In this current world of often soundalike producer/DJs, there are a few that stand out by possessing not only talent but personality and a sense of humor. This is one of the reasons why interviewing Sander van Doorn is always a pleasure. At the Winter Music Conference, he played the Ultra Music Festival mainstage and headlined the Spinnin' Records party. Everywhere you looked, you saw artists from his label Doorn performing/spinning (no pun intended). He speaks candidly about the music he is passionate about and also mentors new and rising talent to be proficient and successful. Those two qualities make Sander van Doorn one of the best guys out there – the fact that he consistently releases top notch tracks almost seems like icing on the cake.
RS: At the Spinnin’ Sessions during the WMC, I saw that you played and then Martin played and you jumped up on stage with him afterwards.
Sander van Doorn: Yeah that is because we have a new track together, I did it with Martin Garrix and DVBBS. The guys from DVBBS did the male vocals of the track and it’s amazing. I can’t describe the track, but it has a really positive feel to it and everyone can play it out, it’s called “Gold Skies.” We weren’t planning on doing a whole promo of the track just yet, but everyone got really eager and Martin and DVBBS have already talked about it.
RS: Talking about tracks, when you make a track with no vocals in it how do you decide what to call the track?
Sander van Doorn: With my latest track that I did with Firebeatz it was pretty easy. We produced the track and we sent it to the record label and they were eager to get it out and next thing we know it was released on SoundCloud. The working title was called guitar track V6 and we wanted them to take it off because we weren’t finished with it! Since it was already out there, we decided to leave it and just call it “Guitar Track,” the track speaks for itself so that is how we decided to call it that.
RS: How do you decide which tracks get a vocal put on top of them?
Sander van Doorn: It depends on the track, some of them you feel that they could use a topline. I am a bad songwriter so we just send it out and see what comes back; sometimes vocalists do their own versions. For “Right Here Right Now” we have an amazing vocal base on the “Neon” track. It doesn’t take away from the track and it actually adds some more dimension to it, so we decided to do it.
RS: 2013 was such an amazing year for you, for your personal releases and for the Doorn release of yours. What do you have coming for 2014?
Sander van Doorn: I think this year is going to be one of my biggest years. This year feels really good because I decided that I am going to spend a lot of time in the studio and produce a lot of new tracks. I am sitting on a big pile of tracks to play out this year. The record label is growing and being here and having my first sold out show in Miami with the record label is awesome. We are going to be doing a lot more shows and the festivals are already looking really good, we are going to do something insane for Tomorrowland and Ibiza.
RS: Doorn Records is part of Spinnin’ records but Doorn seems like the biggest part of Spinnin’ right now. How is Spinnin’ helping nurture Doorn Records and what kind of a relationship is that?
Sander van Doorn: I have been releasing tracks on Spinnin’ Records for the last ten years so I have been working with these people for a long time and have a great dynamic with them. We decided about five years ago that it was time for a record label that you could release your own tracks on. We decided to do it and to make it easy and call it Doorn Records. At first I used it as a platform to release my own tracks and then it started to grow and grow. Right now I think that we complement each other. It works because Spinnin’ Records can release tracks that are styles that wouldn’t fit for Doorn Records. It just makes the whole thing so much bigger and better.
RS: I really appreciate how you work with new talent and help nurture them, how do you find new talents like Julian Jordan to work with?
Sander van Doorn: Doorn Records has been the perfect platform to start working with young talent. People send tracks in and then I get a selection of tracks that I might like and pick out the best tracks, when I find one that needs some work I take over. With Julian Jordan I decided to make a track together and to see how the whole flow worked. He is an amazing producer and he is great with melodies and we ended up in the studio. I took him on the road and saw that the dynamic worked really well regarding helping new talent make the first step into the whole DJ industry. I have been working with a lot of new artists and I have a few more collaborations coming up. I love doing it and it is the next step in my career.
RS: The Doorn Records Night at the Amsterdam Dance Event was the best party of the week, are you going to be doing more of those Doorn parties around the world?
Sander van Doorn: Oh yes, we started at Amsterdam Dance Event in October and sold out that show. This was the first official Doorn Records label night. We are looking at territories right now and we are going to do a lot in the US and outside as well. I am looking forward to it.
RS: One of the big issues during the Winter Music Conference was health issues. How do you as a DJ and producer balance your life, your touring, your personal life, and your health?
Sander van Doorn: There are a lot of colleagues that are falling down these days. The life of a DJ and an artist is hard, you are constantly being pulled and you have to find a balance in all of it. The new generation gets thrown into this big phenomenon and it’s hard for the guys to make their own way and to find time for themselves to actually enjoy the success. It took a while for me to enjoy my success because I was doing so many things. Sometimes it is good to take a step back; I always take a few weekends off a year where I am just at home and with the family. I like to take a break to release myself a little bit and live a normal life for a weekend. If you go too far people are going to start falling down, it’s just going to happen.
RS: Another issue talked about during the WMC was that so many of the big room tracks all sound the same. What is your take on this and what are you doing to rebel against that?
Sander van Doorn: The general consensus is that a lot of tracks sound the same, and I totally agree. All of the hardcore kids using synths on top are an issue. I have always tried to be original and shift between different genres; I think that people should do that more and more. People shouldn’t see it as taking a risk but rather educating the crowd that you are playing in front of. Nobody wants to listen to the same stuff over and over again, we are in a creative business and we need to be more creative in making different sounds and combining different genres. That is the same thing that I am doing right now with my label. The funny thing is that the music we are listening to right now is the stuff that I heard 6 months ago that was sent to me as a promo. It has a bit of a delay and my colleagues and I are saying the same things, we need to step away from the same sound and make it more diverse. It will happen though, trust me.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Sander van Doorn: Thanks for all the support over the last ten years, it has been amazing. I have changed my sound and have seen my fan base grow with that, keep on coming to my shows.
Interview conducted March 2014 during Winter Music Conference.