Andrea Oliva in New York
Andrea Oliva is a force to be reckoned with in the House music community. From the young age of 12 years old, Andrea fell in love with music in his home of Switzerland and has been highly involved and focused in the music business ever since. After learning from his longtime mentor and the owner of Nordstern in Basel Switzerland, Andrea Oliva worked hard to secure residencies all over Switzerland.
Andrea Oliva then later joined up with Luciano and the Cadenza crew and made an international name for himself granting him requests all over the world. In addition to Cadenza, his productions have been released on Defected, Be As One, VIVa, Saved, Objektivity, and many many more. He has been named as the most charted artists on Resident Advisor numerous times
The infamous ANTS party at Ushuaïa Ibiza has been called one of the most successful parties on the island and has received worldwide recognition. In addition to Andrea Oliva, ANTS has featured artists such as Sasha, Joris Voorn, Timo Maas, Maya Jane Coles, Hot Since 82, Nick Curly, DJ Sneak, Lee Curtis, and plenty more recognizable names.
We caught up with Andrea following his gigs at Output and Electric Zoo in New York and right before the closing of ANTS.
Electric Zoo was your first time ever playing in New York?
I know you were scheduled to play Cipriani with Luciano but for some reason you were taken off the line-up, have you ever been to New York before and are there any plans for a US tour in the future?
We had a lot of requests when I was at Cadenza but I didn’t want to take a risk to get to the states and play without my working Visa. The only gigs I’ve played were for the Winter Music Conference in Miami – Space Miami, Story, Ultra Music Festival and at Do Not Sit On The Furniture I played all the parties. It took me a while to come back because I wanted to have a working Visa. I didn’t want to mess up my gigs for the future so it took me a while to come back to the states. Before I played in New York, I did a tour on the west coast and I played in San Francisco and LA and El Paso I think. That was great! Then I came back to New York and as you said – I played Electric Zoo for the first time and Output and that was amazing! I am coming back in November and I am playing at Space Ibiza New York.
That is great! At what age did you decide you wanted to make DJing and producing your full-time career?
Well I started DJing when I was 12 actually. That was like 21 years ago – I am 33 now and to be honest I’ve never worked in an office or let us say a normal job. I started to work in record distribution after school and then we had 2 record stores. Then when I was like 18 or 19 I just lived out of my DJ thing. We had Zurich as the main city as the capital of the electronic music back in the days when I was touring all around the country. I had a few cities where I would play regularly and I had residencies in all different cities so I could make a living out of my gigs in Switzerland. I had the desire to build an international career out of my productions and the DJ history I already had in Switzerland. I started very early in my career playing in the clubs and then I had the opportunity to play a lot of intros for all the big names that came to Switzerland. I was the one who always played the intros for all those big guys so that was pretty much my school. I knew how to play before the international headliner and I knew what kind of music you were going to have to play as an intro DJ and I knew how to work the crowd which was an advantage. Now I am an internationally requested artist – it’s the best feeling you can have! There is nothing better when you can read the dance floor – when you can read the dance floor, you can read the situation. You know what to play at which moment and this is obviously very helpful and why clubs call me back.
Yes of course! Now you first teamed up with the owner of Basel’s Nordstern, Agi Osagu. How would you explain your relationship with Agi?
Well Agi is funny because he has been my best friend since we started – we started together. I was the DJ – I was 16 – I didn’t even have a driver’s license because in Switzerland you can’t have your driver’s license until you reach 18. He was like my best friend driving me to all the gigs. From 16 to 24, he was like my driver and of course we started to do parties together. Then we had an agency where we created a lot of events – a lot of parties and then one day he focused on putting all the effort into one club and not doing 60 parties a year. I put my focus into my international career and into my studio work but we are basically one family. So he is the owner of Nordstern and he is running the club but at the same time I am in the basement of the club producing my music and we are still together every day – it is great!
Now most people know you via your affiliation with Luciano and Cadenza. How did this collaboration come about and how did you first team up with Luciano and the Cadenza crew?
