Since initially emerging as a trance music star – management requested that we not ask about trance during the interview – Dutch superstar DJ and producer Sander van Doorn (AKA Sander Ketelaars) has gone from success to success. He’s been a regular fixture near the top of both the Beatport charts and DJMag’s Top 100 DJs list (he flirted with the top ten for several years before dropping slightly to #18 on last year’s list), while his track ‘Nothing Inside’, with Detroit vocalist Mayaeni, was signed by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.
He’s done this through a relentless schedule of touring and production – all while running his own label, Doorn Records, and hosting his weekly radio show, Identity. The first difficulty, Ketelaars says, is finding the balance between the road and the studio. “Sometimes it is a bit of a challenge, actually, to get the two things combined, but what we are trying to do is to find a few weekends a year where I can just have a pretty ongoing session,” he says. “Like, last week I had one weekend off just to be locked up in the studio. And besides that, it’s all about producing on small set-ups and the laptops while I’m on the road.”
Ketelaars has just been in the studio working on a collaboration with DVBBS, who were recently confirmed as the producers of Doorn Records’ monster hit ‘Tsunami’. “My release schedule, already, it’s pretty much locked down for the next couple of months, so [the DVVBBS collaboration] won’t be released [until] next year… Besides that, I’m working on a few projects which I can’t tell too much about yet,” he laughs. “There’s a lot actually in the studio right now, which I need to figure out.”
In between all Ketelaars’ singles and collaborations, another solo album may be in the works, following on from 2008’s Supernaturalistic and 2011’s Eleve11. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen next year… that could actually be the case since I’ve been working on so many tracks that it would be possible.”
After splitting his time between the road and the studio, Ketelaars’ studio time is then divided between his production, his label and his radio show – which has just celebrated its 200th show. But lately, he has been dedicating more time to Doorn Records. “I’m doing a lot of A&R for the label, so I’m pretty much working together with the artists to perfect their tracks, give some tips on how to produce certain things. I work together with a brilliant label manager who has pretty much filled the Doorn Records schedule now, I think already until the start of next year, so there’s gonna be a lot of releases, and the great thing is, every single release on there is going to be pretty insane.”
And with his production, radio and record label commitments bedded down for the short term, Ketelaars can get back on the road. He’s had a busy northern summer festival season, during which says he thinks he’s done more festivals than any other year – in fact, he’s flying straight into Australia from a high-profile slot at Atlanta’s TomorrowWorld electronic music festival.
“[I’ll be playing] a lot of new tracks, from myself, from other people signed to Doorn Records, so it’s going to be a lot of new tracks, and an extension of my sound as it is. I like club shows for their being a lot more intimate. I’m a lot closer to the fans, and also I play longer sets so I get to play out a lot more new tracks, and educate people about the new music on my label and generally new sounds – so it’s a better platform, actually, to showcase myself.”
BY JOSHUA HAYES