The past two years have been a frenzy of making music, networking and DJ-ing for Collin Oliver, 16, as the Oceanside resident shoots for a career in electronic dance music, commonly called EDM.
Collin has traveled abroad to learn about the EDM industry and met high-profile artists in the field — including The Chainsmokers and Bebe Rexha — all the while dropping beats at local parties and creating music in his home recording studio.
Last month, all that hustle paid off. The Oceanside High School junior released his first single, “Help Me,” on the record label Brooklyn Fire on Aug. 9. “It’s a little bit of the old with the new,” said Collin, who has been living and breathing EDM — or rather, streaming it on the internet — since he was 10. “I use elements of a [pop] song spliced with some of the driving, really hard club records of today and of the past. It’s really a combination.”
A year ago, Collin and his father, Jay, attended Amsterdam Dance Event in the Netherlands. It was a five-day affair of accomplished artists, producers and managers speaking on panels about the different aspects of the EDM industry, and it helped Collin determine if this career path was really for him.
He got his answer. Collin scored the record deal for “Help Me” after meeting Tommie Sunshine, owner of Brooklyn Fire, at the conference. “For as long as I can feasibly do it, I’ll continue to make music and DJ,” Collin said.
Sunshine said he immediately felt Collin’s passion in Amsterdam. The longtime producer was moderating a panel about the revival of house music in the United States. After, Collin and Jay approached him to learn more.
“I had this feeling if he was this young and in Amsterdam for ADE, clearly he had a future ahead of him,” Sunshine said. “They came up to me, and there was this affinity, something that just clicked right away.
“I heard Jay’s Long Island accent, and it wasn’t hard for me to know they were from back home,” the Brooklynite added. “It was that familiarity, but really, the vibe they brought.”
From there, the three had several discussions over tacos in Brooklyn about the music business and the direction that Collin wanted to pursue. Then, Sunshine said, “Collin created this track, which was tremendous. It’s the quality of his work that got him the deal.”
After re-arranging and mixing, Sunshine released “Help Me,” Collin’s debut single, on Brooklyn Fire Records. At press time, it had about 50,000 plays on Spotify.
Collin is remarkable, Sunshine noted, because he creates club music and as a 16-year-old, he has never experienced the club scene.
“My Dad was into dance music before I was born,” Collin said. “Somehow it trickled into my DNA.”
Now, Collin’s father is also his manager and biggest supporter. He attends gigs with him, helps with his branding and networking, and reminds him to take care of schoolwork and his mental health along the way.
“That’s the best part about it, it’s having the full support of someone who has been so close to me my entire life,” Collin said. “In a world where people are shady and you need someone you can trust, who better than your Dad?”
“Your Mom,” Jay quipped, and then chuckled.
Jay added that Collin’s mother, Debbie, and sister, Lauren, accompanied them to Amsterdam and both offer emotional support. In October, the father-son duo will travel to Amsterdam and attend ADE for the second year.
“We get to spend a huge amount of time together,” Jay said. “As a father, what more do you want than to have your teenage kids pursue something and want to hang out?”
Back home, Collin DJs at Sapphire Yacht Charters and Tropix on the Mile in Freeport, as well as Bridgeview Yacht Club in Island Park. He also hosts a monthly radio show, “On the Radar,” which streams out of The Funktion House in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Collin is writing new music and said he hoped to release new tracks soon. “Plenty of nights, I’m yelling, ‘Go to sleep, it’s 2 in the morning!’” Jay said. “But it’s not like he’s playing Xbox or loud music. He’s creating. It’s awesome, I couldn’t be prouder of him to watch him do his thing.”
Check out Collin’s music and follow his journey at collinoliver.com.