PLAYY. Mix #153 – Rob Hes
Despite him being touted as an emerging force in the melodic techno scene just a few years ago, Dutch producer Rob Hes’ experience spans much further. Arriving at his current style of energetic yet melodically driven techno has been an evolution three decades in the making, an evolution that Hes often looks back on fondly. It was with the establishment of his label and passion project Pursuit in 2018 that Hes would begin to carve out his own, distinct path in the dance music scene, setting up a space to highlight and champion new artists in melodic techno and house. Simultaneously, Hes’ own music would begin to catch the attention of names like Maceo Plex and Adam Beyer, providing him with the spotlight he’s so passionately given to others. With a slew of releases on the likes of Lane 8’s This Never Happened and Eelke Kleijn’s Days Like Nights lined up for this year, Hes is ready to take over dancefloors around the globe. He provided us with an exclusive mix, and we chatted with him about his approach to crafting impactful dance music both on and behind the scenes. Listen and read below.
How would you describe your approach to crafting mixes, and what are some key elements you focus on to create a unique experience for your listeners?
When it comes to curating a mix, my approach revolves around a blend of personal creations and tracks from my label, Pursuit. I find joy in selecting both recently released music and exclusive material that hasn’t been heard by the audience before. This way, I can offer a unique and fresh experience to my listeners. On the other hand, when I’m preparing for a live performance in a club or a festival, I like to challenge myself and embrace the element of surprise. Of course I prepare my usb’s with the latest music, but I don’t know before what I’m going to do. But I prefer to play music that nobody else has yet. And as I’m working full time in my studio, that is never a problem.
Can you share some insights into your journey with electronic music? What initially drew you to the genre, and how have your musical influences shaped your style over time?
Reflecting on these questions always reminds me of the incredible journey I’ve had in the dance scene, spanning back to as early as 1992. It all began when I stumbled upon a house music tape that completely blew me away. Little did I know that a few years later, the same style would be referred to as hardcore or gabber! Long story short. From hardcore I ran into hard techno and after this to the techno of today. While I don’t consciously feel that my hardcore past directly influences my current style, I can’t deny that it has left a lasting impact on me as an artist. The raw energy, pulsating beats, and relentless kicks that define the hardcore genre have become an inherent part of my musical DNA. I guess you could say I’m particularly skilled with crafting powerful, driving kicks, a skill that I honed during my hardcore days. Embracing various sub-genres within electronic dance music has enriched my artistic expression, allowing me to infuse my sets and productions with diverse elements. Today, as a Melodic Techno artist, I draw inspiration from my vast experience across different styles to create a unique and dynamic sound that resonates with both myself and my audience.
As an artist, how do you feel you have evolved throughout your career? Are there any significant milestones or experiences that have had a profound impact on your growth and artistic development?
I think I evolved pretty well over the past decade. The start of my techno career went really well. It all began with a promising start when John Digweed began playing my music, which attracted the attention of numerous labels, including big names like Dubfire, Josh Wink, Christian Smith, Oliver Huntemann, and many others. This initial success allowed me to release my music on prestigious platforms and gain valuable exposure within the industry.Before Covid I decided to go more to the melodic techno side as most labels went harder and harder and I had to basically start from scratch again. But already recently released on labels from Joris Voorn, Eelke Kleijn and Nora en Pure and have music ready this summer on Lane 8’s This Never Happened and Einmusika. Another significant milestone has been the establishment of Pursuit. This venture has not only given me a platform to express my artistic identity but has also provided opportunities for other talented artists to showcase their skills. Witnessing these artists grow and evolve alongside the label has been a gratifying experience, and I feel a sense of fulfilment in being part of their journey. Looking back, I am proud of my progress and the challenges I have overcome throughout my career. As I continue to evolve and explore new musical territories, I remain dedicated to creating innovative and emotive techno that resonates with listeners worldwide. The support I have received from fans, fellow artists, and the industry at large inspires me to strive for even greater heights in the years to come.
What role do you believe technology plays in the evolution of electronic music, and how do you incorporate innovative tools or techniques into your creative process?
Technology is growing really hard these days. Really curious how this infects the music of the feature. Especially with A.I. and everything. To be honest, I’m still working the same way as I did 10 years ago. Only the programs and plug-ins are improving a lot. So I guess this way I’m also evolving.