Today, Andrea Oliva is one of Europe’s more prominent underground DJ/producers. His often melodic, but tough-edged techno sounds have earned him nearly every opportunity a DJ can enjoy.
In fact, with major slots in Ibiza (Space, Pacha, Ushuaia), a deep discography of productions (“Scream”) and remixes (Luciano’s “Rise of Angel”) on a variety of impressive labels (Cadenza, Defected, Desolat), and gigs at top festivals (Coachella, Glastonbury, Sonus), Oliva’s bio is on par with the Continent’s best electronic talents.
But, like many DJs on the ascension, the Swiss-born talent wanted more. So, he recently launched All I Need, an Ibiza-focused music-label and event brand that gives him a platform for the totality of his artistic endeavors – like a fashion component that he intends to launch soon. The latest release from the label is “Transit,” a melodic nugget perfectly suited for late-night dancefloor action. To up the ante, Kevin Saunderson’s spacious remix, with its rumbling percussion, pushes the track in a bracingly more rugged direction.
Even with the new venture, Oliva continues to release music on select labels. In fact, don’t sleep on “Alley Rave,” Oliva’s latest EP, on Patrick Topping’s Trick imprint. The title track’s a maniacally swirling, acid-tinged experience that sports a properly dirty synth-bass loop. Scintillating stuff.
As the bookings for Ibiza’s 2022 season were beginning to firm up – he’ll be playing Saturdays at Ushuaia’s ANTS party – we caught up with Andrea Oliva to discuss his new label, his history and his future.
DJ LIFE MAG: Musically, what were your first influences? What made music important to you?
Andrea Oliva: Carl Cox, a guy called Cosmic Baby – insane live. I started DJing when I was 12. Later in my journey, I’ve promoted parties, worked at record distribution and record stores, falling into it. Years later, I became a more international touring DJ and started to produce my own music.
DJ LIFE MAG: These days which producer/remixers do you most admire and why?
Andrea Oliva: There’s so many. Kevin Saunderson of course, but then also Carl Craig, who’s incredible in the studio. I mean, I would be like a little kid, if I could just sit in the studio with him and not talk. I’d just look and learn because I think he’s really the master. But there’s so many talents. There’s a guy in Switzerland called Jimi Jules. I worked with him many times. He’s an old friend, but now he’s a musician. He managed to do house and techno in a way where he can record a lot of instruments and he sings. So many to list.
DJ LIFE MAG: Can you give us rundown of your main studio gear?
Andrea Oliva: I use Logic and always have. It sounds very professional, and it’s super-clean. Arrangement-wise, everything is on one screen. Then all the new features on Logic are amazing. I have a lot of gear. On my new music, I work a lot with Moog Sub Phatty with my Minimoog Voyager, I also have a Prophet 12. I have tons of plug-ins and some drum machines. For monitors, I have Genelecs. They’re very big ones, so I don’t need any subwoofer.
DJ LIFE MAG: What’s the idea behind your label, All I Need? What’s the intent and what makes it different from other electronic-leaning labels?
Andrea Oliva: The whole idea was to create a brand more than just a record label. We’ve created a record label and event brand, a party brand, and then soon a fashion brand. So that’s the whole concept behind having this brand, making it my own. And then it will also be a platform for other artists, emerging artists and friends. In other words, I’ve created it like building a house, to invite everybody in there. It’s a family thing.
DJ LIFE MAG: Creatively, how did you approach “Transit”? What was your process in creating that track?
Andrea Oliva: I changed my process of making tracks during the pandemic – I know that’s not the most creative thing to say. But obviously, I had so much more time to work on melodies and to work on harmonies and strings, synthesizers and more. I didn’t have a lot of time while touring to work on this. In the past, I started with grooves and all my productions were very groove-driven. The main thing in my productions were grooves, hooks, breaks and then drops, and now it gets a little bit more melodic.
DJ LIFE MAG: So, how do you like Kevin Saunderson’s remix of “Transit”?
