Jun 15, 2011
Sander van Doorn

Sander van Doorn has been leading the pack in the quest to blur the lines of trance, house, and even dubstep. A longtime heavyweight, Sander spoke with LT3 about how he stays relevant and what he feels the sound will be like for the next generation in our exclusive interview.

Sander van Doorn - Reach Out (Original Mix) [Spinnin']
LessThan3: Let’s kick things off by saying we absolutely loved your set at Ultra Music Festival this year.
Sander: To be honest, I kind of underestimated the impact of the Miami show. I knew it was going to be big as it was a part of Armin’s A State of Trance 500 celebration, but it wasn’t until I received all the responses that I realized its significance.
LessThan3: During your set, we heard some trancestep tracks that went over very well with the crowd. Do you think tracks like that represent the future of trance?
Sander: I think the future is really bright for trance. More and more styles are getting mixed together, and I try to do the same with my sets. Some tracks are not actually trancey at all–you break the “trance” a little bit in order to make the trance sound better.
LessThan3: Your recent remix of Mumford & Sons has a very electro feel, which is a departure from your more tech-sounding productions. Are you looking into producing a more electro sound?
Sander: I think the basis of my tracks is always about having a bit of drive to it, even though it may be at 128 BPM. For me, it’s all about getting the track going. For instance, the Mumford & Sons remix has an electro-y feel to it, but is also a little techy as well. Some of my other tracks are little more progressive. I’ve been working on a new artist album, and tested out a few tracks at Ultra. Some of them were on the more progressive side, while others were trancier.
LessThan3: Is the sound of Sander van Doorn represented more in your live sets or your productions?
Sander: Since I play a lot of my productions in my live sets, I think they’re really connected to each other. I try to be innovative as both a producer and a DJ. As a producer, I always start with a blank screen, and never work in existing projects. I really try to make something new. Sometimes it means changing my style a bit, but other times it means adding a vocal or trying different things out.
LessThan3: In your live sets, do you lean towards spontaneity or creating solid guidelines?
Sander: It’s really about reading the crowd. I start with a few tracks to get a sense of what the crowd wants to hear, what tracks they know, what styles of music they are familiar with, and where they want to the set to go. In the end, I like to base my sets around crowd responses.
LessThan3: You’ll be touring in the US again in June. What has been your favorite venue here?
Sander: That’s a tough one because there are so many venues I love to play at. I’ve had a lot of great shows in the US, especially in the last couple of years. I really love to play over at Flux in San Diego. There’s Pacha NYC, and Vision in Chicago, which is still one of my favorite clubs. I’m doing a residency over right now at the Marquee in Las Vegas. I play there once every two months, and that place is out of this world! I actually think North American clubs are some of the best in the world.
LessThan3: Do you see Las Vegas as an ideal spot for dance music to grow?
Sander: Yes, I think so. I’ve been playing in Vegas for the last five or six years, and I’ve started seeing a big change there over the last couple of years. There are more artists and serious DJs playing there, and people have really started knowing the music.
LessThan3: You’ve got your new sequel of Dusk Till Doorn now. What excites you most about your second studio mix release?
Sander: I’m really happy with the result. I actually took two months this time, and started out with a tracklist of ninety tracks. It was all about short listing, adding tracks, featuring some from my label and making exceptions. It’s the total combination of new tracks with older ones, some of my tracks and remixes. My goal was to capture all of that in the best possible way.
LessThan3: We love the diversity of styles in your first compilation with the inclusion of house artists like Afrojack and Dada Life.
Sander: Thank you. I think of Dusk Till Doorn as an extended show that can go on for five hours. In that case, you want to diversify the styles in order to make sure that you keep the attention of the crowd during those five hours. I think mixing house with progressive and trance makes for a very interesting sound. It’s about taking risks, and over the years you learn how to use different styles of music. Also, you don’t necessarily have to start housey and build it up from there. You can also use house to bring the middle of your set down, just to make sure you can build it up again.
LessThan3: Aside from your knack for diverse styles, you’ve also really helped popularize tech trance. We’ve seen a lot of other big trance names like Armin van Buuren shifting towards tech-heavy sets.
Sander: I certainly hope I helped. I’ve promoted tech trance with my own productions, and we’re also seeing lot younger up-and-coming artists embrace this style.
LessThan3: With such rapid turnover in the dance music world, you have managed to consistently release hits for many years. What’s your secret?
Sander: It’s a process. I try to educate myself by listening to a lot of music, preferably not even dance music. In the car, I like to listen to bands like Radiohead. Also, newer bands have to promote newer sounds, which I try to capture, and I think that helps me keep my productions fresh.
LessThan3: If the world were to end in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made, what would you listen to?
Sander: I would probably have to make a short list because there are so many tracks I really like. I would definitely listen to something Radiohead.
LessThan3: Describe your sound in LessThan3 words.
Sander: Colliding styles.
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