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Erich Von Kollar [Interview]

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Based in Hungary and armed with a progressive organic crossover sound, Erich Von Kollar has nearly fifteen years of production experience, releasing music primarily via his own Stellar Fountain imprint. Much like many progressive house producers, the Debrecen resident has recently revitalized his career with a string of organic-focused productions via Amulanga and Nordic Voyage. With well-received releases via Ruben Karapetyan's RKP and Juan Pablo Torrez's Clubsonica to begin the year, Erich now makes his Musique de Lune debut with 'Sentimiento', alongside remixes from Nicolas Viana and Fernando Olaya.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Erich to learn more about the release of 'Sentimiento', his background, nightlife in Hungary, DJing and much more. Enjoy.

Hi Erich, thanks for talking to us today. How has your start to the year been so far and please tell us something interesting about your day today?

Hi guys, thanks for having me, I'm really grateful for this opportunity! The year started with a double gig in the Swiss Alps for me. After that I spent a lot of time in the studio working on new ideas and of course I was playing music during the weekends. I have a lot of gigs nowdays, but recently I've taken some days off with my family and friends, just got back to business again.

Take us through a typical day when you’re not travelling, what does a day in your life look like?

For me weekdays are studio days, working on new stuffs and running the daily tasks. In the 'morning time' (usually morning starts at noon for me as I'm a night owl haha) I’m checking emails, listening promos and looking for new music, organizing stuffs, working for our record label Stellar Fountain Records. After that I'm preparing for my upcoming gigs and radio shows. In the evenings I often visit the gym to keep my mind and body clear. And then the night comes which is a perfect period for me to create new ideas and working on new tracks. Weekends are usually about touring and playing music on my gigs.

What's a piece of music (not your own) from 2024 that has had the biggest impact on you, and what makes it outstanding for you?

One of the biggest impact comes from ‘Gai Barone - Classrooms’. It’s full of strong emotions and beautiful melodies. When I listened to this track for the first time, I got goosebumps and imagined that I would like to close one of my upcoming gigs with this masterpiece and wave goodbye to the crowd with it, and soon after I did that on my last Serbian gig. Those were quite touching moments.

Looking back on 2023 what gigs of yours have stood out and why?

Last December the Soundgarden showcase at Cinema Hall, Budapest was very special for me as I had the privilege to share the decks with Khen, Sébastien Léger and Nick Warren. I really enjoyed to play also at one of the most iconic places of Budapest Fisherman's Bastion before Eelke Kleijn last November. My gig in Malta is also a nice memory from last May, it was a great fun with my friend Dylan Deck.

What was the music genre you discovered first before you turned to electronic music, and what made you continue with the latter?

When I was a kid, I listened to a lot of different kind of music. My parents loved to listen music every day, my father usually listened to hungarian rock/pop, my mother preferred international pop and more dance oriented type music. When I have started to listen to electronic music, I was more into trance and techno, a bit later I went for tech house and house. I totally felt in love with electronic music when I discovered the Global Underground CD’s and the Transitions series by John Digweed and became addicted to it. The interesting soundscapes and the never heard tricks and musical elements catched my ears and really blew my mind! That was the beginning of my progressive house fanaticism.

Hungary is pretty well known for its electronic music talent and also great party scene, so how did growing up in Hungary influence your music taste and direction? And who were some Hungarian artists/DJs you looked up to when you first discovered electronic music?

Yeah, there are many talents from my country. Hungarians are so creative and open-minded. Some small communities also exist here to keep the underground music scene alive and I feel respect for the promoters and club owners as well who keep it moving. There were no specific Hungarian artists or DJ's who influenced my music taste but it's so inspiring that we have a small but lively electronic music culture. At the first time when I discovered electronic music and visited hungarian clubs, I heard sets from Chriss Ronson, Dandy & Invoice, Kühl, Jay Lumen and more.

What are some of your best memories from first going to clubs? Were there specific nights or sets that really made you feel you wanted to pursue electronic music?

My first club experiences happened in my hometown, there was a really intimate club with a capacity of 150-200 persons. The organizers used to invite some top artists from the Hungarian underground scene like Jay Lumen, Belocca, Naga & Beta and more. My first festival visit happened at Extrema Fest in Belgium about 13 years ago where I had the luck to hear top quality sets by Hernan Cattaneo, Guy J, Henry Saiz, Pole Folder, Luciano, Hermanez and more. That was the point when I decided I really want to produce my own music and become an internationally respected DJ.

If you were a tour-guide for nightlife in Hungary, what would be the clubs or events you’d take the people to see and what local DJs do they need to hear?

If a tourist likes quality entertainment, he/she should visit Cinema Hall during the club season. They can find wide range of top electronic music events there with the genre of house, progressive and melodic techno. City Takeover and Budapest Calling series guide you through the iconic places of Budapest where you can party in a loose atmosphere. In the summertime your favourite place will be Kopaszi-gát, it’s a peninsula on river Danube with two upmarket outdoor venues Le Bistro and Buda Bay. If you are coming to Hungary, don’t forget to listen to our upcoming talents like Matthew Sona, Liozen and Kornwall, just to name a few. But we also have legends like East Cafe, Robert R. Hardy, Kay-D, Drekaan and others.

You were primarily known as a progressive house producer for the majority of your career but in recent years you’ve started to incorporate some organic sounds for releases via Amulanga, Nordic Voyage and more. When did this shift happen in your production and what was it about the genre that made you want to explore it as well?

Yeah, I've come from the progressive house scene but now I'm producing and playing organic house as well. This genre has more natural elements, so catchy and relaxing for the mind. I've started to listen this style of house music around 2018 and I really enjoyed to play it, mainly at the outdoor events or in warming up occasions at clubs. Of course, later I've started to write music in this style also, besides progressive house.

