Artist Interview Series: H.I.N.O.

Hey hello, hello. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. 

A: Hello, hello! A pleasure talking to you guys today!

I wanted to start by talking about your local scene. 

A: Sure, music without the local scene, wouldn’t be music at all.

What’s it like for electronic music? A lot different than the usual Berlin, Ibiza, etc. I imagine?

A: Well, as you can imagine, each local scene is totally different from the other, some may have items in common, however around 80% differs each time.

Our music scene is, the Bucharest scene, is totally different, and moreover, it’s has mini-scenes all over the place, of course, each mini-scene has its own features and own characteristics.

In Bucharest, the main electronic music scene is the RoMinimal scene, a scene composed out of a multitude of genres, starting from the predominant one Micro House, to which the artists are adding other genres, from Minimal Techno, Minimal Tech House, Minimal House, Samples of live instruments, anything that is mostly based on high frequency sounds, this is why most of them don’t sound alike, because even if they mix Micro House as a base, each artist has its own signature fills.

Another popular scene here, I would say the 2nd as exposure, is Tech House and Minimal Tech House, both rhythmic genres, the 1st is very aggressive as a rhythm and has a lot of voices, if not just vocal chops, very, very colorful and this one is one of the most preferred genres by be.

The 2nd genre in this scene, is more groovy, still very rhythmic, however the level of vocals are way lower than the 1st one, it’s most preferred at after-hours parties, however with a proper set, a strong playlist and some good mixing skills, you can ignite a crowd at any hour, the advantage on this 2nd genre of the Tech scene, is that being more rhythmic and groovy, it can keep the people dancing even 6 hours without burning them out. This one, is right now, also one of the preferred genres for me and actually, this is my latest discovery, I would add into my DJ Sets.

The next scene in a bit lower exposure and preference, would be the Techno scene, this one has loyal artists and followers, as in Bucharest there are just a handful of DJs, that mix pure techno and do a good job at it.

Most of the artists in this scene emerging DJs, prefer to approach it in a very high and aggressive BPM (don’t imagine Berlin style, however somewhat close to that) and the main problem is that they “burn” the audience right away.

This one is actually my 1st genre approach and it will always have a special place in my hearth, however I rarely mix pure techno, I usually apply a happy-techno technique, meaning that I use Techno as a base, as the low frequency rhythm and I add color with Tech House over-tracks, with acapellas and this was actually what brought me my DJ nick-name, which had no meaning until one of the most successful DJ and Producer from Romania, gave my nick-name a meaning, in a online livestream at one of the main electronic music radios in Bucharest.

Another scene, that I would say stands head-to-head with the Techno scene, sometimes even overcoming the Techno scene, would be the Trance scene, which has some very good artists, vinyl only artists, that cover all sub-genres of Trance, some even in the same set and they do a great job at doing this.

When did you first become interested in electronic music then?

A: This one is easy for me, at first, I didn’t understand electronic music, not the one played in the clubs at least, then, at one event I feel in love with the music, after managing to understand the music, it was an event that had as a headliner, Valentino Kanzyani, then I part of the crowd and I’ve had a spree of parties, I started to become friends with everybody that was attending the events as at most of the events I was going by myself and I had so much fun.

At a point, I came in contact with a Romanian DJ that was playing at one of the most iconic clubs in Bucharest, which I haven’t believed his is actually Romanian, I was shocked to find out, that was the 1st step that happened and I actually didn’t know that, it was just an internal click.

2nd click was when I saw an Ukrainian DJane playing, then I saw what the passion for music actually looks like, from that moment, I knew that I no longer want to be part of the crowd, but now I want to be the one that ignites the crowd, and then the 1st click came back to memory, living proof that Romanians can go a long, long way in the international electronic music scene.

What do you remember most fondly about the scene in your home town?

A: Most fondly, I remember a very funny moment, this was after I’ve attended a big hall event and Loco Dice was one of the headliners and he played one track, oh my god what a track, however nobody knew the track name, I’ve trolled YouTube for over 2 weeks, until somebody, decided to tell me the track name, it was actually the artist that produced the track, and to my shock, it was the artist that did the 1st click for me, the one who showed me that Romanians can make it on the big international scene.

