Oliver Huntemann has been a prominent and respected name within underground dance music for over two decades. Throughout his career, the gifted Hamburg-based DJ and producer has achieved much praise and recognition through releasing no less than four acclaimed artist albums and countless EP’s and remixes plus his stellar collaboration projects with the likes of Dubfire, Stephan Bodzin and more.
We had the chance to talk with Oliver as he just released his latest album ‘Propaganda’ on Senso Sounds. This is his fifth long-player, and like each of its predecessors, it shows a different side to one of the most consistently rewarding names in techno.
Electronic Groove: Hi Oliver, it’s a pleasure to chat with someone who’s produced so much music that we love and enjoy at EG. Talking about your recent release ‘Propaganda’, what can you tell about the inspiration behind the album?
Oliver Huntemann: After a couple of years being focused on different things such as launching my new label Senso Sounds and the Kontrast Artists agency, I simply felt the need to tell another story. It’s one thing to produce one or two singles per year plus a bunch of remixes but to express yourself as an artist with an album is the perfect way to move forward and show different sides of yourself as well as how you have developed – referring to both sound and technology.
Electronic Groove: Do you see this album as a milestone in your career?
Oliver Huntemann: I have never seen any work of mine as a milestone. I think it’s not for me to judge my music but I’m happy and satisfied with the result of ‘Propaganda’ in terms of transforming the idea I had in mind for this album. Everything I do is more or less little steps to reach a certain goal. If this goal has been reached I set another one.
Electronic Groove: Why the name ‘Propaganda’?
Oliver Huntemann: Giving tracks or an album a name at the beginning helps me sometimes to follow a path and create a special vibe. Propaganda is a big theme with many possibilities and I like the strength of the meaning – either it’s positive or negative. It also gives many options for the artwork and videos.
Electronic Groove: In regards to studio gear, was there any new hardware used or do you have any old school equipment that you always use?
Oliver Huntemann: I try always being up to date without being too nerdy. It’s not about filling the studio with all the latest gadgets, it’s about how to handle few very well. Less is more. As I try to be focused in the future I appreciate the benefits of modern computer-based systems. In our case, it’s a PowerMac with LogicPro and the usual native synths from i.e. Arturia and Native Instruments. Me and my partner André Winter, who runs the studio, almost never use our old hardware synthesizers anymore. We keep them unplugged in our synthesizer museum. Sometimes we are in the mood to implement this or that but mostly we give up after a while. It’s simply not handy and doesn’t lead to better results.
“I’m happy and satisfied with the result of ‘Propaganda’ in terms of transforming the idea I had in mind for this album”
Electronic Groove: The album is tied to a tour where you recently visited a few cities in Argentina and Colombia. How was the response in such countries where progressive house has been the staple sound over the years?
Oliver Huntemann: I travel especially to Argentina and other Latin American countries frequently and have done for more than 15 years, it’s great to see how the scene has changed and evolved to proper electronic music. To me the crowd in Argentina is one of the hottest relating to techno. Especially Cordoba and Buenos Aires are mind-blowing. Also Mexico, Colombia and Brazil are outstanding.
Electronic Groove: Do you get a different vibe there compared to playing in Europe or the US?
Oliver Huntemann: There is not a big difference between Europe and Latin America except that the Latinos seem very fresh and ready to party wild. Regarding the US I see it a bit differently. There are unfortunately still not many places for proper underground dance music. It got better after the EDM over-hype but it seems it still needs time and work to reach the level of other countries. To me, El Paso has been strong for many years and of course, Miami and New York offer nice spots too.
Electronic Groove: Colombia and Mexico are your latest South American visits. Have you played there before, and do you prepare your sets differently for different crowds?
Oliver Huntemann: I’m just on the plane back from three superb gigs in Medellin, Bogota and Cali. I’ve played already a couple of times in Bogota for the guys of Baum Club, which is one of my favorite clubs in the world. The show was sold out again and many people were outside waiting in front of locked doors. For Medellin and Cali, it was my first time but both gigs were above-average. When it comes to Mexico I can say that I’m very related to this country in terms of DJing and also privately as my wife is from Mexico City. I played all over the country frequently for more than a decade and for example Hardpop Club in Ciudad Juarez, might be the best techno club in America. I don’t prepare my sets differently for different crowds because luckily I get invited to present my sound.
Electronic Groove: Going back to ‘Propaganda’. It was released on your own label Senso Sounds. What would you advice to those who are planning on starting a label?
Oliver Huntemann: When starting a label it helps to encircle a clear sound spectrum or a certain vibe you want to offer. It doesn’t make sense trying to cover many different styles, either you are a label owner or a producer. It’s always important to be focused. Also, copying what others do or already did only makes you a follower, which can be ok but you need a certain uniqueness to reach a higher level. However, the most important thing is a passion for what you do.
Electronic Groove: What is Visual Music?
Oliver Huntemann: Visual Music is an EU powered project to develop a system for DJs which converts the musical input to visuals for a personalized show, as varied and different as every single DJ set is. The plan is to develop a modular system which is suitable for a small DJ-booth as well as for big festival stages.
“I don’t prepare my sets differently for different crowds because luckily I get invited to present my sound”
Electronic Groove: Do you have any other new projects on the horizon?
Oliver Huntemann: I always have new projects on the horizon. For next year I want to bring my label Senso Sounds closer to the people with more showcases at selected events and venues.
Electronic Groove: If you ever find time to unwind, what do you like to hear?
Oliver Huntemann: I prefer deeper electronica when I’m on the road or off, for example Ghostpoet, Chet Faker, among many others.
Electronic Groove: Thanks for your time! We hope to see you soon in Miami
Oliver Huntemann: Thank you guys for the interesting interview. Can’t wait to be back at Ocean Drive 😉
Oliver Huntemann’s ‘Propaganda’ is available. Stream or buy here.
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