A hot new remix of Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy is Mine” prompted OVAH MAG to reach out and meet Brett Oosterhaus, DJ and Producer at Oosterhaus Music. Boy was our interview a treat. Oosterhaus was friendly, open, passionate, and is on top of his game.
About two years ago Oosterhaus met Joe Pacheco and they hit it off over their love of music. Pacheco introduced him to a good friend, Julian. As Oosterhaus did more mixes, Julian encouraged him to do a remix of “The Boy is Mine” and bring a fresh sound to it. It’s a must-have. When asked about how the feedback has been for the remix so far, Oosterhaus was floored that it’s being played all the way to clubs in Waikiki.
Oosterhaus is no stranger to music and sound. He grew up in the church and was listing to folks like Amy Grant in his early days. He shared that he wasn’t allowed to listen to popular music in his younger years and it wasn’t until high school that he started to hear the likes of Michael and Janet Jackson which really propelled him to explore more. He sang and danced and even had a signed agreement back in the days when boy groups were popular. Oosterhaus parted ways with his record label with a broken heart. He left music for a while and went into teaching and coaching boys basketball. Years later he would leave that and discover the gay scene and music scene.
Before becoming a DJ, Oosterhaus was helping out at the iconic White Party. He hadn’t even thought DJing was an option. He met Jeffrey Sanker in LA and worked the White Party for a few years and he started running with a group of DJs. Going to the party after-party, he was loving the music. Oosterhaus credits Sanker for planting the DJ seed. He helped Oosterhaus see that DJing was a viable option.
Today he describes his sound and style as very melodic. Oosterhaus said, “I need to be moved musically whether it’s vocal or not. I want music with a melody. You can have a hard track and it will still have a melody. For me what creates the drama in music is the melody. That’s what I feel my sound is.” When asked who he credits for his approach to DJing, he turned to his “favorite producer in the world” Yinon Yahel who he credits as helping create his sound. He also acknowledges DJ Abel, Peter Rauhofer, and Tony Moran as influencing his sound.
Oosterhaus started out playing vinyl and moved into the digital arena later. He ran with a crowd of DJs and took what they did very seriously. He saw the time and effort they would put into their sets and they shared their knowledge with him. When he eventually put his toe into the big pond of DJing, he decided he’d start on the production side of the industry. He felt that being able to produce music would bring more respect. Oosterhaus’ first two big gigs were about five years ago. He played Latin Fever in Puerto Vallarta and he also played Fresh Fridays in West Hollywood. He remembers being “scared shitless!”
When asked which was his most memorable gig, he remembers the White Party. He was invited to play the Welcome Center. He entered into the gig with some preconceived notions of what it would be like and he was determined that he would make every last guest do some bee-bopping while they signed in and got their passes. And he did. As guests were in line they were moving to the music. That experience still resonates with Oosterhaus.
When asked what makes for a good DJ, Oosterhaus was definitive in his response, “preparation and someone who is fearless.” He shared that sometimes people aren’t working to find their own sound but doing so is what should inspire you musically. “To be great at what you do, you need something that differentiates you,” he said. He also said it’s important for a DJ to do their research. He continued that it’s important they understand who they’re playing for, what it means to be in the time slot they’re in, and the venue. “You’re creating a feeling and an ambiance and you should bring your best.”
On the flip side, he said the biggest mistake a DJ can make is to not take it seriously. The competition out there is fierce and if you don’t put in the work, it shows. And on top of that, DJs talk. One of his most horrifying gigs happened when he was playing a Jeffrey Sanker gig in Los Angeles. Oosterhaus’ laptop, which had some dated software, started skipping the songs and the audience quickly started booing and shouting. He was mortified and since it was out of his control there was little he could do. As a result, he decided it was finally time to upgrade his equipment to the industry standard to not run the risk of that happening again.
We’re grateful “The Boy is Mine” is available for free download. Like most DJs, Oosterhaus is struggling with how to balance giving away music and charging for it. Lately, he has been reviving some old school dance tracks and putting those on SoundCloud as a way to boost his sound. He has some bigger original songs with Debby Holiday and others which he will put on sale on Beatport later this year. For him free vs. pay has to do with the amount of blood, sweat, tears, and finances that go into the production. And that makes sense to place some value on one’s work.
As for what’s in store for Oosterhaus in 2018, he’s still developing his list of intentions and developing his goals. He did share that we can look forward to more tracks being released later this year.
We closed the interview with our signature question, “What would you consider to be the edgiest, unconventional, or tight-lipped thing you’ve ever done and how did it impact your life?” He was clear in his response, “My career path. I went to school and studied history and political science. Taught for some time, and then switched it up and found the love of my life, music, DJing and producing.”
Enjoy this special mix by DJ Brett Oosterhaus for our exclusive interview.