*** ill o.g. ***
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Ollie Hoops and Atonomous are both young in age and in the Hip Hop game, but that hasn't stopped them from teaming up to form their own record label, Rhyme Regime. Being heavily influenced by both 90s East Coast Rap music, as well as some of the most notorious West Coast albums to ever come out, Rhyme Regime are definitely headed in the right direction. Ollie Hoops took a time out to let us know what's in store for his crew.
Sup Ollie, tell us a bit about yourself.
Aight, so I'm Olivier Steen, aka Ollie Hoops. I was born in 1996, 16 years old at this moment, from the Netherlands, and I make beats, just like everyone with a computer and FL Studio does nowadays.
What's with the name Ollie Hoops?
I've been struggling with finding a name for a very long time. I came up with names that were usually way too serious or very unoriginal, like DJ Sticky Stone. I really didn't like the names I came up with, as they didn't really reflect my own music and personality. Because I was getting more and more serious about music, I had to find a name that I could just keep and use, and not worry about.
I asked everyone I knew whether they knew a name for me as an artist, but that didn't really work out, until I asked a friend and collaborator Luc-c, he came up with "Ollie Hoops". The "Ollie" comes from my real name, Olivier, and the "Hoops" came out of nowhere. I liked it because of the not-so-serious character of it, and because it was kind of goofy, which reflects my own personality. I still don't consider it a great name, but I just stick with it, in the end it's the music that matters.
How come you didn't have any interest in Hip Hop music when growing up?
I came from a very "white" family, so to say. I grew up in a middle class family and a quite protective environment. Therefore I didn't come in contact with a lot of "urban" music until I hit puberty. A friend of mine introduced me to some Eminem and Kanye West music at that time, and I listened to it just to look cool. But as time progressed, I listened to Hip Hop music more and more, and started appreciating the older Hip Hop music as well, like Premo and Dilla.
Your father's CD collection is what set it off for you, what was he listening to?
My dad was a 70's and 80's kid. On a lot of occasions, there would be Pink Floyd, Herman Brood and The Police bumping through my Dad's stereo. Also, my dad played guitar and keys for a bit. A lot of times, I would be listening to my dad playing the same Herman Brood songs he used to play in his 20's when he was performing in small bands wearing tight black jeans.
One day, I picked up my dad's acoustic guitar; I was 11 years old, out of nowhere. I fucked around with it for a bit, after which I asked my dad to teach me some simple chords. I was just messing around and enjoyed it a lot.
You and Atonomous have teamed up to start the Rhyme Regime label, what's that about?
Well, when Atonomous and me got together in high school, at that time only 15 years old, we decided to make a mixtape together. We needed an outlet for our music; a movement, the picture-frame of our music. Because of this, we started Rhyme Regime.
What style of Rap music do you guys lean more towards when you're creating?
If I'm just going to say something like Boom Bap or 90s Hip Hop, it would be kind of limiting. Just as saying we like to make underground or "indie" music. We just make what we like to make, which is, for the most part, kind of 90s-like.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you're working on?
Hell yeah! The mixtape I told you about, it'll be released very soon. We'll call it Raw Milk. And it's not really a mixtape. We basically just wanted to make an album, but we didn't have the tools and money to make an album of studio quality, in terms of recording and mixing and mastering, and we wanted it to be a bit longer than an EP. So we had to have an excuse for it not sounding as smooth as an album, so we just called it a mixtape.
Who are some of your musical influences?
A whole lot of folks. I find myself listening to guys like Madlib, Premo and J Dilla, as well as Gigi D'Agostino, Marcus Miller, George Clinton and KOAN Sound. But if I have to say one person that influenced my the most, it would be Warren G. I've listened the "Regulate... G-Funk Era" hundreds of times. The laid-back production and the easy voice of Warren G makes it one of the best Hip Hop albums ever created, in my opinion. I've kind of adopted some of that style in my own music, especially the on-point mellow drums.
