|Joris Voorn's Day Off
It's hard to believe that next weekend, Dutch producer and DJ, Joris Voorn, will play his first ever gig in London. It's no big secret that at times, London can be a bit slow to catch on (check the 3-year latency issue on the uptake of all things German and minimal for evidence!) but one would think London promoters would have been banging on his door in the last 12 months.
Following appearances at some of the biggest festivals this summer including Sonar in Barcelona, Dance Valley in Holland, Wire in Tokyo and Exit in Serbia not to mention producing arguably the biggest and most hammered techno release of 2004, "Incident", with its killer 'hands-in-the-air' (and not just Coxy's!) piano riff, and it's likely Joris Voorn will be back in London sooner rather than later.
Taken from his debut album on Technasia offshoot Sino, "Future History", which was for once an accurate depiction of this young DJ/producer's potential career and not simply PR fodder, the long-player was a highly impressive release that swept through house, tech-house, old skool Detroit and acid techno with even some ambient landscapes in between.
Next month sees the release of Joris Voorn's first mix CD "Fuse presents Joris Voorn" as part of the series from the Belgian club of the same name. In combination with future releases on his new Green label, the compilation should further spread the word about this lad from Rotterdam, who not only has a good ear but also an astute eye for all things design-related.
As equally comfortable behind a DJ mixer as he is at the helm of a 909 drum machine, we caught up with Joris Voorn in his native Rotterdam on one of his rare days off as he prepares to head north for next weekend's Amsterdam Dance Event, where he will play with Dave Clarke and Anthony Rother and participate in Dutch DJ Day.
"There is the Robert Hood and the Daniel Bell type stuff as well as some more German things...I tend to play a bit more minimal... I don't necessarily mean minimal like the Kompakt label - I mean minimal sounds."
It's been a pretty big year for you so far. You played at most of the big festivals over the summer including Sonar, Wire, Exit and Dance Valley. Which one did you enjoy the most?
Wire was the best because it was in Japan and also because it was a big festival and there were all the crazy fans. Tokyo is totally crazy. It's really nice to play there because the people really appreciate what you are doing but they also like to go crazy on the music.
Both times I saw you play over the summer, you performed a live set. However you also DJ. Which do you prefer?
It really depends on the party and who else is playing. Sometimes it's nice to just do a DJ set because I don't have to be so focused the whole time. Also when I play somewhere and I don't think the vibe is perfect, I prefer to do a DJ set because I don't have to be as inspired, say, if the party is good anyway.
I like to do both. After ten DJ sets I like to do a live set and vice versa. If it's my music, I have to put a lot of energy into it because I am working all the time and I think my live sound is more about trying to make climaxes than what I do in DJ sets.
Your first compilation CD "Fuse presents Joris Voorn" coming out soon has both a nod to the minimal Detroit Techno of say Robert Hood and also other stuff which is a lot different to the material on your album "Future History". How is your DJ sound different to what you make?
Yes, there are a lot of tracks on the Fuse CD and it is quite different to what I make. There is the Robert Hood and the Daniel Bell type stuff as well as some more German things. I like to play many things but I tend to play a bit more minimal - when I say minimal I don't necessarily mean minimal like the Kompakt label - I mean minimal sounds. I prefer to make my own story with many records instead of just a record that is a story by itself so in DJ sets I take more time to tell my story.
When you play live you always look pretty busy behind your machines. What exactly are you doing during your live performance?
I am very busy and hardly have time to relax. I have the parts of my tracks but I have to bring them in or take them out. I filter them so basically every single change that you hear is done manually.
The drums and most of the sounds are created with analogue machines. For my live set I like more analogue, warm feelings and sounds. That's why I really like using my 909 drum machine to make the rhythms; not just taking the samples but even taking whole loops from this drum computer so it sounds more like the real thing.
It does take a lot of concentration, for sure. When the audience is interested and having a good time then things come naturally and I feel more relaxed and it's nice. However when the audience is a bit funny or just OK, I start feeling a bit insecure so then I try to get more busy to try to make it better.
Many people are using the Ableton Live software either to perform both live or within their DJ sets. Is that something you'd like to incorporate into your sets?
For my live performance right now, I really love the equipment I'm using so I'm not sure if I would switch to Ableton. I think, for me, Ableton is more a studio tool. For mixing it's really good but when playing live I don't like to have a laptop in front of me. I prefer to be more hands on.
For DJing, I've been thinking about it. With the whole digital revolution now going so fast I guess at some point I definitely will change my way of doing what I do and also with DJing.
Do you DJ entirely with CDs?
No, I still use lots of vinyl. I prefer playing vinyl actually, just because it's a nicer feeling and also because I'm used to it. I think if people had always played CDs now they would get curious and start playing vinyl.
