Interview: Dennis Quin

Amsterdam, a city renowned for its artistic tapestry, serves as a breeding ground for creative minds across various disciplines. Within this cultural melting pot, there are exceptional talents who has captivated audiences worldwide with their distinct sound and unwavering passion for music, one of which, is Dennis Quin.

Quin’s success has seen him handle DJ duties for the biggest clubs and festivals Europe has to offer, and his sonic resume is equally as impressive, with previous outings coming on labels such as Dutch imprint PIV, Kerri Chandler’s Madhouse Records, and UK house giant Defected.

We had the privilege of sitting down with Dennis recently, where we spoke about his humble beginnings and how he first discovered club music, his approach to working on a diverse range of tracks in the studio, what his plans are for the near future and which other labels he might be releasing with soon. Read the discussion below.

Hi Dennis, we hope you’re well. How are things over in Amsterdam right now?

Hey, thanks! I’m doing really well. I live just outside Amsterdam’s city centre and work during the week in my studio on several projects. I am also enjoying the nice spring weather next to working out in the gym. I started teaching at the ‘Herman Brood Academy’ based in Utrecht once a week since last year. It’s a vibrant environment with young talented Dance producers where I guide them with their productions and teach them more about the craft and business.

You’re now a highly praised DJ & producer, who’s released on labels like PIV, Defected, and Cecille. Though can you tell us more about how you got started in music?

I started producing about thirteen years ago, but I bought my first vinyl records way back in 1993. I have been into music since childhood, listening to different genres and playing the piano and keyboard as a kid. I am a sucker for grooves and drum patterns, and I remember in the late 80s, I was jamming on my Technics KN800 keyboard (which was equipped with a drum/percussion section on the keys).

I self-taught how to create grooves, and believe it or not, I am a huge Genesis / Phil Collins fan. Spending hours and days trying to determine the complicated rhythms of the old Genesis tracks (A Trick of the Tail album period) was definitely the base of my passion for making music.

I remember when House music came up over here to the Netherlands. In 1990 the Turn Up The Bass CD compilation’ House Party 1’ mix was there, and I instantly fell in love with electronic music. I went out to a club near Amsterdam in 1993, and from there, I was hooked on house music, especially the ‘Dutch club house sound’. Soon after, I fell in love with US and UK house music and quickly expanded my vinyl collection. Hence my connection with Kerri Chandler, Masters At Work, and Todd Terry.

I always wanted to produce music but never did until 2010. After a couple of years of just having fun, I became more serious about developing my own sound. I worked as a co-producer for several artists, and from 2016 onwards, I have been releasing my music on a wide variety of labels.

Your latest release, ‘Lucky Bastard’, is set to drop on Solid Grooves RAW soon. Give us your thoughts on the track and what inspired it?

The funny thing is that I never think about labels when I start a new project, or make music with a specific goal. ‘Lucky Bastard’ came to life when I was lucky enough (hence the track title) to buy a revised mint condition Yamaha DX7 synthesizer and started to create FM sounds with it. I kept the hook quite simple, layering some effects, a spoken word vocal, but no massive snare-rolls / risers, just the core itself that has proven to be effective while playing in front of the crowd.

I love the multi-tone (which is FM/Fifth) sound of organs and other sounds from the DX7. I made the track in 2021 and have been playing it in my sets most often since then. I’m happy that it will finally see the light of day on the great Solid Grooves.

Amsterdam is a very creative city, not just in terms of music, but also for art and fashion, how has it influenced you when it comes to making music?

Amsterdam is known for its blend of diversity, cultures and art. It is also known for its festival and club culture, from small up to the biggest Amsterdam-based festivals like Awakenings, Straf_Werk, and Mysteryland. I’m super excited to be asked to play this summer at the latter mentioned two.

As a teenager, I went out to Club iT. The inclusive vibe definitely played a massive role in how I approach making and playing music for everyone nowadays. No matter where you come from, culture-wise, how you look or who you love, this is in my DNA as an open-minded person and my philosophy within the sound I produce for everyone. Spreading love through my music is what I am here for.

How do you approach creating tracks that stand out from the crowd?

I always go to the left when people go to the right; that’s simply my character. I wouldn’t say I like to do the obvious things; that’s why I produce and play a wide variety of sounds, as long as I feel it myself. It keeps me fresh as a producer, having tons of inspiration. I barely worry about making tracks for a certain label or a specific sound. When I do so, it instantly blocks my creative flow. I prefer starting from scratch on a new track without any goal or idea of where it should go.

As a DJ, it can be challenging not having one specific sound you make and play in one sub genre for promotors that book you for a particular sound. People are used to framing artists, obviously. Luckily most of them now know that I have proven to adjust whether playing on a PIV event (more soulful house grooves) up to playing raw, odd tracks at Toffler Rotterdam, and even techno vibes like I recently did at Thuishaven Amsterdam.

What advice would you give to any up-and-coming DJs or producers looking to make their mark on the scene?

It’s hard to stand out nowadays without even discussing the social media game. I think working hard and being patient is the key to success. It has taken a while for me to be able to live full-time as a DJ & producer, but I think once you’re determined to go for it, just do it.

Make it your own, visit events to see what works for a crowd, getting noticed by being humble though hard work on your sound. Don’t expect things to turn around quickly; it’s a long shot, but try to keep steady with releases and take it from there.

And lastly, what can fans expect from you in the future, what projects or collaborations do you have in the works?

There is a lot of my music coming out this year! After the success of my recent self-released EP ‘The Gryphon’ on my label, a follow-up EP is planned with tracks already supported by Ingi Visions (Slapfunk). This EP drops on Neon Yellow Vinyl as well as digital. Super proud and excited for this one to come out at the end of May.

Before that, my single ‘Lucky Bastard’ will be out May 12th on Solid Groove RAW. Later this summer, my ‘Giant Steps’ EP will be released on Dungeon Meat (the label of Brawther and Tristan Da Cunha). This release will be vinyl only to keep it more for the heads.

Expect a new PIV EP on both vinyl and digital in late summer. Finally, one of the highlights for me personally is my official remix of Louie Vega ft. Moodymann will feature on Louie’s Expansions of the NYC Remix album.

Dennis Quin – Lucky Bastard is out May 12th on Solid Grooves RAW.