Think of music reinvention, or the man who simply spins stunning records, then there’s the supreme production sensibilities, not to mention years and years of sizzling club outings. In particular this electronic beats pioneer has had an overwhelming impact over the dance scene, spread across an iconic music legacy, very few can only dream of emulating.
The one artist whose revered, respected, adored and spoken of in hushed whispers till date. Please welcome to the pages of Decoded magazine the fearless purveyor of Acid House, former break dancer and Ideal Audio label boss- Oliver Huntemann in a no holds barred chat.
Hi Oliver, getting straight down to business, can you give us a brief account of how your days as a Dj/Producer take off. Your earliest influences etc?
I started of with around Electro, because I used to be a Breakdancer back in the eighties. We were dancing to all this Electro-Funk stuff from Afrika Bambataa, Hashim and Newcleus. Then I watched the movie Wild Style and got infected, by the DJ thing immediately. After throwing some parties around, I met producer Gerret Frerichs and he invited me in to his studio. We soon founded a project called Humate. So one thing led to the other.
Were you doing the typical things that a young and aspiring Dj would do such as tinkering around with djing stuff, or going to listen to other artists play?
Sure, I guess that’s kind of what every young DJ does. You have a club and some amount of friends, a base where you go to at the weekends and share the same passion in your hometown.
How did the Ideal Audio label idea come to you and what’s the status on this currently, plus your very latest imprint Senso Sounds, what’s the vision behind these projects that you’d like to see come to fruition?
I founded ”Ideal Audio” with my former business partner Jan Langer from Bremen. I simply felt its time for something new. A label has an image and sometimes its easier to start all over again, than simply refreshing old things. After five years of Ideal Audio, I had the feeling of I need to concentrate with all my power. Distance can become a problem. While Ideal was managed by me from Hamburg and administrated by Jan from Bremen, I felt that I’d like to have everything in my hands. That’s the reason why I founded Senso Sounds. We have people working only for Senso Sounds in the office and all side works such as graphics, distribution and so on are based in Hamburg too. This is really a benefit to make every release special and unique. I always dreamed about having a team only working on one vision and that’s happening now.
Let’s talk about your legendary collaboration with Dubfire in 2008, how did you guys meet and what were the thoughts behind the releases of ”Dios”, ”Elements” series- ”Tierra and Fuego”. You guys also went on to create ”Aqua” and ”Aires” under the latter concept after a considerable amount of time…Is it safe to say, that the two of you shared a common musical enthusiasm and similarity of creative minds that ended up as ground breaking and satisfying, to ask an obvious question?
Ali wrote to me back then on Myspace, said that he likes my music and asked, if we should do a collaboration. I liked Dubfire’s music and persona much and said yes. We did not think too much about what we do or want. We just wanted to work together, tried it and it worked out. It was all about the flow and we found many similarities and shared enthusiasm in our work, and not only production wise. We had the concepts before we started the productions and even here, they came naturally to our minds. Its something that everyone can understand without a big explanation. All we did was easy, not pushed pressed or forced. There was a pretty clear guideline of doing 4 singles combining 4 Elements . Fuego, Terra, Aire and Aqua. Aqua is the last in the row and then we hopefully come up with a new idea, that’ll simply go it’s way.
A pertinent question comes to mind, I’d really like to know if you’ve been hitting any other countries, like let’s say the US? If yes, what do you think about the scenario there in comparison to Europe where you’re already highly appreciated?
I travel the world. Electronic music or to be precise Techno, is popular and growing all over. I like to see this development, as surely US is a tricky example. It starts with the working visa and the big amount of trouble and expenses before you can play there. US might not be the strongest territory for my music, but it has a very strong underground scene and the challenges are always interesting. Also not to forget about Detroit and Chicago, where a lot of European producers refer the sound and first steps to.
You had quite a bit of critical acclaim for your ”H-3” album in 2009, but prior to this you had been churning out a good number of remix work for other musical greats such as Underworld, Chemical Brothers and Depeche Mode, are you still up to collaborate with other artists in the future, is it an integral part of your career mechanism. Does this kind of getting together give you joy?
Getting a remix request from Underworld, Chemical Brothers or Depeche Mode gives me more than only joy. I have a lot of respect for them and back then when I started, I could never imagine remixing Depeche Mode one day. Its a big honour and an accolade that makes me proud and very happy about my work. I’m still up for collaborations, but I choose wisely.
I understand the versatility and talent of the Huntemann work body as vast, unique and has been over a long period of time. On that note how have you kept yourself excited all these years. Do you ever go through an artist block down, days when nothing goes right?
