There’s no other way of putting this: Hovy releases music that’s right up our proverbial street.. A regular at some of NYC’s most famous clubs, he’s graced the decks at Output, Verboten, Schimanski, Paperbox and more, and is something of a well-known face around New York’s famed house and techno scene. Adding to his DJ accomplishments are his many great productions, which are very much worth-checking-out via his Privat Musique Bandcamp page. An incredibly gifted – and indeed, qualified – musician, Hovy brings a calculated approach to electronic music, and his is a sound that’s undoubtedly indebted to a rich and varied musical education. We caught up with the man himself recently to quiz him on his story to date…
Hi Hovy, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. How’s your year been so far? What’s been the highlight and what else have you got to look forward to?
Thanks for having me on! I’ve always been a fan of all the incredible mixes and interviews you guys put out and am honoured to be a part of them. This year has been really busy for me on the production side. Finally wrapped an album with some incredibly talented musicians here in NYC as well as collaborating with some high-end brands on making music for their video content.
How are things in NYC right now? Do you love it as much as ever?
Things are going well and are much better than they were a year ago during the pandemic. There are some cool new venues opening that I am looking forward to checking out.
The grinding and hustling for new opportunities is endless. It’s easy to forget but I remind myself every day how lucky I am to be in the most diverse place in the world, filled with some of the world’s most talented musicians. You truly can’t get that experience anywhere else.
Where are you at with your music right now then? When did you start? And can you tell us a bit about your music?
I am still in my learning phase and I think I will keep it that way for as long as I can. With technology constantly evolving, there are always a ton of things to learn. Every day brings an exciting new challenge. I do feel I am now in a place where it is easier to translate a feeling into my DAW without having to think too much about the technical aspect. I’ve got the fundamental skills, which means that I can just follow the emotion and see where it takes me.
Can you tell us a bit about your transition from composer to electronic music? What started it all?
Before I started music, I was into filmmaking with my friends. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in the film world because I thought it was all fascinating. I decided to start my film career with a sound course and that’s when I fell down the rabbit hole. I tried everything from Location Sound to Foley to Mixing but the thing that stood out to me was composing and arranging. It gave me the chance to hone my creativity and create a mood for the visuals.
When all this was happening, I took a trip to Ibiza. I remember being at Amnesia listening to Ricardo Villalobos B2b Raresh & Tobi Neumann at 10am. I had a sudden epiphany, I knew that this was exactly the route I wanted to take. It wasn’t an easy route and I am still uncovering layers of myself that I never knew existed but it has been a very fulfilling journey so far.
What are the parallels between the two music types? I guess structure is very important to both, right?
The thing I love about electronic music is that it is so universal. You can incorporate any genre into it and make it your own. At the end of the day, both styles create a feeling, and having the proper structure will help with getting your message across.
Do you think a classic education has benefited you overall as a music producer? Or do you wish you spent that time on Ableton instead?
I don’t think it’s necessary with all the tools that are out there now but having that knowledge helps. It also depends on what kind of music you are trying to create. If it’s mostly electronic based like techno and minimal you might not need it as much as trying to create a film score that has more instruments. I think having a balance of music theory, sound design, and mixing is crucial to creating good music.
What’s your take on bedroom producers then? Do you think more musicians should learn the fundamentals before producing electronic music? Or does it matter?
It does not matter where you created your track whether a bedroom, studio, hotel, or plane as long as you are happy with the way the track sounds then that’s all that matters. Learning the fundamentals is a part of it but you shouldn’t let that get in the way of you producing music. You will only get better with time and of course, by making and learning from your mistakes. Patience and dedication are your best friends on this road.
You have a brilliant but fairly limited discography so far, so I wanted to ask – do you generally prefer the quality over the quantity method? Do you think too many artists adopt the opposite approach?
I like to put together a body of work that reflects how I am feeling at that moment in time. This is why I prefer albums; most artists like to drop singles or EPs, which are nice but you cannot always fully perceive what the artist was feeling in the moment.
What was the motivation behind starting Privat Musique? And can you talk us through your plans for it?
