Having seen release on labels including Innervisions, AEON Audio and Exit Strategy, as well as playing huge slots at the likes of ADE and Off Sonar, Denis Horvat has already made some stellar acheivements as a DJ/producer. But, through his dynamic productions and complex sets of and deep and melodic techno, it’s clear the Dane has a bright future ahead of him.
Born to Croatian parents in Frederiksvaerk, a small village 60km north west of Copenhagen, Horvat grew up on a musical education of his Dad’s 80s records, with favourites including Depeche Mode, Billy Idol, Blondie and Kiss. Shortly after, at 10-years-old, his cousin introduced him to The Prodigy, starting a long-term love affair with electronic music that hasn’t subsided since. Having played the drums from around the same time, Horvat got his first decks at 15, before going on to make his initial foray into production through DOS based sequencer FastTracker whilst still in his teens.
He would go on to attend his first rave at Distortion Festival, a two-day event that saw the likes of Trentemøller, Steve Lawler and Mark Knight play in a giant industrial building in Copenhagen. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard techno, but it was the first time he’d heard it on a dancefloor, and it was something that had long-term impact on his musical output.
In 2009, Horvat then moved to Copenhagen to pursue a career in music. Before moving he’d already spun at Culture Box in the city, where he would then go on to become a resident, playing at a monthly party at the venue. The move came at a time the city has seen a burgeoning scene of underground house and techno, but the biggest shift in Horvat’s infiltration of the world’s biggest dancefloors came when he signed to Berlin-based label Upon.You Records. The imprint’s home is a city the Dane has visited regularly since moving to the Dutch capital, and says has had a huge impact on the music he plays and produces.
He’s since been released on labels including Exit Strategy, Connaisseur Recordings and Sum Over Histories, before going on to form a bond with AEON Audio boss Alex Niggemann that he describes as a “meeting of minds”. Also releasing work by artists including TVA, Bastinov and Jona, the direction of AEON quickly felt like a true home for Horvat’s sound. It also saw a shift in his career that garnered the attention of artists like Âme and Dixon, who subsequently signed him up for his first release through their Innervisions label in early 2016, with ‘Momak’ landing on their ‘Secret Weapons 8’ EP. “In my opinion their label is the top of the mountain,” Horvat says of Innervisions. “I wanted to be part of their crew but never thought it would happen so quickly.”
Considering himself a producer first, after a huge 2015 – which saw his ‘Cedevita’ EP become the mainstay in the record box of the most discerning techno DJs – Horvat spent an extended period in the studio at the start of 2016. What’s followed is an intense period of releases that has seen the Dane establish his trademark sound, with the dynamic productions on releases like his ‘Exit’ and ‘In Hertz’ EPs riding the gamut from slow and deep through to more aggressive techno. Horvat’s studio set up is stacked with analogue gear, resulting in what he describes as the “synthesizer techno” he makes. And the Dane is also a talented remixer to boot, with his rework of Speaking Minds’ ‘Monongahela’ being almost omnipresent on dancefloors throughout the summer following its release.
But despite the fact he focused on production in the early years if his career, Horvat has fast established himself as a master of spinning sets that blend myriad sounds, weaving techno into deep house, tech, afro house and much more. Focusing on detailed tracks, with selections that weave a tapestry from start to finish, his sets have resulted in Horvat now regularly sharing the bill with some of the world’s most revered selectors, including the likes of Âme, Dixon and Maceo Plex. “I’m just keeping doing what I’m doing,” he says about keeping his feet on the ground. “For me right now it’s just really exciting to be swimming amongst the big sharks.”