Rising star Deniz Koyu was born in Germany to Turkish parents, but now lives in Holland where he works closely with dirty Dutch star Fedde Le Grand. He's been catapulted high into the scene over the last couple of years thanks to his patronage by Fedde, the Swedes, Tiesto, Guetta and Avicii, and as his productions have gone from strength, so have his DJ sets.
Mashing up main room electro, trouse, house and a smattering of trance, his star is firmly in the ascendancy. He's done plenty of big shows already this year, with plenty more to follow, and with his amusingly-titled Bongbastic radio show — named after his big summer hit 'Bong' — reaching far and wide there's only one way he's looking, and that's forwards.
Deniz has put together a minimix for us, so DJ Weekly thought it was a good time to catch up with the new Euro sensation while he was relaxing in Ibiza at Ushuaia...
Hi Deniz, you were born in Germany and your origins are Turkish — now you live in the Netherlands. When did you move?
“My parents are from Turkey but I was born in Germany and lived my whole life there. I went to school and university in Germany, started to learn music production and made all of my first records — 'Tung!', 'Hertz', the remix of James Blunt's 'Dangerous' etc — in my small home studio in my apartment. I moved to the Netherlands in October last year after my first big steps, cos Fedde Le Grand offered me to get into his second studio inside the Flamingo HQ. This was a great opportunity for me and it’s awesome now to be working under one roof together with Fedde.”
What percentage do you consider yourself German? Or do you think of yourself as totally Turkish?
“That’s always hard for me to say. My whole family lives in Turkey except my parents and my sister, but all my best friends are from Germany and I spent all my time with them. So I think I feel more related to my German environment, but when I come to Turkey I always have a feeling of being home.”
What first got you into electronic dance music and producing?
“It was the house music scene around 10 years ago that got me extremely excited and got me into electronic dance music in general. I was always more interested in instrumental electronic music than the usual vocal pop from my childhood onwards, but especially in my teenage years I got fascinated by the sounds, the grooves and melodies of house music at that time. And I always wanted to make music myself, and I loved to be creative at the computer. One led to the other and I started to play around with music software when I was 16. It was only a little hobby back then and it grew slowly into what it is for me today, my full-time profession and biggest passion in my life.”
Who would you say you're influenced by?
“My earliest influence of all is definitely the Michael Jackson albums produced by Quincy Jones, then it was a lot of Daft Punk and then I got into house music via early records by Axwell, Eric Prydz, Stonebridge, Junior Jack, Mylo etc.”
What do you consider was your big breakthrough?
“That definitely was my record 'Tung!' which got released in June 2011 by Flamingo Records. This was my first track that got a lot of attention worldwide, and suddenly people were becoming aware of my name.”
How does it feel that, for instance, Swedish House Mafia used to play four of your songs in a two-hour set, and getting support from all the big names such as Tiesto, David Guetta, Fedde Le Grand or Avicii?
“It’s absolutely amazing to see this huge support for my own music coming from the biggest DJs in the world. That’s when you realize your hard work is paying off and it’s getting recognized and respected. It’s a dream that became true.”
How do you know the Swedes?
“I love the Swedes, they are really great guys and I’m friends with them. I played a bunch of shows with Axwell including his Cosmic Opera in New York, and I released ‘Bong’ on Sebastian Ingrosso’s Refune Records. Right now I’m actually sitting in my room at the Ushuaia hotel in Ibiza and getting ready for the Refune party that is going down tonight!”
'Bong' is one of the most played records this summer. Did you expect this?
“I always try not to make big expectations for myself, so I won’t be disappointed if something should not work out. In this case it did work out, and I’m really glad to see that DJs and listeners like this record so much!”
Tell us something about your new radio show, 'Deniz Koyu presents Bongbastic'. How did you come up with the name?
“Yes that’s right, it will be a monthly show on Sirius XM and more stations where I present my own latest work, some new exclusives and everything that I think is hot and banging. I will also play one classic house record each episode to show a bit of my musical roots. I had the idea for the name when people on Twitter were coming up with all kinds of funny word combos with ‘bong’, related to my track 'Bong', and so I joined them and called my show ‘Bongbastic’.”
You've remixed some big people already, but is there anyone you'd still like to remix?
“Yes of course, there are still so many artists I would love to remix in the future, too many to name them all. Coldplay would be very cool, M83, Skylar Grey, and also Skrillex would be challenging and very interesting for me.”
What's been the best gig you've ever played?
“I can’t pick out just one, but some of my favourites so far have been Ultra Music Festival, the VELD festival in Toronto, Avalon in LA, and the Takeover parties I did with Fedde Le Grand.”
What's been happening for you this summer?
“A lot of touring in America and Europe, and I finished three remixes (for Zedd’s ‘Spectrum’, Mike Snow’s ‘Pretender’ and a collab remix together with Fedde Le Grand) as well as my new single ‘Follow You’ with Wynther Gordon. Also my Refune release ‘Bong’ is still doing very well. So it’s been a busy summer this year!”
Does it put you under pressure to be seen as one of the biggest breakthrough acts of 2012?
“Yes of course, it does create a lot of pressure but I try not to think about it, especially when I’m in the studio so I have a clear mind and can be as creative as before. I’m first of all making music cos I have a lot of fun doing it, and I make music that I personally like. When other people like it as well, that’s even better!”
Here are a few links to more Deniz tracks...
Deniz Koyu feat. Wynter Gordon 'Follow You':
Zedd 'Spectrum (Deniz Koyu Remiz)':
Another Deniz DJ mix: