Getting To Know… Oded Nir
Oded Nir is a bass player, producer, remixer and electronic live artist based in Amsterdam, who also happens to be the main man behind Suntree Records – a popular imprint spanning all sounds across the soulful, house, jazz and lounge spectrum. With new singles and an exciting album dropping this spring, we checked in to find out more about this talented musician.
You started off as a bit of a Rock guy, so what turned you on to making dance music specifically?
I was always having electronic music in the background of mind, and in my speakers. I listened to artists such as Underworld, Massive Attack, Kruder & Dorfmeister, frequently. Around 2000 to 2002 I was exposed to the likes of Zero 7, St Germain, Café Del Mar and Hed Kandi, among others and through their influence my interest slowly started to shift from rock to the trip-hop, chill out, lounge, and soulful house genres. In late 2004, I decided to buy a computer and music software production, in order to record my own rock songs. Eventually, all the experimenting in my home studio, led me to what I do today. In addition, the fact that I was able to create music by myself without other people, helped me to snap out of the bass, drums, guitar, singer concept, I was accustomed to.
You play a lot of instruments yourself, where you trained from a young age?
I play several live instruments, besides my computer productions and arrangements. I had my musical training early, playing piano as a young boy, but by the of age 11, I kind of ditched it. I wasn’t attracted to the piano and to classical music, which was what I studied. When I was 17, came the Seattle wave and took us all over like a storm. This is when I started learning how to play the bass guitar. For six years, I studied from great masters, who taught me different styles and different techniques of playing the bass, besides of music training of compositing and music theory. In addition, I play the electric guitar, all keyboards, and synths.
Describe your sound?
I think that today my sound is a combination oflounge, soulful house, funk, soul and nu disco. This integration of electronic and live music, which was always my trademark, continues with me a I progress. Naturally, the bass guitar will be in the centrev of all my productions.
What was the first dance record you bought?
It was Inner city’s “Good Life” (1988). I was playing at my school’s Friday night parties, with a double-cassette tape deck, you know, it was the happy 80’s and “Good Life” just came out and it was a revelation. To this day, I think it’s the best house record ever made.
Who are your musical influences?
My influences are a blend of styles and artists, but I should definitely name Bob Marley, UB40, The Police, The Cure, Led Zeppelin, Massive Attack, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Thievery Corporation, George Benson, Marcus Miller, Joey Negro, Milles Davis, Sade, Incognito… I can go on forever. I think artists are influenced all the time and evolve their sound, it’s an endless journey.
Which of your own tracks was the biggest labour of love to create?
Wow, it’s a hard question because they are all result of labor of love, but I think ‘Amsterdam Nights’, my new single, is a good example. I started making it 7 years ago and I wasn’t happy with it at all in the beginning, then I laid a piano solo on it and again I didn’t feel the result and left the track alone for ages. It took me a while to come back to it and only when I started to work on the new album I found it and knew where I want to take it. I think it’s always good to take a distance from your tracks to clear your ears and mind, but sometimes distance can mean years!
And what has been your biggest release to date?
It’s funny because I’m now trying to break that “biggest release” record. In 2012, my “Into Your Heart” single, featuring the Dutch vocalist Gia Melish, with remixes from Richard Earnshaw, Duchican soul, is my best seller to date. It’s not only my best seller, but also Suntree Records’, mostly the Richard Earnshaw remix. It was broke into the charts and is still the most licensed track from Suntree Records label. In the last couple of years, ‘Impossible Love;, my original mix from my first album “Midnight Snacker” was picked up on apple music streaming and was placed on their world official summer playlist and is actually my most streamed track ever. I’m looking forward to breaking these records with my new singles and album.
You run your own Suntree Records label, how’s that going and who can we find on there?
I started Suntree records in 2009 in order to release my own music. When I arrived in Amsterdam from Tel Aviv, the local music scene was more non-vocal tracks and electro, there was no real demand for my soulful, vocal triphop / chillout sound, so I founded my own record label in order to get it out. There were not so many releases of my genre back then, so it actually gave me some focus. Artists looking for home for their sounds started to join and Suntree became more established and the direction I was taking the label was also more clear to me. Artist’s such as Richard Earnshaw, Gregor Salto, The Timewriter , Ron Carroll, Adani & Wolf. Meital De Razon & Asi Tal, Chappell, Eric Faria & Jorge Araujo and more great artists can be found on our discography.
You’ve just released your new single ‘Amsterdam Nights’ featuring Cece Noir, what we can expect to hear?
I think you can expect to hear a funky house catchy tune with a strong bass line and groovy beats, teased with hooky sax from Cece Noir which will stay in your head way after the track is over. This track fits bar vibes, Ibiza sunsets and your funky party!
