Amsterdam, techno and raving with SQL

Hailing from the Netherlands, SQL aka Pim Van Horssen is causing quite a stir in the electronic music scene. At 26 he has already achieved more than most in such a short space of time.

With an ever expanding list of productions and remixes and events that have seen him play in locations from Brazil to New Dehli and many more, Pim’s stock is set to rise even further. Cementing his reputation further Pim has had tracks and remixes released on Form Music, Get Physical, Sounds Of Earth and Gem Records. His release distorted reality was backed by heavyweights including Richie Hawtin and Marco Carola, which led to a number 1 Beatport position.

We caught up with Pim ahead of what looks set to be a busy period for the man from Amsterdam.

Hi Pim, first and foremost thank you for taking time out to chat to us. What have you been up to recently?

Hi. Thanks for having me, the pleasure is all mine. I’ve been back at the studio lately. I have just finished 3 remixes and I’m working on a dozen originals (that I can’t seem to finish).

You’re from Amsterdam, a city renowned for its club culture and vibrant nightlife. What was it like growing up in such a vibrant city?

I come from a small city just 20 minutes outside of Amsterdam so I didn’t really grow up here but any spare time I had I would spend in Amsterdam. In the very beginning the nightlife was all about illegal raves, squat parties and small private parties.

I wasn’t really fond of going clubbing when I was younger, but the good thing about growing up here was the feeling of liberty. The off the grid events were definitely a big part of that! It was a great way for me to get into the music and meet a lot of interesting people. That really inspired me to start making my own music.

Are there any particular areas of Amsterdam that you would recommend to our readers who may be planning a visit in the future?

In terms of music and culture I would definitely recommend going to the more remote and alternative spots like Roest and NDSM. Plus the soon to be reopened Canvas!

What are your passions outside of music?

Definitely gastronomy! I love cooking and going to restaurants, drinking good wines etc. I’ve also started running 3 times a week which I really enjoy, and it helps to keep the balance.

How did you get into DJing and music production?

I think it was my sister that dragged me along to my first rave. It was an illegal outdoor party somewhere in the outskirts of Amsterdam. Actually it wasn’t the music in particular but the whole experience that captivated me that day, the combination of it all, the people, the music. It was all very new to me at that time. After that day I got into the music more and more and very quickly I decided that I wanted to make it myself.

You burst onto the scene in 2009 with the track “Distorted Reality” which proved to be a favourite with the likes of Richie Hawtin & Marco Carola. It also gained a Beatport number one chart position. How did it feel get support from the likes of the aforementioned DJ elite?

It was both a blessing and a curse! At that time my career got a great boost, but it also put a lot of pressure on me to go in a certain direction. However the videos of them playing my tunes and the crowd going wild really gave me a much needed boost of confidence.

You got your break in the industry via your own productions; do you think it’s possible to break into the scene as a DJ without a production background?

These days it’s much harder, but certainly possible. It just takes an entirely different approach and it takes much longer. You need to reach the crowd through your gigs, and your gigs alone. As a producer it’s much easier to reach a worldwide audience.

Is there any advice you can give to aspiring DJs and producers?

Don’t settle for something that is mediocre. There is too much “OK” music out there already so you need to sit at it until you find something special and of great quality. Also be prepared to spend the rest of your life perfecting your production, don’t give up!

What is your opinion on the scene at present and what are your thoughts on the influence of social media on both artists and events?

I never really thought of myself as someone that’s really into the scene, as I don’t know much about it. I just enjoy the music and I enjoy making it. If anything I think social media has made it easier to get in touch with fans and spread the music.

As a successful producer, what is your view on illegal file sharing and downloading of artist’s material via Peer-2-Peer sites? Do you believe it’s merely part of the process of success or do you feel we need stricter methods to protect artist’s work?

I think it’s a great thing! I don’t really expect to make money from selling my music so the more people get their hands on it the better in my opinion. Music should be free, the only reason I release it on labels is because promoters and music lovers follow them. If I have enough followers myself I would probably give away everything for free, like for instance Radiohead did.

If there was one thing you could change in the music scene what would it be and why?

The problem with labels today is that they do need to make money from sales to survive, unlike artists who live from gigs. Therefore I feel they are always trying to look for the music that will sell the most records, and they forget to listen to music that’s slightly out of their genre.

What is your current studio set up?

I’m currently producing logic X with some outboard gear like a Virus TI and a Roland SH-09. I have a big wish list of hardware I want to acquire but I haven’t really got the funds yet to purchase what I’m after. Lately I’ve been toying with the idea to go fully analog, to stimulate the creative process. I feel that working in the box gives you too many choices, which is really uninspiring at times.

Is there any particular piece of kit that you simply could not live without?

At the moment, obviously still my trusty computer.

How do you approach the process of making a new music, and does it differ when working on remixes?

I don’t really have one particular approach. I try to switch up the way I work from time to time to make sure I don’t get stuck. Like for instance a track I did recently, where I recorded a bunch of instruments that formed to basis for the track. In the end I didn’t end up using all of the material, but it was enough to get me started and most important get excited.

If you had the opportunity to work with any artist in the studio, who would it be and why?

Maybe somebody like Pete Rock or J Dilla. I would love to see them jam away on an MPC.

You have been fortunate to play events all over the world from Australia to Mexico. What has been your favourite gig so far and why?

There have been many, but one of the greatest must have been playing at the Eclipse festival in Australia. The whole experience was very unique, a once in a lifetime experience. They gave me the time slot right before the eclipse, so right after my set we climbed up the hill to watch a full solar eclipse. It doesn’t get any more special than that!

What are your plans for the remainder of 2014/15?

I’ve got some cool festivals coming up. My highlight of the season is definitely Fusion! After the summer I will start going to uni to study Composition and Music production, so that will probably take up most of my time for the rest of the year.

What tracks are really working the dance floor for you at the moment?

At the moment I’m smashing KAAP’s new release at every gig. Especially “Suction” is working really well (featured in the exclusive mix). It’s coming out soon on Chameleon with a remix from yours truly.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. Is there anything else you would like to add?

No problem! I’ve got some cool new stuff so I would like to invite everyone to check it out on Soundcloud (link can be found below).

Track list

01 Mount Kimbie – Made to Stray (Dj Koze Remix)
02 HVOB – Lion (Stimming remix)
03 Dilo – 21th Century (Matthias Meyer & Patlac Remix)
04 Simon Vuarambon – Soulmates
05 Kaap – Suction
06 Okain & Cuartero – Chameleon (Hot since 82 remix)
07 Bambook – Humble Hearts
08 Genetikal Twins & Dubwell – Still Dark (lifter remix)
09 Falko Brocksieper – Ocean Machine (Petar Dundov remix)
10 Robert Babicz – Duba
11 Ian Pooley – Chord Memory
12 Kassey Voorn – Search and Destroy (SQL Remix)

About the Author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about many genres of music from Breakbeat and Drum & Bass to Techno and Electronica. A man that lives in a world of bass and beats, Ian is an obsessive collector of music and a true geek at heart, with many years spent in application design.