"I just want to try and create my own musical identity and visual identity...The label will be for anything. Like one day I might want to do a DVD. "
I noticed on the sleeve for your recent "A Dedicated Mind" there was a very cute paragraph about the aesthetics of vinyl. Did you write that yourself?
That was a bit of a joke. My friend, the designer, found it somewhere and he thought it was funny but no, it's not my philosophy. People always takes things so seriously so it was nice to put something fun on there.
It's not a big deal, just a humourous thing...and we all know it's bullshit! (laughs)
I mean, it's nice to play records but I don't have a manifesto about it.
So yeah, it seems like a lot of thought has gone into the artwork and graphic design on many of your releases. Do you plan to start incorporating visuals designed by yourself into your live and DJ sets in the future?
Yes, that's something that I might be working on with a friend of mine who is a graphic designer; trying to do some more video stuff and that kind of thing. I just need time because if I do it I want to do it really well.
When you are booked somewhere people don't always have the right facilities so that's a problem. So I would like to do some visuals one day but I really have to do it when I get together with my friend.
We do a lot of the artwork for everything I do so I think that is something for the near future. Maybe even the next album might include some visual content, not necessarily as a DVD but maybe something online.
Last year you released what was probably the biggest techno track of 2004, "Incident". Were you surprised by the enormous success of it? It was pretty huge.
Obviously when you make music you never make it thinking this is going to be big. I never imagined it would be that big. It was quite a surprise. It's always good to see that these things, success, can happen but it wasn't something I expected.
That track was taken from your debut artist album "Future History" on Sino, a label based out of Hong Kong. How did that all come about?
I met Charles [Siegling] from Technasia when he was playing here in Holland. And I gave him a some tracks for his record label and he was playing them all the time and really liked them. So then I gave him some more music on CDs. And then, him and Amil [Khan] from Technasia both really liked the music a lot so they asked me to do a record for their label. Before then I hadn't known any of those people in anyway.
You started your own label Green a few months back. Will you be putting out other people's material or just your own productions?
Yeah, it just started after this summer. It's just going to be for my own material because I think there are already many many labels on this planet.
I just want to try and create my own musical identity and visual identity so my next artist album might be on Green. The label will be for anything. Like one day I might want to do a DVD.
You have several different production names. What's the difference between each of them?
Dark Science is more housey stuff. Third Nation, which I've done one record as, is a bit harder techno, not as melodic as I would maybe do under my own name.
Joris Voorn is everything else. I like to do many things so even under my own name there are going to be records that are going to sound all quite different.
So what other producers are inspiring you at the moment?
I definitely think James Holden is doing something totally new. To be honest I have a hard time finding good records these days, especially for what people used to call techno music. It's close to impossible to find good stuff. I'm almost forced to listen to more house music or minimal techno just because there are some things nice happening there.
There's also a Dutch girl DJ called Shinedoe and she's doing really good stuff. It's kind of minimal, making what I guess, used to be Detroit techno but she's approaching it from a different direction.
" I'm also doing something on the Dutch DJ Day, which is going to be on Saturday, with Steve Rachmad...We are going to take questions from people..."
So you're going to play at the Amsterdam Dance Event soon. However you're hometown is actually Rotterdam, right? How do the two cities compare? The ADE is using the expression 'Amsterdam - Capital of Dance' in its marketing.
Yeah, it's just marketing as you could also say Holland is the capital of Dance but that is also bullshit. Maybe that is typical of Amsterdam because Amsterdam always thinks in that kind of way. We just do what we do in Rotterdam and we don't have to say, "It's like this or that".
Is there a friendly rivalry between the scenes in the two cities?
There is no big rivalry but it's true there is a different kind of scene, like the sound, but I think it's very hard to put your finger on it. There are only a few people, for instance, doing techno music in Rotterdam. I think there are a few more people in Amsterdam but still, there aren't enough in Rotterdam to say it's famous for that.
I'd always thought [the scene in ] Rotterdam would be really good but recently I don't care about it so much anymore. I think Amsterdam can be really nice too. I don't have a special preference. Holland is a very nice country anyway.
When you were trying to get a start as a DJ or learning how to produce, did you ever attend the ADE?
I've never been there to be honest as it's more for business people. The real ADE is more for business people, record people, clubs, promoters. It's not really for DJs although the DJ Day is something new, more for the young people.
You're playing at the "Dave Clarke presents..." night Club 11 on the Thursday at the ADE. Will you be playing any other smaller gigs or be participating in the day program?
Yes. I'm also doing something on the Dutch DJ Day, which is going to be on Saturday with Steve Rachmad. I don't know exactly what it's going to be but it's going to be something like a small seminar in the daytime. We are going to take questions from people; people who want to know something about the way we do things or the way we think about things.
Get along to Dutch DJ Day as part of the Amsterdam Dance Event on October 27th, 28th and 29th if you have a question for Joris Voorn.
Published / Friday, 21 October 2005