Becoming a world-renowned DJ doesn’t happen overnight, unless you’re Sander van Doorn, of course. In a mere seven years, the Dutch DJ has taken the world by storm with his eclectic musical makings that tantrum against being pigeonholed into one genre. Mixing every sound imaginable from traditional house to progressive electro-anthems and varying from vocal-free ballads to lyrically-powered love songs, Sander has effectively reached a multifarious fanbase of electronic music lovers across the world. The DJ and producer sat down with Joonbug before his show at Roxy Nightclub in Orlando to discuss his speedy breakthrough into the EDM scene, his current continent-crossing tour, and his newest release “Nothing Inside.”
Jaime Sloane: I know you played at this same club [Roxy] in September of 2010, so how does
it feel to be back?
Sander van Doorn: It’s great! The only mistake we made, again, was to arrive today and leave tomorrow. We should’ve stayed here for at least two days. There’s so much to see over here. I opened my phone when we touched down and the amount of tweets coming in was just ridiculous. It’s good to be back, definitely.
Jaime Sloane: When did you realize you wanted to be a DJ and producer?
Sander van Doorn: I wanted to be a producer at first about eight years ago so I started producing tracks and about a year and a half later I got asked to play a few gigs and I was like, “You know, why not? Let’s just give it a try.” I absolutely loved that as well. So I guess around seven and a half years ago is when I started DJing as well.
Jaime Sloane: Tell me a little about your Identity radio show. Why did you decide do broadcast a weekly radio show and what is the most rewarding part?
Sander van Doorn: Well it’s exactly like you say, it’s a brilliant platform to reach your fans. I’ve been doing this radio show for about five years. I started with a monthly show, then bi-weekly, and now we’re a weekly show and we’re even thinking about expanding the time as well from an hour to perhaps two hours. It’s looking very good, it’s syndicated in about 40 countries, it’s grown a lot. It’s on Sirius XM as well and it’s blowing up so I’m really happy with that.
Jaime Sloane: As part of the Dutch DJ phenomenon, can you tell me why you think DJs from your region have been so successful? Is it the culture you grew up in or the massive network of DJs that support each other?
Sander van Doorn: I guess it was like that because the radio stations in Holland got on board to dance music very rapidly, already about 15-20 years ago. With that, all of the sudden you have all of these big raves being organized, really professional raves actually for already 10-15,000 people, and that was when I was 16-years-old. It really lit up a spark for a lot of Dutch kids back in the day to become DJs as well.
Jaime Sloane: At Ultra you played over twenty tracks in one hour, tell me about why you chose such a fast pace? Do you usually transition from songs so quickly?
Sander van Doorn: I’ve been noticing more and more that I’ve been editing tracks to make them shorter because I really like a lot of dynamic in my sets. For Ultra I played more than 20 records but if I played for two hours I could’ve played 50 records. I just love mixing and surprising people with short mixes. Throughout the years I’ve really tried to do that, and that’s kind of my new thing going on.
Jaime Sloane: Your song Nothing Inside, which I’m absolutely addicted to, debut on BBC Radio 1 a few weeks ago and is already a huge hit. Can you tell me about your inspiration for the love song song?
Sander van Doorn: I actually received the dry vocals of Mayaeni asking me if I could write something for it. So I started producing, I had to struggle with two different tempos in the track so it was a good chance to write. It took me about three weeks to actually get the track to where it is right now. I finished it, showcased it in Miami, she performed live for the showcase as well as for Ultra Music Festival and blew up. Very happy about that. It’s one of those tracks where the whole project has been excited from start to finish.
Jaime Sloane: Last summer you DJed three different Ibiza clubs, Amnesia, Privilege, and Space. It seems like many other DJs tend to choose only one club to spin at for the summer. Can you tell me about your experience spinning at three of the biggest clubs on the island?
Sander van Doorn: Well technically I played in six clubs - I played also at Eden, Sankis and Bora Bora. It was a great adventure, something different, and I really felt last year, and I’m feeling this year as well that I like not being committed to one brand and just spread out. Every club has its own atmosphere and my style has become quite diverse so I can do different nights. For instance, play a Cream night but also play another night, which are completely different set ups. That’s basically what I tried out last year and I’m definitely going to do that this year as well.
Jaime Sloane: It’s already been announced that you’ll be playing a few nights at Amnesia this summer. Can you tell me about the rest of your summer plans?
Sander van Doorn: I’m looking at doing other Ibiza nights as well. Besides Ibiza this summer is already looking ridiculous with a lot of festivals. Obviously I’ll be back in the US 200% compared to last year. The market over here is blowing up, the festivals are insane out here and I’ll be doing a lot of shows here in the summer as well.
Jaime Sloane: Around this time last year you were awarded the prestigious Silver Harp award, one of the highest honors in the Dutch music community. How has the year following the award been? Do you feel the award pushed you to work even harder than before?
Sander van Doorn: It’s been a great year. The great thing about that award is that it’s a real industry award. It’s like all the music gigs decided on who’s going to win the Harp. It was just brilliant, a big honor to win that award. After that, I guess I just got even more passionate about growing as an artist, definitely.
Jaime Sloane: America is at the top of its electronic music obsession levels, as I’m sure you saw at Ultra. Why do you think the phenomenon finally caught on in America, and what do you expect to see from Americans on this tour that you haven’t in years past.
Sander van Doorn: DJs like David Guetta got on board working with the American urban artists a few years ago and that really started to work out so more and more artists got involved with the Us market and producers. All of the sudden you see this change where everybody plunges into dance music and I guess that’s why it’s so big right now. At the same time, organizations like Insomniac, they really got on board throwing the big parties throughout the country. Holland is a big country of 16 million people, but the US market is like 250 million people. So all of the sudden if the commercial market really starts to listen to the dance music, it just blow sup. I think for the coming years it’s going to be interesting to watch because I think it’s going to grow even more.