inspired by the UK house scene. People like Julio Bashmore and Dusky and Disclosure – they opened a whole new world for me. They threw me back to my roots – to the old Fedde Le Grand and old Bingo Players. But at the same time it was so fresh and then with my own perspective I started making more groovy house again and ended up with stuff like “Gecko” and “Koala” as well as the Hi-Lo stuff like “Renegade Mastah”. The Hi-Lo track “Wappy Flirt” is a track that I made a few days after the release of “Gecko”. It was at the start of 2014.”
The bearded Dutchman continually showcases his studio prowess with a diverse range of productions and he believes it is his wide musical taste that made him almost create a style he can call his own.
“I definitely think that everybody has a kind of blueprint of the music they’ve absorbed in their life but nowadays the new generation has so much more access to all the old music or any music. I feel like the new generation has a wider blueprint music wise. So they have more different influences to be inspired by. Especially for me because I was always really busy with music and I was digging on the internet as a DJ to play good music in my sets and I was only 15 when I was doing that. Nowadays, that’s also the big reason why some of my music is so original because I have such a wide array of tastes and influences.”
Other than the uniqueness of his music, Oliver Heldens is known for his colorful personality and his music videos, with his social media presence re-enforcing the fun nature of the young star. He prides himself on being very hands-on with his image and bringing his personality to the stage.
“Lately I’ve been more involved in the videos and my visuals. We want new visuals and it’s really starting to take off. The visuals (the videos behind me when I play on the screens in the shows) are really fun. I really can’t wait for it to be finished. I already saw some new updates from the people who were creating it. I have a lot of really absurd ideas that are going to be turned to a reality. I’m going to have really funny and really interesting visuals in the future. Oliver Heldens is me as a person. Sometimes I can do anything I want. It’s not necessarily that I aim to reflect my personality but of course that happens in some way. But it’s not my goal or anything. I just want to make a really fun show and I want to play a lot of sets everywhere. I play on the fly so I don’t really plan a lot of stuff. I just go with my feelings.”
The young superstar loves to not only give his fans an insight into his world, but also enjoys including them in the process. This was exemplified in the new “Flamingo” music video where fans were asked to submit videos of their ‘Flamingo’ dance for inclusion in the video. While he has used some of the footage, Oliver had an absolute influx of videos and is planning another fan compilation video for the hit track. He explains:
“We needed some people in the video. We could only fit about 10 or 12 videos and we got a few thousand videos. So we definitely have to do a compilation for the fans.”
The summer is nearing its end and after a highly successful Ushuaïa Ibiza residency the Dutchman is ready for what’s next on the horizon.
“At the end of the year I’m going to do a really big show at Heineken Music Hall which is 2 months after ADE. For ADE I’m going to do something very small and exclusive. Something really fun. Also gonna do some special guest appearances at other parties as Hi-Lo or Oliver Heldens. Not sure which party I’m going to do. I don’t really focus on anything specific. I just focus on being creative. On the road I’m making new tracks as well. I’m also always working on new edits for sets. New mashups and remixes for stuff. When I feel like it I make music and I have a lot of new ID’s all the time. The downside of all the touring is that I don’t have that much time to be really technical to spend hours on one plugin or something so sometimes it takes me a while to finish a track from 90% to a 100% but actually there’s a lot of stuff coming up. I’m also working with a lot of song writers with lyrics and vocals. It’s been really interesting – all the music I’ve been working on. I feel like I have more inspiration right now than I had 3 years ago when I made Gecko and all the other stuff.”
This abundance of inspiration comes as great news for Oliver Heldens fans. His ADE show has also been announced so grab your tickets right now and check out some of the funky atmosphere of Oliver Heldens massive residency at Ushuaïa this summer below!
Ushuaïa Ibiza Photographs: Roberto Castaño