OXIA is one France’s most respected DJs and producers, with a career spanning over twenty years and intensive touring on all continents. The mastermind behind one of the most iconic tracks in dance music, Domino, which has clocked over 40 million YouTube hits since its release back in 2006, Olivier has built an impressive catalogue of remixes and original releases on respected imprints such as Kompakt, Hot Creations, 8bit, Knee Deep In Sound and Saved, as well as on his own label Diversions Music.
Following a critically acclaimed remix for Agoria earlier this year and a hugely successful Beatport livestream from his hometown of Grenoble, we sat down with the long-standing French stalwart to discuss life under lockdown, his early musical influences and the electronic music scene where he grew up.
WWD: Hello Olivier, welcome to When We Dip!
Hello When We Dip, thank you!
WWD: 2020 has been a crazy year to say the least. How have the last few months been for you?
It’s been a very special year indeed. It had started very well for me but then unfortunately it didn’t because of this damn virus. And so, like many of my colleagues, I didn’t play at all for 3 months so I stayed at home in Grenoble (France). I therefore seized the opportunity to do some things that I didn’t have too much time to do at home; I also came up with a little bit more music, so to be honest the first two months were pretty good. It was also good for me to finally get a break from touring. But after a while I began to find things were getting stale and I started missing playing and meeting the crowd, seeing my friends… Fortunately I had a few gigs in July but unfortunately it all went downhill again because, for a lot of places, it was complicated to respect the sanitary rules – so there were restrictions again. This being said, in spite of the situation, I remain positive and I’m waiting impatiently for it to end.
WWD: Starting at the beginning, can you tell us how you got into electronic music?
This goes back many years; I got into it quite naturally. At the time, I was co-hosting a funk radio show; little by little the funk started to transform, and the first tracks in-between funk and House music started appearing. An artist that I mention every time and who is a good example of this, is Colonel Abrams. Then House really exploded in the mi-80’s, mainly coming from Chicago or New York – we realized only later that it was a real musical revolution, but at the time we didn’t really realize it, probably because we were very young.
Besides that, I also listened to a lot of New Wave, which also used a lot of electronic sounds. Then in the early 90’s Techno revolutionized the music world a little bit more and that’s when I started to really get out there and go to the first raves; that’s also when I started produce as well. Our first EP – I say “our” because in the beginning there were two of us in Oxia, Stéphane Deschezeaux and I – was released in 95, and since then electronic music hasn’t left me 🙂
WWD: Who or what were your biggest musical inspirations growing up?
I’ve been inspired by many things musically. Obviously, by all the electronic music I’ve been listening to for all these years, but not only, because everything I listened to as a teenager and later and even now has influenced me, whatever the style. I’ve listened to a lot of styles in my life: Funk of course, Disco, Soul, New Wave, Pop, Rock, Jazz, Classical music… So, all this has mandatorily influenced my music. It would be far too long to mention all the names that may have influenced my music…
WWD: What was the music scene like in Grenoble when you first starting making electronic music?
Quite quickly, parties in Grenoble started popping up. There was quite a lot of illicit rave parties in the beginning, around 1992. Then things became quite structured and clubs started to organize events. I was myself resident DJ in the techno room of a club. Gradually, more and more young people who started to produce – some of them have since become friends and are still present in the scene like for example Miss Kittin, The Hacker, Kiko… The latter had a record store called ‘Ozone Records’ and that’s where we all met during the day. Ozone Records also became the name of a label Kiko and I set up and on which we released our first records.
WWD: Can you share some memories from the days you started raving/DJing?
I have a lot of memories, but it’s true that the first big parties I went to generated unforgettable memories. Things were so new and so different from what we had known; people were much more open and tolerant than “traditional” club crowds. I still have all these memories of the first very big night we played at – I think in 1996 or 97. We were still playing live with Stéphane at that time and we had played with several artists we were already fans of, like Dave Clarke, Slam… It was something incredible for us.
WWD: Do you have any gigs coming up yourself?
For the moment not really. Family Piknik festival was planned to take place on September 12th in Montpellier, France, but it just got cancelled. Other than that, it still is very complicated at the moment because so many venues are still closed. I have a few options for the next few months but nothing for sure, because we are waiting to see how things will evolve…
WWD: Let’s talk about your label Diversions Music. Do we have any recent / upcoming releases that our readers should be aware of?
So, yes, two EPs have recently been released: one by an old friend from Grenoble, Yannick Baudino, that was out in early June with a remix of the Spanish artist Bizen Lopez and a remix of myself. Then, at the end of June, there was another EP by Italian artist Airbas. Also, a new EP will be released end of September by a young French producer called GVRL (with a remix by American artist m.O.N.R.O.E.) Afterwards, an EP by Bizen Lopez with a remix of myself will be out, followed by a Quenum EP with a remix by my label partner Nicolas Masseyeff.
WWD: What’s your vision for the label over the next few years?
We want to continue in the same state of mind, i.e. to release things that we like, even if they belong to slightly different styles – which is the case for the last two releases and the next one, for example. We like very groovy productions as well as more melodic things – or even more Techno things -, which will be the case for example with the Quenum EP. The label is really like us, because both as producers and DJs we like to create and play different styles, we like to surprise people …
WWD: What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not touring the world or making music?
I usually don’t have a lot of spare time because I’m always quite busy with music, between gigs, listening to promos, the label, production… For sure, in the last few months it’s changed a little bit. But generally speaking, I like to spend time with my friends or family; I also like watching movies a lot…
WWD: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us Olivier!
Thank you as well, it was a pleasure.