Known for his versatile style and continuously fresh sounds, it’s no wonder Dutch DJ/Producer Sander van Doorn has been in the game for more than 14 years and is still on the rise. In addition to his legendary contributions to the industry, his passion and talent continues to pave the way for the future of EDM. Icing on the cake: he also happens to be one of the coolest, most down-to-earth guys out there. Sander van Doorn has been rocking it all across the U.S. lately, and this time he brought the party to Haven Nightclub in Atlantic City.
With a strong opening act from Canberra, the crowd couldn’t wait for what Sander would bring to the stage. Sander started his set big and only went up from there. He had fantastic builds, drops and transitions all across the board, with the crowd dancing and loving every second of it. Better yet, so was Sander. He looked like he was having the time of his life and made it seem like he personally invited each and every one of us to his party.
In addition to his own hit tracks, Sander threw in some epic remixes of songs from artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Coldplay. (I can personally attest that I’ve never heard a more awesome remix of "Sky Full of Stars"!) The visuals were a ton of fun too, with fog guns that literally whited out the room in tandem with his biggest drops. Sander went above and beyond, and I couldn’t have asked for a better night or set.
But before the awesomeness that was his show Friday night, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with one of our favorite DJs and House Master – Sander van Doorn himself.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: How are you feeling about tonight?
Really excited, it’s good to be back. Every single show I’ve done here so far has been absolutely amazing, so I expect nothing less for tonight!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Outside of Atlantic City, do you have a favorite U.S. city?
I do like to play in Los Angeles, I’ve gotten a really big fan base over there. Great city, great weather…and obviously New York City.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Do you have a favorite show or festival memory of all time? Tough question, I know.
Actually it’s a very easy question! I used to go, as a clubber, to a festival back home called Dance Valley. It still goes on every year. I told my friends at one point, “Someday I’m going to play here myself,” and they laughed and said, “OK yeah yeah, whatever.” And I did! When I did play there, my mom was there as well at the front of the crowd. So everybody was like, “I hear you’re Sander’s mom!” And she was like “Yeah yeah!” Then they asked her, “Can I have his phone number?” and she gave my phone number to like everyone who was there! So I finished my set and I got all these random text messages, “Hey great set man! Cheers, Eric” and I’m just like…who’s Eric? And of course after my mom was telling me how she met all these nice people, how everyone was so friendly and they asked for my phone number…haha so I was like, “Thanks, thanks a lot mom! Now I need to change my number...”
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Did you end up having to change your number?
I did end up having to change my number, yes!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: So do you have a big family then? Are they musically inclined like you?
Yeah I have a pretty big family, they’re music enthusiasts but not really into playing. I’m just the one who happens to like to do both. They try to go to all the parties in Holland, with all the small kids there as well.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Aw! How did you originally get into music in general?
Well my brother used to buy a lot of records like A-ha and Toto back in the 80s, so he kind of brought me up into the whole music side of things. So when I was 16 I really started to DJ a little bit more, produce music, and that’s kind of how the ball started rolling.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: When you first started DJing at 16, you obviously didn’t have all the technology out today. What did you use?
Actual vinyl! I remember the very first track I played as a professional DJ over in Switzerland, and the whole record skipped. I just saw the needle float all the way to the end and just thought, “This is not happening right now.” So I was really happy when technology went from vinyl to CD, and these days, for me, from CD to SD. You just plug it in and you have all your tracks there. Plus, you can still do the whole scratching part, so that really works for me.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: It clearly does! If you could pick any other genre of music to be a rockstar at, like you are with EDM, what would it be?
Hmm…I would go more towards Radiohead or Seger Ross. Moody guitar melodies, definitely.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What’s your dream collaboration?
I would definitely like to do a track with Moby someday; I’ve always been a big fan of his. Besides that I don’t know…I really like producing on my own haha. So I don’t have any big ones in mind. I did have some really cool collaborations last year though that were a lot of fun, one of which of course was "This" with Oliver Heldens. Really cool to produce with him, he’s a genius. And it’s so cool to be in the studio with him – he knows what he wants, I know what I want, so it connected so easily. That’s also what I look for when I collaborate, it needs to be the best of both worlds, and with him it definitely worked out.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Nice! So for your own label, Doorn Records, what do you look for in the artists you bring on?
