Joris Voorn in Ibiza Interview

Joris Voorn makes music and lets his life keep pace. The Dutch DJ gives new meaning to the word wanderlust, flying to different cities every week over festival season and playing to crowds of thousands. In June alone, the dance and techno maverick travelled to Manchester, Madrid, Barcelona, Sweden, Belgium, Amsterdam and Ibiza, updating his own Spectrum Radio show along the way too. Joris has seemingly mastered the art of hedonism with a clear head: he’s relax and affable – not sour and sleep deprived, as you would expect of such a die-hard professional who gives every set his absolute all. Joris remains grounded and focused: the 40-year old music producer sometimes takes his young son along to festivals (they wear matching headgear); he pretty much answers every tweet sent his way and he’s a stickler for sound perfection, often asking his fans for feedback as well as insights into new mixing equipment.  For this Joris Voorn interview exclusive Something About caught up with the enigmatic Dutchman in Ibiza just after his In the Dark set at Hï Ibiza where he’ll be playing almost every Thursday until September 21st.

Joris Voorn Interview

JORIS VOORN INTERVIEW WITH SOMETHING ABOUT

Something About:

Easy question to start what’s the best part of your job?

Joris Voorn: 

Seeing the world, even though I don’t always have a chance to actually see where I’m going! 

Yeah, I was going to say that! Because you’re just in hotels?

Yeah sometimes when I come in on an early flight, I can actually go and check out a city. One of the nicest things, is to just go for dinner or lunch with the promoters as well. You get to know them and see what’s happening in their part of the world.

What’s the scene like here in Ibiza? Why do you like playing here specifically? 

What’s good about playing here is that it’s a real holiday atmosphere and still you can have a really devoted audience that is coming for that kind of music not just any random EDM DJ. And the people are really outgoing! They’re here for a week and they’re spending all their money – because this is crazy expensive – and they’re spending all their savings. They wanna make the most of it.

Joris Voorn on Skateboarding and Tony Hawke

So, I saw you’re a big skateboarder?

I used to be back in the day.

But you’re skating again, I saw a picture of you…

I’m trying, but I just turned 40, so it was not as easy [as before]. I’m not as rubbery as I used to be and there’s also the element of fear, which is a very funny thing and something you really get confronted with it. There’s not many times I’m really confronted with fear, or with this emotion that’s very deep inside, but when you’re skate boarding it really comes out. 

So what made you do that?

Actually my friend Cole, who is a DJ as well. He gave me a skate board for my 40th and said “stay young”. 

Well Tony Hawk is still doing it!

Well he never stopped!

True, he never stopped. 

And he was really good when he was 15 already.

And he’s in his 50s now!

He is! I’ve been watching some videos of him recently and he’s been doing some crazy stunts. Even now he’s just experimenting with different kind of half pipes and loops and everything and doing the most crazy stuff that I could never.

Do you still snowboard as well?

No that’s one thing I’ve never got around to do because I’m afraid that I’m gonna break something.

It’s a lot less scary than a skate board.

Do you think so yeah?

Yeah, you land in snow!

I guess, yeah that’s true, that’s a big difference.

Joris Voorn Interview and Musical Background

Your notoriety has grown with age too…

Yeah, well a little bit. I was always into music. I started playing violin when I was a kid;  I played the guitar as well but then I discovered electronic music and I realised that it’s actually quite easy being a DJ. I mean, you don’t have to be in a band to perform electronic music. It’s a very DIY kind of thing, which I really loved, which is why I became a DJ. I just loved music. Even in the beginning of my DJ career, I played everything from Hip Hop to Jungle and Drum and Base – anything I could get my hands on. The only thing I didn’t get really into was proper trends. But for the rest, I tried everything. Then I just narrowed it down to house music and techno.

Is that to establish a brand?

