We have the pleasure of speaking with a man who need no introduction. Dutch selector and tastemaker ONNO has been spinning his take on groovy techno since the young age of 16. With a string of releases under this belt on labels such as VIVA, Moon Harbour and Saved and residencies at heavyweight parties such as ANTS in Ibiza, ONNO’ work rate is undisputed. We get a chance to talk about his latest release on Inmotion music featuring the like son Huxley on the remix. We find out about his musical upbringings, inspirations and how he came to be the household name he is today….
Hi ONNO, how are you?
All good here thanks! Sitting in my favourite coffee place in Amsterdam doing this interview, can’t complain!
We’re digging the new EP! This is your third time releasing on Inmotion, what’s your relationship with the label?
I’ve known Kareem for years now, ever since I did a remix for one his early EP’s on the label, and over the years next to releasing on his label and being in contact professionally, we also became good friends. He invited me to NY, we hung out when both living in Ibiza and speak a lot on Skype… Actually, speaking about NY, the track name “Brooklyn Streets”is inspired by Kareem driving me through Brooklyn showing me all the classic hip hop spots. Good memories.
How did growing up in Holland shape your sound and ultimately your career?
I think far and foremost it taught me to be open to different sounds. The musical landscape is both very wide and very deep here. We have always had a massive electronic scene, from the early gabber days to the guys from Rush Hour and Clone and now Dekmantel for instance. Next to this, Amsterdam being the great multicultural city that is is, there’s always been influences from that musically as well.
Were you always musical growing up? What inspired you to make electronic music?
I’ve always been into electronic music for some reason, even as a kid listening to early KLF and Snap stuff and always loved playing music to people. Maybe it stems from my fascination for technology as well. In hindsight these two were the perfect combination to get into this game.
We hear your a huge lover of Hip-Hop! What are some of your favourite artists and how do you apply the love of this genre to your own music?
Yes!!! I love all the stuff from the golden age of hip hop so much, Biggy, NAS, Tribe called quest, 2pac, Common, Wu-Tang, Pharcyde, Mobb Deep, the list goes on. In my own music I always try to capture that same grit and “I don’t give a shit” attitude when it comes to the production side of things. Also, the art of sampling is very dear to me, creating something new out of something old, putting it into a different context and creating something fresh out of it is something I love doing.
Your panorama bar set is still doing the rounds seven years on! How did you come to play the Berlin circuit at such a young age?
My first EP was signed by Upon.You Records, who are based in Berlin. They gave me the opportunity to play in Berlin a lot, discover the city and make friends there (including the whole Upon.You crew ofcourse). Next to Panorama bar I think I have played most big clubs in the city by now, and the thing I noticed is that they are all special in their own way. A lot has been said about Berlin Nightlife, but I must say that every time I play in the city I discover new things about it that I like.
Your sound has been described as gangster techno. How do you feel about this title?
I think it makes sense yeah, apparently that hip hop background shines through in the techno, haha.
Tell us bit about you relationship with labels such as VIVA and Moon Harbour! How did this come to form?
VIVA is a bit of a special one as has Steve always been a big inspiration for me, championing this tribally bass heavy sound at places like the Space Terrace back in the day. Being able to then, years after hearing him as a young clubber in Ibiza, release on his label is a great feeling. With Moon Harbour it was a natural thing as well, Mathhias and I played a few times together and at some point I gave him some music. Didn’t hear back for a while until someone sent me a YouTube video of him playing one of the tracks at this huge festival in Germany. After that he signed 3 tracks and we got Dyed, another one of my favourite artists on board for a remix.
Amidst your residencies at ANTS and Studio 80 as well as appearances at a great amount of festivals, where is your favourite place to play?
It’s a cliche but I must say Panoramabar. That place is just magical and so great to play. Everything seems right about it, the room is great and very low key, the dj booth is at the same level as the people dancing so you really feel part of the party instead of being on a stage. You are playing with the people instead of for the people, a feeling that is missing in a lot of clubs unfortunately.
Tell us a bit about your upcoming release on Vatos Locos, Truesoul and Knee Deep in Sound. Seems to be a busy year for you!
Very busy year indeed. I made a lot of music over the past months, and also did some nice collaborations, something I am into a lot. After being alone in the studio for a while it’s great to jam with friends, bounce ideas off each other and simply have a good time. A good example of this is my collabs with Per Hammar, my good friend from Sweden and one of my favourite producers. At least once a year we get together in my studio in Amsterdam, drink a shit load of coffees (we are both a bit of a caffeine addict) and jam out some tunes. The first few were signed by Avotre 2 years ago, and we got a fresh EP coming up on Oblack, with remixes from Diego Krause, Chris Wood and Los Pastores. The next session is planned next month after ADE, so expect to see some new material popping up soon.
Aside from Hip Hop, what DJs and producers would you say are your main influences?
I try to take influence from life in general, the traveling and the people I meet. I think it’s important to be in the moment, and let this influence you.
What does the future hold for ONNO? Any further goals and ambitions you have yet to achieve?
I started doing music for film, a big step and just getting started, but having a great time doing it, so hopefully this will be come a bigger part of my career in the future. And finally getting a label going, have been saying it for ages, but perhaps this year the time is finally right for it, haha.
ONNO’S ‘Break It Down’ is out on Inmotion Music. Grab it here!