Deniro: Nina, Dekmantel and Breaking Through

Words by: Ben Raven
Posted: 22/9/17 15

Nina Kraviz's signing Deniro talks about his rise through the Dutch techno ranks and growing up with the Dekmantel crew.

Deniro is one of the Netherland’s hottest new techno talents thanks to releases on Nina Kraviz’s label Trip, his residency at Shelter in Amsterdam and his recent Dekmantel Boileroom set which we selected as our Live Mix of the Week earlier in the month. He's also one of the artists behind Tape Records, a vinyl only label that has been turning heads since 2012. We speak to him about growing up with the Dekmantel Crew, how to make it as a DJ and his habit of losing things.

Ibiza Voice: how did you begin releasing with Nina Kraviz?

Deniro: She was playing my track Atavism a lot so when I was at Dekmantel Festival a few years ago I spoke to her. I think I was behaving like an idiot because I was a bit wasted but she asked me to send music to her. I didn’t [send her anything] because I thought I didn’t have good tracks for her at that time. But then she asked again a month later, so I sent her my music and happily she liked it and released some tracks on Trip.

Tell us about the scene you came up in?

I grew up in The Hague. When I met [Dekmantel founder] Thomas Martojo in highschool, we started to listen to techno. It wasn’t really good techno but you have to start somewhere. Not much later, we went to our first techno party Shockers 2002 in Amsterdam. It was a real eye opener for what techno can be where and [we also went to] Dimi Angelis’ illegal techno raves around Amsterdam. Steve Rachmad was always the headliner and ever since then has been a big inspiration for me as a producer and DJ. 

How did you hone your skills as a producer?

As a producer I started with Fruityloops making very shitty music. There must be some friends with my Fruityloops stuff but I will kill them if they let other people to listen to it. It was just for fun but I got a little addicted to it. So I collected hundreds of plugins and read internet forums like Gearslutz all night to learn all about the technical [aspects] and gear.

I was a bit of a loner. I wanted to learn everything by myself so I didn’t really have a mentor and I also was the only one really serious with making music in my group of friends. I woke up early, which I hate, just to make music and skipped school a lot to work on music too.

What inspired you?

Techno from the 90s was my biggest inspiration but these guys produced their music with hardware so I was frustrated I couldn’t get the sound I wanted. This all changed when I got enough money to buy the TR-909. It was expensive but not as expensive as it is now fortunately.

Your Dekmantel Boileroom is like a Shazam black hole, where do you get your music from?

I almost never go to record shops. I buy all my stuff on Discogs. The new stuff too. When I lived in Rotterdam I went to Clone a lot to spend all the money I had and when I lived in Amsterdam to Rush Hour, but now I just check Discogs and order everything online. It’s perfect for lazy people like me and you can find everything. The only thing you don’t have is the small talk in the shop, but I am not very good at that so I don’t miss it.

Are you good friends with the Dekmantel crew?

I am very good friends with Thomas Martojo and Casper Tielrooij. I met Thomas at high school. We both had to repeat a class. We quickly became close friends because we were both really good at not going to class and instead drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and discovering techno all day. Together with others like Jan van Kampen we went to parties every week. Here in The Hague, I hang out a lot with Jelle Hamstra DJing under the name 751 and the guys from District25.      

You have a very mature sound for a new producer on the rise. Have you released music under  a previous name? Or have you just waited til the time was right?

I haven’t released music under a previous name. I was just really insecure about my music. If people like Jeff Mills, Robert Hood, Steve Rachmad or Larry Heard are your inspirations then it is not easy to think your music is good enough to be released. So looking back maybe I could have released sooner but I think it also helped me to mature my sound. Maybe you even need this insecurity to make good music. If you listen to 90% of the techno released nowadays, I think a lot of producers need to be a little bit more critical of themselves.

What's the hardest thing about breaking through as a DJ in 2017?

DJing isn’t enough in most cases so you have to get the attention of promoters by producing good music. This will take a long time so you have to be really patience. It also helps if you can play vinyl as well. At least I hope this is the case, but I am not sure of this. It also helps if you start your own label. For me this helped a lot because you can bring out your own stuff so you don’t have to send your demo’s to other labels and got rejected every time.

Tape Records has a very impressive discography, is there an ethos or a story behind it?

Olf Van Elden better know as Interstellar Funk came up with the idea to start a label to release our own music. Jeroen Kok and Berend Kirch also joined the label from the start and both released on the label. There isn’t really an ethos behind it. We just want to release good timeless music from producers we really like. Unfortunately Olf quit the label so it is just the three of us now.

What values as a producer and a DJ are important to you and why?

For me it is all about creating an atmosphere. You can achieve this in different ways. Like Donato Dozzy with really precise mixing and  deep hypnotizing records. You don’t need high BPM here. But you can also play very energetic like DVS1, Helena Hauff or Stingray. I don’t really care about sloppy mixing if you are able to play the right records at the right moment but some records need tight mixing.

I hate when DJ’s put their hands in the air to let the people know he/she is really happy about the music he/she is playing. These DJs have too much time in the booth. With disco or house it’s a different story because it is more about letting the songs breathe. I have never seen Jeff Mills putting his hands in the air. He is just busy with mixing and being the boss. He doesn’t need to act.

How would you describe your character?

I am a down to earth person. I’m not spiritual at all. I’m also a bit cynical and I’m always putting everything into perspective. Maybe too much sometimes. I am really thankful with my live as a DJ now and really hope I can keep doing this for a while. My life was a bit depressing before. In the end I finished high school, but after that I was getting good at failing everything I started. So those 10 years in between weren’t fun.

Please tell us anything we might be surprised to know about you?

I am always really happy when it is Monday and I didn’t lose stuff during the weekend. Like clothes, USB sticks, my bike last weekend, keys, bankcards. I lose and forget everything all the time. That’s why I don’t have a wallet so I don’t lose everything at the same time but lose them over a longer period.


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