Andrea Oliva: When I was writing the track, it did remind me of a Detroit record. It’s a melodic track, but the main part of the track is very repetitive and very loopy. So, having Kevin Saunderson remixing it was like Christmas for me, and it seemed perfect to get him on board. Having the big boss of Detroit techno was crazy because I didn’t think he would remix it. But he loved the track, and he loved the idea. He loved everything and we had a deal – so I’m super-proud of that.
DJ LIFE MAG: What makes a party like ANTS work? What components make a successful party, especially in Ibiza?
Andrea Oliva: When we first started creating the idea together, we wanted to make the brand strong, and then add musical value to the brand by booking artists we like. So, being different to when you just throw a party and book the three biggest headliners just to sell tickets. So, we really had no pressure and we started in the small DJ booth at Ushuaia. One of the main things was that we also wanted to do something for workers in Ibiza. We gave free entry to workers in Ibiza, so they could enjoy the party, because tickets are very expensive there. ANTS was, of course, built on the music we play, but also wanting to give something back to the island and the workers. We opened at 12 p.m. instead of 4 or 5 p.m., so workers could come party with us until 7 p.m., and then go to work. Marketing-wise, what we did on the island for the first season, we sent out people in black costumes and people didn’t know what the hell was going on. Slowly, they realized that they belonged to us, and that it’s a brand – it’s ANTS, a colony. I think there’s a lot of factors which made the brand successful, especially in the Ibiza world, where it’s very easy to fail. It’s a constant evolution, because even once it’s a recognized brand, you still have to deliver.
DJ LIFE MAG: In the DJ booth, what gear do you use? How would you describe your style of DJing?
Andrea Oliva: I have four Pioneer DJ CDJs – and it’s four of them because I like to loop a lot. Usually, I like to play maybe an a cappella loop, drum loop, and the track at the same time. I’ve always had an [Pioneer DJ] RMX-1000 with me, where you can add claps, hi-hats, drum loops, and snare rolls. I like to be busy in the DJ booth. I don’t like to play one track after the other. It’s crazy, because so many times people have said to me, “Wow, what’s that remix?” And I need to explain: I looped the vocal, and this is another drum loop I played, and then this is an original track I played on top of those loops. It’s great, and it’s a nice compliment.
DJ LIFE MAG: Which DJs do you look up to and why?
Andrea Oliva: Energy-wise, it’s Carl Cox. Because at his age, even though his energy is very young, he’s so passionate about it. And having this high level of energy from start to finish, it’s unique – so… Carl Cox. Then music-wise, it depends. If I go to an afterparty and Ricardo Villalobos is six hours into a set, the next six hours are incredible – like, it’s something out of this world. Maybe the first six hours, no; but the next six hours are something out of this planet. And there are DJs I love for certain situations. At festivals, for example, I like live acts like Paul Kalkbrenner.
DJ LIFE MAG: How did you survive the lockdown?
Andrea Oliva: You know, like everybody else… up and down. Overthinking, scared, but then in those situations, you also have to look at the positive things and not dwell. Having time for my friends or my family and for my girlfriend. I became a dad. There are situations with different perceptions and different views. I mean, we still are in a kind of lockdown, right? I play maybe 20-percent of the gigs I played before right now, because in Italy, Netherlands, and so many other countries, you can’t play right now. I made a lot of music and I created a brand, allgood! Then all the negative stuff, of course, was there also, like it was for everybody else. But I’m not the kind of guy who stays at home and cries. You’re angry, but what you got to do is to turn this anger in to drive.
DJ LIFE MAG: What’s next for you?
Andrea Oliva: I had three All I Need releases so far. I had two of my favorite artists on the labels, being Deetron and Kevin Saunderson, and I just released “Alley Rave,” an EP on Patrick Topping’s Trick label, which is going super-strong and I’m very happy about that. Then, as we speak, we’re fixing the Ibiza dates. Slowly, you get more and more in touch with people from the industry, that you haven’t heard from in a year or two. You have people like Marco Carola asking for a date in the U.K., and us doing a show with ANTS at Printworks. Things are starting to pick up quite nicely. So, it’s reason to be very motivated for the future. I have a lot of gigs lined up, a lot of festivals coming up. Hopefully, we can play them all and then I’ll be the happiest guy on Earth.
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