Oliver Heldens is a music star on the rise. With his recent hit "Gecko" alongside remixes of Robin Thicke, "Feel Good" and Martin Garrix's "Animals," he's garnered a steady following fans faster than many artists we've seen. Maybe it's because he has labels like Spinnin' Records supporting him fully through Spinnin' Deep, artists like Tiesto pushing him as an artist that piques their own personal taste, or his ability to bring young fans like himself (he's 19) over to listen to the deeper side of house and acknowledge its history. It seems that Heldens might not be a man of total patience, though his perseverance through his discovery off of Soundcloud and further hard work through his career so far have proved. Last week, we got to sit down with the Dutch producer after his first performance during Miami Music Week at one of the biggest parties of the week: Spinnin' Sessions at Nikki Beach.
EARMILK: So how did you get into music?
Oliver Heldens: I started with the keyboard, but I didn't really like it because I had to practice a lot. Because you have to practice like, four hours, to be able to play one piece of music. So I was like, "I want to create music myself," but it was actually a few years later that I discovered how to do that. And since I discovered that I could do that and put a lot of hours into that, I've been able to develop a lot.
EARMILK: Do you think playing piano has influenced how you make your music today?
Oliver Heldens: No. In my situation, I played keyboard for only one year, maybe longer. It was also 8 years ago. So at the moment, when I make melodies, I don't use my keyboard. I also never really played it that well, but it was a start to get into music.
EARMILK: Do you have a particular way of going about producing?
Oliver Heldens: It just comes to me. If I look for inspiration from like, the "Gecko" style – because many people ask that of me – I look to tracks that are from years ago. For "Gecko," it was tracks from 6 years ago: the Sneaker Sound, old tracks from Sander van Doorn, Bingo Players, Fedde le Grand, D. Ramirez, stuff like that.
EARMILK: That's really interesting to hear since "Gecko" is having such an impact on listeners and their understanding of dance music today. How has the success of that track influenced how you look at music and perform?
Oliver Heldens: I don't think people's reactions have a big influence on me. You know I have the Robin Thicke remix that's coming out, and that one is a bit like "Gecko," and people are already complaining about that. But there are also so many people who are like, "Yes! It sound like 'Gecko,' I want to hear more like that." But I won't look at comments like that: right now I'm working on a lot of different types of stuff. I'm making techno, and some jazzy house, but of course I can't release all of them, I have to choose. The techno track will be released and I'm really excited because it's different than what they've heard from me so far, but you can still hear it's me.
EARMILK: Of course the important parts about being successful in this business are keeping your own style while experimenting and constantly pushing yourself.
Oliver Heldens: And also the most important thing is to be happy with it, with the work that you've done.
EARMILK: It's your first time at WMC. What are you looking forward to most while being here?
Oliver Heldens: Actually every party that I have to go to. And not only the bigger parties like Pete Tong and this one, Spinnin' Sessions, but also the smaller parties. I'm playing for Chocolate Puma in a hotel, and I love their stuff at the moment, it's really house-y and I really feel like I'm comfortable there playing with them.
EARMILK: What are some artists that you listen to outside of dance music?
Oliver Heldens: Well, it's a lot of electronic music still. I listen to a lot of drum and bass, but most of all the UK influenced stuff like garage and dubstep. And I am pretty into hardstyle as well.