Which notorious DJ had a big influence on you then?  What others DJs were too?

A: Clearly, Valentino Kanzyani followed by Horatio & Nastia.

Aside of these, there were other big DJs that had and influence on me, after I’ve started the music career, after I’ve graduated a DJ School, such as : bOG, Simina Ghiorghiu, Horace Dan D, who were part of a jury at one of the biggest DJ Contests in the world, with a prize of 100.000 euros investment in the winner’s music career and a summer in Ibiza, the capital of electronic music and the place where every DJ dreams of playing.

Tell us about your future plans? Upcoming labels, releases? Parties?

A: My future plans, well, these are actually very, very exciting, as I am now working closely with one of the DJs that had the huge impact on me, back in the day when I was just part of the crowd.

We’ve started a long-term collaboration and he has helped me understand what the music industry is all about and also, I can now model him and since I know I am modeling somebody that has proven success, this encourages me to do more, to have a plan and to follow it.

Upcoming labels, well, I do have two, a track that is soon to be released on Waldliebe Familien, on the 27th of April and another track, that is planned to be released on Natural Rhythm, on the 3rd of June, which is also a very important birthday for me, since it is my 30th birthday.

With parties, I actually don’t know if I can share much, as my new years’ resolution (artist version) actually said that I am going to focus now 80% on being in the studio and creating content for a lot of releases, so that I can plan in advance and another recent development, now with this global pandemic that has changed our lives, I’ve decided to raise the percentage of the studio up to 90%, the other 10% will be used for marketing, so I basically plan on not playing live for about 1-2 years and I think that this is the best decision for me at the moment, because I am very, very bad with time management… true fact, everybody knows that about me, or at least everybody that worked with me so far.

If you would pick 5 tunes what would be those?

A: Easy – in a random order, as placing them in a top 5 is too difficult:

1.Horatio – How much 909 can you take?

2.Harry Romero & Erick Morillo – Bang (Honey Dijon Remix)

3. Round Table Knights – Calypso (Original Mix)

4.Audiophonik – Oh Baby!

Enrico Sangiuliano – Astral Projection

How do u do your own musical selection: Do you follow some producers or select what comes and goes?

A: I do follow some producers, however that is not my entire selection, I check charts constantly and when I find a new artist that I like his vibe, I then try to search out his entire discography, so yes, in a way I do follow some artists, however I always enlarge this list of artists to follow.

Do you have your own label? If not do you plan to open one? 

A: No such plan at the moment, having a Digital Record Label looks to be pretty easy, however having a successful Digital Record Label is a totally different ball park and I would prefer leaving the professionals to do that.

I believe that one should not venture in doing everything, as you won’t be able to do it good, moreover you won’t be able to do it great.

Do you play on Vinyl? Do you want to release your music on vinyl too?  Is it a medium that you very much still support and believe in? Tell us more about your vinyl plans?

A: Hmmm… now this is interesting, I don’t play Vinyl now, however I’d love to learn, but not for mixing at events, more as food for my soul, to play at home and hear that analog sound that gives you goosebumps.

Being very playful at the decks, I actually need CDJs, as I am opposite to the advancement of the technology behind them, I actually use them in order to bring color to my sets. 

Releasing my music on Vinyl, now that would be an honor for me, it’s one of my goals as an artist, at least 1 release with 1 track on A Side and 1 track on B Side, not more.

Of course, I still support vinyl, as this is one of the most comprehensive mediums and has the capacity to reproduce a sound that no other can reproduce, however the emerging DJs in nowadays, are mostly focusing on CDJs, which is not the best thing, however I would be a hypocrite to judge them.

DJ set or live set?

A: I prefer a DJ Set, because you can measure the impact and calculate in advance how, what & when you want to deliver, however I have no problem with a live set, the only thing with a live set is that I need to have a homogeneous playlist, so that I can expect that the energy level won’t fluctuate too much, because a DJ is an entertainer, he/she needs to deliver an experience, he/she needs to have continuous connect with the audience, so spending minutes between transitions to find tracks that match the energy and vibe of the current track, for me is a big no-no.

Tell us a bit about your gear? What do you use for mixing / live set?

