German producer Deniz Koyu is one of the most respected and sought after names in EDM. After receiving full support from Fedde Le Grand and the King of Happiness Axwell in 2011, Deniz Koyu’s stellar productions could be heard in clubs across the globe. This year saw Deniz Koyu play UMF Miami, Sensation Brazil, Creamfields UK, TomorrowLand, and TomorrowWorld. Check out this interview where we spoke about playing for big festival crowds, the Top 100 DJ list, his new Axtone single “Ruby,” and upcoming collabs with Thomas Gold and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike.
Your sound is quite unique. I’m curious what your influences growing up were?
Actually I was influenced by a lot of funky music! I was really into disco house. My earliest and biggest influence for sure was Michael Jackson and all those Quincy Jones produced albums like “Thriller” and “Off The Wall.” From there, I moved on to funky house and disco house. I got that in my blood now. It’s like this groove! Then after that, I got into trance music but basically I’ve always been a fan of Axwell from the very beginning. Eric Prydz, Steve Angello, Bob Sinclar, and John Dahlback were also influences.
What was your first or biggest live EDM experience?
The first big show I did was in Berlin at the O2 arena with Tiesto in 2011. That was the biggest show I’ve ever seen live myself and also the biggest show I ever played because I warmed up for Tiesto. It was a huge crowd! There were at least 10,000 people there, maybe more. I was so scared and nervous. I had never seen anything like that before! I think at that point I understood what this EDM culture is about.
How did you learn to play for big festival crowds all of a sudden?
Well you have to learn! You are kind of thrown into the cold water.
Sink or Swim?
Yes, exactly that’s how it is. In the beginning I was really nervous when I had to play in front of big crowds but then you get so excited. The adrenaline is pumping and you can learn pretty fast. It’s so cool!
What was your most memorable gig?
The most memorable gig is hard to say because there have been so many! But one of the best and most special shows I had recently was Creamfields UK. It was a silent disco. That was so crazy! It was in a tent with like 7,000 people and if you know how UK people party, especially in the North…
Yeah, they party hard! When it’s a silent disco it’s a bit different because you can’t play really groovy tracks. You have to play a lot of vocals and melodies because that’s what you hear in the headphones. Once you do that, people sing a long with all the vocals and all the melodies. From outside it looks really crazy! If you don’t listen to the music and just watch those people singing all that stuff it’s weird. But it’s so much fun! One of the best experiences I’ve ever had because it’s like those 7,000 people are being controlled with everything you play. It’s crazy! That was one of the best gigs. Then TomorrowLand of course. TomorrowWorld as well was really good for me. Ultra is also great. I’ve played twice so far, in 2012 and in 2013. Both were amazing! And last year in Chicago, I had a really, really good show with Hardwell and Porter Robinson at the Congress Theater.
Yeah, Hardwell is amazing, such a genius.
Yeah, he’s such a good DJ. A well deserved number #1!
Actually I was going to ask you what you think of the Top 100 DJ list.
I think it’s quite interesting to see how everything changes. There’s a lot of change going on at the moment with the new generation of very young producers coming into the game and with some of the older generation of DJs. Some of them are not even in the top 100 anymore. What’s also very surprising I think is that there are a bunch of names I’ve never heard about that are on the list. Everyone wonders who is that and how did they get on there!
Do you mind if I ask you about your relationship with Fedde Le Grand?
No, of course not! Fedde is one of my closest friends in the industry. He’s the one who discovered me. We went together on tour for two weeks in December 2011. It was the first US tour I ever did. I think we did 10 shows and it was so much fun! After that I actually moved to Holland and I was working in Fedde’s second studio. He has his Flamingo office in Holland and two studios there. He offered me the second studio and that’s why I moved to Holland. I was working there for 2 years. It was a really great experience! We are close friends. He’s such a good guy.
Totally. He’s definitely one of the most down to earth guys in the industry. So talking about music now, I really like your new track that is coming out on Axtone!
Thanks! Yeah, it’s called “Ruby” but the rip that you hear at the moment on Youtube and Soundcloud is not the final version. Axwell had a few ideas of how to improve the track. I did that and now “Ruby” is done. We are just planning the release right now. It will be out very soon.
What I heard sounds really good! It’s quite electrifying!
It’s my style. People can recognize right away that it’s my track. I think that’s the most important thing. I added a melody actually since Ax always loves melodies and me too. He had some good ideas.
Do you have an idea when it will be released?
It will be out in the end of December or beginning of January.
What about “Roads,” the collab with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike?
We are still working on it. The guys are very busy. We are not sure yet when it will be out.
How did that track come about?
Basically, they had the idea from the original track by Portishead. They had the idea to cover that track and they played the original sample and had the vocals re-sung by a different singer. They sent me the parts and then I got on to it. It was more or less like doing a remix because I had the parts, the melody, and the vocals.
It’s great! It’s really unique and different to a lot of stuff, which is a really good thing.
Yeah, it’s very unique. People are waiting for the release. I get lots of questions asking when it’s coming out. I hope it will be out before summer.
So you just played EDC Orlando, how was that?
It was amazing! To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to be that packed for my set because I played at 4pm, but it was already packed. Those crazy raver kids just want those hard drops and then they go crazy! It’s so much fun to play for them! Then later on it was also really cool to watch the other DJ sets. I have to say the set that impressed me the most was Porter Robinson. He played such a good set!
Cool. Why was it so good?
Both music-wise and technically. He played great mash ups and was mixing really fast in interesting ways. He made some real interesting transitions that you usually don’t hear because he’s playing with a different system. He uses a laptop and some different controllers where you can do different stuff. It was very, very impressive!
Do you have a dream collab? If you could work with anyone, who would it be?
Anyone in the world?
Anyone living or dead….It makes it more interesting.
It’s too easy in that case. If it’s living or dead then it would be Michael Jackson! I would also love to work with Coldplay, that’s like one of my dreams. Adele would be one of my dreams as well. Rihanna too…..there are so many!
What’s coming up next for you?
Up next is “Ruby” and then this track I did with Thomas Gold called “Torn Apart.” “Torn Apart” is coming out on Axtone as well very early next year. We don’t know yet when the Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike collab will be out. I’ve also been working with a singer/songwriter from Croatia. Her name is Natalie Peris. We’ve been working on a vocal track that’s probably going to be the follow up to my track “Follow You.” It’s something more melodic. It’s a nice track. I’m finishing that one right now. It was fun to work with her. I’m also working on a couple other instrumental tracks for next year. So there will be a lot!
Awesome! Thank you so much!
Thank you very much!
Photo creds: Rukes, Kirill Was Here, Glow Washington D.C.