No it wasn’t, it was just a genuine interest in music/ I just loved music and I wasn’t really aspiring to be a DJ necessarily, but I was playing in a venue in the city where I living that had a very broad kind of dance night. I mean it was the middle of the ’90s and everyone was listening to everything, even if you listened to a leftfield album there was drum and base, there was techno, there was house and tribal. Everything was on one album and I think for me that was a very interesting time. I think it’s when all these genres came up like mushrooms, you know. It’s  what shaped me musically, even though soon after I really started playing with vinyl and stuff. I was like ‘okay now I have to narrow it down because it doesn’t really work’ mixing all these styles, it doesn’t really work in a DJ set. 

Do you plan your sets beforehand? Or do you ad-lib?

It’s a little bit of both. Of course nowadays, it’s very important to do some preparation especially because even though I’ve narrowed down my musical taste, it’s still relatively broad if you compare [me] to other DJs. I go from deep house and electronic to techno, tech house and animal techno. So before a gig, especially like tonight, I kind of have to get a little bit in the headspace of what I want to play and remember all the tracks that I have new on my playlists and stuff. So in that sense, there is some preparation, but at the same time it’s more like a guideline than just sticking to it. In the end you just play whatever.

EDM and the Dutch Scene

There seems to be a ‘Dutch dance moment’ right now…

It’s mostly mainstream EDM stuff. There’s always been trends and lately a lot of EDM. I don’t really know…people ask me this sometimes but I’m just not sure what it is. There are a few things maybe”  I think the Dutch government is quite supportive of dance music in the first place, it always has been. We have a lot of festivals and it’s very healthy scene. Not necessarily for EDM or mainstream music or trends, it’s a lot of techno and underground music festivals. But then we don’t have so many big underground DJs like in the UK,  but we do have a lot of EDM guys and for them there is not so many festivals.

But you’ve all exploded, kind of internationally!

I’m a bit of a ugly duckling because I’m pretty much the only Dutch underground DJ I think. Well, there are aa lot of other ones, but none that actually have a residency on the island. 

And you prefer it that way?

Well, I would like there to be more of us, that are at the same level. I think Dutch underground DJs are very purist, which is a funny thing. I try to not think about purism too much because I think it’s very limiting. It’s like tying your own hands then trying to do something. 

So what do you look for in terms of influences and to keep things fresh? 

I’m trying to keep my ears open. You know, it’s very important not to limit yourself to one thing. Also, if you do limit yourself to one thing, it might be a fashion at some point but everything is moving. Generations are changing; people are changing. You have to move with the times – it’s a classic thing. If you don’t do that, you will be out of fashion and people are gonna lose interest. All the new kids, if you are not on point, all the new kids are automatically not going to find you. 

That’s interesting because we have a similar problem as publishers actually.

Oh yeah?

Yeah because media can be very ‘throw away’. Is that the same for you?

Yeah, I think so. Music-wise, things are always changing and it goes in waves of course. I mean the really big waves are maybe 15 or 20 years, whereas in the last few years, the 90s sound has been very big. That was gone for a very long time, and now trance is coming back or inter-underground. I don’t really know where that came from but that was big like 20 years ago, you kind of have to, there’s different ways of doing it. You can either be a trendsetter, do whatever you like or you follow whatever it popular. I like to be somewhere in the middle. Because I still make very different kinds of music. I make very melodic stuff; I make techno; I make ‘housey’ things. I’ve always done that because musically I find that interesting, I get bored if I just have to do the same thing all the time. 

Joris Voorn Interview Ibiza
Joris Voorn at the Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza

Joris Voorn Interview on Ibiza and the Scene

So I was at David Guetta a few weeks ago and no one was dancing! Everyone was filming him on their iPhones. I was really shocked because I thought people came to dance. What do you think about the argument that DJs are more showmen than soundtrack makers these days?  

Joris Voorn : I think it has a lot to do with social media. I mean the reason people are filming  is because they want to share it. Because they are addicted to getting ‘likes’. That seems to be a lot more important than them actually being there, than actually experiencing the events. So it’s kind of messed up the whole experience of a dance party. To some extent, it’s the same in the underground. Thank god it’s less, but also the underground dance music is a lot less about the hands in the air moments and it’s not only about playing the hits but its more a body kind of thing. It’s more about dancing. Although having said that in Ibiza, in the bigger events, sometimes it is really a lot about the fireworks and people. 

