Rotterdam-based producer Oliver Heldens refuses to be boxed in.
The 24-year-old told Popdust prior to his energized set at Electric Zoo this year that he's excited to see dance music "getting bigger and bigger." Heldens exploded on to the scene in 2013 with "Gecko (Overdrive)," a track that established Heldens as a pioneer of future house. We spoke more with the DJ on his big break, his inspirations, and what's next for him.
You have had tremendous growth these last few years and you're absolutely crushing it. We caught you down in Miami as well. Where do you get your inspiration from when you're creating your tracks?"
[Definitely] 'Gecko' still. That was my big breakthrough song, and I just love it and the impact it had on the whole scene. I'm really still so proud of it."
Where do you see the scene going?
"Well in general in the last couple of years we've seen dance music, in general, getting bigger and bigger, where whether it's techno or tech house or future house or deep house, it's really growing and that's really nice. I definitely see Trance going more upwards, back to the roots and getting more danceable and less aggressive. It seems like that dance music, in general, is getting so big, and it's only been mainstream since like 2010, so like right now is the perfect time for people to really dive in deeper, and it's really nice to see that you can be a really niche sounding artist, and it can be very dark and not mainstream but you still have a big crowd to play for. That's what's really nice about the scene right now. I feel like people are very open-minded nowadays and they like multiple genres."
Oliver Heldens - Summer Lover (Lyric Video) ft. Devin, Nile Rodgers www.youtube.com
Your Heldeep Radio has really grown and includes so many great underground artists. Your song choice in particular has gotten you a lot of recognition. How do you narrow down what to include?
I go through a lot of tracks, and the ones that excite me I put them on the show. When I started doing monthly mixtapes, they became so popular that so many radio stations were asking me to do a weekly mix, and in the beginning, it was quite hard for me, because to deliver quality tracks every week was quite difficult, and at that time there weren't many producers making future house or like this kind of mix between bass and tech house. But over the years more and more people started to make more of that more music...and Heldeep Records kinda developed from doing Heldeep radio shows, because with the Heldeep Radio shows I got so many demos and promos from undiscovered talents, e-mails, people on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc. So I decided to start Heldeep Records. Also, at that time, I wanted to create an alias for my more underground, more bass-driven and darker tracks. So it all came together perfectly. Even though I felt kinda young to start my own record label, but luckily there were a lot of my inspirations when I launched the label and a lot of artists were really keen on releasing on Heldeep, which was both inspiring and motivating.
Will you be focusing more on the Heldeep sound as you go forward?
"Over the last few years, we've been trying to do more Heldeep shows, Heldeep stage hostings at big festivals, and that's been going great so far. So definitely wanna do that more and more."
What type of sounds are you mostly looking for now?
What's a piece of advice you can offer those underground acts?
"I would say to aspiring DJs and producers, take your time, don't feel rushed to breakthrough. Sometimes it just feels better to just take more time, and it takes time to develop your own sound. So don't try to go for shortcuts or, yeah, it's important that it's fun and that you like the music...especially if you're very young your tastes can shift very quickly. Sometimes it's important just to take time and think about what kind of music you really want to make, and don't go off too much on trance, stay true to yourself and support it."