Sander van Doorn brought the house down multiple times during Miami Music Week- once at the Spinnin’ Sessions Party at Nikki Beach and obviously when he hosted his own DOORN Records extravaganza at The National Hotel. Being in the game for over 14 years, he earns his title as “seasoned veteran”. To interview him was a very special opportunity for EPIC, as he has paved the way for dance and house music for almost half of my own existence.
Sander van Doorn has created an entire brand around his music that is not only well respected among the dance music community, but also innovative in bringing new sounds to a market that is always thirsting for something new. We sat down with Sander at a cute Miami cafe to talk about everything, and when I mean everything, I mean everything down to a deep fryer.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Lets just talk about your set from last night at Spinnin Sessions- that was amazing!
It was really great to be set up between Oliver Heldens and Ummet Ozcan. It was really great to play more house from the start and really build up towards Ummet. Finishing with the track that he did, a remix of my track, it just really made sense- it was a really cool party.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: For something like that, do you ever plan your sets or do you just wing it?
No, no, that was really on the spot, like “hey lets do this!”
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Do you have certain tracks that you pick out beforehand?
I usually make a playlist of four hours of music with tracks that I could potentially play. On the spot, I just try to read the crowd, mix the right tracks, and just see what happens.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: I feel like all of your hits the past couple of years like “Gold Skies”, “Nothing Inside” etc. have become the unofficial Miami Music Week anthems. Is there anything new that you are going to be putting out this week?
I am definitely going to play a lot of new tracks with a lot of cool stuff coming up. Actually, those guys over there (Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano), I am doing a track with them as well. Obviously some from DOORN Records- a lot of new tracks there too. I’m going to drop some new collaborations too.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Who are you going to be collaborating with?
Of course, Sunnery and Ryan, but I am also doing a collaboration with Pep & Rash.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You’re definitely going to be at the DOORN Records Party on Saturday right? Do you handpick the artists who are going to play?
YES! I expect to be there! And yeah, we always make a plan of what we are going to do. This year we decided to work with a lot of other artists related to DOORN Records, and some artists I am doing tracks together with. Some artists I can announce, some I cannot announce just yet, but it is going to be pretty ridiculous!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What type of elements do you like to put into your sets that will set you apart from every other artist in a multi-DJ showcase?
I think it’s a lot about playing your own stuff, new stuff, and really doing something different. There are a lot of DJ’s out there and sometimes it is tricky. I try to be diverse as possible, mix different genres of music, and see where it goes. I have this new track coming up that is a more tech-y track, but I try different genres in my set. I think these days, the market is really ready for something different.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Speaking of tech, do you think you will ever bring back Purple Haze?
PURPLE HAZE! You know, I was talking to my label manager today and we were reminiscing with those good old memories. Purple Haze was one of those projects that I loved doing. I guess, why not?! Let’s do another Purple Haze!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You have been one of the best of the best for a long time. What do you do to stay relevant after all of these years? Everything has changed so much.
You hit the nail on the head. It IS all about staying relevant. You do that with the label by attracting young and new artists, getting in the studio with those guys, and refreshing your own sound constantly. I am in a really good flow right now, I think I have seven or eight new tracks just waiting to be released.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Before social media, Soundcloud, iTunes etc, what did you do to put yourself out there?
It is a big difference these days compared to the old days where you actually had to go to the store and buy vinyl. Back then, you had something tangible. These days, it is all about downloads, streaming and it’s a different market. The way to do it is to get your fans on board; sometimes you can give away free tracks. There is a point in making money by releasing tracks, but you can make your fans happy by doing new tracks, some bootlegs, and be surprising.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What about Napster? THROWBACK!
The first time I used Napster, my friends gave me that- so basically you are getting free music. The thing is, you can be angry about it and try to resist it or you can be clever about it. It is what it is, you might as well make use of it because the spreading of your music is so much bigger these days than it used to be when releasing a vinyl. Theses days, everyone from South America to South Africa to Australia uses the internet, Soundcloud, and Spotify. Everybody has your music and they will come to your shows; in the end, that is what it is all about.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Do you ever reach other to other artists to use samples of their tracks?
The thing is, every single set you do gets recorded. That’s a big difference from the old days as well. Like I said, everything is out there. If I try out a new track, tomorrow it is on the internet. But it is a good thing! Sometimes, people don’t know what it is, so they start guessing- it gets the hype going!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: It’s also funny that back in the day, the DJ booth used to be off to the side and now it is the main focal point of what is going on. Do you ever get nervous up there as the centerof attraction?
Every single set is different, but I always get a little bit nervous. It’s a good nervous, it keeps you sharp and it makes sure that you deliver every single time. Every set is different, every crowd is different, and you need to adapt to that.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: There are so many fresh new faces on the scene, do you have any advice for these rookies?
Definitely. It is all about producing music first and then trying to create your own identity. Since there are so many DJ’s out there, the way to create your own identity is through your own tracks. It is producing a lot of new tracks, trying to combine different sounds, trying to be refreshing, trying something new-the market is ready for that. EDM is still really big, but future house and deep house are exploding! Big room house is picking up as well. There are a lot of different directions you can go.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: There are so many genres, what would you classify yourself as?
I would say it’s a cross between different genres. That is what I have been doing for the past 14 years, just to combine different styles. If I like this techno track, I am going to mix it in. If I like this EDM track, I am going to use it. This track is more melodic and has more feel to it, I am going to use that as well. I try to be as diverse as possible.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What are you looking forward to most this week?
It has been really intense so far, and absolutely amazing. Yesterday, obviously I was at Spinnin’ Sessions and that was phenomenal- such a great energy. The week ahead looks awesome as well; I’m looking forward to my pool party. Today, I am going to the IDMA Awards, being nominated for “Gold Skies”. I am really excited. Talking about nerves, I am actually more nervous to go there then do a set.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Do you guys do acceptance speeches up there?
Haha! No, it is more on the fly! Usually it makes for a very boring speech, “I want to thank my Dad, I want to thank my fans.” It’s going to be on the fly.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You’re always playing shows and festivals. Do you ever have time to go home? Do you get homesick?
Yeah, sometimes I do. For me, sometimes going back to Holland feels like a little holiday because I am always on the road.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Home-cooked meals too?
I am the worst cook ever. I have a deep fryer and everything goes into the deep fryer.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Uh, that sounds really healthy! How is the food in Holland? We have never been.
The typical courses are REALLY bad. We are not known for our cuisine. I like French, I eat a lot of steak, and I am actually learning to eat sushi more and more. I went to Sushi Samba yesterday and it is one of my favorite places. The tempura shrimp are really good!
Special thanks to Sander van Doorn for chatting with us during the craziest week of the year. We cannot wait to listen to all of these new tracks he is promising!
AUTHOR CREDIT: AINSLEY ASHTON PHOTO CREDIT: ALEXANDRA BLAIR INTERVIEW CREDIT: AINSLEY ASHTON, KIMBERLY PHAN, ALEXANDRA BLAIR