Up and coming producer Oscar Holgado is one of his country’s best kept electronic music secrets. Originally from Spain but now residing in Amsterdam he’s been coming up fast through the competitive Dutch scene. His discography is short but packed with quality releases on System Recordings, Balkan Connection and Baroque. 2013 looks to be Oscar’s biggest year yet with forthcoming productions set for Crossfade Sounds, Balkan Connection, Outside The Box and Baroque already in the pipeline. Oscar’s newest single for System Recordings ‘al-andalus’ is out this week and we had a chance to chat with him just prior to the release. A transcription of the interview is below and we hope you enjoy it.
1. Hi Oscar, thanks very much for joining us for this interview today! How old are you and how long have you been producing / DJing?
Oscar: You are very welcome, thanks a lot for this chance. I am 28 years old and I started DJing when I was about 14 years old, I got my first pair of turntables and with my mother´s help We prepared a little room for the decks, a couple years later I was hired for a discotheque in my hometown to work as a resident DJ. After a few years DJing I felt I wanted more and I started making my first beats with Reason Propellerheads.
2. What are your earliest memories of music, what did you listen to growing up? How did you get involved in electronic music and what made you decide to pursue it seriously? And where do your roots in electronic music lie?
Oscar: Trying to make some memory, when I was about 6 or 7 years old I used to grab Michael Jackson´s dangerous album CD from my sister´s room and also a Michael Jackson´s looking hat and dance in the living room in front of my family, I also remember listening to Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells from my brother´s room, Enigma and a lot more CD´s my brothers, sisters and also my parents had around at home. I also used to record videos from MTV and make my own compilations, haha , back in the 90´s music differs so much than nowadays, unfortunately or not. So one day one of the CD´s I grabbed from my brothers was ¨Trance Mix¨ from 1994, it was an electronic music compilation with artist like Cabballero, Paul van Dyk, and lots of artists, even The Prodigy, this is the fisrt memory I have of electronic music, since then I didn´t stop listening to electronic music as well as any genre.
3. Did you have any formal music training growing up? in regards to composing or engineering / sound design etc.? and if not did anyone help you out along the way?
Oscar: I haven´t got any formal music background, but I had the best teacher I could ever had, Antonio, a friend of mine from my hometown in Spain who used to have his bedroom filled with Novation Supernova´s, Access Virus, Roland Juno 106, Korg Ms2000 and lots of more synths and a great collection of the best electronic music artist of the moment like ¨Orbital¨, ¨The Chemical Brothers¨, Meat Beat Manifesto¨, ¨Boards Of Canada¨, ¨Les Rythmes Digitales¨, ¨Fatboy Slim¨,¨Leftfield¨, all the artist from Warp Records and all the bands you can wonder, so you can imagine how happy I was when I went into his room and spend hours in there listening to music and learning from his music making skills, which helped me out later on to start my own productions.
4. By the look of your DJ charts you definitely love to play deep and musical house in your sets, is that how you would classify your production sound as well? Describe it for those that may not be familiar with you. And has your production sound changed at all since your first release 18 months ago? Where do you see it going in the future?
Oscar: Well, as you could read before, my musical tastes are wide, I can listen from classical music to rock, I don´t listen just to a certain genre, I listen to music that makes me feel something, and I don´t find that on those loopy tracks that sound all the time the same without any chords at all, so I presume that making my own productions is kind of the same, I can switch from deep progressive to house but never loosing the edge on the melody. And yes I think my music has changed from my first release, let´s hope for the better, at least that is my goal, and let´s also see my music is going to beautiful places in the future, haha.
5. You have a new single out this week on System Recordings entitled ‘Al-Andalus’ which is your seventh appearance on the US label. The response on the promo has been outstanding and the remixes from Luke Porter, Verche and Sjoerd Korsuize are incredible. What can you tell us about the production process of that track, give our readers some insight into it, is there anything special you can tell us about it?
Oscar: Well, anything I could say about this track is special as I was born in Seville, which is capitol of Andalucia, called ¨Al- Andalus¨ by the arabs back on time, so you can imagine how important this track is to me and what ¨Al-Andalus¨ means to me, particularly because I left my home over 4 years ago, and also because my great grandparents had to move to morocco long time ago and my grandparents and parents were born there so I have some roots from there, so I wanted to make a track as a memory of my land and my roots, mixing my current progressive house sound with some Arabic sounds and vocals, and I am very proud of the result and really grateful of the massive remixes.
6. Talk a bit about electronic music in the Netherlands, You were born in Spain. What prompted you to move to the Netherlands? and do you think there is a healthy scene there? How do you think it compares to the rest of the world? Do you get a chance to DJ there very often?