A: For my personal gear, I own a Pioneer XDJ-RX, the first model from Pioneer that is a stand-alone console.

I’ve chosen this one as it is very easy to start playing and also recording your mix, without needing to connect a laptop, an external audio board, and the list goes on.

For me, DJing with a laptop kills a bit the creative vibe, however I have no problem with people using this, the main item is what goes out on the Master channel, if that is good, a DJ can use whatever does his fancy.

At the club, I always prefer CDJs (2000 and above) as I love the big jog wheels, preferably 3 of them and usually a Pioneer DJM mixer, as I love using effects, even with the downfall that the sound is digital, I still prefer using a DJM vs. the analog models.

I am eager to try out the Model1 mixer, however I haven’t had the chance to do so yet.

Clubs or festivals?

A: For the most part of my gigs, these were in clubs, however I did feel the trill of a festival and that is an amazing experience, something that every DJ must experience at least once, after that first time, you will want another one, for sure.

What I would suggest to other beginners or medium levels such as me is this, never start with festivals, as a huge crowd can deliver a stage-fright even to the most extrovert person out there, I’ve felt it on my own skin…

One gig that u never forgot?

A: Burn Residency country finals, this was the cornerstone of my career, as I’ve managed to land a spot in the finals and I was fresh out of the DJ School, I believe I had just a few months as a professional DJ, with a lot, and I mean a lot, of things to learn.

It was a full stage fright; however, I’ve managed to overcome it and I was basically the only one that had just a few months experience, just a few club gigs played (organized by me).

Why do you think that Ibiza is so special?

A: Why does almost everybody consider Ibiza special, it is one of the few party must-go destinations in the world and I’d love to say, it fits my style, so that is why Ibiza is, for me, a must-play destination and it is also part of my 5-year plan, but there is a TON of work to be done to get there, it is not easy!

I also like the Berlin scene, the Detroit scene, Cancun Mexico, however the style of techno that I play, does not fit perfectly with Berlin or Detroit, I can adapt and I will adapt if needed, however I would prefer Ibiza over these other two, in a blink of an eye.

Is a new wave now in industry: doing collaborations between producers? I also wanted to ask you about your collaborations? Have u done those? With whom? 

A: Indeed, this is a new wave that is happening as we speak, once, due to the fact that producers around the world know that they have counterparts in other sides of the world, that love the same sound they love, or even complementary sounds, so brining two passionate producers together, will actually deliver double the impact and also, they will have almost double the reach when they release something.

The nice part with this is that this is happening more and more, which makes me very happy, as this industry is built on support between fellow artists, rather then trying to be the best and ego-centric attitudes.

My collaborations, well, on this recent upgrade I’ve made, from DJ to producer, I am still in the phase of identifying my own sound, perfecting my techniques and yes, the fact of the matter is that I am a beginner, with all the planned releases, I will officially have 4 tracks released.

When I get to a more medium level, then of course I’d love to start doing collaborations, but for the moment, I prefer to focus on perfecting my own craft, rather than splitting the focus.

From where do u get your inspirations?

A: Everywhere: From walking down the street, from a smile, from a TV show, from movies, literally everywhere.

I am the type of person who loves to enjoy life, each moment, each breath, that why I love talking to people, helping people out, listening to their challenges and trying to give them some advice, quite the “collaborator” type myself, however not in producing yet.

Finally, what more can we look forward to from you over the next while?

A: Well, again, in the upcoming period you will mostly hear from me over the internet, as I’m planning to focus more on studio time, so, aside of the planned releases:

Stronger – on the 27th of April signed on Waldliebe Familien Records

Stand by Me – on the 3rd of June signed on Natural Rhythm Records and this one is very special, as it will air on my 30th birthday, as previously mentioned.

Aside of these, I have a lot of ideas that I’m working on, which I would prefer not naming yet, as the release plans were not yet set in stone for them.

On the DJing side, you can expect to hear a DJ set, once in 30/60 days maybe even 90 days, depending on the time, as I’m in the process of building my own studio, in which I plan on investing most of my free time. 

Many thanks for your time…   .

A: My pleasure, it was actually a fun interview, which brought up a lot of memories for me.

Thank you!!! 


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