He may not have been the first Dutch artist to turn from take the soundtrack to Saturday night club land global, but a little trial and error has served Sander Van Doorn considerably well over the years. Now purveying the soundtrack to high-profile festivals and videogames alike, Van Doorn also recently signed his emotive anthem “Nothing Inside” to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, steering clear of any major commercial hallmarks while further proving his plot in electronic music is worth following.
He teased fans at EDC Las Vegas last year with “Joyenergizer,” and now the perky peak-timer looks sure to set Van Doorn into positive motion for 2013. Beatport News caught up with the Dutch heavyweight to get the lowdown on his new single, his young protégé and collaborator Julian Jordan, and why genre boundaries mean nothing to the Doorn Records flag-bearer.
We are catching you at the back-end of a phenomenal year for you all around. How does it feel to have fitted so many landmarks into just 365 days?
2012 has been a phenomenal year for me, to be honest. I came close to doubling the time on the road compared to last year and managed to tick some incredible festivals off the list in the process. On top of that, we had another incredible season in Ibiza and with the productions blowing up the way they have done, it has turned into a very special year for me as an artist.
On top of your own solo exploits, Julian Jordan has been something of a young protégé of yours over the past year. What was it about the Dutch youngster that made you want to invest so much time and support into him, and is it important for artists in your position to make these gestures to young and promising artists?
Julian sent a few tracks to the team at Doorn Recordings and I was completely blown away by his talents and studio skills. The idea of making a track together was a long shot at the time, but we ended up in the studio after he did such a great job remixing “Nothing Inside,” and the final product was our collaboration “Kangaroo,” which I am very proud of, to say the least. By the time the opportunity came to remix the Halo 4 soundtrack, it just made sense to extend him the opportunity as he had already proven his worth several times over. The process of working with him remains fun, and the fact that we have been awarded along the way suggests that there is plenty more ahead. For me it is investing in the future of the industry while making sure that genuinely talented people find the break they deserve. I have no doubt that Julian can achieve great things on his own feet.
Scoring for soundtracks is a popular medium for artists who have successfully mastered their craft. What made it such an appealing avenue for you, and do you see room to do more in the future?
The soundtracks platform is a challenging one, but at the same time it is very rewarding and different to that of making club tracks or singles. Naturally, the thought of film scores has crossed my mind, but if I am honest, I don’t feel like I could part with the frequency of singles I am putting out now for another 10 years at least. I want to keep developing the club tracks I make and then maybe once I feel I have perfected that I will explore scoring films, as it is definitely an exciting progression for any artist to make.
It seems fair to say that as your sound has progressed from the days of your debut album, Supernaturalistic, we now find a universal undertone to your music that refuses to part with quality production values. When it comes to composing your music, is there a specific focus for you, or do you find the need to cater to different crowds in different ways?
The funny thing is that very often, what works for the club crowds works equally as well on the festival circuit. Sometimes it is good to give crowds those big club tracks like “Kangaroo,” but at the same time it is more exciting to see what you can do with modern developments. What has been cool for me is the opportunity to experiment with vocals a lot more over the past couple of years with huge success. Tracks like “Nothing Inside” have been especially proud ones for me because you can establish a universal sound that still has its heart and soul rooted in the club. People used to be scared of developing these sounds within dance tracks, but now they are an everyday entity and it is exciting to have that option that people love to hear. In turn, Roc Nation picking up the track is a humbling thing for me as to be able to cross over to that side of the industry without compromising on my sound is a dream come true. Like life, music is about balancing these factors to forge a finished product that is as appealing to you personally as it is your fans.
Your latest single, “Joyenergizer,” already created a buzz as one of the highlights of your set at EDC Las Vegas. Tell us about the track and where you feel it sits compared to the other material you have unleashed throughout 2012?
Thanks! It was a great track to end my set with for EDC Vegas because no one had heard it. It caused a lot of stir on the internet with people trying to ID it [laughs]. It’s a very aggressive track with a lot of momentum, that’s for sure! I would have to say that it’s a perfect way to finish off the year—with a big bang!
The journey from your original releases for Oxygen Recordings to 2013 has seen you cross some huge genre boundaries and career landmarks in the process. How important have genre boundaries been to you along the way, and do you see musical innovation as a progressive challenge or natural element of your career?
For me, it’s all just music. I never classify what I do because I don’t think that serves any real purpose. When it comes to making music, I always just write what I like, and so far people have been pretty receptive to that. It’s great to see festival programming and crowds around the world becoming more unified in their appreciation and openness for all styles, but there should never be any compromise to fit this movement. It makes the experience better when your musical door stays open and you can use your own mood and experience to influence the music rather than what is fashionable at that given time.
What do you consider to be the greatest measure of success an electronic artist should aspire to, and do you believe that the developments in music technology and culture have made it easier for artists to achieve genuinely organic careers?
I think the measure of any artist is originality. There are a lot of people “developing” new artists in our industry for the sheer gain of money, which is a real shame, but it’s up to the people to make informed decisions about the artists they support. This is the only way new and emerging talent will break through nowadays. If I could give one suggestion to help this, it would be to try and discover music no one else knows about that really moves you. When people start to seek out new music instead of just going with the norm, great things will happen! As for technology, it opens the door to so many people, so long may it keep progressing.
The opinion may have been mixed, but you certainly seem to have benefited from the awakening American dance explosion. Having frequented the country’s club and festival circuits throughout 2012, what strikes as being the factor that has allowed artists such as you to make such prominent marks on the stateside scene?
What was crazy about the US explosion was how quickly it happened. I have been playing out there for more than seven years now and having seen the whole progression, it really felt like the last couple of years went into overdrive. It is a huge area and potential industry canvas, and as a result there is a lot of room for it to grow both musically and culturally. Compared to the Dutch scene, there is a world of possibility—for the most part it feels like there is more enthusiasm both in terms of crowd energy and physical numbers. Needless to say, I am proud to be able to play my part in it and lap up the love those guys are showing for the music.
What will you be getting up to in 2013, and are there any further career landmarks you hope to tick off within the new year?
Well, I am working on another album and I would love to score a film in 2013! Next year will see me bring in my new DJ concept, which will look to add a new element to my live shows and is hopefully going to tie into Miami Music Week. On top of this, there are a lot of new singles on the cards, both solo and collaborative, not to mention an even more hectic touring schedule than you saw from me this year. I can’t believe another year has gone, but very excited for 2013.
Given the huge elements within Electronic music that you now balance, has the road to your now global career been as easy as you make it look?
Absolutely not. For me, the biggest challenge has been traveling to all these amazing shows. I love seeing the world and connecting with so many different cultures, but the process of getting to and from these amazing places takes some getting used to. When I was in Brazil this year, the shows and crowds were incredible, but between all the flights and car journeys that were required of it, you can get a little drained along the way. But needless to say, it is always worth the long travels in the end.