Having been on the scene for almost two decades now, Dutch producer and DJ Joris Voorn has built up quite the formidable reputation for his works within the studio and behind the decks. Fast forward to 2015 and Joris is regarded one of the most forward thinking DJs on the circuit, consistently pushing the boundaries of mixing at every given opportunity. Before he dons Circus with his second appearence in 7 days this Saturday, we caught up with the Dutch visionary to talk about recording, vintage drum machines and the Amsterdam club scene.
Hi Joris how are you doing?
I’m good thanks, just been meeting up with a few friends earlier today.
Have you been busy lately? Any new releases on your green label that we can expect?
I’m currently working on a few new tracks that will be released on either Green or Rejected soon. I think one track that is going to come out soon is the remix I did for Sebastian Mullaert which should come out around December 4th on Green which is quite a big and really melodic remix which I have been enjoying playing out.
How was The Warehouse Project - Circus the other night?
It was fantastic, one of the best if not the best one that I have played at. I was playing b2b with Kolsch which was great as I think we challenge each other musically, we play in a different way and play slightly different music so it must have been interesting for the crowd to listen to.
You were the man behind the fabric 83 mix released earlier this year, how did you find this experience?
I really enjoyed working on the mix, it’s my 3rd mix CD, the first one I actually did was 10 years ago. When I did my first mix I didn’t want to mix it live and just come up with a mix in an hour and a half, I wanted to use Ableton and create a mix that I would never be able to do live. This was so I could use little breaks and loops from numerous tracks to create a whole new sound spectrum, in a sense using the tracks as building blocks rather than playing one after another. This time round I approached it in the same way except I wanted to go a little bit deeper in the editing side of things and create a few hidden things that you may not hear the first time round listening to it so I’m hoping every time you listen to it you hear something new.
Which do you find harder, mixing the records together or picking out the records in the first place that will feature in the mix?
I think picking the records is a bit of a hidden myth situation, I basically had my Traktor playlist open next to my Ableton file and I was just trying to see what fit. It’s a bit of a random selection rather than planning out what tracks are going to go where.
Can you tell us a bit about how you started DJing? What were your first turntables like?
It was about 19 years ago, and back then I didn’t have that much money as I was a student and didn’t have much money to spend on expensive turn tables or technics so I just got some really cheap turntables but they did the job. However back in the day id much rather spend the money on vinyl, it was after I started playing in clubs at 19, that was when learnt how to DJ with high quality equipment which was a challenge as I was better playing on my own crappy ones which I spent pretty much 5 hours a day playing on at home.
With the introduction of technology how was your technique and style changed over time?
It has changed quite a bit, after playing vinyl for over 10 years, then I moved on to CDs and then later on I saw some people using Tracktor and I though that was a really cool way of DJing as you could play so many tracks at once. For me, the technical side of things has really improved the way of being able to create an interesting mix on the dance floor which I prefer to playing one track after the other. I would say my technique is now somewhere between a classic DJ set up and what I did with the Fabric mix.
Through using Ableton you can mix together up to 5 tracks at a time as well as editing them whilst playing in a club and recording mixes, would you describe yourself as a progressive DJ?
I guess so, I think it’s amazing if you can still do amazing sets with 2 turntables and that is never going to change, however personally I am much more interested in expanding the possibilities on stage. I feel as though I am just going with times and using technology to move forward
Are there any other DJs you think are pushing the art of DJ’ing forward in the same way you are at the moment?
Yeah, when I just started I saw guys like Speedy J playing like this as well as Chris Leibling, Richie Hawtin and Dubfire. There aren’t so many really, a lot of DJs like to stay in control of the CD player or are scared they will be losing something playing using the new technology and generally they might not think it is that cool.
Do you ever enjoy simplifying and spinning some vinyl?
No, it’s not even an option for me. I don’t even buy vinyl anymore, I stopped buying vinyl in 2008 so if I was asked to play an all vinyl set I don’t think I would have the vinyl for it.
A lot production equipment these days emulates the kind of sounds that old drum machines used to make, do you try and strike a balance between conjuring new age sounds and emulating classic sounds you can create on old drum machines that were so pivotal to early Detroit techno?
