Sep 22, 2014
Oliver Heldens

From underground house producer to #1 artist in the UK, we caught up with Oliver Heldens after his set at Creamfields, to find out what he makes of his rapid rise to the top, why his tracks are named after animals, and we get the deets on an upcoming Zeds Dead collaboration.

Sander van Doorn & Oliver Heldens - This [Doorn]
LessThan3: We’re here at Creamfields–is this your first time playing the festival?
Oliver: Yeah, this is my first time, and I I loved it!
LessThan3: Good vibe out there today?
Oliver: Creamfields is the best festival I’ve played in the UK. I played early, so I didn’t know what to expect, and it’s Sunday so people have already been going crazy for two days, but it was packed!
LessThan3: Have you played many gigs in the UK recently?
Oliver: I also played yesterday at SW4 in London, supported David Guetta at Summer Sessions, and also played T In The Park.
LessThan3: Your sound is often described as deep house with a big room edge to it, but how would you describe it to someone unfamiliar with dance music?
Oliver: Since so many people call it deep house, I would call it deep house, but I’d want to add that it’s deep house that has a lot of power and is uplifting, and is also inspired by the UK stuff. It’s a crossover between tech house, the deeper stuff, and EDM.
LessThan3: Who have been some acts that have had a big influence on your sound?
Oliver: I think the combination between the new UK deep house from a few years ago, acts like Disclosure, and people like Flume–which isn’t deep house but in terms of the sound–alongside older stuff like Fedde Le Grand and D Ramirez. All of those sounds inspired me to do tracks like Gecko.
LessThan3: How did your relationship with Spinnin’ first start?
Oliver: I signed there two years ago–I put some stuff on the internet, they got to hear it, and then they invited me to their office.
LessThan3: Obviously Gecko was a big track at the start of the year, then Gecko (Overdrive) was released and went to #1 here in the UK. How did that come about, from being a more underground house track to a track that topped the charts?
Oliver: Out of the thousands of dance tracks that get released, the ones that do really well on places like Beatport and stay in the top 10 for a long time, major labels like to put vocals on the track to reach more people. It was nice for me to have two versions, and it’s good for the fans too. You have fans who don’t need vocals on it, and you have fans who love the vocals, some love both.
LessThan3: How do you feel about the way the scene has exploded recently? A track like Gecko probably wouldn’t have been as big a couple of years ago, but now it can hit #1 and become a hit worldwide. Do you think this is a good thing?
Oliver: It’s really different than the “boom boom” EDM, but the funny thing is that most of these “boom boom” EDM DJs also support Gecko. It got played by almost every EDM DJ on their radio shows, and because of that it really stands out. If you look at a set by Afrojack or Tiesto or Martin Garrix, and you hear Gecko in it, it’s like “oh, this is really different than everything else.”
LessThan3: Would you see yourself as something of a pioneer in getting that sound into the mainstream?
Oliver: Many people are watching me. It’s like the whole industry is watching me because I have an influence on the sound. It feels like only a matter of time until the mainstream public all put their eyes on me.
LessThan3: Do you feel any pressure to shape the way the future of this sound develops?
Oliver: I don’t really feel pressure because I have so many new tracks. I know I’m good for a few years with tracks and ideas I have to work on, including collabs.
LessThan3: Is there anyone you’re currently collaborating with that you can let us know about?
Oliver: I’ve finished a collab with Sander van Doorn for a track called This which is due out Oct. 6. Four or five years ago I loved his more groovy stuff and it’s nice to be able to take that old school sound and make it current–the best of both worlds. Also I have an interesting collab with Zeds Dead coming up. They’re known for their big dubstep stuff, but they also make more housey stuff now and they played my tracks, so we got in contact. They sent a project and I finished it, so now we have a really nice track.
LessThan3: A lot of your tracks have animal titles (Gecko, Koala). is there any reasoning behind that?
Oliver: The reason Koala is called Koala is because I had Gecko, so I thought the new track also needed an animal name. The reason I called it Gecko is because Gecko was a really weird, different track, so I wanted a weird name for it. Also “gek” means “crazy” in Dutch.
LessThan3: If you weren’t a DJ or producer, what would you be doing instead?
Oliver: When I was younger, I always wanted to create stuff–design stuff, draw stuff or make stuff. So I wanted to become a designer or an architect or an inventor. But I think if I wasn’t a producer or a DJ, I would be a zookeeper, but not because of the animal tracks!
LessThan3: Any crazy fan stories?
Oliver: Fans can be hysterical, but I love it when I play and people make signs for me with nice stuff on them. Today at Creamfields I saw six or seven people all wearing gecko suits, a guy in a big crocodile outfit, and a Dutch flag with “Heldens” on it.
LessThan3: Describe your sound in LessThan3 words.
Oliver: Groovy, uplifting, accessible.
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