Interview: Oliver Heldens (The Day After Festival 2015 – Panama)

Sam: Thinking back on the start of your career, what was the process in getting attention and releasing your records with Spinnin’ and CR2 too?

Helden: I made music and then put it on the internet for a producer and got feedback from him. I put all of my music in one place. Spinnin’ Records heard about my music and wanted to sign me. We produced some records and released them. What really blew me up was “Gecko”. Tiesto started to follow me on Twitter because he liked a few of my tracks so I messaged him and in fifty minutes he replies “This is amazing! I want to sign this, let’s meet next week in Amsterdam.” So then Gecko was released and it got huge.

Sam: What was the production process like for Gecko?

Helden: Six or seven years ago, I started listening to a lot of house music and I liked groovier, Dutch house for the most part. I’m talking about the old Bingo Players tracks and Sander Van Doorn, Fedde Le Grand, D Ramirez. Only after that did I get into the rest of EDM. So basically the new Disclosure kind of stuff with the older Dutch house music – that really was what inspired me to do Gecko.

Sam: So what happened when Tiesto released your track- social media wise? How did that happen?

Helden: So first I sent the track to lots DJs and then many DJs supported it to play on their radio shows. On the internet it can blow up really quick. On Beatport it went top 10 for like two months so that was really crazy.

Sam: So were you listening to Pete Tong while growing up? How did it feel hearing your song mentioned as his song on the week?

Helden: Yeah that felt really good. Although when I was younger, I didn’t listen to Pete Tong because he wasn’t that popular in the Netherlands. We already had radio stations playing good dance music. But then I discovered the Pete Tong Show and when he started playing my tracks it encouraged me. It was a really cool show, I’m really thankful towards him for the support.

Sam: So I saw that you said the Zeds Dead and the Net Sky remixes range over Twitter. How did that sort of work out?

Helden: So I made a track with Zeds Dead, and also in the studio with Netsky, with the Magician, with Chocolate Puma, and with Tiesto. But with Zeds Dead we made a track online, so we would send each other stuff and build it together. With Tiesto we made a track together in the same room which will also be released this year.

Sam: So when it comes to festivals, a lot of DJs rave about Stereo Sonic. How did you feel about Stereo Sonic and how did you feel about TomorrowWorld?

Helden: Yeah they’re both really good festivals. The people in Australia like to go really crazy to my tunes so I love to play Stereo Sonic. TomorrowWorld had really extravagant decorations and was massive. It’s like a dream world.

Sam: And then you said you love the UK in other interviews. Where specifically in the UK do you love to play?

Helden: Basically everywhere in the UK; they respond really well to my music. Also the number one in UK with Golden Records; if I had to choose a place in the UK that goes the hardest, it would be the northern regions. But also Ireland goes really hard and Scotland.

Sam: I saw that in other interviews that you had some big names at your local school dances: Hardwell, Chucky, Fedde Le Grand. What do you think that has to say about dance music in the Netherlands?

Helden: So the school parties slowed a bit down, so they don’t really have big names anymore I think. But back in the days, they had really big DJs at school parties. It was like a Dutch kind of house music; it was really popular in the Netherlands, but not really anywhere else. Hardwell played in the Netherlands with lots of gigs- same with Chucky and Fedde Le Grand. I think since the 90s, their music has really grown in the Netherland; many people would go to clubs and all their tracks were on the radio. Besides that, Dutch people are also pretty critical and always want to hear something new and improved. There are people who complain more about the state of dance music – some countries are worse than others. And these two elements together tends to take the level of production better and better.

Sam: So I saw that you listen to German- based, dubstep, hardstyle. Do you think that you’re going to add that kind of stuff into your music? Or do you just listen to it?


Helden: Yeah they produce amazing stuff in dubstep and hard-style genres right now. Of course there’s things that inspire me that I listen to more than others. Sometimes it’s difficult to say what inspires you. Music is so complex sometimes it’s hard to even describe. Like imagine if you went to Beatport and stuff: they have a lot of drum and bass with different influences and a lot of house music with several different influences. Nowadays, there is a lot of crossover music. I think everything inspires me.

Sam: So with the past interviews that I’ve watched, when people mention future house or deep house, you’re sort of hesitant to stick to one genre.

Helden: Yeah, I just make music that feels true to me.

Sam: So a couple questions: you obviously dropped a record with Zeds Dead? How did that feel to collaborate with them?

Helden: Yeah it was a huge honor to work with them. I was a big motivation because they’re wonderful producers.

Sam: Is Zeds Dead one of your favorites?

Helden: Oh yeah. I listen to a lot of their stuff.

Sam: What do you normally have on your typical rider?

Helden: Sparkling water and fruit.

Sam: Well that’s it! Thank you so much.

Helden: Oh and about that future house thing: I like to crossover sounds, so the typical future house feel is not something I want to do forever. If you look at my new tricks, they don’t really sound like future house. They have the future house influences, but it’s different. I’m excited for what’s coming up this year. I don’t always look at my sets as just future house – that would be weird if I played that all the time. I tend to throw in some techy stuff and more melodic lines with pianos and such.

Sam: Thanks for the interview!