My friends and I started throwing local events. Every year, it just kept growing and growing. It was the hotspot to get all our industry friends to come together and network while having some quality music and visuals. We always try to find some crazy location, whether it be some scenic rooftop in the middle of the city, a medievil castle, or a stunning beach. When coming to the events you never know what fun surprise you’re going to get.
The scene in NYC is very selective because there are many cultural and societal barriers to entry so I am passionate about levelling the playing field and presenting a different point of view for artists who may feel like their music is not heard.
This year is our 8th anniversary with the Privat Label and we are looking forward to expanding as some of our key players are relocating to other cities like LA, Miami, and London. Expect some cool parties there soon 😉
I read that your music is designed to ‘take you to a place where you have been or a place that you are trying to go’. What do you mean by this?
Certain sound frequencies make you feel certain emotions. I aim to put the right intentions into my tracks to help people achieve the emotional resonance they need at that moment. It could be that certain melodies or vocals resonate with your emotional frequency or it may be something less tangible that manages to heal any issues you might be feeling at that moment.
Do you make yourself goals then? Is there anything, in particular, you’d love to achieve musically?
I would love to play along with a big orchestra for one of my shows. I recently had a taste of that in my latest album “Artistry in Rhythm” We had over 30 musicians on it with some exotic instruments from bass saxophones to contrabassoons. It would be cool to take them all on the road and play with them live in front of an audience instead of just having them in the studio.
Was there a point with your sound and productions where you’re truly confident? Or are you still trying to get there? Are there areas of production you still feel as needing to work on? And is a true producer ever really satisfied?
I am constantly chasing the high of learning new things. I don’t think I will ever reach a point where I will know it all and that’s exciting. I keep surrounding myself with more arrangers and composers and trying to find ways to incorporate some of their workflows into mine. Being a perfectionist is not an option in this path because it’s the imperfections that make the music personal and special.
So, let’s chat a bit about production. What’s your setup like? And how often do you get to the studio?
I have been lucky enough to have made great connections with a lot of sound manufacturers who have helped me in developing my studio in the last 12 years. Depending on the kind of project, I use Pro Tools, Ableton, Logic, and Sibelius. I do love outboard gear and have some nice synths from the OB-6, Jupiter, and Moog as well as my main sampler, the AKAI force. But to be honest, give me anything that makes sound and I will try to sample it somehow.
Is music a full-time thing? And does your status here dictate your approach to it? I see you’ve collaborated with a lot of awesome labels over the last while…
Whichever way the artist wants to approach it is what matters. Doing music full-time is very hard now so you have to wear multiple hats to do it. Most people have full-time jobs and are doing something completely outside the field to pay for their music career. I think collaborating with other like-minded people is crucial to growing and expanding.
How do you maintain a balance between music and other aspects of your life? Is this important to you?
I think it’s vital to take breaks from music from time to time to experience life and find inspiration in the little things. We often get caught up with life’s many problems but it’s so important to realign yourself with your purpose and consider what you want to leave behind for the generations to come.
You keep a very discerning, dare-we-say ‘underground’ ethos online. Is this something you’re conscious of? Do you think too many DJs and producers give away too much these days?
To each their own but I am very selective with how I want to represent my brand. I think it’s important for me to keep my private life to myself and make sure people remember me through my music and films and nothing else.
Where do you stand on the role of social media in the modern scene? And the idea that DJs pay these big Instagram channels to push their music, as though it was “organic”?
It is a tool to promote your work but it has its challenges as it doesn’t give everyone an equal chance to succeed. Money can get you more likes but only true talent and dedication will make you stand out in the long run.
Finally, what’s next for you – musically and personally – that’s exciting you right now?
At this moment, I want to take some time off for the summer to just focus on the Privat parties here in NYC and start collaborating with some new artists on different projects. I’ve worked so hard in the past couple of years to get to where I am that I finally need to slow down and enjoy the moment. I want to learn more, teach more, and live more. Always finding ways to evolve and contribute to our community.
Keep up with Hovy and his Privat Musique label on Bandcamp
You can also listen the mix recorded by Hovy for us on the link below.