Arriving with a few minutes to spare and a blast of air conditioning to greet me, my penultimate interview of EDC Las Vegas still seemed like a surreal moment from another person's life. In the oasis of cool and calm surrounded by one of the largest festivals in the world, we got to catch up with Sander van Doorn, the noted electronic DJ and producer from the Netherlands. Though it has been almost a decade since his first few releases on Oxygen Recordings, in recent years Sander has become a staple in the industry, not only because of his tracks, like "Koko" and "Joyenergizer", but also the talent he has cultivated under his own record label, Doorn Records.
Sitting by the floor to ceiling windows as the lights from Cosmic Meadow flashed through and the building shook slightly from the sub-bass, I could tell that the impending performance still excited the veteran artist. As he said himself, "EDC is going to be insane," and it was. It really was.
Take a listen to his set, which starts off with his upcoming release on July 15th, "Neon", then read on for the rest of the interview.
Earmilk: You're about to play EDC Las Vegas. Any rituals or preparations that you do before the set?
Sander van Doorn: The one thing I need is a half hour before the set to clear my mind. That's my ritual. I need that half hour to prepare mentally for what I'm about to do. And then, when I get up, I always take a bath just to relax a little bit. That's pretty much it.
EM: This is a pretty big event, but I was wondering what your first big event was and how it compares to today?
SvD: My very first big event was the second gig I ever played, which was in Poland actually. I played in front of 20,000 people and I still had to mix with vinyl a little bit. That was a pretty interesting experience I would say. I was pretty nervous. It was in Poznan but I am not sure what it was called. It was pretty cool though.
EM: Do you have to change anything when you do a set in the U.S.A versus when you do a set in the Netherlands or anywhere else in Europe?
SvD: Not anymore to be honest. The whole scene over here grew really rapidly and people got really educated with their music, so you can actually play the same stuff over here you can play in Europe, which is a great thing.
EM: Your roots are in trance, but you've been releasing a lot of electro/progressive house. I'm wondering how that came to be?
SvD: It was a natural progression from the very start. I always produced music in different genres and as a producer and DJ you always develop yourself more and more and with that you go in a certain direction. Actually what people call progressive house these days, when you go to Beatport, is completely different than the progressive house of John Digweed and Sasha.
But that's the name for it. I do a lot of electro with it as well, but my music is still very melodic and that's always one of the main features of my tracks.
EM: You're talking about how progressive has changed from minimal to upbeat? What percentage of this change is from influential artists like you as opposed to cultural/crowd mentality? How has it progressed?
SvD: It's pretty interesting to see how fast it progresses these days. If you look at progressive house or house in general, over the last few years it went very melodic, very team-based, very big room. It used to be for the clubs, but now it's big room. What you see these days, you see the introduction of the hardcore kicks from the good ol' days, that's a new feature. A few great records that will be coming out that are based on that particular sound, that Quintino introduced with "Epic". So it changes very rapidly and that's what I like because you get inspired by that. It's good for me in the studio as a producer; I always try to produce something completely different as compared to my previous track, and that kind of inspiration works out a lot.
EM: Speaking of melodic, "Neon" is your most recent release. You spent a while producing that, so would you like to talk about that?
SvD: Yeah, the original melody I created about a year to a year and a half ago, but with the first version I couldn't get the whole production right with the melody, because it has a very analog basis. It's a violin on top of a guitar, and it it progresses from there on. I had to come up with a cool bridge, and I used the whistle again, kind of connecting it to "Koko" a bit. I completely changed the production but kept the violin. Then, a few months ago, all of a sudden I cracked it and sent it to the record company. It's now in promotion and the response has been amazing.
EM: Is "Neon" a tribute to festivals and this kind of atmosphere?
SvD: For me, it's one of those tracks that gives me a really positive feeling. It's a true festival track as I would produce it, definitely.
EM: I was wondering about your work with Lady Gaga and the "Marry The Night " remix: did you get to work with her closely?
SvD: No, it was just a remix. It was cool to do and a challenge to combine her sound and my sound. I've also produced remixes for The Killers, Depeche Mode, did a collaboration with Robby Williams, and it's all cool to do, but in the end my main focus is always on my own stuff.
EM: What's in store for the rest of 2013 and also new artists for Doorn Records?
SvD: There's a lot of new, great tracks coming out. We just had a track with Daddy's Groove and Rob Adan, which went to top 5 Beatport. There's a new track coming out from La Fuente together with SL8. It's phenomenal actually, really happy to have signed that one.
It's going strong with the label. Lots of festivals coming up for myself. As for productions, obviously "Neon" will be the main focus for the next couple of months and I am already working on a few new collaborations and projects right now.
EM: Any last words before your performance?
SvD: It's good to be in Vegas again, and EDC is going to be insane. I'm really, really excited for this one. It's the first EDC in Vegas that I will be playing in the dark. Last year I had a really early set and the year before that the set was really late, like 5 o'clock in the morning, so this will be the first time I will be playing in the dark. The production looks absolutely amazing; can't wait to play!
Photo Credit - Julia Vie