Sander Van Doorn Opens Up About New Project At Spring Awakening
Spring Awakening Music Festival is the largest electronic music festival in the Midwest. With a lineup that blew everyone out of the water, the festival had great weather, great vibes, and tons of bass. This year’s lineup included Alesso, Datsik, Die Antwoord, Armin van Buuren, Zhu, GRiZ, and more. One of our favorite sets of the weekend and our top set from Friday was Dutch producer Sander Van Doorn. We caught up with this legend at the festival to talk about his newest project Purple Haze, whose first album drops at the end of September.
Sensible Reason: After your long travels, are you excited to play tonight?
Sander Van Doorn: Yes, very excited.
SR: Have you ever played Spring Awakening in the past?
SVD: Yes, I believe it was around 3 or 4 years ago.
SR: For us in the Midwest, SAMF is the largest electronic music festival in the area. How does the lineup compare to other festivals you’re heading to this summer?
SVD: It’s a really awesome lineup, it’s very diverse. A lot of great guys are up on the stage and really spread out over the weekend. I think it’s going to be an awesome weekend for the people coming here.
SR: In your opinion, where do you see the electronic music scene in the next 5 years? Has the bubble finally popped?
SVD: I think definitely the EDM bubble popped, and people are searching for their own identity going to festivals. Artists have to go more towards quality and really defining themselves, especially these last couple years. I’ve been working on a new project Purple Haze. It’s nice because I can do something completely different and, for me, really going back to the roots and the music I really wanted to produce in the studio, and also play house on stage without really looking too much at what everyone else is playing.
SR: What does House Music mean to you?
SVD: It’s pretty much my life, you know? I’ve been doing this for 20 years pretty much and it’s still going strong. I would love to do this another 10 to 15 years, so I eat, breathe, sleep house music.
SR: Tell me more about Purple Haze. Where did the name come from? Are you a Jimmi Hendrix fan or is it the marijuana you are referring to?
SVD: I released my first track under Purple Haze around 10 years ago. I made this track that was really moody and melodic. I went to a coffee shop over in Amsterdam and obviously had the Purple Haze and thought, ‘Wow that’s a really cool name, it really fits the feeling that I made with this track,’ and of course, the feeling I was having from the Purple Haze…for me, it really fit. I knew that Jimmi Hendrix was involved in the naming of that as well. It kind of went its own way and it snowballed and last year I tried to really revive it. I was producing in the studio and producing tracks that were very into the Purple Haze feel so I decided to create the new alter ego. I started producing more and right now I already have enough tracks for an album release. Purple Haze will have a debut album out end of September. I’m doing a lot of shows coming up, EDC next week, TomorrowLand , a lot of shows.
SR: It’s been 10 years since you started Purple Haze, why wait until now to create the new persona?
SVD: When I created Purple Haze 10 years ago I already had altered egos like Sam Sharp and every one was a different style of producing and a different genre. So, I choose different names so people wouldn’t get confused. But in the end it was all me, so I focused more on the Sander Van Doorn sound but that’s been progressive and even house-y. But besides all that I really wanted to go back to the roots of creating more melodic music and having that feeling on stage, so I separated the names again.
SR: You keep talking about going back to your roots, when did you start making music?
SVD: I started playing music when I was very young. My brother bought a record player and I used to always listen to his music. I learned very quickly, I bought a keyboard synthesizer and explored more. I started DJing at 16 and programmed songs, building whole tracks and one thing led to the other.
SR: What were your favorite artists growing up?
SVD: I definitely grew up listening to pop, jam, and techno, Depeche Mode, A-Ha. Later on, Underworld, mostly UK-based electronic bands. More recently Radiohead and Sigur Rós, things like that.
SR: Do these groups still influence you?
SVD: Of course, a lot of the sounds these groups use I tend to use when creating sounds for Purple Haze. They have a really moody way of producing a track. It’s driven but more the black keys on the keyboard vs white keys.
SR: What are the biggest cultural differences in the parties in Holland vs the United States?
SVD: There are so many DJs in Holland and always so much going on. In the summer it gets really crazy, too, 5 or 6 festivals every weekend. So, I think people in Holland are more critical because they’ve already heard it all. It’s tougher to get it going over there.
SR: See, I was thinking the opposite, that your location in Holland helps to spark a DJ’s career.
SVD: Absolutely. Because they’re so critical if you learn to play in Holland you can play anywhere. It’s also a small country so you can easily link up with other people for a collaboration and link up in the studio. The best tracks usually originate with
SR: Any favorite collaborations you’ve done?
SVD: Personally, I prefer to work on my own. But when it comes to collaborations, Oliver Heldens is my favorite. He’s a brilliant producer, he knows what he wants in the studio and we connect really well when it comes to music. So producing a song with him is like half a day and it’s already a great track.
SR: Last question: What is the strangest trinket or piece of jewelry that you cherish?
SVD: I have this small [bracelet] here that my wife gave to me. It is still something that I carry with me all the time.
SR: What does it say?
SVD: One side says ‘I love you’, the other side is the coordinates in Amsterdam where we first met.
SR: Wow, that’s amazing. Thank you so much for sharing!
Sander Va Doorn’s set on Friday was phenomenal. The Dancing Astronaut stage was alive with his complex production and pure ability to please the crowd. From house to trance and back again, it became impossible to stop dancing or leave the stage.
Don’t forget to check out Purple Haze’s debut release at the end of September.