Oscar: Electronic music scene in The Netherlands is huge, you have plenty of great producers and labels from old times and nowadays. I moved here looking for new challenges in my life and I found them. And yes there is a healthy scene here and I reckon Amsterdam is one of the best places in Europe to go clubbing, you have a huge range of parties and festivals every single week, especially now in summer time, and I am about to DJ in some places sooner than later, but there are plenty of DJ´s and producers here, so the chance to get a gig is tricky.
7. Many of our readers are probably curious about your current studio setup, what does it look like right now?
Oscar: Well I currently don´t have any hardware, I make music just with my computer and the right plugins, I used to have Korg Electribe´s in Spain but I sold them before coming to Amsterdam. So my current setup is :
– Computer Medion i7 8 gb ram
– Focusrite 2i2 Scarlett
– Yamaha´s Hs50m
– Ableton Live 7
-Sound Forge 7
-Plenty of Plugins.
8. What are you working on right now? anything you can tell us about?
Oscar: I have been working over 3 years in a hotel in Amsterdam downtown, and struggling with music making at the same time, but now I gave some time off to myself and have more room to work on music and I am also helping a friend of mine on his brand new label Mystic Carousel Records from Madrid.
9. What in the electronic music industry irritates you the most?
Oscar: A lot of things, but apart from the DJ scene, and focusing just on music, for instant the ‘Beatport top 100 progressive house’ is normally filled by commercial stuff which I don´t like a lot.
10. Thoughts on the DJ Mag top 100 poll?
Oscar: I am sorry but I am not familiar with that, if there would be a more underground top 100 DJ poll I would be more familiar with it, I can´t help it, sorry.
11. What artist or track would you love to remix?
Oscar: I would love to remix some Detroit techno classics tracks for instant or classic pop tracks perhaps from the 90´s as well as some current great producers in the scene, maybe some Spanish new producers would be nice and interesting.
12. Where do you get studio inspiration from? What producers consistently inspire you? Who are some of your favourites?
Oscar: I find inspiration in the normal things that happen to me daily in my life, like good memories, films, trips, nature, parties and of course music , there are plenty of great producers out there which I carry on learning from.
13. What do you like to do for fun outside of the music? and do you have a regular job? What is a typical day like for Oscar Holgado?
Oscar: I like swimming, riding my bike, going out with my friends, I like also eating good food a lot, good films and the rest of normal things that everybody likes I guess. I am jobless at the moment, taking some break and getting recovered of a hernia, music doesn´t stop though. My typical day is waking up, have a great breakfast to start the day with energy, check the email box and do the music projects I am working on as well as the tasks for the label, after that I normally do some sport, currently physiotherapist as required for my injury recovery, also swimming. Later I get back to the music for a few hours, then eat properly as good Spaniard, watch some TV-show, play a videogame or a watching a good film , and I try to meet my friends a few times a week, and of course, clubbing at the weekend as long as my injury allows me.
14. Apart from electronic music what other genres do you listen to and who are your favourite artists outside of electronic? How big of an influence are other styles of music when it comes to composing your own tracks? Could you give any examples?
Oscar: I have always listened to a huge range of artists from different genres, it would be impossible to me to tell you all of them, but I can tell a few of my all time favourite ones although some of them use some electronic music in their productions as well, they could be : Michael Jackson, Prince, Jamiroquai, Oasis, Vangelis, Enigma, Jose Gonzalez, Kasabian, Paco De Lucia, Buena Vista Social Club, Oasis, Phil Collins, Bruce Springteen, Santana, Seal, Jarabe De Palo, Saint Germain, Mike Oldfield, Tom Jones, and so on, I could carry on but I would stay here until tomorrow… think that´s enough isn´t it?
15. Oscar Holgado Current Favourites (you can list more than one per category if you like)
Food: Fried cuttlefish, chicken wings, and a lot more, hehe.
Drink: Coke, beer and rum with coke sometimes
TV Show: Friends
Video Game: Halo
Album: Michael Jackson – Off The Wall
Track / Song: Vangelis – l´enfant
Producer / Band: Les Rythmes Digitales
Record Label: Warp Records and Wall Of Sound
Nightclub: Barkode Amsterdam.
DJ: Danny Howells, Delano Smith, Hernan Cattaneo
16. If the final DJ set of your career was next week what would be your last record be?
Oscar: This is a tricky question, would takes me ages to decide which track I would drop, but perhaps ‘Leftfield – Song Of Life’.
17. What can we expect to see in the second half of 2013 from Oscar Holgado ?
Oscar: There a few tracks coming out soon. Apart from ¨Al-Andalus¨, an original mix on Crossfade Sounds, another original for Balkan Connection, two more original mixes for Baroque, and remixes for Outside The Box, Baroque, Balkan Connection and Sweep The Floor Records. And I will carry on working for System Recordings. I hope people like my stuff to keep on track.
Release Promo would like to send a huge thanks to Oscar for taking the time to do this interview.
Oscar’s ‘al-andalus’ is out now on System Recordings, you can purchase the release: here