Interview: Onno

ONNO is a revered Dutch DJ and producer who has been steadily rising to the top of the pile since 2001.

In the ensuing years, he has released a number of well-received EPs, most recently the Beatport topping ‘Paragroove’ on Moon Harbour, which also made hime one of the top 3 most charted artists on Resident Advisor.

ONNO now continues to produce for other top labels including Get Physical, Souvenir, Saved and International DJ Gigolos. The sound that he now weaves at clubs and festivals across Europe is a bass heavy one with plenty of interlocking house grooves all heavily reliant on big bottom ends, and has received much support from the likes of MANDY, Reboot, Davide Squillace, Matthias Tanzmann and many more.

The future looks just as bright for ONNO: as well as continuing to spin in the best clubs around the world, ONNO has many more productions in the pipeline, each of which will continue to showcase his own unique house style. With all this in mind we nabbed the man himself for a quick chat recently, and here’s what he had to say ahead of the release of his latest EP, ‘Some Mo’ on Upon.You Records.

“…rather than following the latest trends what some other people tend to do, I am happy that I floated around [a little bit] before settling on something that I am truly passionate about.”

How did you get into house and techno? 
That’s a while ago already, haha. As a kid I was already fascinated with music, trying to do a drive-in show when I was 11 or 12 or something.  After that I got heavily into hip hop, which later developed into a love for electronic music. I feel everyone goes through a lot of different styles of music before finding that right match that sticks, it’s a part of growing up I reckon. Looking back I’ve always been a fan of stuff with a lot of bass.

Where did you grow up and what was it like? Was it a good place for house and techno?
I grew up in Noordwijk, a town on the Dutch coast in-between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. It was a great place as a kid, with the beach around the corner, and some nice local bars as there are so many tourist youngsters that wanted to go out there in summer. Music wise it wasn’t much though, but the proximity to both Amsterdam and Rotterdam still made it a good place to be when I got to the age where I could go to clubs and raves. We had a very tight knit group of friends that were all into the same music as I was, so every week we would drive to amsterdam to go out and discover new stuff. That all being said though, as soon as I could, I moved to Amsterdam and didn’t really look back after that.

What were you into before house? What was your entry point to the music?
As I said earlier, I was a hip hop kid, and still am, and I went through various phases with different types of electronic music before ending up where I have been for the past 10 years or something (including a hardcore phase, being a rebellious teenager in Holland but some progressive house, and later I was heavily into the whole west-coast tribally house stuff like Halo and Hippie). I think all those different types of music did help me develop a signature, something to hold onto, rather than following the latest trends what some other people tend to do and I am happy that I floated around a little bit before settling on something that I am truly passionate about.

What inspired you to start producing, and how your set-up evolved since then?
The technical part about making music always fascinated me. When I was listening to the hip hop stuff the things that drew my attention were the beats, wondering where they came from, how sampling worked and how they made those signature Dre high pitched synth lines. So at some point I saved up all my money and bought a second hand Roland MC303. Together with a friend who also scraped all his cash together for a Yamaha synth I used to write beats on my parents computer and these two devices. Then we recorded this to tape and another friend did the lyrics on top. I think I was around 12 or 13 around then, and of-course we thought we were the bomb with our home made tapes haha. A few years after this I discovered House and techno, started playing records and met a guy from my hometown who was a pretty big techno producer back then. We started working together and he taught me a lot on production, and taught me to abuse devices rather than learning how to use them properly, something I am still very grateful for. Back then it was all hardware, Roland Juno and JD800, some drum machines, Emu samplers, big Mackie desk , the lot. When I started working solo it was all in the computer, but now I am very happy with my hybrid setup.

Do you see yourself as a DJ or producer first and foremost?
I am a DJ first, always have been always will be. As much as I love being in the studio creating music, what’s it all worth when you cannot share the emotions that you create with the people on the dancefloor. In the end music is about connecting with people, and in my case the way to do  that is by playing in clubs or festivals, and meeting new people while travelling.

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