Cowlin Presents: Joris Voorn
Ahead of Christmas we managed to catch up with Dutch Producer and DJ Joris Voorn. Voorn has crafted a House style of his own that has seen him booked across the world, at festivals big and small and of course in the spiritual home of House music, Ibiza. From his potential career in interior design Voorn has managed to carve out a pretty successful DJ career and even has a couple of music labels (Rejected & Green).One of his most famous tracks is Ringo, a melodic techno number that features on his album ‘Nobody Knows’, released on one of his own labels, Green.
Soon to be playing at the clubbing Mecca that is Fabric, Voorn let us know a bit more about his musical inspiration, how he maintains that work/life balance and tells us that despite what others might tell you, he is NOT from Rotterdam!
‘Nobody Knows’ is your third studio album. Has your sound changed slightly over the years to now?
For this album my sound has changed a lot compared to the previous two albums, but a sound is never definitive for me as a producer.
Where my first album was quite Detroit techno oriented, my second was a bit more housey but at the same time had influences from minimal techno, ambient and broken beats. ‘Nobody Knows’ again has a different musical approach and a few of the tracks were based on sketches I made with my guitar and bass guitar a while ago. Using these instruments you instantly make different chord structures and melodies than when you’re using a keyboard or synthesizer. So that’s why there’s more song structures and actual songs on this album. Besides that, it’s also not very dance-floor friendly, some tracks don’t even have any drums.
Have you had to take time out of your busy schedule to complete this album, or has it been a long running project?
It’s been a long running project, but I didn’t take any time off touring and just worked in the studio during the week. Next time I might consider blocking off some time and just get it done in a few weeks and move on to the next thing instead of shifting deadline after deadline.
You’ve named your album ‘Nobody Knows’. What is the hidden message behind this?
Working on this album almost felt like a secret thing. I haven’t played most of the music in any my sets, and as I worked on it simultaneously with some very dance floor-oriented club tracks, it felt like I was only showing one side of my work as an artist while there was this whole other world that nobody knew about. Nobody Knows is an expression of this feeling, and I’m happy I can finally show this other side of me.
Your finished album has 12 tracks. Surely there are plenty more hidden unreleased tracks under your name. What was the process when picking these 12 tracks?
As you said there’s indeed an endless supply of unreleased tracks hiding in my studio computer. When I started selecting the tracks I liked most to combine them for the album I ran into a crazy incoherent mess. Yes it was very colourful and musically quite interesting, but combining it seemed to be a real challenge. This is when I started reworking the spontaneous sketches I had made over the years. I had really pushed my musical boundries in the safety of not having to think about an album. Reworking these tracks sometimes made me lose track of what they originally were about. It’s like working on something for so long that you lose plot, especially when you realise the first version was so much better and the rest was just a waste of time.
I’m planning to release a few snippets of all the different stages of the tracks sometime after the album’s out, so people can hear the evolution.
Festival season now over, where has been the most memorable festival this year to perform at?
Wow, I really have to think about it… Sometimes it’s all a blur. But let me say Awakenings festival in Amsterdam. The crowd is incredibly diverse and international. It’s a techno only festival for 35,000 people, so everyone is at the right place for the music they love. The crowd is amazing really!
What does your music production set up consist of?
I have a studio full of hardware synths, drum computers, mixers, effect units, mics, guitars and stuff, but most of it is done in the box these days. Music production software is extremely high quality these days, and even if you’re into a raw analog sound that can be done digitally. I still love my studio gear though, even if it’s just for inspiration.
I mainly use Ableton Live and a bunch of plugins. Universal Audio emulates all classic compressors and EQ’s which is higely responsible for my warm sound.
Along your musical journey, who’s been your biggest influence to this date now?
DJ wise I’d say that’s Derrick May. He was mixing disco and house with techno and ambient in the 90’s. He would go from a Surgeon techno track into Donna Summer and then Masters At Work. That was pretty unreal and opened my mind to combine any style of quality underground dance music in my own sets. Production wise this musical approach is something I’ve been using in the studio as well. I’ve made house and techno next to ambient and broken beats.
And speaking of ambient, I’m actually listening to Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works. 90’s IDM (intelligent dance music, crazy term, I know) has been a huge influence on my musical state of mind. You might not hear it in everything I do, but for this album I’ve shown it a bit more. Some of my favourite producers from that time were Biosphere, Autechre, Black Dog, Sabres of Paradise, you name it.
Any artist you’d like to work with whom you haven’t yet been able to?
I find that a really difficult question to answer. I haven’t worked with so many as I work alone usually. Making music with anybody talented is great though. For this album that was with Kid A who did some amazing vocals, and with Matthew Dear who really surprised me with his vocal contribution on Homeland. Both inspired me to rework the tracks I sent them and make them work much better with the vocals.
They say ‘don’t meet your idols’… maybe I’ll stick to that wisdom when it comes to making music.
‘Joris Voorn – Spank The Maid’. I’ve always wondered where the name came from for this track – how did it come about?
The track was release in the Dusty House series, so all track titles had to do with cleaning the house. In this case I tried a variation on ‘Spank’ which is the track I sampled in Spank The Maid.
Do you get much opportunity to live a normal lifestyle and have a night away from the partying?
I have a family, so yes I do. It’s extremely important to make sure both work together, even though it’s a challenge. Having a family also means I don’t have time for any hobbies and I’m gone at the weekends and busy with family during the week. Although I’m a real film fanatic, so that’s kind of a hobby.
Your track ‘Ringo’ back in 2013 was one of the biggest tracks on Beatport. Firstly how does it make you feel to have your track recognised as one of the biggest house tracks of 2013?
Was it? It’s great to see that hard work in the studio pays off, that people love the music I make. In the end that’s the reason I’m doing what I do.
Secondly, what made you release it on your album although it had been already released in 2013?
I don’t think there’s any rules about what should be on an album or not. It was always meant as an album track, and I was quite a bit on the way with the album when Ringo was released, it just got delayed quite a bit.
You’re a huge inspiration to masses of up and coming DJs/Producers. Any tips you could share with these to maybe, one day help them be as successful as you are?
Be different! Try to be somewhat original. I know how difficult that is in times where it seems like everything’s been done already, but don’t be afraid to stand out! Standing out means you’ll more likely be recognised than when you’re trying to blend in and do what everyone else is doing.
Quick Fire Questions
Pioneer or Allen & Heath mixer when performing?
I’m a big fan of the Pioneer DJM200 because of the amazing filters!
A&H sounds great, but the 4 band EQ is simply too much for me.
Playing in Germany or playing in Ibiza?
I play so much more in Ibiza than in Germany. German gigs can be great though!
Your first performance as a Dj, where was this?
Let’s say it was the Dj competition in 1996 in a venue called Atak, Enschede. I won even though I played CD’s and didn’t beat-match a single thing.
Serato or Traktor?
Traktor. I never used vinyl or CD’s to control my laptop, so that was an easy choice.
Your town of birth?
Tilburg. Not Rotterdam as everybody seems to think.
Favorite sport to watch?
I never watch sports…