Sander van Doorn has elevated himself as one of the most influential and essential producers and DJs in the music industry since the day he began to experiment with his brother’s ‘Groovebox 303′ at the age of 16. With his recently released hit track “Ori Tali Ma” and his tracks from his record label DOORN Records such as “Oh Amazing Bass,” Sander van Doorn has been keeping everyone – the industry and his devoted fans – on their toes. He produces and creates his sound through his rule of originality and creativity. Access and Sander got together to explore more into his journey thus far.
1. You found your passion for music at the age of 16 while experiencing the “Groovebox 303” in the year 1995. Now you are one of the most influential producers/DJ in the industry. Can you tell us a little bit about the challenges you’ve overcome and how the music industry has changed for you.
Yeah, you know, there have been a lot of changes. For me, producing music started off as a hobby, I didn’t even know what a filter bottom was. I was like, “What the hell is this?”. But you tweak it, you see what happens and that’s how I started producing. Finding out everything about the sounds and how to arrange the tracks. Just from scratch by downloading software and building up from there. Music has evolved so much these days. I have this really big studio, not size wise, but equipment wise, where there’s a lot of the analog instruments and synths but these days it’s so much more focused on the whole software based synths and so on. But I’ve been finding out that in the last two years that by reusing all those analog synths, for instance, like the tube tech and multi-band compressor, it creates so much more dimension to the track. So I really like the whole combination between the back in the old day analog sounds combined with the easiness and more playable way of the new sounds.
2. Are there any recent songs that you used the old and new combination technique?
Yeah the “Ori Tali Ma” is completely analog! I used a lot of the kicks and the drums on a 30 year old machine and it works perfectly today. It’s like a stereo distortion combined with tube tech compressor. The mastering on that is a dream to play with.
3. Your sound has evolved so much over the years, from trance hits like “Love is Darkness,” to progressive with “Neon” and “Joyenergizer,” and then to your track with Oliver Heldens “THIS”. Is this a conscious evolution on your part, or is it happening naturally? Where do you see your sound going in the future?
For the track “THIS”, going back to the studio with him, he said to me, “Let’s go back to your old roots.” Going back to my old roots meant like SIA’s “The Girl You Lost To Cocaine” – tracks like that. Actually predating 2011 he said to me, “Let’s combine those sounds with the sounds I have.” So the track produced quite easily. I was excited going back to my roots, keeping it simple with a driven bass line but not with farfetched melodies. It was really about building a track without using all the interfering sounds. That’s how that track arrangement went.
I have to be honest, that was one of the nicest collaborations I’ve done so far.
My sound evolves a lot, but the general basics always remain the same from the very first time I started producing. I like to produce different sounds, whether it’s a little more filter record or a little bit more driven. For instance my new track, “Oh Amazing Bass” which is coming out in a month, it’s completely different compared to “Phoenix” or “Rage”. Every single track I do, since the very first time, I never reuse an arrangement or sounds. Everything needs to be from scratch with new kicks, new everything. The funny thing is, when you start producing, you’ll always have your own sound sneaking in. It’s a good thing – that’s your identity.
4. Where do you see your imprint DOORN Records in the next 5 to 10 years?
The whole platform with DOORN Records started with releasing my own tracks. The first release was “Riff”, that was the first ever DOORN release. But the second track was actually by Wardt form W&W, one of the two tall guys, I believe he released the track “Show My Shuffle”. This all happened after I created this platform and all of a sudden other producers would send me tracks to listen to. So all of a sudden I put on this whole new A&R thing as well and that really worked out for me. It’s great to be able to guide artists through the whole process and you actually learn a lot from it yourself as being an artist. So I’m releasing tracks from other producers on the side with my own tracks, and it all blew up! Just starting a few years ago, looking at the release schedule, today as well, it’s pretty insane. Last year, it was number 4 on Beatport out of the hundreds of labels out there. Being number 4 is just a big honor.
5. The music industry is always in high demand and tracks are always released left and right. How do you incorporate the innovation and uniqueness into your tracks?
The music industry is all over the place. For me producing a track is all about picturing yourself in a crowd. That’s why I always try to, whenever I have a weekend off – I actually try not to say weekend off because if I say that my agents are going to think, “Oh no he has a weekend off, that can’t happen”, so I call it ‘studio time’. But whenever I have the opportunity, I go and stand in the club, listen to the music, and try to translate it to my own sound. What do people that come out want to hear from me? How can I surprise them with something new? If you pull out that feeling and translate it into production – without listening to what everybody else is playing and doing the same thing – try to create something new. I think that’s when you really start to produce.
6. Do you think becoming a good producer is more nature vs. nurture? That is, do you think people are born with the ability to be good musicians, or is it acquired through practice and hard work?
To become a big DJ or great artist, it requires a few things. You need to be original, you need to be focused, you obviously have to know how to produce music, and how to read crowds. I mean, being a DJ isn’t about just making a compilation of mixes, anyone can mix and match beats – it’s about where you want to go. It’s the same thing for producing, you have to try to create something original. It takes creativity and also relaxation in order to be confident. Also, be skilled in the business side – I always try to help other artists out, where they would bring their contracts to me and I’m like, “I hope you didn’t sign this one”. It’s a whole package.
Another key is to have good stage presence. Personally, I think I’m more of a producer-DJ rather than the distinction of a DJ-producer. For me it’s all about the music. Take an artist like Martin Garrix or Hardwell, they have a very big stage appearance and that’s very important. If you have all those factors together and they connect, that’s when you become really successful and potentially become the number one DJ in the world. It’s a very big process. I know there are millions of kids out there wanting to become the next big thing, but there is a lot that comes with it. That’s why I think DOORN Records is a good platform as a stepping stone as well.
7. Who are some artists/producers on your radar you’d like to hit DOORN Records at the moment?
There are a lot of artist out there right now that are doing great music. I think it’s that time to step away a little bit from the hardcore EDM sound – that’s been done. I’m really interested in seeing what people can do differently. Personally I would say that Watermät, although I can’t share the title, he’s coming up with a new track that is the best dance track in the last five years. I’m pretty confident in saying this as well. It’s not going to be on my label but I am definitely pushing it. Also, Headhunterz is releasing a track on my label, and it’s a really great track, it has that DaftPunk sound to it. I could go really deep with my releases or more EDM, but it just has to be original.