LABELS: UPON YOU / VIVA / SNATCH! / MOON HARBOUR / SAVED
Gangsta techno? The description of one of Amsterdam talent ONNO’s Panorama Bar sets on his SoundCloud page may be tongueincheek, but it’s not a bad shout in terms of a phrase to capture what his sound is all about.
Blending slender techno groove with housey texture and rhythm and a little of his beloved hiphop’s attitude his is a sound that has found a home on acclaimed imprints like ViVA, Saved, Moon Harbour, Souvenir, Remote Area, Upon.You, International Deejay Gigolos and Get Physical.
Growing up amongst Holland’s consistently bustling dance music culture, ONNO went from bedroom DJ to being snapped up as the youngest ever resident at Amsterdam’s legendary Chemistry parties in a matter of years. Cutting his teeth at their parties from the age of 16, he was resident by the time he was just 19 years old. “Here I discovered house and techno from all across the board’ he says.
“From the US guys like Kerri Chandler, to Germans like DJ Hell and techno guys like Josh Wink and Dave Angel. I played my first gig there warming up for a then very young D’Julz.”
His production career began some years later, releasing his first Masterdam EP in 2009 (a homage to his home city) and after a few years of honing his craft his rapid ascent to the top began.
Forging a relationship with Marco Resmann’s Upon.You proved to be the turning point that really kickstarted his production game, the label signing one of his tracks in 2009 for a various artists EP before releasing a slew of his material over the next four years. This Berlin connection opened many new doors for him, both as a DJ and a producer.
“Next to releasing my music, they gave me the chance to experience Berlin and play at places like Panorama Bar, Watergate and Bar25 which all shaped me both musically and personally.”
“I take a lot of influences from old hiphop,” he says of his muscular sounds, “something I’ve been listening to since I was a teenager. I think especially the old east coast stuff like Mobb Deep, WuTang and early Biggy stuff is still very much an influence in my music today. What appeals to me in this music most is the attitude towards the the production, more so than the lyrical message it tries to bring across. Everything has this ‘I don’t give a fuck’ mentality which translates into this rough, sleazy, stripped and to the point sound that is perfectly suitable to house and techno as well. Also, the creative use of sampling and recycling old bits of music into something fresh which hiphop is known for is something I love doing in my own music as well.”
Listen carefully and what may at first seem an obtuse connection makes perfect sense: a focus on weighty low end, killer swinging grooves and a nononsense approach to making people move. That and the occasional heavily treated rap vocal samples, of course. Rap aside, he draws inspiration from across the board to colour his sonic palette. “Hearing great DJs play can be an influence for me too. But when I am not producing or playing I tend to listen to a lot of nonelectronic music, which unconsciously influences you as well of course. Also, I tend to take inspiration from a lot of different things, be it (music) documentaries, traveling, discovering new cities and meeting new people.”
With residencies at Ibiza’s Ushuaia (for Ants) and Amsterdam’s Studio 80 under his belt, appearances at huge festivals including Future Festival, Mysteryland and Fusion Festival not to mention a hectic worldwide touring schedule his acclaim as a DJ continues to grow across the globe.
With further releases on Circus, Snatch!, Material, KD Musik, Digital Traffik, AMA, Time Has Changed and his consistent partners Upon.You and VIVa, his prolific output knows no bounds and looks set to continue elevating his star into the upper reaches of the house and techno world.
Text: Ben Gomori
Hello ONNO! How Are You?
All good! enjoying my last few weeks on Ibiza before returning to Amsterdam and lock myself in the studio again for a few months.
You are releasing music since 2008 and you already have a big list of label you released on, like Saved, Upon You, Souvenir, Area Remote, Get Physical, VIVa MUSiC or Moon Harbour! But personally thinking now you are really on fire.
Which release was the one who gave you the most international attention?
That’s a difficult question actually. I’m not really the guy with one big hit that opened all the doors. It has been more about consistency, putting out solid music on different outlets. That all being said, one of the recent EP’s that I am very proud of is my release „Used“ on Quartz, which came with some very nice remixes from Paul Ritch, Okain and André Kronert, which I am all a big fan off. Also, the relationship with Upon.You is very important to me. They gave me my break and since my first release I have done at least 1 EP a year with them.
For me “Ragga Dun Style” on Circus Rec (the label of Yousef) is your best track but normally i don’t like Ragga Vocals in Techhouse Music. Where did you find that idea and that groove to realise that bomb?
First of all, thanks! I had the vocals on my hard drive for a few years already, waiting for the right track which would complement them. I love the raw energy they have, and it could only work with an equally rough backdrop, so there you have it 😉
Your new EP on Ama is again a great floor filler. Also Ray Okpara and Okain did a great remix for it! Where do you know Ray Okpara from and how did you come together for his label?
Man, I am not even sure, haha… I have been a fan of his music for a long time already, I think it was his Brainows track on Soweso that got me hooked (which I stay play actually). We spoke every now and then on Skype and I sent him some new unreleased stuff and he happened to love these two.
I am very happy to have him and Paul on board for a remixes on this one too, as Sam and Ray are friends too, so it’s one big family affair!
As you are touring a lot in the last month, please tell us something about your experience around the globe.
What is your favourite city or country and why?
My favourite country in the world must be Japan. I haven’t had the luck to play there yet, but it’s definitely one of my goals. I just love the culture there, how they embrace their past while being focussed on the future. And the people are just so mega friendly and polite, nothing like here in Europe. Another highlight tour-wise was playing in Seoul this summer. Amazing city with amazing people.
What was your worst experience?
The occasional fuckups consisting of being dropped off at the wrong hotel middle of the night, not being picked up to get the airport, falling asleep and missing a connecting flight in the middle of Russia, etc etc. Early on in my career I even got mistakenly booked by someone who thought he was booking Onne, a popular hard house dj from Amsterdam back in the day, haha.
What’s coming up next?
I had a very busy year releasewise, so things will be a bit more focussed next year. I have a lot of stuff that I’ll be finishing when I get back to Amsterdam, so let’s see where that all ends up. For now, next to the AMA release, there will be a track of mine on the new Diary CD on Upon.You, an EP on Inmotion, and some remixes for H-Foundation & Francisco Allendes (who I am always working on new music with at the moment), and for some guy named M.in 😉
Thank you for your time and this interesting interview!
Interview by M.in
Divers – Danse Antren // Brouqade
Yvel – Kozeleg // Karton
Hector, Hanfry Martinez & Javier Carballo – The Daggers //Overall LTD
Robert Dietz – Famas (Randall M Remix) // Viva Music
Mennie – Material Trip (Tato Remix) // Fables & Tales
Apollonia – Un Vrai Portugais // Apollonia
Yamen & EDA – Feel It // Earlydub Vinyl Only
Paolo Tocci 0 Traversata // Claque Extra
Antislash – Baignade (Moritz Piske Rework) // Salon Records
André Kronert – Stamina // STEP Recordings
ONNO – Off The Grid // AMA Recordings
Dakpa – Repak // Kina