Straight out of Basel, Switzerland, Andrea Oliva packs a mixed bag of musical influences, a lifetime of DJ experience and infectious enthusiasm that lights up the clubs, whether he’s behind the decks, or sending ripples across the dancefloor with his deft, melodic, techno and house productions which are inspired by everything from Detroit techno to early German house.
The son of Italian immigrants, Andrea still supports AC Milan and cooks a mean pasta, but he grew up Swiss in a small village near Basel. His interest in music was sparked by playing drums at the local youth centre, and by drum ‘n’ bass and early hip hop like NWA. As a 13-year-old he got a job installing floor insulation and, with the money he saved up, bought his first turntables. Enamoured of all music, he was also in a “hobby” band with friends: “we smoked our first cigarettes and listened to a lot of Rage Against the Machine and Nirvana. We felt very adult,” he says with a grin.
Guitars quickly gave way to beats, though and, despite limited resources, Andrea was determined to master beat-matching. “I’d go in the record shop and they’d look at me like ‘what’s this child doing here?’ All I could afford were the 10-packs of vinyl, which was the awful stuff they couldn’t sell to anyone else. That’s I learned to mix with.”
Despite the challenging beginning Andrea’s love of music quickly lead him deep into the music scene and he swapped an apprenticeship at a travel agency for a job in record distribution. “This was paradise,” he recalls. Plus, it meant he got all the brand new music first. Coupled with his now-fluid mixing skills this won him a residency at Terminus, age just 17. Other regular gigs included Lucerne’s Pravda club, where he warmed up for the likes of Lil’ Louis Vega, Kerry Chandler and David Morales. He doesn’t see this as different, or separate, from playing the drums, or his love of hip hop; for Andrea, music is about addition, not subtraction. And he is always learning and loving new music.
This multi-facted love of music took Andrea to Ibiza where he landed a residency at In Bed With Space, and encountered his future Cadenza mentor Luciano playing at DC10. Fired by the sounds he heard, he – along with some friends – began promoting in Switzerland, and has been responsible for bringing an army of hot talent to his home including the likes of Shlomi Aber, Audiofly, Luca Baccheti and Loco Dice. “I never imagined I could do this for a living,” he says. “Now I am it’s incredible. I love making music, sharing music, seeing the reaction on the dancefloor when someone plays your tune. I feel very lucky to love music as much now as I did in the beginning.”
With forthcoming productions on Cadenza and Cadenza Lab to add to a discography that includes records for Be As One, Viva, Hive Audio and Saved; his own night at Nordstern club in Basel; and a string of international bookings lined up, Andrea is set to make even bigger waves in 2011. As for him, though, he says: “I’m just happy to be doing what I love.”