I just keep on going, try not to worry so much. Life is exciting for me, I get inspiration everywhere and in little things. All of a sudden, I have an idea and then I work it out. Surely, I have block downs sometimes, I’m only a human. The art is how to handle the block down and this is something you learn with time. My block downs now, are way easier and more relaxed. I just ignore them and don’t bother. If its not working, I leave the studio and do something else to reset my head. If I have to skip a deadline, I’ll skip it. That’s the benefit of being your own boss.
Could you give us your thoughts about the PLAY! series which you started up in late 2012, how’s that different from your other projects, and your recent Play!05 Live in Vienna, happy with the end result?
The PLAY! series is a concept of Live recordings of my dj-sets in selected clubs around the globe and started back in 2007 at D-Edge in Sao Paulo. The idea behind it is to capture a night, how it was and to have a memory, like a picture in a family photo album. With the ups and downs, emotions, feelings and the interaction of the crowd. Its like a snapshot and that’s the thrill of this project. I cannot edit or change it until I like it 100%. Its like a Polaroid, if there is something wrong in the picture, you see it when its printed and you can’t change it. I’m very happy with the end result, it was a very enthusiastic and long night at Grelle Forelle in Vienna.
In all these projects that you’ve laid your musical hands on, are you staying true to the Huntemann vibe or do you want to sort of diversify and try new sounds under the above mentioned packages?
I know where I belong to and I stay true to myself. I’m not one of those guys who would drive 10 cars for every kind of circumstances. If you see my sound as a room, it has changed over all these years. I’ve repainted the walls, I changed furniture, I’ve put one chair from one side to the other, I bought another cupboard and so on, but its still my room.
What’s the true nature of the Huntemann style of producing. Do you prefer a certain element or vibe in your productions, one which makes you feel it’s going right?
It always started with a kick and mostly a catchy bassline and an idea of a vibe. From there everything else rises.
Can you run us down with the studio set up you have currently?
Apple PPC, Logic Pro X, RME Fireface Soundcard, Focal Twin 6BE speakers, Arturia Analog Classic Vintage-Synths collection, Reaktor, Juno 106, Roland SH 101, Roland TR 808 & 909, MAM VF-11 Vocoder
What type of DJ are you behind the console, are you a peoples person, like interacting with your audience or do you have your head down and prefer to concentrate on the music?
I basically have my head down and concentrate on the music, but I watch my crowd carefully. Also it depends on the night and my mood, how intro- or extroverted I maybe for that given evening. I’m definitely not one of those ”Push your hands up” DJs and its not my goal to guide or force people to dance. They should dance because they like my music and the dramatics of my set keeps them going. I don’t need those marionettes, who are screaming because a DJ told them to. I prefer to let the music speak!
How’s the ”5unf- Five years of Ideal Audio” going, there’s the worldwide tour as well as a 2 disc compilation. As I see it, quite a few of the talented new brigade show cased in the cds. Happy with the entire pack?
Yes, I’m very happy, but we just finished the promotion and tour and focusing on new things like the release of the PLAY! 05 live in Vienna mix compilation and the release tour.
After running Confused with your partner in crime Jan Langer for many years before Ideal Audio, what makes you veer off in to Cocoon. Can you elaborate on the musical pathway, you will undertake?
After all these years with Jan I just wanted to make an experience. Cocoon is one of the biggest and oldest companies in our scene. Sven Vath did and moved a lot for our culture and is one of my biggest idols. When you get an offer like that, its just hard to deny. I wanted to try it to avoid asking myself later, ”Why didn’t I”. The collaboration is over, and as I mentioned before I forced all my powers up, and have moved everything to Hamburg working with my own team on all my artistical matters, including my own booking and management agency Kontrast Artists. So everything about me and my labels is in my own hands now.
As one of the most respected and busy DJ’s of the circuit, does the mighty Oliver Huntemann ever take a day off. Do you have any other pursuits, such as reading, sports or a hobby we don’t know of?
I have a dog and I love sailing to free my mind.
I’m really interested in knowing your thoughts about the general state of electronic dance music and Techno in particular. Do you think things are going in the right direction world wide, are we in a happy place, or do you think commercial chart busting fare will always play spoil sport for the underground diaspora. Having said that, there’s the point of good natured co-existence. What do you feel?
I don’t worry about that. Commercial music was always and still be a part of electronic music history, but it never really affected the growth of the so called underground.
To sign off, is it easy being you and what are the immediate plans for going even higher than you are in 2014. Perhaps a need for something that’s guiding you forward?
Yes, I got something that is guiding me forward, but I don’t like to speak about things, before they grip. Let’s see what 2015 brings and speak then.
Here’s a cheer for the breath-taking past and we wish him all the best for the awesomeness that, Oliver’s style of work promises club land in future!!