House DJ, producer and label boss Oliver Heldens had little in the way of rest in 2019, jetting between gigs in Japan, the States and Ibiza, playing festivals such as Tomorrowland, Ultra and South West Four, and pumping out plenty of hit productions. Disco was a definite muse this year, with the boogie pianos, swung beats and synth bass pump of ‘This Groove’ getting plenty of attention, while Heldens’ version of Chic’s evergreen hit ‘Le Freak’ gave the track an inventive sub-bass re-spray. ‘Summer Lover’ went one further than remixing the famous disco band, and enlisted the help of guitar king and production mastermind Nile Rodgers, in addition to vocalist Devin. Meanwhile, a collaboration with Riton, ‘Turn Me On’, featuring vocalist Vula, found a new use for a familiar Yazoo riff, and was snapped up by Ministry Of Sound for release — smashing into the UK top ten. Another musical hook up, this time with Moguai, ‘Cucumba’, combined a neon acid line and vibrant melodies with thumping main stage beats.
The Dutch DJ’s record label Heldeep was equally active this year, and signed records from a plethora of successful big room house producers. Everything from Moguai’s ‘Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime’ (a cover of The Korgis’ ’80s pop classic) to the infectious house stabs and skippy beats of Oomloud’s ‘Like That’ got an airing, and proved the eclecticism of Heldens’ tastes.
“We had plenty of great releases this year from the likes of Chocolate Puma, Zonderling, Curbi, Moguai, Black Caviar, GAWP, SKIY, Daddy’s Groove, Oomloud, myself, my HI-LO alias and many more,” Heldens says. “Also, for the upcoming months, we’ve got a lot of exciting releases planned in.”
Heldeep hosted several festival stages in 2019, notably at Mysteryland and Tomorrowland, while a takeover of Club Maïa during ADE is also planned this month, featuring Firebeatz, CID and many more. Heldens also continued to develop his more techno-focused alter ego HI-LO in 2019, with a couple of new productions hinting at a fresh direction for the producer.
“I’m releasing a new HI-LO track, a very heavy techno one,” he says. “It’s already getting support from Enrico Sangiuliano, UMEK and Wehbba, who are some of my favourite techno producers, so I’m very happy with that. Also, I’m working on a HI-LO rework of Jones & Stephenson’s ‘The First Rebirth’.”
Still to come this year are big gigs at London’s giant Printworks venue, and at Colorado’s capacious Convention Center.