Long considered one of the biggest names in techno, Joris Voorn continues to keep listeners hooked with his signature blend of dark and groovy house. The Dutch DJ and producer sat down with Joonbug before a show at Miami’s celebrated club Space to share his thoughts on the underground, NYC, and touring.
Even though house started in America, it evolved much faster in Europe than it did here in the States at the beginning of the movement. Who do you think is responsible for the EDM we’re listening to today?
Joris: All the music that I’ve been doing has been influenced by all the stuff that’s been made here in the US…in Chicago, in New York, Detroit as well…it became really big in Europe but I think all the credit goes to the US.
Techno is very strong in Europe and still pretty underground in America. Do you think we just haven’t caught on to it?
Joris: I think so that’s for sure. For some reason dance music, especially the more underground side of dance music, never got so big in the US which is really strange because if you go to countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain…anywhere basically, there’s a really strong real techno community and a lot of people going to these parties. A lot of techno…if you were to play it in clubs here in America, it wouldn’t get the same feedback as maybe in Europe.
You used to put out a lot of work under different aliases. What was the reason behind that and why did you stop?
Joris: I did, not anymore. I used to do that in the beginning…in the ‘90s it was very common to have 10 or 20 different aliases. Nowadays, music is more of a promotional tool than back in the day. Nowadays, if you release under 10 different names, people get confused they don’t know what’s going; they don’t know which artist to book.
Does this have anything to do with preserving an image as an artist?
Joris: Sure. You want to be known for one kind of sound. To go back to the question of why I released under a few different names…it was also because I was doing techno at that time, and I had some deep house records that I wanted to release and I thought that it was going to be a bit awkward and too all over the place to release them all under one name, so that’s definitely true.
What is your favorite genre to experiment with?
Joris: I love techno. I haven’t really been making too much real techno over the last few years but that’s also because I’ve been DJ’ing so much that when I get into the studio I don’t always have time to really experiment. I wish I had more. I have been experimenting a lot lately with different kinds of sounds, like more down-tempo listening music…I’m making a new album that’s going to be more in that direction. But my stuff has always been very tech house-y.
Is it very hard to find pure techno today?
Joris: The problem with techno nowadays is that it's very stripped down, it's kind of hard and monotonous. Back in the day there was a lot more color to it. So I think it’s difficult to find music that appeals to bigger crowds and that is still techno.
You recently played in NYC. How was that?
Joris: Amazing. I played an outdoor gig in Brooklyn with Nic Fanciulli and Loco Dice, it was really amazing. It's such a big city, but I think for techno it’s a really small underground scene…I know there’s a bigger house scene, and I mean house, like proper house music—that’s been really big…you know, like Armand van Helden, these guys…but for techno its always been very, very small. I don’t know, it’s very strange.
With so much emphasis placed on promotion and marketing, do you think real musical talent has taken the passenger’s seat?
Joris: There’s a very big difference between the commercial side of dance music and the more underground side. I think maybe there’s a bit more creativity going on in the underground, where people are looking for new sounds and trying out new things that nobody’s heard before.
You’ve been touring very heavily over the last couple of months. How do you unwind when it starts to feel like it’s too much?
Joris: I try to just sit down at home and not do anything. For the last six weeks, I’ve been non-stop traveling. Right now, it’s a bit too much…but I’ll be home soon, and then next week start Ibiza, and then Sonar in Barcelona, and then after that I’m going to take it a bit easy.
Where would you like to see yourself in the near future?
Joris: I would like for there to be a moment where I can just sit back a little bit more and relax but still be able to make a living out of music, which is not going to be easy if you stop performing. Unfortunately, without DJ’ing and being onstage it's hard to make music because no one buys your productions.
What’s your ideal gig?
Joris: Every gig is different. My ideal gig is that I can play a very wide range of music. In that sense I feel I’m a bit like Sven Vath, who can start with deep house or very tech-y house and end in techno. I think I play differently than him, but I like to be able to share with people different sounds as well. I don’t see the point of being very near the home-line, playing just one sound. There should be a build-up, that’s what its all about.