From playing sold-out shows in de Marktkantine, Thuishaven, Mystic Garden Festival and touring India, to confirmed festival main stages in the summer, Hollt has been steadily building his name. Merging melodic elements with a defiling energy, creating adventurous stories with his own unique blend of genres. On stage, Hollt creates a world between Techno and House, either DJ’ing or playing his already infamous ‘Holltesizer’. To celebrate his release on Zerothree Music, we caught up with Hollt to hear more about his journey in music, his recent singles and his very own synthesizer…
For those that may not know, who is Hollt and how would you describe your style and sound in 5 words?
My real name is Jeffrey Frugte, coming from the Netherlands / Zoetermeer and making music for 5 years now. Five words to describe my style: Melodic, Euphoric, Energetic, Driven, Techno.
Musically, who are your biggest inspirations?
Adriatique and Patrice Baumel both are a big inspiration for me, but every now and then a track in another kind of genre really hits me as well, like Royksopp for example.
What inspires you to make music?
As music is my daily routine now, I just love to sit down in the studio, turn off the mind and start making music just straight from the soul.
Your top 3 favourite releases of your own?
My three latest releases are the ones I’m most proud of! But after my track ‘Halos’ on Radikon (label by Jonas Saalbach and Guzy) I got full support from the scene for the first time, which was very special.
Talk to us about your brand new EP on Z3 music, where did the ideas come from?
In the Netherlands we have an organisation called ‘Buma/Stemra’ that acts as the Dutch collecting society for composers (like the PRS in the UK). Every now and then we have to login into their systems to do music administration stuff, but their portal is so annoying to work with and constantly is unavailable… So I thought it would be funny to make a track called ‘Systems Down’.
The other track was also a very cool project, as I invited my manager to the studio for a day. We thought it would be cool to make some music together and to show him what it’s all about inside my space. A couple of hours later, we had a finished track which we didn’t expect straight away. A fun cooperation… ‘Fusion’ was born!
How have you coped in the pandemic? How have you stayed creative?
As I really get my creativity and inspiration in the studio from playing out my music on the dancefloor and embracing that feeling and energy from the listeners, I tried to do some other stuff to trigger that feeling again. So, I decided to do some really cool livestreams. We streamed on a boat through Haarlem on Kingsday, went to Snowworld with -7 degrees in a big snowy hall and lately under a big massive bridge near Utrecht.
Next I had time to dive into a more technical way of performing by building my own plugins, which I never did before. At this moment I’m capable of building everything I have in mind, which is very helpful in the future if I want to expand my livesets with the Holltesizer.
All these kinds of ways to stay connected with the audience, to be creative on another technical level, really helped me to push myself forward in the studio.
Are you classically trained?
Not in a classical way, but I studied at the conservatory in Haarlem as an Electronic Musician.
You’ve created and programmed your very own synthesiser, ‘Holltesizer’ and it’s an amazing bit of kit! Talk us over that project…
The Holltesizer is an all in one midi controller which allows me to perform live on stage. By saying so, I could choose between different elements of the track to start, stop or do something else with it. It’s a manipulator of my own music, and I can create music on the fly with it.
Where did the idea come from? How many hours went into making this?
As I studied at the Conservatory, we had to decide how we wanted to graduate. I decided to do an album presentation by playing them live. As I tried hard to find all the right elements to perform live with, I always had trouble with cables and often had power issues. I really wanted a box with all the stuff in there to perform live with, that’s how the idea of the ‘Holltesizer’ was born! In total it took me four months in total ,incl. programming etc.
What was the hardest thing to get right on the synth?
The controller exists of some existing controllers, and they didn’t want to work together.. So I had to program the controllers differently. This was definitely the hardest part because I didn’t know anything about programming. Luckily everything is out there on the internet to learn, and with some good help of a friend of mine I had it done after a month.
What was most enjoyable part of creating it?
Definitely performing live with it! Being able to actually control the music, LED screen and lights… That’s real magic.
You said you wanted to create a fully immersive, live set – have you been able to use this out in a club yet? How did that feel to be able to use something you spent so long creating?
We had some talks before the pandemic to do the first liveshow in a club, unfortunately that didn’t happen yet. There has been one night during my live performance presentation for the conservatory where sound, visuals and lights came together, and when thinking of that moment right now gives me goosebumps! There have been some club and outdoor shows where I played the Holltesizer which were amazing as well, but none so far where we combined all 3 elements.
What advice would you give to our Toolroom Academy students about standing out as a new artist?
This may sound very cliche, but you should just go out there and do your thing. Don’t get distracted by anyone else and believe what you’re doing is already something unique. Even when the results aren’t there immediately, just continue your grind; create every day. Also: make sure to compare your tracks, sound design-wise, to your heroes. If it’s too far off – start again! There’s so much music out there today (40,000 tracks uploaded to Spotify on a daily basis), so it’s harder than ever to get noticed. If someone takes time to listen to your music, make it worth their time.
What’s been your best clubbing memory to date?
For me this was at a festival in the Netherlands, called ‘Mystic Garden Festival’. I had to play on the mainstage. I had a second spot and at that time there were like 20 people on the dance floor. By the end of my set, the full area was packed, that’s an insane experience.
Do you have a favourite place to DJ?
I really like Thuishaven to play, everything over there is on point.
What’s next for Hollt in 2020?
Fusion and Systems Down just got out, so I’m enjoying the fact that it’s finally reaching some ears! Looking at doing another release end of Q4 – more on that later but should be exciting!