Well you know…I had a lot of releases before I joined Cadenza and I was sending him music constantly but I would never get a reply. Then one day Luciano played a gig here at Nordstern and we ended up playing back to back and then he asked me to send him some music. Then I was sure he was going to listen to the music and all of a sudden – 3 days later I end up in his studio listening to all of the music and out of the 20 tracks a year he signs – he signed like 10 tracks of mine. It was not real for me – it was like I was in a movie because I was in a position where Luciano was not listening to the music I was sending him. Then whoa! I just played back to back with him and then 3 days later I’m sitting in his studio and he has just signed like 10 of my tracks! To be honest I had a lot of people believing in me from the start but he was the one in a certain position to be able to give me a push internationally – just to put me in the spotlight. It is pretty much impossible to find a DJ with his power in the scene – having such a personality to say “you know what, I believe in an artist, I admire his talent, I love his music, I love everything about this artist. I’m not afraid of putting him in the spotlight and giving him all the credit he deserves.” So he was like the first guy who pushed me internationally – we have a very close relationship. Every relationship on a high level in this business is always difficult. After 4 years I reached a certain level where I had to decide to either go to the left or to the right. One and a half years ago I decided to quit Cadenza and go more my way – to maybe try to live my point of view. It was not like – ok I’m leaving the agency, I will never see you again. It was more like when you grow up in a family – It’s like the day has come where you have to move out of the apartment and make your own life – it doesn’t mean you don’t have parents anymore, you can come back whenever you want.
That’s a good way to look at it.
That is actually what happened you know – it was a good vibe but see you somewhere in the future you just know it’s time. Now I’m totally split from the Cadenza family but one day because we are friends – he was a very strong influence in my career – we are going to cross paths again. Maybe I’ll be in a different stage of my career and we can do collaborations again. I’d like that. I just have to go out and experience the world – the music world and the business with the way I’m seeing things.
I know your very much into the technical side of soundsystems. Talk us through some of your favorites. Might Output Funktion One get a mention?
I like Funktion One but more for big clubs like let’s say the Funktion One system in Cocorico in Italy. It is crazy but it is also a place which holds like 6 or 7 thousand people and the infrastructure of the club is made for Funktion One sound. Then you have the Funktion One sound at Space in Ibiza which is in the main floor which is crazy and it sounds amazing because also the capacity of the club allows for the Funktion One sound system of the club. Output is actually amazing – I was very surprised with the sound system at Output and Space in New York is Funktion One so they did a very good job. I’ve played smaller clubs with Funktion One and the sound was no good. So of course like every DJ who takes care of the sound – it is the key of every good party. These days everybody is complaining about bottle club, bottle service, VIPs, blah blah blah but the most important thing in the club shouldn’t even be being beautiful if the sound system is right – you can have an amazing party anywhere and in any location. It is the DJ and the sound and the crowd which makes the party. For me the sound is one of the 3 most important key elements to having a good party – I’m not even thinking about the structure of the club or if they have dark walls or wide walls or whatever. The sound is one of the most important things and that is why I really like clubs like Output because you see that they have the sense of details, they have a sense of sound – I’m very impressed by the way the sound engineer in the club really took care of every single detail and levels – that was like a statement for me like wow! Output is really amazing which you can’t take for granted at every club. I’ve played clubs with big names and I expected it to be like “whoa! This is going to be best experience of my life!” Then I came and the sound is shit! Output really appears to have been made for the crowd. I felt instantly that they really take care of the clubbers and have quality sound. The DJ just has the perfect sound system to play with – you can play vinyl and it sounds amazing and you can play CDs or USB sticks and it sounds amazing too. You normally can’t play vinyl because the sound system is just not made for playing vinyl which is a pity.
You are a resident at the ANTS party at Ushuaia in Ibiza. How long have you been a resident at this party and how did the residency come about?
I was playing the first party of Ushuaia at the new location and that was a party called Propaganda. I then continued playing for Luciano at Ushuaia and I had a very good connection with the whole Usuhaia team and it became one of my favorite spots to play in Ibiza. One day the owner of Ushuaia, Yann just told me, “Look, I want to have a new party with new talent” and he showed me the concept and he pretty much involved me since day one. I had the opportunity to give my input and to tell him which artists I would like to see play at an ANTS party – he pretty much gave me a playground where I could feel very comfortable. If it would be to give input to the party or to give input on the line-up or creating input for the Croatian sound. He pretty much gave me the opportunity to be resident at the party where they would take care of what a resident would like to have when he plays regularly for parties. It is basically more than just a residency for me – It is like our baby.
What was the idea for the concept behind ANTS and how did the name ANTS come about?
The idea came up before the name – we just felt like the island needed a party where not super big names are the center point. Every big party on the island has a very strong focus on the main act. You have Vagabundos with Luciano with the whole focus on Luciano. You have Revolution where the focus is on Carl Cox. You have Richie Hawtin with Enter. and the whole focus is on Richie. You have Cocoon with Sven Vath and the whole focus is on Sven Vath. All those guys are all big names but you don’t have a brand of a party which is strong and just presents young and up and coming artists – that puts the musical equality and talent upfront. We pretty much acted like an ANTS colony – very strong when they come together – one ant will not be so strong as when they come up in the 1000’s.