The basic thing is to be original. Something that surprises me – it doesn’t matter what genre you produce. It can be house, EDM, more moody or melodic, as long as I really like it. For example, just had this new track that’s like 120 bpm, it’s soo nice and dark. I just had to have it on my label.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Sounds like a good one. Whose is it?
It’s from someone called D. Alexander. New kid!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Speaking of different genres, you’ve had roots in trance and have grown to be a leader in house. How would you define house music today?
I define the whole genre as being very diverse. Obviously EDM got really big over the last couple of years, and you’re now seeing other styles pop up left, right and center, whether it’s future house sounds, more big room house sounds, etc. I think it’s time for something different. I’ve noticed that I’ve started to play more and more different genres, even some techno as well! I think the market is ready for that, for a little more diversity.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: We do love how you switch it up, it’s always such a great mix!
Oh wow, thanks!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You’ve been so successful for so long. What do you see yourself doing moving forward? Do you have a five-year plan?
Five-year plan, oh man long-term! I hope I’m still playing. I love what I’m doing right now so my goal is to keep on doing this for as long as possible. If at one point one of my nephews or nieces tell me, “Oh, you’re too old to DJ” then maybe I’ll stop DJing haha. But I’m still going strong. I’m really happy that after 14 years I’m still here, and I’m still really excited every single time I’m up there playing. So yeah, hope to keep going as long as possible!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Well you’re still killing it! Are you trying to grow young DJs out of your nephews or nieces?
You know, I tried! And then they bought a playstation…
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: A bit of a distraction?
Yeah too much of a distraction!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: I wanted to ask you about one of my favorite tracks of yours, Ori Tali Ma. What was your inspiration there?
I always loved the vocals of Salif Keita, the original producer. He’s called the Voice of Africa and he’s actually a king of his tribe over in Mali. He started mixing up African music with Brazilian, combined with a Latin American-like beat. That was such a unique combination with such an amount of energy; I always knew I wanted to do a remix of some sort with that track. So I started working on it, they gave us the green light to use the sample, and it kind of took off on its own.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Whoa, so cool! What about in general – let’s say you want to make a new track. What’s your creative process?
It differs, sometimes I use a vocal as a leeway, sometimes you just start with nothing and put some beats in there – like for this new track "Oh, Amazing Bass" it was solely based on rhythm, then we added some bass line to it and it kind of just produced itself. So every process is different. The one thing I think makes me stand out a little more is the fact that I never use the same instrument twice. I never use the same gig, I never use the same structure, I always start from scratch.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What about with your sets – how do you read the crowd and decide what you’re going to play?
It’s all about the first few records you play. It’s testing the waters of where everyone wants to go.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Do you have a go-to start song?
It differs; I’ve got like six or seven intros. Sometimes it’s better to just mix it in, like with a really nice, cool track that stands out. But yeah, I see what the DJ before me plays and I kind of try to read from there on. You always hope you go forward in the right direction there.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: When you play or remix other artists’ songs, what’s your favorite?
I did a few tracks, one of which I can’t tell who produced it, but I think it’s the best track I’ve heard in the last like three years. It’s insane, so I’ll play it tonight!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Nice, can’t wait!
I also really like the Kölsch remix of Eric Prydz’s "Generate." It’s a really, really nice track. So yeah, it’s kind of like those artists.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Any pre-show habits?
Well waking up is a long process for me haha. My sleep schedule’s a bit crazy. We played in Miami last night, and missed our flight…but we took another one, and now we’re here! So pre-show it’s just trying to settle in, absorb the vibe of the club, and just take it from there.
Special thanks to Sander van Doorn for taking the time to speak with us! Such a great show this weekend, and we can't wait to see what's next for him!
AUTHOR CREDIT: RACHEL NOVOSAD