Sander van Doorn has been creating music and making his fans dance for quite a while, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Aside from producing some of the dance floor's favorite tracks, he continues to spread his music all over the world, while preforming at the globe's biggest and best dance music festivals, and most famous clubs.
Recently, Sander played at Create Nightclub in Hollywood, California in June, where he sat down to chat about the most pivotal moments of his career, his newest music, and what fans can expect next. Check it out below:
Some of the biggest tracks that brought you to where you are right now came out in 2004 and 2005: one under your Sam Sharp moniker with the track “Twister”, and you did a bootleg of The Police, if you remember that. It was a while back! So what was the inspiration behind that bootleg? It was a vinyl press and it opened up a lot of doors for you.
It did, actually! I came across this acoustic solo of Sting on the internet, and it was pretty much just his vocals with a little bit of guitar. It was back in the days, where I had to prove myself to a lot of people, also my record company. So I produced all of these tracks, and I was like, “I’m just going to keep this one behind.” They were like, “Okay, that’s cool. We’re mildly interested.” And through that track, they were like very interested. That’s the track that actually made me aware of all of the people that I work with still today, actually. I made another version, a more techno-based version. I was listening to a lot of tracks from the Filterheadz back in those days, and I was inspired by that particular sound myself. Did the track, sent it out to a few DJs like Armin and Tiesto. Next thing I know, I’m at Global Gathering. Tiesto played it. I heard my track for the first time played live and everybody sang along. So, I was completely blown away! For me personally, and it’s funny that you mention that track, because that’s the track that actually made me.
When you look back at your career, what would you say some of the pivotal moments were? I’d have to say that was one of them, but what were some of the other defining moments of your career?
One of the most defining moments was this festival in
One of your first major accomplishments as a DJ was your landing a residency in
One of the first shows I did was actually a year before that. I was playing one show in the whole season in a club called Privilege—one of the biggest clubs in the world. I was doing this night, which didn’t do that well, actually. I think at the end, we had like 300 people showing up, together with a couple of promoters I still work with these days. So that was my first introduction to
When you look back at the catalog that you’ve produced since 2004, to this day what would you say your favorite songs are that you still play out?
I still play out “Riff”, “King of My Castle” (the remix I did), and “Direct Dizko”. I kind of changed directions a couple of years ago, and most tracks I play these days are a lot of the tracks like “Nothing Inside”. “Joyenergizer” is one my best records to play out. My new track “Neon” is a very special project for me, as well. But still, I play my old songs as well.
So tell us about “Neon”. The music video, and its concept is interesting. You have this girl in the forest and she’s playing around with a jellyfish. What’s the inspiration behind that one?
I went to the creative team and we discussed the whole idea. “Neon” has a really good feel to it, it’s a very positive track. Obviously, it’s called “Neon” so you think about bright colors. So we were thinking, “Why not implement these colors in a video where it’s about landscapes?” It kind of has the story of this girl going into one of those antique shops, looking at one of those props, and all of sudden is in this weird world. That’s because, when I was clubbing a lot myself, I used to go back home at 4 or 5 o’ clock in the morning, put on MTV, and you had all these music videos. And you know, the “fuzzier” they were, the better. So, I wanted this track to be one of those tracks, where you’re just going to put on the TV, and you’re just like, “What’s going on here? There’s something coming out of the water. There’s weird stuff going on!” And it really suited the track. The most important thing is that it has a positive feel to it.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, and what’s the best advice you can give for people who are trying to do what you’re doing in the music industry?
Well, the thing is that, these days a lot of doors are open for a lot of young talent. The competition is big, so the best advice I always give is to look at finding your own sound. It’s usually a combination of different genres. The possibilities are endless, so you can still produce your own sound. Take your time producing the right quality, get a lot of opinions before you start sending tracks to a record company. If the tracks aren’t right, and you send too many tracks, you get lost in the whole process. So, be critical!
And what’s the best advice you’ve been given?
I’m sure in a few years, it’s going to be “stop smoking!” But, still I didn’t really add up to that. The best advice—”follow your instinct!” I think that’s the best advice my brother gave me.
In the studio, what’s your workflow like? When you’re starting a brand new project, do you have a workflow that’s tried and tested that you stick to these days?
I try to tour a lot, and then try to have weekends off where I can really sit in the studio, producing tracks. The whole process basically means that on the first four days, I just want to throw my computer out of the window! Because I have to get acquainted to the whole producing process after just being on tour. After that, the whole process comes pretty quickly. Every single track, I start with a blank screen, and I start producing from scratch. That’s why I like to produce different sounds and that’s why it’s possible for me to produce different genres. Always start blank, and work my way up from there.
Do you have any favorite plug-ins, VSTs, virtual instruments?
Well, yes. I still like to use the analog synths. I use the Moog Voyager a lot for my basslines. I’m still loving the Dave Smith Poly Evolver. I actually met with Dave Smith last year, got really inspired by his whole vision of sounds and the whole analog aspect making a track more organic and natural. So, I use a lot of the analog synths. Besides that, when I’m on the road, Nexus, obviously. You have this big library of sounds, always works out for making the pre-setup. Besides that, Sylenth I still use a lot. And, a lot of just the standard synths, I know how to module them.
Speaking of vision, what are your personal philosophies on life?
Well, first of all, you better make sure you follow a path that makes you happy. You don’t want to look back when you’re 65, and say, “I made a lot of money doing something I don’t like.” You know, living life means having fun!
Do you have any big fears in life?
Big fears... I’ve got an older sister and she taught me when I was very young to be afraid of spiders. I’m still working my way up from there, doing better these days! Besides that, no, I don’t have a lot of fears.
The last album you put out was Eleve11. That was almost two years ago. So, what’s your focus on in the studio now? What can we expect next?
I’ve been working hard! Got a lot of tracks coming up, so there might be a new album. Definitely.
Is there anything else you want to tell our listeners?
Well, thanks for listening, obviously! I’ve been going strong on the support of my fans. I’m always appreciative of that. It’s a fun ride and I hope to be doing this for another 10-15 years.
What can we expect to hear from you tonight at Create?
A few new tracks, a lot of new tracks on Doorn Records, actually. The label is blowing up at the moment! I made a few mash-ups, as well, so it’s going to be a great night.
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