Dutch producer San Holo has been making big waves since emerging into the music scene.
Over the past two years particularly, the 25 year old has travelled the world, built up an impressive following and even had the balls to touch the classics.
We spoke with San Holo ahead of his headline show at The Met, Brisbane – alongside Party Favor – about musical influence, running a creative label, how to tackle remixing a classic (of course) and what the 2016 holds for him.
Stoney Roads: Are you stoked to be touring through Australia and New Zealand again? What have your shows been like the second time round thus far?
San Holo: The shows have been awesome. It’s crazy to hear people sing along to your songs on the other side of the planet, it’s still something that blows my mind every time. I just love the Australian crowd, they’re always so up for having a good time.
SR: You’ve been doing a lot of touring of late. Do you enjoy being on the road and hopping around the globe?
SH: It is something I’ve had to really get used to. I’ve spent many years working 24/7 in my little dark studio so flying all over the world and playing my music on stage has definitely been pretty intense. I’m learning so much from all of this though. Not only about the music, but also about life and myself.
SR: What would be your one MUST have/bring item when touring the globe?
SH: Headphones for sure. I work on music everywhere; airplanes, hotel rooms, parks, cars etc so they’re something I really can’t live without. I also think it’s inspiring to be in different places while you work on your music.
SR: As the nightlife scene is pretty big in the Netherlands; how do you compare Australian’s with the Dutch when it comes to partying at your shows?
SH: I’m not a big fan of Dutch nightlife. There is no distinctive scene, it’s all very commercial. Most people go out to drink and have a good time with friends, not to actually SEE a producer or DJ perform. It’s not comparable to Australia. I can play whatever I want here and people are open to it!
SR: Have you heard much about Sydney’s current lockout laws of 1:30am? If so, what are you thoughts on it?
SH: I’ve heard a lot of people talking about it! To be honest, I have never been a real party animal. First time I went to the club was when I had to go play my music there, so I can’t really say a lot about it. It would be sad if the lockout laws affect the music scene in Sydney. I’m not really a night person, so I like it when a show is on quite early. But again, I’m not the right person to talk about this, I don’t know enough about it to have a good opinion!
SR: We’ve recently had some uproar in Australia over drug use at music festivals with the music festivals being blamed. What do you think about large scale festivals and the recreational drug use that goes on at them?
SH: I think making some drugs legal will make it easier to control the whole thing. I don’t think you’re going to stop people from taking drugs by making everything illegal; ultimately it’s a choice you should make for yourself. But I haven’t thought about this long enough to have a very clear and fixed opinion about it. All I know is that drug use is everywhere, and so blaming festivals is the wrong way of going about things.
SR: Your music doesn’t really drop under a specific genre, yet I read that you don’t particularly like categorising your music. Why is that? Do you think that placing an artist in a category or a genre can place boundaries around them?
SH: Yes for sure. I think in sound, not in genre. I can make any so-called ‘genre’ I want, as long as it has the San Holo sound. I don’t want to be restricted to any bpm or other rules that come when producing a specific genre of music. I’m just making music in my musical universe I guess.
SR: You’re currently signed with bitbird creative label. How long have you been with them and what are they like as a label?
SH: Just to be clear I am not signed to any label. bitbird is actually my own label that I started with a good friend Thorwald, who also does all my artwork and videos. We‘re a label which is all about supporting innovative artists. We create the ideas and concepts behind our releases , and so do way more then just upload a song to Soundcloud. Overall I think bitbird is all about being very open minded about the art and the possibilities. We just released a very cool futuristic Gabber track by Jan Level.
SR: Do you think some labels can become too controlling on an artist’s creativity? Has this ever been an issue you’ve faced before? If not with a label, with anything?
SH: Yes for sure. I think it’s alright for labels to give feedback about the bigger picture, especially if the label is coordinated by other artists/producers. However many label heads are not actually artists, so the adjustments they would want the producer to make will never have the same vision or perspective as the actual producer, which is very dangerous for the whole artistic process. It takes years for artists to develop a certain vision, you can’t expect a business-minded label head to understand this entirely. The music business is not about music.
SR: I’ve jumped into your Don’t Touch the Classics remixes and am really digging them. Particularly that Blur remix as a Blur fan! How was the initial response from your fans and your friends? How did you tackle this project when you started? Are you stoked with the result?
SH: Of course when you remix such classics you will have people saying “you can’t touch those classics man”. That’s why I wanted to do it, just because I could. I’m super happy to see how these remixes blew up. I tried to turn all these tracks into something completely different, while keeping the nostalgic vibe. I’m very happy with how they turned out. It’s been crazy seeing The Next Episode remix hitting 65+ million plays.
SR: With your own production, where do you find most of your influence comes from?
SH: Life. It sounds so cliché but the weirdness of life gets me evey time. It’s inspiring. Besides that I listen to all sorts of music. There’s something in all types of music that I can appreciate, and my favorite song of all time is a composition by Maurice Ravel.
SR: How do tackle a song, do you tend to make a track pretty quickly or is it a slower process?
SH: Mostly when I have a good idea I want to work it out as fast as possible. So I just work on it non stop for a couple of days, and finish it. However some songs require different inspiration to finish them, so it happens quite a lot that I just put a song on hold for a while and pick it up when I feel like I’m in the right mood to finish it.
SR: Who are some Aussie producers you really vibe with? Any chance of some studio time while you’re in town?
SH: I love UV boi. Would really like to work on something with him. Didn’t get a chance to hit the studio, but who knows, maybe in the future!
SR: 2015 was a pretty exciting year for yourself, do you have a lot on your plate for 2016? What is coming up for you when the tour finishes up? Besides sleep!
SH: So many exciting releases are coming up! That’s my favorite thing to do; making and releasing music! Prepare for lots of new material very soon! Also 2016 is going to be all about our label bitbird!
If you catch San Holo while he is in town, he will be at The Met, Brisbane tonight. Don’t miss out.