Another guy that is responsible for a big part of my own sound is FS Green. He inspired me to make music that is both mellow and hard-hitting at the same time, the kind of music that makes your head nod really far up and down. If it wasn't for Warren G and FS Green, I would probably have never been making Hip Hop music the way I do now.
How did you first get into making beats, and how did you learn?
When I turned 12, all the kids at primary school, including me, all of a sudden started to act very cool - wearing our pants on our knees - while the coolest kid played Eminem and T-Pain from his iPod. Because I wanted to be cool as well, I started listening to that music as well. And I learned to play it on my dad's guitar. From this point, I started listening to more and more Hip Hop music, together with more and more Blues and Rock music I got from my dad.
When I was 13, my dad bought an iMac, with the wonderful application Garageband on it. The little digital knobs and buttons, and the ability to put in notes that were played by the application immediately amazed me. Whenever my dad was gone, I would sneak to the iMac to make some simple melodies and drum loops, for sheer enjoyment. This got more and more serious as I became older, when I was 15, I had built my own very little studio, paid from delivering flyers in my neighborhood. At this point it started getting serious.
I learned mostly from myself, just playing around. Trial and error. It's the only way that truly develops creativity according to me.
Tell us about your recording setup.
At the moment, I use a 2007 iMac with Logic installed, a cheap Roland keyboard from the 90s, a second-hand Steinberg CI1 audio interface, and my recently purchased Korg Microkorg synth, which I use for live playing. And of course my guitar, and a pair of speakers. It's quite simple, but it gets the job done.
I see a lot of people nowadays with very expensive studios; these people buy more and more gear because they think that more gear will result in better music. Which I think is not the case, it's about the person using the gear, not the gear itself.
What would you consider your favorite Hip Hop album of all time?
Dr. Dre's The Chronic, the 1992 one. And also Warren G's Regulate album, like I said. Both because of their massive impact, and their fresh production. Just good albums, nothing more to say.
What do you think of today's artists? Are things becoming stale? Or is everything good?
I think there are now two types of Hip Hop artists. There are the stereotypical "Swag & Money" rappers, accompanied by SoundClick producers, and the people that are just being creative, making music and doing what they enjoy. Sometime ago, I was part of the first group. I was making Lex Luger-like beats, and I had a SoundClick page. In all of the time I was doing that, I've sold one beat in total. And it was far from fulfilling.
It seems that most Hip Hop artists are part of the first group. Which might seem sad, but it provides a contrast to the "good", original Hip Hop music. A long time ago, Premo-like beats combined with a rapper consistently saying how "real" he is was the norm, in which "real", at a certain time was a measurement of how many guns the rapper carried and how much crack he'd sold. And now we're looking back to that time, wishing we would go back to that time.
But in this era, because the mainstream Hip Hop lacks so much, the whole underground is living. And with the support of the Internet, it's reaching more and more people than ever. I think we should move forward in music and just provide a contrast to the mainstream swag-rap, to give people the opportunity to discover a whole range of music that isn't narrow-minded, and brings a lot of joy - at least it does to me.
Trying to break into the game is one thing, but what's it like having the Rhyme Regime label?
It gives a sense of pride, actually, to send emails using my firstname.lastname@example.org email address, and to say that I'm running a record label. But it's not really special at this moment; it has all yet to happen. If you'd ask this question in three years, I would be able to tell you more about running Rhyme Regime, next to making music.
If there's one word that sums up Rhyme Regime, what would it be?
Uh, I'll have to ask Atonomous, he's the guy who's good with words. Let me ask him real quick. Atonomous says that "sex" sums up Rhyme Regime perfectly. I agree.
Any shout outs you'd like to give?
Yeah, of course! One big shout-out to Atonomous and Intride, for putting their dope rhymes onto my beats. Another big shout-out to Luc-c, and I want to give a big juicy one to my homie Freek, for introducing me to good music everyday since 1st grade in high school. Also to my dad, for being such an amazing musical influence. A big shout-out to Undead Audio, all the people enjoying my music, to all the people that motivated me, and of course a big shout-out to Fade, for giving me the opportunity to be featured here on IllMuzik.