Joris Voorn was always destined to work in music. Raised in Rotterdam his interest in electronic music grew quickly and he began DJing in 1997. After the success of Incident, from his 3rd EP Lost Memories part 2, he released his debut album – Future History. Collaborations with the likes of Robert Babicz, Slam, Jerome Sydenham and Nic Fanciulli have cemented his place within the industry.
April 2nd sees Joris Voorn, Seth Troxler and Carl Cox headline SIDEXSIDE at the Tobacco Dock in London. Ahead of his performance, fellow Dutchman Jaap Ligthart caught up with Joris to discuss what makes a great B2B set, end of night anthems, studio techniques and what else is in store at SIDEXSIDE in April.
Hi Joris, thanks for finding the time to chat with us at Decoded Magazine. How has your day been so far?
My days been good, I woke up pretty early today because of the kids, and Im still a little tired from my gigs this weekend. I did two gigs and they were at 6 or 7 in the morning and thats kinda tough, but its like this every week now, so I’m slowly getting used to it!
Tell us a little about your history. What inspired you to become a DJ in the first place?
Oh man, thats going back a really long time! I started DJing about 20 years ago, and it was just a lot of music then that really inspired me. I quickly realised that with electronic music, there was the ability to be really creative with it. Thats kinda how I started, by buying records and playing in a small club in the city I was studying in.
We recently published a feature about end of the night anthems, and Incident was included. What would you consider to be the biggest end of night anthem?
Wow, thanks man. Funny you should ask, because I was playing in Belgium two nights ago, in La Rocca, and I ended my set with David Bowie – Lets Dance. I was talking with a journalist later, and he told he about Bowie dying. So that was something crazy… in fact, I’ve been working on an edit which I’ve played out a few times and it works so well, because its really different from what I’ll have been playing all night. Its a really special record for me. A timeless classic.
With licensing laws and closing times so strict these days, are you able to play that “one last tune” anymore?
Some places are more strict than others so usually in countries like the UK, US or Holland sometimes, I will end the show a little early so I am able to play one more. I’ve been doing this for 20 years now, so I have a few tricks up my sleeve!
Over the years, techno has been transformed from the fast, loopy and linear industrial style of the early 00s, to a much more funk driven and slower sound today. You’ve been front and centre as that transformation took place with tracks like Together (with the Fanciulli’s) and albums like From a Deep Place really setting you apart. How do you see techno developing this year?
Oh thats difficult one, because even in the last few years its changed. I think the purist, minimal techno has been popular lately with DJs like Ben Klock, and Dettmann. Thats a sound I don’t play very often, but then that’s a very classic early 90s sound that has been redeveloped, and I think it will continue to get a stronger following this year.
I’m not sure that techno is that ‘funky’ anymore, its becoming more stripped back, dark and driving. Also you see a lot of DJs who played House before starting to play more Techno in their sets and rebrand themselves as a Techno DJ; you see that occasionally when a certain sound is doing well and people have to rethink their musical strategy, and I think a lot of DJs have been drawn to Techno because of its open format. Like anything can be Techno, its really hard to narrow it down to one genre, so I think its going to be a good year for Techno all round.
Can you talk us through your studio set up? Are you using any hardware still, or has it all been downsized into the DAW?
Mostly its software now. I used to use a lot of hardware when I started making music 15 years ago, because thats all there was. There were programs like Cubase where you could make your music in the computer which I did as well, but the sound source was always coming from an external synthesiser. I think technology has come so far over the years that now the software sounds so close to the original hardware, that I’ve become used to using virtual plug ins.
Your tracks have a unique feel to them. Can you tell us how you achieve that level of polish?
One of the things that has been very very important to me: I always wanted to create music that sounds good in the studio, the club and in the car, and thats a really hard combination. Finding that balance is a real challenge, so I can get lost in a track EQing a drum or a melody line so its just right.
Your recent CDs have been a revelation to us. Such detail and class. Could you talk us through the process for selecting the tracks you used, how you broke them down in Ableton and how you then mixed them for the final cut.
Oh man I could speak for hours about that; so much work involved! For my Nobody Knows album, I had a collection of tracks that I couldn’t play out in my DJ sets but I loved. It was a different musical direction, so I selected the best ones and tried to make into a cohesive mix.
Its very diverse and for me, it was challenging to do. It took ages to select the tracks because I wanted it to be really good. I did most of it in Ableton, but I also like, at the very final stage, to export everything to Cubase to make a completely new mix of it without the baggage I have been creating in Ableton, so its like having a clean slate.
April 2nd sees you back on UK shores for SIDEXSIDE in London. Can you tell us about the plans for your room – the Little Gallery?
I can’t tell you the line up yet, thats secret, but the concept is that the host for the room has to play two back to back sets, so I’ve selected DJs that will challenge me personally, and also that when you play together you create something that doesn’t sound like something I would create by myself.
What for you makes a good back to back set? Is it the DJ you choose or the music that determines the direction the set takes?
I think nowadays there are so many DJs that its harder to find the ones that really stand out and have their own sound, so I choose to play with friends and people I know really well, people I feel comfortable with on stage. And because I’ve played with them, I know that they will challenge me musically and I will challenge them. We can be very different in what we play and how we play it, but with mutual respect you can create a very special atmosphere on the dance floor.
If you could choose anyone in the world, who would be your ultimate B2B pairing and why?
I would love to play with Derrick May, he is such an amazing DJ. However, I think nowadays, we play such different music it would be difficult, but I would love to see how it would sound. And Jeff Mills would be amazing too, but I think it would be a challenge for both of us. He plays so differently now compared to 20 years ago and differently from me as well, I think we could still make something amazing.
Tell us about your label Rejected, which you set up with Edwin in 2006. What was the vision for the label, and what do you have planned for 2016?
The vision was very simple, we didn’t really have one. I have another label – Green Records (which I released Nobody Knows album on), but I felt that label was aimed more at my deeper more warm sound. But when I started making some more tracks I felt I needed a different outlet for the more dance floor stuff that I didn’t want to release on Green. So with Edwin we started Rejected which was pure dance floor stuff, not necessarily for deep or musically different, but works really really well.
We just released a new Joran van Pol EP with a track I’ve been playing for about a year – Exist, and its on my Fabric CD. Its a bit different from stuff we have been releasing on rejected, but its his 2nd single for us so he’s becoming part of the family which is really great.
Thats also one of the things we’ve been trying to do you know, we release warm house-y stuff next to the minimal techno things, and I think if there is something we believe in with the label, its musical diversity. These days theres so many sub genres and new names for music that sounds like it was invented 25 years ago, its really good to forget about that and just release good music.
Well its been wonderful to chat Joris. We wish you the best for 2016 and beyond. We’ll see you at the front on April 2nd!
Perfect! See you then.