A Sit Down With DJ Oliver Huntemann
Oliver Huntemann is one of the most experienced artists youll encounter in your exploration of techno. Hes been DJing for 34 yearssince the age of 14and has witnessed the evolution of techno, mixing, and production technology from his roots in northwestern Germany to the far reaches of the world. I had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with Oli at The BPM Festival right before his intimate back to back with Dubfire on the roof of Thompson.
"Music these days, especially electronic music, has become more and more of promo tool for an artist. But having said that, I still love delivering a good product in the shops."
Can you tell us about some of your bigger profile remixes. Youve worked on tracks for Underworld, Chemical Brothers and Depeche Mode. Does the stature of the band influence the amount of work you put into the remix itself?
Its an accolade getting asked to do a remix for Chemical Brothers and Depeche Mode. Since Im a big fan of both bands, I cant hide that Ive been more critical and excited while working on these remixes. I was given the opportunity to chose a classic Depeche Mode track by myself. This was one of the hardest decisions in my musical life but I guess it was a good idea grabbing Everything Counts.
How do you view the new generation of producers and DJs?
There are some guys who are inspired with our sound and I hear it when I get some demos, when theyve sampled a loop off one of my tracks or used a similar sound, but thats OK. The next step is to do their own thing and theres some outstanding young producers like John Dahlback out there doing their own thing.
Do you enjoy the latest technology when producing or are you an old school geek with vintage equipment?
I enjoy both, its about the balance but I have to admit most of the time I work with Native stuff in my Mac.
In addition of creating your new label, you also brought to birth Kontrast, your very own management agency, based in Hamburg. How do you combine being a Dj and a producer and keep being the boss of your labels and management agency?
I guess time-management and the right team is the key to successes here.
Are there one or two German artists you would like to introduce us, that has maybe been signed under your imprint recently or that you would like to sign?
Of course, there is artist who deserves to be introduced. His name is André Winter and he's my co-producer since seven years. He got the skills, fantastic ears and magic hands for the mixer. One of the most underrated artists so far but I'm sure he will get bigger attention soon. He already delivered part 1 of a new single series of 3 and it's a bomb. To be released end of the year on Ideal! Another artist I expect bigger things from soon is Sebrok from Berlin. A very talented producer and DJ. His last record on Ideal was produced alongside Tassilo from Pan-Pot and is one of my 2011 favourites so far.
Who were your top producers when you first got into music?
Laurent Garnier at the very beginning. And also as a DJ; he played so many styles. There was this electronic music before techno. Stuff like MARRS Pump Up The Volume. S`express. I always listened to electronic music, even when I was a young kid. I was never this rock and roll or glam rock type. I started with electrofunk. With breakdancing, when I was around 14. I still have this vibe in my productions, a little bit of this Egyptian Lovers in the basslines. I never liked rap so much. I was more into the beats and the 808 stuff.
You are appreciated by many big names out there, as you are a self-professed expert in techno music. This is mainly the result of your excellent producing skills. How did you start producing, and at what age?
I started DJ-ing when I was about fourteen years old, and started producing a few years later. I think I was around nineteen then, equipped with nothing more than a horrible Yamaha D5 synthesizer. Later on I met Gerret Frerichs at one of my first self-organised techno parties, who already owned a recording studio. We were immediately on the same wave and started working together. Additionally, Jazz musician H.G. Schmidt joined us and together we created our first demo CD, which we sent to MFS in Berlin. Thats how the story of Humate has started. Our second single, Love Stimulation, released on MFS in 1992 included a remix by a young at that time unknown DJ from Berlin, called Paul van Dyk. At that moment, we didnt anticipate that it would become a worldwide crossover hit.
Tell us about your DJing. I imagine your style has developed from early Trance and into Techno. As most DJs now use a sequencing based software, has the performance elements; the Art of DJing, changed in your opinion?
Sure it has changed but I dont mind. For me its absolutely not about the technical gadgets, its about the music you play. Get a connection with the crowd, send them on a journey, create a good dramaturgy. You can have magic equipment but beat sync doesnt make you a good DJ at all. In the end every artist has to find out which working material works best for them.
How do you fire up your production process and how long does it typically take for you to finish a song?
I'm well prepared and have a clear idea in my mind of what I want to do before I start working in the studio. This helps me a lot to focus on where to start. Let's say it takes between three and seven days to finish a song, depending on the flow. Sometimes, it takes shorter or longer; sometimes I even change tracks after I play them out a few times. It's really important for me to release high quality music, so I don't worry about how much time it needs. Good things take time!
How do you regards DJ requests: have you ever had problems from over-pushy- or drunk- clubbers?
Of course. Once a drunken guest fell into the turntables, completely causing the needle to scratch across the record. The music stopped and the whole club started to hoot at him until he left the venue. But in general I dont have big problems with such guys. Normally I act with firmness but in a friendly way, that works most of the time.
What`s the secret to remaining relevant over 2 decades?
I never thought about if there is a secret to remain relevant in the scene, I just do what I like and feel. My unaltered passion for electronic music and arts and the volition to work hard to reach my goals helps a lot. Im still hungry setting my marks in the business and also finding special music for both my productions and DJ sets. Always when I reached one of my targeted objectives I set a new one on a possibly reachable level. I dont do things without a clear prospect.
Any advice for people wanting to build their own collection of records to sample and play?
Start with your dads record collection if it still exists. Listen carefully to every track and mark the ones you like most. You find samples often on records which are totally different to your style its just a sample and is waiting to be used by you, for you. After getting to know your new basic record collection (its now yours because your dad doesnt care anymore about the heavy, uncomfortable black shit and is more than happy to get it out of his house) you can do the next step and enter a hard-to-find record store.
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