Before his San Francisco show, The Metropolitan Jolt had the amazing opportunity of sitting down with Sander van Doorn. Sander is one of the world’s most noteworthy dance music artists. He has been making fans from around the globe move and jump since 2004. A year ago, Sander van Doorn further solidified his standing by winning Holland’s Silver Harp award.
Personally, I am a big headphone nerd. I can imagine some DJs are and some DJs don’t really care. Do you care what cans you’re wearing on stage?
On stage I do still prefer Technics. I actually started DJing with the very small Sennheiser headphones. I figured out after a few shows that the cord was way too short. I actually pulled a mixer off a table during a show. Sound wise I preferred the Sennheiser. It had a little too much bass, but I think the Technics always work. I’m looking into the Pioneer 2000s.
It needs to be flexible. I don’t actually wear my headphones; I just keep them around my neck. It’s important that I can bend the ear cup enough to work with them.
DJ Mag’s top 100 just started. How much weight to you put into that? Does it affect how you feel about your career as a whole or is it something that is just out there?
It’s definitely something that’s out there, but it has been out for many years. I really noticed in the last couple of years that the DJ Mag top 100 list originates from a time when there wasn’t any social media. These days it’s all about social media. It’s about being close to your fans and that’s more of a measurement tool for myself than a DJ list.
For me, I’ve always noticed that DJing and the productions, the whole package together is what’s going to sell out shows. But definitely, the list is part of it.
Tell me about your radio show Identity. What do you strive for in an episode?
It really needs to be a reflection of my identity as an artist. I will play the music that I would likely play out in a set in the club. It helps people to know where I am going, style wise. It’s also a really nice platform for people I work with to do guest mixes and push their tracks. I am always open to different ideas. It started out six years ago. It’s been blowing up the last few years.
How has it evolved as a process? How have you mentally changed what you want to create over the past six years?
It started out as a monthly show, and then it moved to bi-monthly. The last two and half years it’s been a weekly show. I really want to move it towards an even bigger show. I’m going to move it to two hours. I feel sometimes that there is too much good music and that I can’t really fit it all in one hour.
I am actually going to start a Dutch version probably. Starting in a month or so.
What will that be called? Identity D?
There you go! We can call it that.
In 2008 you released your first full length album on Spinnin Records, Supernaturalistic. Also, three years later you released Eleve11. How does the process of creating an album compare to the process of creating a single?
It has to be a very natural and spontaneous process. It’s not really like one decides, ‘I want to produce an album’. It’s more like you start producing all of the tracks and all of the sudden you have a line of songs that you can use to work towards a complete artist album. It opens doors because you can start experimenting a lot more. For Eleve11, I started experimenting a lot more with song-based records. Working together with different producers, songwriters, and singers. This whole new sound originated from that. It has been a very important process for me.
What do you mean by ‘song-based’ records?
You can make a club record that doesn’t have any vocals on it. For instance, sometimes a song originates from a club record. It starts out a club record, gets a vocal added.
If you really produce a song, it means you have an instrumental you have to produce. Then you need to write lyrics for a vocalist, male or female, and it really changes the whole production process. It’s like producing four or five club tracks, just to have one song.
Is it important to have to vocals before the instrumental, or after? Do you work back and forth between the two?
It works both ways. It’s a different process. Some tracks start out as an instrumental, and you get a great vocal, then your production shifts a bit. Other times, you already have the vocal and you produce underneath it.
Speaking of your production, you have gone under a whole slew of different aliases. Can you tell me about them, and why you decided to do that?
That was the start of my career. I didn’t want to confuse people too much with producing all these different genres of music under the same name. I decided to have Sam Sharp a little bit of the harder-tougher-techy-trancey stuff. Purple Haze was more of the deeper and more melodic sound. Sander van Doorn was my more techy name, techy-house. After a few years I decided that everybody already knew that Purple Haze, Same Sharp, or Sander was just Sander van Doorn. I didn’t feel any need to still use those names. It all just came back to Sander van Doorn.
Talking about the combinations you just mentioned, I read in an interview from 2008 that you felt that trance and techno would converge as a sound. Do you feel like that happened? Do you feel that will continue to happen?
The last couple of years have been very interesting, regardless of the whole musical development with genres. The one thing that I have noticed the most is that genres are disappearing more and more. These days there are a lot of genres being categorized as progressive house, which sometimes sounds very trancey, very housey, or even very techy. It’s all becoming this big melting pot of good music.
It’s sort of more a feel than a genre?
Yeah, exactly. It’s a small guideline so to say.
If you were going to put on your own festival, who would you want to share the main stage with?
You probably (points to his press manager, Sara Cooper).
I would want the main stage to be as diverse as possible. I have found that often some party’s promoters book only the same genre, all together on the same stage. It creates a problem because everyone is going to play each other’s tracks. Nobody can really do their own thing. I would definitely create a very diverse main stage.
A year ago you won Holland’s Silver Harp award. That’s obviously a huge accomplishment. Now that you’ve had a year to reflect, do you have any goals moving forward?
Winning the Silver Harp is a big thing over in Holland because it sends out a signal that the industry that you’re in is becoming very important for the Dutch music scene. Actually, very much on the production side of things. For me that was a personal honor. I think that’s why I had my best year ever. It set off a spark to develop myself as quickly and in the best possible way. That’s what I am doing now, and that’s what I will be doing for the years to come.