Sidney Samson has emerged from Holland’s DJ proving grounds with a signature blend of hip-hop-inspired, drop-heavy electro-house. Most recently, he’s been collaborating with the likes of Will.I.Am and Far East Movement, officially remixing pop stars from Lady Gaga to Mariah Carey, and headlining stages from Ibiza to Mexico City. Catch the Wynn Resorts resident when he drops into Encore Beach Club on August 16.
You started DJing hip-hop when you were 14, and began transitioning to house around 1999 at the age of 18. What signals told you that it was time to make that move?
A friend of mine was a house/trance DJ at the time, and he said, “Why don’t you just go along one day and see how the parties are where I play?” So I joined him, and I saw the crowd go crazy, jumping and showing respect to the DJ, like, “Great set!” And I said, “Yeah, I love this energy way more!”
How did your hip-hop beginnings affect your style today?
I blend hip-hop stuff with the house music nowadays, but it’s also the way that I am DJing. I never mix a song for two minutes or something. It’s always quick transitions, using a lot of acapellas and mixing up house like I’m playing hip-hop. In hip-hop, you don’t have a two-minute intro and then a one-minute break and then a drop for two minutes. It’s all really quick—you first have to have the hook, and then it goes to the verse and back, and it all goes around in three or 3 minutes. I’m trying to keep that same energy in my house productions.
Has the Wynn been a good place for you to embrace both sides of the spectrum, house and hip-hop?
Yeah! I’d never been to Vegas before I actually played there. [Originally] they told me that it was mostly hip-hop, and now it’s mostly house music. But people still love hip-hop, and of course there is still hip-hop music everywhere in Vegas. What I’m doing now when I’m playing Vegas is the combination of hip-hop, house music and trap music—it’s all like a big mix.
How does trap fit in?
Trap is really a perfect transition to go from hip-hop to house music. You have a hip-hop song, and then the sounds of the trap music is like a house song, so it’s not strange to hear hip-hop, then trap and then house music. It feels natural. One song’s on 48 BPM, one is 38 BPM and, the way I mix it, it still feels like one mix. It’s all a story.
What’s the future of hip-hop in the electronic dance music era?
Hip-hop will always be there, because there are too many people who love it. But I think only the biggest hip-hop artists will really make it. And in house music, even if you are smaller, you can still make a living. I think that’s the difference.
You’ve been put in the “Dirty Dutch” category of sound, but I heard there’s more to the story?
The funny thing is, “Dirty Dutch,” people call that a sound and that’s not the way it is! [Laughing,] OK, I will break it down and tell the real story. Chuckie started a party called Dirty Dutch in Holland; he played a lot of hip-hop music. Then, he was slowly switching it to house music. He decided to make a Dirty Dutch track. Then he connects that song with his party Dirty Dutch, and then everyone called that “the Dirty Dutch sound.” It is Chuckie’s brand and has nothing to do with the rest of what the Dutch people do with our music. Now people hear a high-pitched bleep note and think, “Oh, this is Dirty Dutch.” But for Dutch DJs—Dirty Dutch? Oh yeah, that’s Chuckie’s party and nothing more than that.
Thanks for setting the record straight! So if not the sound, what do you think is the secret to Dutch DJs’ success?
We’ve been listening to house music since we were really young. And it’s getting younger now, because it came from the underground scene to the club scene to the commercial to the Top 40 scenes. My youngest brother is 10, and he listens to Skrillex. It’s what you are listening to when you’re young and then you develop a talent for that kind of music. If you ask us to make a hip-hop sound, it’s way more difficult than making house up. I think it’s the other way around here in the States. And we have a lot of competition in Holland. It’s a small country, but there are thousands of DJs and producers … and we all work together, we see each other every weekend for years, so it’s like a friendly competition. It’s what makes this kind of music better than the rest.
Massive, bass-heavy drops—that’s what you’re personally known for. What is the most important part of producing the drop?
The most important thing is that it has be like a jewel that you can remember. The hook has to be something catchy, and the bass has to be low. That is the key: The bass has to be hard and low, and the hook has to be easy to sing along to and remember. That’s the most simplistic thing, but that’s the hardest part!
You’ve worked with some really serious crossover players, including Kylie Minogue, David Guetta, Martin Solveig, Flo Rida, Will.I.Am and, most recently, Mariah Carey. What’s the secret to a great collaboration?
The secret is that one can do something that the other can’t. Now, when I am in the studio with a producer who is also a great producer, then sometimes nothing comes out because it’s like having two captains on a ship. But when I have a great songwriter, I can’t write and the songwriter can’t make beats. So that’s great collaboration! Or, if there’s one producer who’s really good in melodies and I’m better in beats, you can achieve the impossible together and make it hotter.