Melodic Dance Music From Berlin to Burning Man and Beyond: An Interview With HOVR

With their sultry vocals and intoxicating energy, HOVR is rising through the dance music ranks on their own terms.

Based in Berlin, HOVR has managed to captivate the hearts and ears of an ever-growing audience with their infectious tunes. From performing at college parties to one of Burning Man’s most prestigious art cars, HOVR’s story is one of love, dedication and unbridled authenticity.

Still riding high off their first release of 2023, Do You Want Some Acid?, HOVR is currently taking a break from touring in the Indonesian tropics, escaping Berlin’s winter and feverishly working on their forthcoming 2024 releases. A number of those records are in their new melodic house and indie dance mix on YouTube.

We caught up with HOVR to discuss their meteoric rise over the past couple of years, their experience as a touring artist, insights for emerging artists and much more.

EDM.com: You recently shared your first release of 2024 with “Do You Want Some Acid?” and “My Warrior.” Talk to us about the story behind these songs and your process while making them.

HOVR: The songs on this EP vary greatly in style and meaning, yet I appreciate their diversity on a single record. It reflects my own tastes, which oscillate between the energetic and playful, and the thoughtful and serene.

The acid song is an homage to my favorite synth, the TB-303, although the subtle double-meaning makes it a fun one to cue on a dancefloor. There is enough serious music out there already.

“My Warrior“ features Lemonella, a South Africa-born fellow DJ but also an incredible poet who wrote some incredibly powerful words I accompanied with my instrumental. I interpret her vocals as a statement about how dance and music can be a form of resistance against oppression. I’m happy those two tracks found a loving home at 3000 Grad, a great label, which also produces an amazing yearly festival in Germany.

EDM.com: You started playing the piano at five years old. How did your journey with music progress over the years and when did you fall in love with listening to and producing dance music?

HOVR: Music has always served as both my foundation and my link to the world. I never intended to turn it into my career, preferring to keep it as a cherished hobby. I can easily say making music has kept me afloat during my upbringing in the German countryside, which at times sucked. And yeah, my education on the piano began super early, but I took a long break during puberty which is one of my few regrets today. Fortunately, I just switched instruments and focused on guitar so I never really stopped making music. After moving to Berlin 10 years ago to study, my uni friend Max and I organized a few free student parties at our university. Fun fact: We had MCR-T perform one of his first sets at two of those events. Such a joy to see him grow over the years.

Anyway, my first appearances as a DJ were opening sets at my own events. Somebody discovered me there, booked me to play a 9 AM closing slot at his club night (to which I brought ALL my friends) and things took off rather quickly from then on. I produced music for 3 years before releasing my first song. For the last few years now it has been my full-time job and I’ve never been happier, even though it’s definitely not the most stable job choice.

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EDM.com: You’ve come a long way since your debut single “Ostsee” back in 2020. What’s one of the most memorable moments of growth you had since then?

HOVR: Many artists find it challenging to listen to their music from way back when, myself included. I actually haven’t listened to “Ostsee” in quite a while. Honestly, I don’t love it anymore, mainly because I hear my lack of courage to sing properly and with full volume into the mic. I’m glad that it’s still out there as a sign of progress.

A very memorable moment of growth that comes to mind was winter 2022, more specifically the weeks around when I released “My Voice“ on Stil vor Talent. I saw dozens of videos on Instagram of DJs playing my song all over the world which made me really happy. Some songs got into the hundreds of thousands of clicks on Spotify before, but they were rather oriented towards a listening crowd, than a dancing one. Seeing a dancefloor go crazy to your original production hits differently.

EDM.com: As a prolific touring artist, how do you deal with the stress and physical toll of constantly being on the road? What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about touring?

HOVR: I haven’t reached the stage where dealing with jet lag is a regular part of my week. Most of my touring is focused on Europe and some longer tours on other continents, but despite that I can feel the effects regularly. After 70 shows in 2022, I decided to aim for a more modest 50 shows a year, which made last year a lot better for my mental health.

My most and least favorite thing: I love the insights touring gives you into local nightlife cultures. I’ve learned so much about what nightclubs, raves and festivals can mean for various communities and this gave me a lot of purpose. My least favorite thing is that most of the weekends, I’m not at home. Many of my friends work when I have time off and vice versa. Navigating a healthy social life and relationship at home can be difficult.

EDM.com: How was your experience performing at Burning Man, and how did that come about? Are you planning to return this year?

HOVR: Burning Man was definitely the biggest moment of my career so far. When I got the lucky invite from a friend and supporter from the US to experience and play at Burning Man, I couldn’t believe it until I held the ticket in my hand. I played on one of the biggest and most musically relevant art cars on the playa, Maxa, at sunrise right after Carlita, whose sets I adore, and opened the set with an original of mine. It was highly emotional, but of course Burning Man was way more than that show.

The entire week was filled with unbelievable experiences, new friendships, a “bad art tour“ I will never forget, making up missions on the spot for people getting their morning coffee, crying my eyes out in the temple, dancing in the mud with my camp, being stuck for an indefinite time in camp because of rain, cheering at a recreation of Mad Max’s thunderdome, experiencing Be Svendsen play on a carpet in front of a tiny audience, spontaneously throwing an Italo Disco dinner party … I could go on forever. But you get the point. It’s insane and I’ll be back for sure.

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EDM.com: If you could share three insights in order to guide smaller artists who might be looking up to to you, what would those be?

HOVR: 1: Don’t fall for toxic positivity. The amount of times I heard “follow your dreams“ makes me sick. Success in performing arts, and especially music, is hyper-dependent on the effect your work has on others. If the music you’re making just doesn’t really seem to connect even after some time, the right choice may be to pivot to another style, medium, or art form altogether. I’m incredibly glad that I quit my sluggishly advancing career as a singer-songwriter back when I was 19, because it gave me the space I needed to explore electronic music a few years later, which so many more people resonated with. Agility is key.

2: Finish songs. Don’t drown in drafts. Instead, learn your craft: I’m talking harmonies, frequencies, tools, etc. It’s leg work, but worth it. Whether you then decide for a world star career of sampling 90s trash into the hottest trance dancefloor hits out there (looking at you, DJ Daddy Trance) or for crafting your acoustic fingerprint recording original samples, having both an intellectual and intuitive understanding of what’s actually happening in the music you’re making really helps. A great way to learn production is remaking your favorites!

3: Build a network. I have a couple of beloved producer friends in my bubble that I sent music back and forth with. Trust your ears, of course, but also trust others’ ears. And yes, a network is also important in getting booked but I recommend staying away from “I book you, you book me“ kind of deals, as you want to be booked for your music and not anything else, right? Joining a crew, building stages and friendships, co-producing tracks, that’s the type of network building I recommend.

EDM.com: What are your plans for 2024? Working on anything exciting you’d like to share with us?

HOVR: I’m excited about releasing a song on This Never Happened in May, which is the label of melodic house genius Lane 8. I’ve listened to and played many of their releases and couldn’t be more excited! Also, I have some nice summer international dates in the pipeline, including a couple of dates in Europe, and more to be announced.

FOLLOW HOVR:

Facebook: facebook.com/hovrmusic
Instagram: instagram.com/hovrmusic
Spotify: spoti.fi/3UTeNjj

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