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25-years of dance music in The Netherlands: Sander Van Doorn

Now in its 25th year, Amsterdam Dance Event continues to draw artists, professionals and fans from across the globe to celebrate the electronic dance music industry. To commemorate 25-years of dance music in the Netherlands and the ongoing relevance of the annual conference, DA turned to some of the nation’s finest musical assets to tell the unique story of Dutch dance music from the mouths of the artists that have kept in such high esteem. Doorn Records ringleader and well-versed Dutch anthem monger Sander Van Doorn is our next national treasure up to bat in continuation of this ADE-inspired series. 

Describe growing up in The Netherlands and when electronic music first became apparent to you – was it easily accessible?

I grew up in Eindhoven and always stayed there, much like the rest of my family. Originally I never wanted to be a DJ as career choice. I started DJing when I was 16 as a hobby, but my real passion was for music production. I started producing more and more and got signed to a label and all of a sudden I started getting all these bookings requested. No one even knew I was a DJ at that point, but I figured it was worth trying it out. I started going to these gigs with my vinyl and I think the fifth gig was at The Gallery at Turnmills over in London. Though I listened a lot to other genres (I was a big fan of Nirvana) Electronic music has always played a big role in my life. As you guys already alluded to, dance music has been popular in The Netherlands for 25 years and counting. We have incredible accessibility here.

How have you seen dance music culture develop within The Netherlands within your own career and has it always been an easy / positive route of progression?

Dance music in the Netherlands really kicked off in the early 90′s with gabber music (A.K.A. Hardcore). The style was developed in reaction to the commercialization of house music and was heavily influenced by early hardcore from New York and Frankfurt. Gabber also spawned happy hardcore, an offshoot of gabber. We also had a lot of Euro dance acts such as 2 Unlimited and Venga Boys and with other dance music styles such as drum & bass, trance and techno. Basically, the music has just never stopped evolving. For me, that works perfectly. I have always been able to customize my own sound and can take it to a new level every time I want to.

What is you fondest memory of experiencing electronic dance music within your national homeland and why?

That must be the time when I first went to a festivals to see other artists play. I remember when I went to Dance Valley one year and said to my friends “Wow! This is where I want to play next year.” Funnily enough, it happened! It’s great that this country has been a crucial foundation for the worldwide dance industry, you see organizations from all over the world looking at our small country to learn from how we organize events, produce music and handle our DJ management. I’m very proud of that.

How have you seen the national authorities respond to the culture for electronic music / clubbing within the Netherlands and has it ever had the same love/hate relationship as we see in North America / certain European countries

It’s very easy-going over here. I remember when our King Willem Alexander was joining Armin for a gig here during Queensday, jumping up and down in the DJ booth – how cool is that!? Of course, safety is very important during massive events such as Mysteryland, but the professionals such as ID&T have always try to educate the clubbers when it comes to safe partying. They have years and years of experience and as a result there’s a lot of support from our authorities than some other European nations I believe.

What do you consider to have been the key differentiator between Dutch club culture and its European peers – was it as obvious as the history books would have us believe or was it more subtle to your mind?

I think we just have had al lot of innovators that helped building this genre. That being said, you have to give it to countries like Germany that have also had a big influence in the industry with their techno and minimal sounds, not to mention artists pivotal artists like Richie Hawtin.

Who do you consider to have been one of the most influential innovators where Dutch dance music is concerned and why?

Ben Liebrand. He was the first one to bring Dance music to Dutch radio. His radio show “In The Mix” was the first non-stop mixed show that aired on Dutch National Radio in 1983 and every year they would release the annual year mix with 100+ tracks called “The Grandmix.” That was a huge part of the puzzle for so many of us.

What has been the most challenging aspect of being an artist within the Dutch market / circuit and why?  

I have never experienced it being difficult or challenging in a bad way. I’m very happy to be part of this Dutch dance movement. Of course there’s a lot of competition, but that also makes it more fun. I’m just very happy to see so much young talent out there.

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