How did the single project come about and how did you link up with Cece?
As I mentioned in the previous question I had Amsterdam Nights in process, but I wasn’t happy about it and was looking for a saxophone to take it to the finish line, I was reaching out to different sax players and tried out different people. Cece was offered by my formal manager Sere and we hit it off from the start and she directly understood what I wanted to hear in the track and came up with it. Cece also joined my live band called Oded Nir and the Suntree Live Band, and since than we have been working together.
So you’re originally from Tel Aviv, but living in Amsterdam, what made you move there and how is the music scene there right now?
I got a record deal in The Netherlands which made me come over. I was producing Downtempo tracks in Tel Aviv and the sound there was more psychedelic trance and harder beats than what I liked or wanted to do. I went with 6-7 tracks to the Midem music conference in Cannes in France in 2006, the mission was to get a record deal and was picked up Dutch record label. So 6 months later I found myself in Amsterdam, trying to make my way into a completely new scene and strange land, but I landed in the right place for my music, I don’t think the current Amsterdam music scene needs any introduction, just have a look at ADE! The first ADE party I played was in 2008 and I’ve been actively involved in the event since. It has just become the biggest event of the electronic world! Amsterdam’s music scene is unstoppable;)
A birdy tells us that almost 10 years after your debut album release, ‘Midnight Snacker’, there is finally a brand new album coming soon, what can you quickly tell us about that?
It was the beginning of 2010 when my first album Midnight Sacker was released, but I started working on it 2 years before, so it was a long and innocent LP. When I listen to it today it is a bit far away from where I am now musically, but naturally because time has passed and I was also in a different place in my life. The new album ‘Rooftop Conversations’, which will come out in April 2019 is way more mature with my current sound, its a lot funkier. It touches chill out, dub, blues, soulful house and funk and even a bit of trip hop with ‘App Time’ Track Ft. Kirsten Berkx on vocals (Voice of Holland 2017). It really represents who I am as a producer and musician and I have good names on it such as Saskia Laroo, Warren Byrd, Chappell, Kirsten and a couple of solo tracks from me. King Dread James which appeared on my first solo LP is actually the only vocalist that made it on to the second album. I think the audience will be pleasantly surprised, it’s something to look forward to.
You’ve made some great collaborations on your productions, which have been your favourite so far and who else would you most like to work with?
It has to be Dutch trumpet player legend Saskia Laroo. Saskia is well known in The Netherlands and worldwide in the jazz scene, a hard-working artist that the younger generation could learn something from. I sent her my track ‘Rooftop Conversations’ and explained what I need from her and we met in the studio and we were done recording in 40 min, it was great! My work with MC Kind Dread James from Amsterdam in the early years is also one of my faves. We have started to work together when I arrived at Amsterdam 13 years ago so we made a long journey searching for sounds and direction, we spent many nights in the studio just trying things out, I missed that. Also working with one of my favourite music producers Richard Earnshaw on my album was a big treat, we have been friends for a while now and doing ADE and events together for more then 2 years, but Richard mastered the album and has been advising me from day 1. My dream is collaboration is to work with the queen – Sade! To have her singing on one of my tracks would be amazing!
Who are your current top 5 producers?
Richard Earnshaw, Joey Negro, Dr. Packer, Dennis Ferrer and Crazy P.
What was your highlight of 2018 and what are you most looking forward to in 2019?
My highlight of 2018 was definitely Suntree Records ADE label night together with iCulture & Sensitive Soul in Madam / Adam Toren. It was a magical night, something I wont forget, I played together with my live band and the lineup was fantastic featuring Richard Earnshaw, Steve Taylor, Mike Scot, Mousse T, Angelo Ferreri, Kate Goodman, Ridney and others, its was sold out and the vibe was amazing. In 2019? Besides my new album and singles that I’m very excited about, you can expect a release party on the 20th of April in Madam/ Adam Toren for the album feat. All the artists that appear on it and other great guests. And I’m also playing in London on the iCulture party on the 3rd of May, so there is a lot of good stuff going on.
Any tips or advice for aspiring producers looking to break through on the scene?
Have enough breathing space in this business, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Also have a strong team around you to help you do things you are not good at and get your papers and registration correctly. Music is just a part of the game, there’s a whole lot more to do besides.
What else are you working on at the moment that you can tell us about?
I’m now getting into the sync world more and more, I have also created projects in the past for theatre, so I’m looking forward to developing myself in these areas as well.
‘Amsterdam Nights’ will be released on February 22nd 2019 on Traxsource promo / Full release March 8th 2019 on Suntree Records.