Turkish/German DJ Deniz Koyu has established himself as one of dance music’s go-to producers, a he cites Fedde Le Grand, Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell, Avicii and more as some of his biggest fans. Musically-minded since he was five years of age, Deniz has constantly been immersing himself in the world of DJ’ing and producing, pumping out high quality releases through acclaimed labels like Refune, Axtone, and Flamingo Records.
Deniz bursted into the scene with his track “Tung,” followed by “Bong,” “Goin Down,” and “Rage.” His progressive sound can be heard on main stages worldwide, as he has played at festivals like Tomorrowland, Electric Zoo, and Creamfields. If you’re unable to catch him at a tour date near you, you can always tune into his weekly Bongbastic radio show, which features the latest in electro and progressive house.
Check out our interview with Deniz below, and enjoy!
One of the things that I really respect about you is how you are a trained piano player. How has your musical background affected all the great tracks that you have made?
I started playing the piano when I was five years old and at that age my parents kind of forced me to do it, I didn’t really want to. I stopped when I was 10 years old and then I didn’t play for six years and I forgot most of it but once I started with the music production stuff it all came back again. I am not really able to play complex classical songs but I have a feeling in my fingers and I have a better understanding of music theory, it’s in your blood when you start from an early age. Honestly it’s not necessary though, I know a lot of guys that are the best producers and they aren’t able to play an instrument. They just use a mouse and draw the notes on the computer and they are great at it and they make the best melodies.
At what age did u get into producing & how did u learn most of it?
First time I got in touch with music production was at the end of high school when I was about 16. Though that was just a little bit of fooling around on my computer with nothing else than Reason. I made a more serious approach with about 22, and turned it into my fulltime job when I got 24. I learned it all by myself, mainly by just experimenting and reading and watching a bit here and there. Most important however is your attitude and commitment. For two years I spent at least 10 hours a day in my home studio with only little breaks until I reached a professional level.
Tung! really brought you from the “aspiring” to the “recognizable” DJ category. What was it like to become so known, so quickly?
Actually success didn’t come fast for me, it was a journey of hard work long before I released Tung. I grew up in a small city and had no contacts or friends in the music industry so I had to learn everything by myself over the years and meet people and labels at the right time. Eventually it all paid off. I remember when all my superhero DJs that I was looking up to (and still do) started playing my songs and supporting my music. That was the biggest reward and greatest satisfaction for me.
You’ve definitely hit world stage at the right time with the EDM surge, which you’re no doubt a part of, how does it feel to see Dance music blow up in such a big way?
It’s awesome to see the huge commercial success of Dance music as a worldwide phenomenon right now. But to be honest I totally wouldn’t care if that wasn’t the case and Dance music would not be mass compatible, not crossover into radio and remain in the clubs only. I make this music cos I truly love it, not for the reason of commercial success in that sense.
Most DJs end up defining themselves by a signature sound, but your songs are all very unique. Is the variety a conscious decision?
Well in the beginning when I did tracks like Tung and Bong I started with a very specific signature sound that everyone immediately labeled the “Deniz Koyu sound”. However I didn’t want to be reduced to only this one sound, so I took it from there and kept developing my sound and style. That keeps it a lot more interesting and I get the chance to show people my wide range of production skills. What matters to me is that I only create music that I personally feel and enjoy, and that is how you end up with a signature sound that is more of a musical fingerprint rather than just one synth patch. When you listen to a track like “To The Sun”, it’s musically much more complex and melodic than my older work, but my fingerprint is still all on the groovy bassline, the beat and the sonic character in terms of mixing and mastering, which I do all by myself. And since I do everything by myself from the empty project until the master file, there’s no way to get rid of your fingerprint whether you want it or not.
Who were the artists that shaped who you are today?
Daft Punk, Michael Jackson, Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk in my young teenage years, then later I got into the really early stuff of Axwell, Eric Prydz, Trentemøller and more.
What kind of studio did you have when you produced your first tunes?
I had a simple home studio where I made all my productions in 2011 including Tung!, Hertz, Hydra, the remix of James Blunt Dangerous with Johan Wedel and my Kaskade Turn It Down remix. I had nothing really fancy in there: my studio PC, good monitors (Adam P22), a 30” screen, a controller keyboard, one Access Virus TI and some absorber panels to improve the acoustics in my room. That’s it.
If you could talk to yourself at age 18 what advice would you give yourself?
The number one advice that I would give to myself is to be careful with what kind of contracts you sign. When I was 18 years old I signed a couple of really shitty contracts just because I didn’t know what I was doing and there was some bad stuff in there. I had to get out which was a bit tricky but in the end I figured out that it would be smart to read all of it and maybe change the contract a little bit.
Any advice for upcoming producers?
It’s always very hard to give one general advice, it’s all about working very hard and putting a lot of effort in it. Whats smart is that, these days don’t try to find a record label and then send out all your very early works to the label, because if you’re honest with yourself your initial work will not be very good. If you compare your initial work to your current, you’ll know it’s not very good. That’s why in the beginning I wouldn’t send out my work to all record labels, because the thing is they’ll listen once and if it’s not good, in the second email they’ll ignore it. I think it’s good in the beginning to spread your stuff on the internet for free and if it’s great, people will recognize it and you will get attention.