It’s a show. 

Yeah, it’s a show. 

And where you’re playing tonight, is it more of a show or a dance arena? 

I think it’s probably a healthy balance. The new Hï Ibiza  club is definitely targeted towards a big  spectacle. I think when I’m playing in the dark, which is the nighttime residence, it’s more focused and geared towards the music and die hard music fans. 

You say you’re an underground DJ, but you still have half a million followers on Facebook. That’s pretty massive…

I know, it’s a relative thing now. I’m probably somewhere on the most commercial side of underground. Then there’s the real underground with the real, super obscure DJs. But yes, once you step in Ibiza, you won’t find the real, obscure DJs here. 

I mean when I first came here, there used to be all these cave parties.

I’m sure they’re still happening but I think that’s a different side of the island. 

Where else do you like playing?

Many places. I mean at the moment, it’s a lot of festivals and big stages.  I mean this is summer and so there can be 50,000 people there. Last weekend I did a few gigs like that. 

You didn’t do Glastonbury? 

No I wasn’t there, I was in Madrid, at the Summer Story which is a huge festival, really big in a desert location. I’s really beautiful. Then Awakenings in Amsterdam which is the best techno festival in the world. So there’s a lot of these big events now, which I love, but I also love when it’s all kind of finished, end of September the club gigs are gonna happen again. I’m gonna play more club like Sub Club in Glasgow for 300 people, things like that. I go back into Fabric [ in London], things like that. I think the year is divided into this: the winter, at least the European winter and the North American winter which is a lot of clubs and then the summer which is a lot of festivals and Ibiza. 

So you sort of have the madness from June to September?

Yeah, which is a nice balance you know. I love doing both of these things, having said that there’s a lot of big events during the winter as well. It’s really good to go back and play different kind of music as well because there’a a lot of music I cannot really play when I’m in Ibiza, because sometimes it’s too deep, you need a different audience. I think the attention span of people in Ibiza is not the same as when you’re in a dark club somewhere in the UK or in Holland sometime in November. It’s a very different kind of dynamic.

Joris Voorn Interview on Life

Does your wife travel with you?

Sometimes, not too often. I mean we have two kids as well. 

You got two kids?

Yeah, so they need attention and…

Are they young?

Yeah, they’re two and five. 

Oh wow, that must be hard work, especially with the late nights?

It is, yeah. I mean, I’m gonna be back on a plane tomorrow at 10 o’clock, so I’m gonna be back just in time to pick the oldest one up from school, which is nice. You kind of get used to it, the fact that you  have late nights. That’s why I have free weekends coming u.  I take one free weekend every month to be with my family and to re-charge. 

So how do you deal with the late nights if you’ve gotta be with the kids, because children don’t really recognise you know?

No, I mean my alarm goes at 7:15 in the morning, because I have to take my son to school. I just try to go to sleep early in the week, it’s good having jetlag every week, not because I’m flying but simply because if I go to bed at 6 in the morning and on Monday morning I have to wake up at 7am again the jetlag helps!  

I mean that’s quite horrific!

Yeah, but you get used to it, trust me. That’s just one of the downsides of the job but there’s too many good sides. 

And as you said you get to travel the world!

Yeah exactly, which is really really important. 

Have you got any big ambitions left on your bucket list?

Well, I don’t think I’ll be doing this forever, and of course I’m sometimes wondering what I’m gonna do afterwards. I used to be an interior designer. I don’t think I can go back to that because I haven’t been practising. It’s a bit like skating, if you don’t do it for 20 years, then you can be a but rusty. I would have to start all the way at the bottom, being an intern again. Although, maybe if I’ve made a name as a DJ people are like ‘oh yes! A DJ making furniture’. 

Is there anyone you’d like to work with?

That’s a good question. I probably would be interested to work with some of my old heroes.  For instance like Karl Hyde from Underworld, people like that. Or maybe Jeff Mills, even though he doesn’t really work with anyone, just by himself. But I think that would be interesting, maybe even some young guys. It’s important to work with those young guys too!