Behind the Beat: Oliver Heldens
Dutch DJ and producer Oliver Heldens is quickly becoming a household name. The 21-year-old has a distinctively groovy sound and has been tirelessly striving for perfection over the last three years. Heldens continues to work on slew of individual releases as both Oliver Heldens and his alias HI-LO. And it doesn’t stop there he continues to tour the globe, holds a residency at both Omnia in Las Vegas and Ushuaia Ibiza, hosts his weekly Heldeep radio show and maintains his Heldeep Records imprint on Spinnin’ Records.
If you have been to an Oliver Heldens show or festival set you know how difficult it is to refrain from at least attempting to shuffle no matter your dancing skills. Oliver Heldens went Behind the Beat and he even challenged Martin Garrix to a shuffle competition. Our money is on Heldens.
Only The Beat: When did you start DJing and producing? Where was your first official gig?
Oliver Heldens: I can’t really remember my first actual gig because it’s been a while! But I can remember my first “big” performance was for a crowd of 20,000 people. Avicii gave a concert in Antwerp and I got to perform before his actual set. It was the best thing ever! I started producing when I was around 13 and DJing followed shortly after that.
OTB: Who influenced your sound when you started and how has your sound changed over time?
OH: The biggest inspirations at the beginning of my career must have been the old sounds of Fedde Le Grand, Chocolate Puma, Laidback Luke and Sander Van Doorn. Later on I got really interested in Disclosure. They really managed to bring the old house style back with a fresh style. From that moment on I was more UK house-inspired when it came to producing my tracks.
OTB: Take us back to 2013 just before you released ‘Gecko’. At what moment did you know that your track became a worldwide hit? Did you expect to have a career as a top DJ/producer?
OH: Nobody expects to have a career as a top DJ/producer when they’ve just started. It’s just a big dream for every beginning producer. The moment when Tiesto called me, I was driving back home from a holiday in France. That was the exact moment that I knew things were getting serious.
OTB: What is your favorite track that you produced and one that you did not produce, but admire?
OH: My favorite track at this moment must be the collaboration I did with Chocolate Puma on “Space Sheep”. It was such an honor to work with true legends.
Oliver Heldens & Chocolate Puma- Space Sheep
OTB: You music is strongly influenced by disco and you are working on collaboration with Nile Rodgers. How has it been to work with a disco legend? What are your top three favorite disco tracks?
OH: As I said earlier, I am honored to work with all these legends. It’s really cool to produce together with Nile Rodgers, because I can learn so much from him. I hope to do more collaborations like this in the future, because I want to keep expanding my different production styles.
OTB: Another artist who is influenced by the disco area is Throttle, who many have said is your protégé. How has it been working with Throttle and seeing his career develop?
OH: Throttle is a really talented DJ, he even played live guitar during my set at Tomorrowland this year! It’s awesome to see his career develop in such short time and I hope he will become an even better producer in the future.
OTB: What advice do you have for an aspiring DJ that is trying to get a shot in the industry?
OH: Find your own unique style as a producer and stick to that style. A lot of DJ’s are successful because they managed to create their own sound. And besides that, keep pushing your music to different DJ’s. Self-promotion is a very important factor in becoming a recognized producer.
OTB: Besides yourself, what DJ/producer can shuffle the best?
OH: I’m not sure about that…I’m curious to see if Martin Garrix can beat me in a shuffle competition!
OTB: You have worked the festival circuit including sets at EDC, Tomorrowland, Creamfields, Stereosonic, Moonrise and many more. Do you have a personal favorite festival or city?
OH: I don’t think I have a favorite. They are all amazing to play. Each festival is special and each experience means a lot to me.
OTB: What is the top personal milestone in your career so far?
OH: The top personal milestone I reached in my career so far must be the fact that I set up my own label Heldeep Records. It feels great to help undiscovered DJ’s in finding their way in the industry.
OTB: Outside of Djing, what are your other interests or hobbies?
OH: There are a lot of things I like to do in my spare time, I like to dance whenever I get the chance to and I like to play football every now and then. But, I must admit that DJing still is my most favorite hobby!
OTB: 2016 has already been a great year for you with the release of ‘The Right Song’ with Tiesto, ‘Waiting‘ with Throttle, ‘Space Sheep’ with Chocolate Puma, and ‘Ghost‘ featuring Rumors. What else can we expect from you this year as an individual artist and on your record label Heldeep?
OH: Well, there will be releases as always but I can’t tell you too much just yet! I want to release more tracks as HI-LO and get more into that underground vibe. I’m currently working on tracks with different DJ’s so keep your eyes open for my releases! Collaborations as HI-LO with other DJ’s would be amazing, so I’m currently working on that!