When I first started making music I bought some synths so I grew up with the hardware side of things. I also have a studio full of hardware but it doesn’t get used so much anymore. I used it for a long time but I was happy to see technology evolve so much that you didn’t need that kind of equipment anymore. I love that these days there are so many emulations of the good old hardware as these sounds are like the DNA of electronic music. I got into a phase where I was using the 909 drum machine so much that I stopped but now I feel that it is has been long enough so I have been enjoying using it again. Sometimes you might get a bit tired of doing the same thing so you want to use something that just feels a bit more familiar which is great as everyone knows them so well and they represent something in electronic music that is very important to me, so in that sense I love to use classic hardware still.
Staying with the theme of techno, where does the brand of techno that you play fit in alongside the likes of techno that originated in Detroit to style of techno that DJs such as Ben Klock and Nina Kraviz showcase when they play in clubs and festivals?
When I started out I was really interested in Detroit techno and I used to buy the records however I never used to play them in clubs that much. When I started making music I wanted to make it for the sake of actually making the music, the emotional side of things, so that’s how I’ve always tried to profile myself. Also when I first started, the gap between the music I was making and the tracks I was playing as a DJ was quite big, however it is much smaller now. Id like to think that I have my own sound that takes inspiration from anything. I stepped away from making Detroit techno style tracks a few years ago however I’ve been itching to go back to that sound.
Coming from Amsterdam, you will be quite familiar that the city has a good reputation as a party city. How does playing in clubs and at events in the UK compare?
At the moment clubs are not going through their best phase in Holland, there are a lot of alternative venues that are taking over the parties. People are a lot more interested in going into warehouses and big spaces that are there for a very short time which is taking things a step away from the clubs. Since Trouw closed there has been a bit of a vacuum in club land, however all of the alternative spaces are amazing, the scene itself is richer than ever.
Can you tell us a little about what Trouw meant to you?
Well when I started playing there, it was a struggling club back in 2008/9. I knew the guys who ran it because they did Club 11 in Amsterdam which closed down and then they started Trouw. They weren’t very successful in the beginning so the legacy they created was only in the last 2-3 years. I became a resident with my label around 2009 and I have been playing since a couple of times every year. The last few years were the only all night DJ sets I was playing from open till close for about 8-9 hours and they were legendary nights, musically they really pushed me and I was able to express myself in a way that is not always possible in other places, mainly because the audience in the club was really open for musical diversity and hearing new things, it wasn’t only about playing the banging tracks.
There was talk of the owners opening a new project in the city on an old school site. Do you know much about that?
I know it is going to be called The School and that it will be opened a year after Trouw closed, I think they are still trying to figure out what they are going to be doing with it. It is going to be a much smaller site and smaller club that it's very much outside out the city centre, approximately a half an hour bike ride which is quite far in Amsterdam. I think at this point nobody really knows how it is going to turn out, it’s probably too early to say something about it.
Would you like to play there when it opens?
Yeah, it is going to be about half the size of Trouw so it will be a really intense and intimate atmosphere in there and I’d love to be a part of it.
Has Trouw’s closure had a negative effect on the clubbing scene in Amsterdam or are there many other club that think have been filling the void since its closure?
There are a few club that are filling the void in a sense such as Closure. There are all kinds of things that are coming up and new initiatives, maybe ask me again in a year and the clubbing landscape will look quite different. The last year and a half things have been changing and shifting, its been a restless time, but I think it’s only temporary. The club nights that are just starting up now will have a better profile in a years time.
Finally, you will be back over in the UK this weekend playing at Circus once more only this time it will be 25 miles further down the road in Liverpool. What is it about Yousef’s night that keeps drawing you back to play
Well he keeps on asking me which is amazing firstly! He puts on amazing shows and is a lovely guy and has a really great taste in music. The scene is the UK is fantastic, the last couple of years have been great and Liverpool and Manchester are two top cities to play in.
Thanks for chatting to us Joris, have a good one in Liverpool!
Interview by Elliot Ryder
Photos courtesy of Joris Voorn & Trouw