You have a new single ‘Sentimiento’ out now via Musique de Lune which Hernan has been playing, please tell us a bit about the track and how it showcases your current sound.

This track is truly the result of playing random with melodies and just going with the flow. I catched the vibe and I’m so happy how it has turned out. The result is an energetic and cheerful organic house track for the dancefloors. Actually my sound is a fusion of progressive and organic elements like this nowdays.

There are also two great remixes from Nicolas Viana and Fernando Olaya, how involved were you in the selection process and why were Nicolas and Fernando a good fit for this particular track?

Both Nicolas and Fernando has delivered outstanding remixes, these guys really feel how to twist the original ideas. Nicolas made a peak time tune and Fernando did a really cool warmup stuff, so now we have a smooth, colorful release. The remixers were chosen by the label but I was so happy when they told me the names. I know them well and they are very cool guys.

Let our readers inside your studio for a moment, what is your current setup and what studio tools are featured heavily in your recent productions and more specifically on ‘Sentimiento’?

I'm working in FL Studio as DAW and I'm using an Audient Evo4 interface, a pair of KRK Rokit5 studio speakers, M-Audio keyboards and many of plugins and VSTi’s like Diva, Zebra, Surge and more. These were the most used tools for my ‘Sentimiento’.

This is your first release on Musique de Lune, what was it about the label which made it a good home for this track?

I see that Musique de Lune is a professional team. They've had quality releases on the label somewhere between organic and progressive house which is really close to me. They have a sympathetic, constantly expanding community and the conception behind the label is so unique with an own agency and events as well.

You are also one of the owners of Stellar Fountain, so i’m curious what determines whether or not you will release a new track on your own label or shop it to other labels?

When I finish a new track, first I show it to my label partners to get some feedback and see how do they like it. When they really like it and we all 3 feel it really fits to the sound what the label showcases right now, we start planning the release at Stellar Fountain.

You’ve had quite a lot of high profile gigs over the years, you’ve performed alongside Eelke Kleijn, Guy J, Henry Saiz, Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Warren, Roy Rosenfeld so please tell us your approach to DJing, and what your philosophy is to programing a set.

DJing, makes people happy through music and sharing the decks with legends is a thing that I really grateful for. So, every gig is a ritual for me I must take it seriously. When I realize what my next gig is, I start thinking about the direction I want to follow in my set and try to imagine the vibe what can I expect depending on the venue, the season, my set time (is it a daytime or nighttime set) and details like these. You have to know where you belong, who is coming before and after your set and what is your role at the current event, are you the warmup or the headliner, maybe you play the closing set? My philosophy is to consider your current performance as the most important one.

Technically everyone can be a DJ easily nowdays. However, DJing is a complex thing. Playing music for people is not the hardest part of this profession: your attitude, passion, diligence, personality and how you can handle people are similarly important things like nice taste in music, good hearing and skillful mixing techniques.

Can you tell me a bit about how your work as a DJ and performing in front of bigger crowds has influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks and also, your work as a producer?

When you play for a bigger crowd you can feel what makes people move. So, when I’m selecting tracks and working on my own music, I try to focus on the groovy elements more than on the beginning of my career. Maybe you have some good ideas, nice atmosphere and exciting melodies but a sexy groove can make magic on the dancefloor.

How much prep do you put into the sets you play, or are they spontaneous for the most part?

I spend a lot of time to prepare for my sets to gigs and radio shows as well. When I prepare for a bigger event, I really like to plan and make some possible directions. However, everything depends on the crowd and the specific moment but I like if I have some options in mind.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

Would be a great fun to put an event together with the hottest guys in the scene for me right now like Molac, Dulus, Nicolas Viana, Lucas Zárate and Eduardo McGregor. I’d split the event for a daytime and a nighttime part so there would be enough set times for each artists to unfold and show their skills.

Current top five tracks in your sets?

Molac - The Golden Dawn [Melody Of the Soul]
Audiense - Toxic [Blessed Music]
Maze 28 & TEELCO - Sense [Movement Recordings]
Obbie - Queen V [Lost Miracle]
Dmitry Molosh - Sail [Replug]

If you were not a DJ/Producer what do you think you’d be doing with your life? (Something not music related.)

I graduated as a financial administrator and business administration and management specialist but it’s too boring for me. If I wasn't in music production I would be a detective, I guess (haha). It really fits to my biorhythm, to the sleepless nights and to my endless sense of adventure.

What’s something people do not know about you?

I wanted to say that I’m a beer fan but most of the people know it (haha). So, my answer is I love to be alone more than the average.

If you are not DJing, producing in the studio or socializing at clubs, where do we find you? And doing what?

Doing something relaxing, organizing programs with my girlfriend or going out with friends for a beer.

What are some of your favourite TV series? Both all time and recently, what have you been enjoying lately?

I’m not really a ‘Netflix type of guy’. When I’m alone, I never watch movies and TV series. This time I’m alone for making music and working on new ideas. When we have time together with my girlfriend, we watch movies sometimes. My favourite ones are the exciting and twisted stories like thrillers and crimes.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

I’m doing what I love (okay, it’s music again hehe). So, I'm surrounded by people who I wanted to surrounded by.

What does the remainder 2024 hold for you and your new alias? Anything you can share with us?

We'll continue the hard work at our label Stellar Fountain Records, focusing on the quality over quantity. I will have some exciting collabs besides my own releases and remixes. And I will make my debut in some new countries also with my gigs soon.

'Sentimiento' is available now via Musique de Lune: https://tinyurl.com/yc78rjkc

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