Artist post of the month: Oliver Heldens
On 12th April, the dust was settling on the reunion of Swedish House Mafia at Ultra Music Festival in Miami, but it was another post about Ultra which grabbed the attention of many, with Dutch producer Oliver Heldens using his social media platforms to post the following speech which earned 22k Facebook likes, and 33k Instagram likes:
“I owe you guys something in this special #TB… I’m talking about my Ultra Miami debut 2015.
So… 2014 was the best year of my life so far, I literally achieved any goal I wanted to achieve + WAY more than that. I exploded. From one moment to the other I didn’t feel as a ‘real’ DJ / Producer anymore. Oliver Heldens became a brand. After NYE 2014 till the day of this Ultra performance, I was depressed. At some points, I really felt like quitting or starting some new alias (which I did later on w HI-LO). I remember myself DJing parties and I had this whole arsenal prepared w all my own tracks + all those remixes/edits/mashups I’ve been making over the years, but I didn’t feel like myself those months. Everyone certainly has all these expectations… I didn’t feel as an actual DJ and that got me really sad and stressful, I had a lot of worries about my future in Dance Music. I was 19 and I thought I knew what I wanted, but then when I got it, I wanted to throw it all away. I remember I would be in my hotel room after a show till 5/6/7/8am trying to produce a Heldeep Radio episode I actually 100% LOVE and trying not to stutter while recording liners. And that was every week…. luckily I had many people around me to talk to about my feelings, I didn’t drink alcohol or take drugs, I was hyper focused. Not healthy focused I guess…I was trying to protect myself, my brand like a koala ;)) And I don’t want to blame record labels or any mgmt / agency for this stuff! We all need to fall to stand up again and that’s what I did I guess. I dedicated the moments I felt productive to making music I PERSONALLY 100% BELIEVE IN and I want to thank everyone who has been there for me and still is. And I especially want to thank the crowd/fans at my Ultra 2015 debut, because that changed my life and career. I just can’t believe it ended up being the top 5 most liked/streamed set that year and I know many of you keep asking me to ‘go back to my roots’ ‘go back to future house’ ‘Ultra15 was your best set’…. since then I met so many people who shared their stories with me and I’m very grateful for all of this. Now finally 3 years later I got to play the same stage again and so much has changed in that short time! I can’t explain how excited and enthusiastic I am about all the music I’ve been working on. About all those amazing shows/festivals/parties I have DJ’d and that I will continue doing so for a long time. I’m 23 now and I hope I can bless your ears and souls soon (or later) with my (re’new’ed) vision(s) on (dance) music.”
Thank you and see you very soon on the dance floor
Why was this post so special?
One of the first things that Oliver displayed in such a post was something many areas of the industry are now devoid of – especially across social media – real human emotion. The post was not aimed at promoting a new album, or upcoming show, just a humble expression of how he was feeling inside, and the need to share it with his fans. A post like this not only draws your fanbase close to you on an intimate and human level but also shows people the face of the person behind the mask of the brand.
The fact that he comments on all the conversations he’s had with fans about his music, also shows he is somebody that is willing to take feedback from those who matter most to him, and aims to use these comments to improve in future. This shows humility, and a willingness to accept that his productions are not yet of the ‘perfect’ level he wishes them to be, which hints at a selfless nature.
Oliver’s post also displays two qualities essential to evoking an emotional response within the read: a narrative arch, and a level of empathy. His story of how he originally played the Ultra mainstage in 2015, with 2018 marking his first year on the same stage after 3 years away shows a clear storyline of a producer who went away, worked hard, and eventually reaped the rewards, almost a ‘happy ever after’ and point of inspiration on how the fruits of your labour are presented to those who take a similar redemptive path.
The way he quotes “I was 19 and I thought I knew what I wanted, but then when I got it, I wanted to throw it all away. I remember I would be in my hotel room after a show till 5/6/7/8am trying to produce a Heldeep Radio episode I actually 100% LOVE and trying not to stutter while recording liners,” strikes an empathetic note on understanding how his condition affects him, with Oliver adding how felt “really sad and stressful.”
Signing off with an abbreviated form (Oli) of his name, and a kiss, also delivers that highly personal feel, and teaches all other artists that there is no substitute for real human emotion.