Holldën, aka Crown of Plenty, is the Portuguese techno DJ, producer and founder of Kuiper Noise, a quality-driven platform for new and established talents to showcase their unique techno/ambient sounds. Holldën is also a member of Disturb, the Portugal-based techno collective whose events have hosted the likes of Amelie Lens, Charlotte de Witte and Len Faki in the past.
We are pleased to share some insight from Holldën, an artist with an undeniable dedication to his craft and an uncompromising worldview. Press play on his latest EP, Parable, released August 19, 2019, via Portuguese techno label Trau-Ma, and read our exclusive interview below.
Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?
As a child, I was a precocious explorer of my father’s vinyl collection. Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen laid the first pillars of my musical identity. Then, circa 1997, thanks to a friend I got into a club for the first time. I went in a casual onlooker and I got out a lifelong devotee. Music turned iconic. Those weren’t just notes playing, they were hands pulling in a new dimension of light, style and sexuality too. All those teenage urges you couldn’t name, they finally had a purpose there. My buddy Toy and I got into techno pretty quick. It made sense for a couple of kids eager to explore the complexities of our youth. Together we built a trove of live set CDs by Ben Sims, Jeff Mills, Luke Slater and the whole lot. Soon I bought my first pair of turntables, so that was another extra angle. I went from listener to apprentice, from apprentice to producer — but that was a bit later. Some people watch birds, I watched DJs.
What would you like to achieve with your music? What does success look like to you?
What I’m achieving every day: small steps of improvement, but in a perpetual onward movement. I don’t know where this will lead, but I’m sure it won’t be the MTV Awards phoney pulpit. I’d settle for making a living out of music. That would amount to a tremendous success against all odds. I don’t care about drugs and I don’t care about backstage transactions. All I care about is creating and be worthy of those who reach out to me. You see, maybe it’s naive to think this, but I believe the value of work should be front and centre in the music business. It’s not. But it should be if we’re to keep the so-called underground alive.
What key pieces of gear/software are you using to define your sound?
What/who are some of your greatest musical influences?
Too many to name. But I keep coming back to Nick Cave or The Pixies.
Outside of music, what inspires you?
Poetry. Simplicity. Little things we take for granted.
What kind of relationship do you have with the internet? How does this inform your artistic expression?
I tend to view the internet as a raw feed of the wonderful and the grotesque. It’s like a Faustian pact. All that information and only the annihilation of self in exchange. I’ve slowly learned how to select and discard the useless. Good taste isn’t bottomless. It grows within the boundaries of limited space and time. It’s somehow what you can do with your mortality, not how you deny it. To fully appreciate a great work of art is precious. Much of what’s going on in music today is a refraction of a refraction. Somehow the original message got lost — buried under the rubble. I’m taking back the parts of me the internet stole. It’s an invaluable tool, but I’m taking back control a little bit. I know what I want and I won’t have things I don’t want imposed on me. I’ll go find it myself, thanks. This rise in self-awareness is shaping the way I make music.
How has your approach to writing and producing music shifted from when you started?
As I improve I’m also more humbled by the task at hand. I’m better now at choosing elements that go together. But I keep my options open. I like to build elements from scratch. That’s the adventure right there! A tiny grain of surprise can do wonders for a song, it can generate whole new challenges. Not all sound is equal. Some things don’t work well together. So one thing you have to learn is to say “no” a lot. “No” is better than “yes” in music. “Yes” is easy. But it numbs the mind and makes you a slave to chaos.
As a performer or as a member of the audience, what single show has been the most memorable for you?
I’ll maybe disappoint you by not naming any DJs. And I can’t just name one. Beck, during his “Sea Change” tour, was terrific. LCD Soundsystem, recently. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds a few years back. And the Pixies on their first comeback tour, in the early 2000s.
Any new or upcoming artists on your radar?
Keep an eye out for the likes of Border One and Desroi. It’s the type of driven, engaging and sophisticated techno I adore. From Portugal, Temudo and ViL are a safe bet. By the way, there’s a select group of Portuguese producers right now who are second to none.
What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?
I’m deeply involved with the promoter Disturb, as we’ll be putting together a series of fiery techno events, with some legendary headliners, in the next few months. I’m also running their label. And I’m constantly creating new music, so it’s gonna be a busy schedule ahead in terms of releases.