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Live DJ Set from #DJMagHQ Ibiza 2017

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If we had to pick the DJs DJ of EDM, few names would fit the bill better than Oliver Heldens. Someone who prides himself on creative tune selection, he’s just as likely to play tech-house as he is future house and disco in an EDM set. And that’s just when he’s playing as Oliver Heldens. His more underground alter ego HI-LO is strictly driving tech-house and techno. “I play tech-house but I’m not a techno DJ. I play mainly house — future house,” he tells DJ Mag. “I play anything that’s groovy, old house stuff or electro-house.”

While before he felt a little out of place dropping his tunes on EDM’s main stages, over the past 12 months he found himself playing slots at crossover festivals like Lollapalooza and Glastonbury, and it was as if something clicked. “Now I can rock the main stage,” he adds. “A lot of commercial stuff mixed with cool club records and it goes off, and I’m happy with that.”

However, he’s not bothered about working on a live show or becoming the next EDM pop star. It’s as a disc jockey that his heart lies. “I prefer to DJ. As a DJ you can play a lot of different stuff and you can play on the fly — but with live stuff, you’re really bound to what you can do live.”

It’s his appreciation of all types of dance music — something borne into him since the age of 10, growing up in Rotterdam listening to hard dance — that marks him out as one of EDM’s leading selectors. He’s someone who appreciates disco and the groove of classic house as much as he does drum & bass and prog. “I’ve always been into club music, stuff with rhythm and bass. In the future, I’d like to add some drums or loops [into my sets] but mainly it’s DJing I love.”

Meanwhile, the HI-LO project and his Heldeep label have allowed him to explore darker, more stripped-back dancefloor sounds and his first ever HI-LO pool party in Miami was a huge success. Even his mum agreed. “She said she had more fun at my HyLO set than at an Oliver Heldens set,” he explains. “She said, ‘I couldn’t stop dancing, and suddenly found myself in a trance’.”

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