It’s incredibly refreshing – and readily apparent – when you’re talking with an artist that’s in the game for one reason: the music. Enter San Holo. Above all else the Netherlands DJ/producer is passionately committed to challenging dance music’s norms, pushing the envelope, innovating genres and everything in-between. And from the looks of it, the 25-year-old is doing pretty well.
From touring around the world to his label’s latest Gouldian Finch compilation, Sander van Dijck has, in a short amount of time, amassed international acclaim garnering unanimous respect from fans and artists alike. With high-profile collaborations and a new album in the works, the sky is truly the limit for this high-flying bitbird. We had the chance to sit down with the man himself to talk the label, live sets, future projects and more. Stream our exclusive mix below and step inside the colorful world of San Holo. – Max Chung
San Holo – Can’t Forget You (ft. The Nicholas)
Point Point – DoubleOreo (San Holo Remix)
Tchami – After Life (San Holo Remix)
SOPHIE – MSMSMSM
Blur – Song 2 (San Holo Remix)
Easyfun – Laplander
San Holo – Welcome
San Holo – Fly
Point Point – All This
BeauDamian – Good Morning Onii Chan
San Holo – BWU
San Holo – Victory
Beaudamian – No Know
Jan Level – I Believe
Outkast – Ms. Jackson (San Holo Remix)
Dr. Dré – The Next Episode ft. Snoop Dogg (San Holo Remix)
Eminem – Lose Yourself (San Holo Remix)
Kanye West – Flashing Lights (TWRK remix)
Nömak – Clint
Nelly – Ride Wit Me (San Holo Remix 2)
Duskus – The First Route
DROELOE – Make My Day
Sjaaf – Fellow World
San Holo – We Rise
Drake – Hotline Bling (Ookay VIP Remix)
San Holo – Still Looking
San Holo – Still Looking (Analogue Dear Remix)
RTT: Talk to us about your label, bitbird. How did it come together and what was the inspiration behind it?
San Holo: I’ve had a lot of friends who’ve had difficulty getting their tracks accepted by labels, purely because their music was too “weird” or different. But I just love that kind of open-minded music so much; I wanted people to hear it. That’s how we started bitbird. To change the game, change people’s minds about what music is supposed to be.
What are your plans moving forward with the label?
I want bitbird to be the most honest and fair label there is. We’re all about doing what’s best for the artist. We don’t want to claim them, we just want to support them. The music always comes first. Artists that we sign can release with other labels if that’s good for their career. We don’t care if they release with Monstercat or OWSLA – we support them in doing that. I hope one day we’ll be a huge label that promotes music that’s different and progressive.
Tell me a little about your process behind getting live sets together and deciding what type of music to play.
This is a very difficult subject because sometimes I make music not, per se to make people dance but to make people cry, to make people feel something. But the fact is, most people come to festivals and events to turn up and forget about all of their problems. That’s why I decided to combine my set with emotional stuff and also heavy bangers. You know, play the game to change the game. That’s how I look at it.
*Note: Catch San Holo headlining Exchange LA this Friday: Tickets
How would you describe the San Holo sound with using the names of any genres?
The San Holo sound is very melodic with a hint of nostalgia. Aside from that though, I want my music to provoke a feeling that you can’t describe in words. That’s the most beautiful thing about music.
What’s the ideal listening environment you want your music listened in?
The last couple months I’ve been thinking about that. Where do I want people to listen to my music? Right now I’m making music that can be listened to on headphones, on the bus, in the club, wherever you want to go. So it’s really just anywhere I think. But I’m working on an album right now that’s going to be all about pure emotion and provoking a feeling. Like when you’re laying in bed listening to music at night, that’s what I’m going for.
Over the years, what’s it been like seeing yourself transform into this big, influential force in dance music?
I honestly don’t see myself like that at all!
But you are though! You’re definitely where I want be right now.
Am I? It’s very confronting for me to hear that. You’re looking at me like, “I want to be at that level,” but the thing is I’m here and I’m thinking I want to be at the next level. It’s a very good question. I know Avicii once said: “The funny thing about dreams is – what happens when they become reality?” What happens when your dreams become true? Are you gonna just sit there and do nothing? No. You’re gonna have new dreams so it never ends, it’s never ending. Like you, CRWNS, you feel like you wanna be where I am but once you are you’re gonna want the next thing.
With that being said what’s your best piece of advice for upcoming producers?
For the first couple of years you start producing you want to sound like someone else. You want to sound like Skrillex, Datsik, What So Not, whatever. At some point though, you realize you don’t want to sound like anyone… you just want to sound like you. That might sound weird in the beginning. If you create something that hasn’t been heard before it’s gonna sound weird to you, you know? But you’ve gotta be like “Oh this is different, very different from what everyone else is making. But I’m gonna do it anyways.” That’s the key I think. And then also combining that with knowing the right people, knowing the right blogs to support you, getting the right agent. All of that is important as well.
Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
Creating a sound. Creating a movement. That’s why we started bitbird, to start this melodic movement. I love playing live and seeing people dance, but what I love most is trying to do something different and innovative for the scene. I hope people really understand that’s what we’re trying to do with the label. That’s really what I love most about all this, changing the game. Future bass right now is already history and we’re trying to push it forward. That’s not gonna be easy because at first people are gonna think ‘what the fuck is this shit?’ But then they’re gonna realize it. And I wanna be that guy that pushes it all the time.
Any last words for San Holo / RTT fans?
I wanna thank Run the Trap for always supporting my shit because you guys have been supporting me since the beginning. Honestly.
It’s our pleasure dude, we’re just trying to support good music!
And I love you guys for that because a lot of blogs aren’t doing that – they just wanna write click bait. Run the Trap is doing something that supports different and new music and I appreciate that.
What about San Holo fans?
I love you guys, I appreciate you guys, and I hope you guys understand what we’re trying to do even though we’re changing constantly. Sometimes people say don’t change but I say please change. You need to change, life is about changing.