Oliver Huntemann is a prominent techno DJ/producer based in Hamburg, Germany. With a career spanning over 20 years, he has released on labels like Stil Vor Talent, Watergate, Systematic and Terminal M amongst others and has toured the world. He is also the founder of the record label Senso Sounds which is currently celebrating its 5th anniversary. We had the chance to talk with the veteran about his labels, his gigs and much more. Enjoy!
WWD: Hello Oliver, welcome back to When We Dip.
It’s great to be back, thanks!!
WWD: So, your Hamburg-based techno label Senso Sounds is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year. What have been the label’s highlights so far and how are you marking this special moment?
Five years, time is running so fast. It feels like yesterday when we started out with my release ‘Blitz & Donner’. We had many highlights and it’s great to see how many artists have contributed their art to Senso Sounds within ﬁve years. It has become a small family. Great to see that most of the artists are so faithful with Senso and setting their priority on this boutique label.
A while back I started to work with graphics designer Anne-Marie Pappas who has created the iconic cover illustrations for three years. This helped to increase the identity of the label beside the music and also rounds things up like merch, ﬂyers and our general appearance.
We will have a couple of Senso Sounds events spread over the year, those will be our birthday parties. As always, we will try to ﬁnd exclusive locations to make those events a truly unique experience.
WWD: How did Senso Sounds get its name and what are the main beneﬁts about running your own label within the current climate?
Do you remember the electronic kiddy game called ‚Simon‘, a liRle circle with four colors, which had diﬀerent sounds? The circle played sound and light and had to be repeated afterwards. Senso is just the German name of that game. I was hooked as a child! Anyways, I just ﬁnished my former label Ideal Audio and was already thinking about my next challenge which included a new label and an artist agency. I simply needed a name for the new label. When I came along that childhood game, which also inspired one track on my album H3, I just thought it ﬁts perfectly.
The biggest beneﬁt of running my own label is basically that I have everything under my control and can do whatever I think is best for my art and the music of the other artists appearing. With my own label I can’t only push the sound in a direction I like, I can also support young artists. Maksim Dark is one of those who ﬁts perfectly into the Senso Sounds style. But he was not very well known. His hard work has paid oﬀ now, he had his ﬁrst vinyl release right here on Senso and his touring schedule is getting tighter every day. That’s what I just love about having my own label, I can give a platform to those young super talented artists, paired with the experience of the ‘veterans’.
WWD: You’ve been DJing professionally for over 25 years. In such a fast-paced industry, what are your 3 key pieces of advice for a long-lasting career? And, what has been the biggest challenge of your career?
1. Be self-critical and honest
2. Always work on yourself and develop your own style. It’s more or less easy to produce tracks that sound like others. Maintaining and developing your own style is much harder but lasts longer.
3. Be open minded and take advices
The biggest challenge for me was probably in the late 90s early 2000s. When I was working with Stephan Bodzin and singer JeRe von Roth on a successful electro pop project. It was all working out just ﬁne. We went into the charts and we could make a decent living of it. But in the end, I felt something was wrong and it turned out I was simply not happy with the music we did. I fell into a dark hole and soon after we stopped the project. I had a wall to climb to ﬁgure out: What do I really want to do. Which took me some time, it was hard. But I ﬁnally came to the simple conclusion to just keep on with the things I like, which is producing and playing a style that I fully support by heart.
WWD: There’s been a lot of change within dance music throughout your career, but how would you most like to see techno music and its scene evolve in years to come?
I think mainstream techno will become even a bit harder for at least another year. Like straight, pumping and even faster. This trend evolved after the very slow and so-called Deep House period, which wasn’t really Deep House in the classic way – but that’s another story. A movement awakes a countermovement and it was never so clear to see like within the short time between the peaks of Deep House and the current Techno movement. What happens next, who knows. The scene is constantly changing. I recently receive many Minimal Techno demos but I doubt that will be the next big thing. Anyway, I don’t care about trends very much. I like inspiration but not following trends or hypes. The reason why I chose electronic music was and still is the variety. This is means inspiration to me.
WWD: You’re lucky enough to perform all over the world and have done for many years with gigs coming up in Berlin (DE), Zurich (CH), Barcelona (ES), Cabries (FR) and Tel Aviv (IL) amongst others, but where do you most enjoy playing and why?
I get the question a lot, what’s your favourite place to play. It’s hard to tell – every country has such a unique crowd. Like my last tour in Australia, every gig even set the bar a bit higher for the next one. But the next gig was even better. That kept on going until I ﬁnished with the closing set at Pitch Music & Arts, which is my highlight of 2019 – so far.
I play once a year in Beirut, again every time I play it’s better than the last time – an incredible vibe. But I can say the same for my appearances in South America and Turkey.
WWD: What DJs/artists are inspiring you at the moment?
I’m very much into Ghostpoet at the moment and listen to his stuﬀ always as soon as I get into my car. No Techno but dark as hell.
WWD: You’ve been based in Hamburg for many years. What clubs, bars and attractions would you recommended our readers should check out when visiting the city?
PAL, Moloch and Südpol are great for clubbing! Make sure to stay long enough in the club to end up at Fishmarket and stroll along the Elbe while the sun is rising. Oh and of course buy yourself some freshly fried ﬁsh or a huge box of fruits – best ending of a long club night for sure. Generally, the harbour area is super pretty, try to end up in Altona were you will ﬁnd a lot of small cafes and restaurants. You might spot me sipping a cup of coﬀee at Mikkels Café.
WWD: What are the current top 5 tracks in your ‘record box’?
- Caterpillar – Hidden Empire
- Thrill – Joran van Pol & Maksim Dark
- The Barbershop – Architectural
- Momentum (André Winter Remix) – Oliver Huntemann
- Self – Heiko Laux
What else is on the horizon for you?
I do feel the urge to head back to the studio to create some fresh tunes. We have much to celebrate this year with the 5 years anniversary and also the 50th release of Senso, which comes with a collaboration of André Winter and me. In addition, we currently plan our Senso Sounds showcases to ﬁnally reveal the line-up for OFF WEEK in Barcelona. And I’m super, super busy with another project, which has more to do with food than music. I had a gig in Mexico a few weeks back and I stayed some days longer for a reason. I spent a lot of time at local food markets, bars and street markets. It’s the ﬁrst time I speak in public about it but I think this is the right time to let the cat out of the bag: From summer there will be a new spot and another challenge for me when I open a Taqueria with a nice bar on Reeperbahn together with my wife and my Mexican business partner Paco, who moved to Hamburg a few years ago. Watch out for Holy Taco!
Buy his collaboration with André Winter here