Netherlander Sander van Doorn returns to his club-record roots

Between the coast-to-coast festivals and the numerous club sets, keeping track of the number of times we’ve seen Sander van Doorn is futile at this point. One indelible image is the pure happiness van Doorn seems to exude while playing for any crowd, his smile beaming all the way to the partiers in the back. Needless to say, we just get a good vibe from the guy, like when we caught up with the Netherlands native before his most recent set in Las Vegas. Van Doorn returns to Marquee on February 8, as well as Lavo on February 12.

The big news my fellow music geeks will eat up is that you’re collaborating with the group Underworld, right?

I’m really excited this is an official collaboration. I produced the track with Mike Knight—he was already working on something with Underworld. He felt he could combine it with a track that I produced already, so we started mixing the two together and this track came out called “World.” [The members of] Underworld loved the track, and were really up for it.

Will it be an instrumental or vocal track? What direction has it taken?

Vocal. It’s kind of a tech-y track. The whole basis is really techno. It suits the whole Underworld feel, too, because they originated from the whole techno background as well. They’re my heroes—watching the movie Trainspotting with “Born Slippy”? It’s a big honor to work with them.

You mentioned it’s more tech-y, more techno. Lately, it seems as if the bigger producers such as yourself are digging into that a bit again.

As artists, we never forget from where it all originates. Dance music has become quite commercial in some ways with the David Guettas collaborating with urban artists, but it originates from the club. I decided for myself—and a lot of other artists as well—let’s just get back to the roots. Where did this all happen and originate from? In the club! So I’ve been producing more club records lately, and it actually makes it so much more fun to produce music. That’s really important; that will keep maintaining the dance industry for years to come—making sure that it all originates from the club.

Newer bloggers and writers who are just getting into EDM think it’s so great there’s “finally dance music in the U.S.,” even though it’s always been here. How has the American market affected the production sound and process?

I’ve been playing in the U.S. market for the last nine years. The first few trips, the whole scene was really underground, but I knew before that it was already becoming quite commercial. It was kind of killed by the government, being more classed like a rave, so it came down and now it’s actually rising again. It’s always a natural process. It broke through, which means there are a lot of people jumping on it at the same time. That can make it really commercial, which means all of a sudden there’s all these clubs popping up, all these tracks coming up and some tracks these days pretty much sound the same. I really try to steer away from that, get back to my roots and stay true to what I’m all about and developing myself as an artist. That’s how it should be, and that’s how to make it last for a long time. But you never know how it’s going to develop. It’s exploding right now; nobody knows where the height line is with that. It can grow for another few years, it can stop—we just go on and have fun, and that’s the main thing.

You’ve had some interesting developments, particularly teaming up with Jay-Z’s label, Roc Nation. Was that a surprise to you as well?

The great thing about [“Nothing Inside”] is it’s not actually a commercial track. I made it as a ‘Sander van Doorn’ track, and there’s a lot of feeling in it. It’s a track that originated from the clubs, but it has potential to be played out on more commercial radio stations as well which makes it less forced, but just a really good track. It’s never going to be a No. 1 U.S. track—that’s not possible. But that doesn’t matter. If it could reach a lot more people by signing it to Roc Nation, it’s great.

We first heard the recently released “Joyenergizer” during Electric Daisy Carnival last June. Did the label delay the track from becoming available to the public?

Some artists, they keep their treasures for themselves. I like to play them out, so when I finish the track, I play it instantly to see the crowd response and adjust the track [if needed]. Before that track, I had “Nothing Inside,” “Kangaroo”—so many other tracks to be released first. It’s a long process.

There are a lot of producers collaborating on film scores and video-game soundtracks, like you did with Halo 4. Are you a gamer?

They approached me for the remix, and I had actually never touched an Xbox or PlayStation before. I knew the game because when I was a student, I never went to school actually. I always ended up at my friend’s place, and he had an Xbox, so I played Halo 1. When I got asked, they sent me an Xbox and 40 games, one of which was Halo 4, and I was loving it. I actually became a new gamer and am hooked right now. It’s such a beautiful game, and the great thing about the remix is I got to hook up with Neil Davidge, the original score’s writer. I’ve noticed that by doing the remix I’ve got so many new fans.

So it helps to reach out to people you probably wouldn’t necessarily encounter.

What’s funny is, I was doing a showcase for Halo 4 where I had to play against all these gamers, so obviously I lost every single time. At one point they said, “Everybody stop playing, we are going to do a group picture with Sander van Doorn,” and all the kids were like, “No! I don’t want to put my controller down!”

Are you working on a follow-up to the From Dusk till Doorn live experience?

Yeah, but it’s so much better! I’m really excited. I’m not going to say too much, but I’ve also produced a lot of new tracks, so perhaps there’s a new [artist] album coming, perhaps not, but it’s going to be a very exciting year.

You’ll bring it to Las Vegas, right?

I will bring it to Vegas, absolutely!