Joris Voorn’s technical dexterity and integrity as a DJ have gone hand-in-hand since he first started moving dancefloors over two decades ago. With several celebrated mix CDs, leading residencies, and a rich history within the house and techno worlds, the Dutch DJ and producer’s journey to being the headliner on the international underground map is built squarely on craftsmanship and respect to the arts.
How did you get into making music?
When I started listening to electronic music I very quickly realised that you can be part of it just by buying records and playing them out, which was quite different to what I was used to when I was playing in bands. I also realised that you can make the music that you play on vinyl yourself. This was about 20 years ago.
What came first, DJing or producing?
Being a DJ. I had the crappiest turntables from the flea market with a turning pitch but they allowed me to learn how to beat match and really learn the art of DJing. I spent hours and hours and hours and hours using the EQs and trying to mimic my favourite Derrick May and Jeff Mills tapes.
What does DJing mean to you?
DJing, for me, is still is the way of expression that I love the most. I also play live quite a lot, but DJing feels more free. It’s an art form.
At what moment did you realise that you excel at producing as well?
It took a while before I realised that what I was doing actually made any sense. The Roland MC-303 Groovebox allowed me to get familiar with making music and how media worked, how filters worked, how synthesisers worked and drum programming. Then I bought my first synthesisers and my first computer and started messing around with samples.
How did you go on from there?
I gave some of the tracks that I made to friends or people with labels, and when they came back with positive feedback from artists that I respect I was kind of surprised. I never thought that what I was doing was anything special. I was trying to mimic and replicate sounds that other people did, but in my own way.
Did something change in you after receiving such positive feedback?
I was very happy to realise that maybe there could be something in it for me. It gave me more inspiration and more motivation to continue doing what I was already doing.
How would you describe your sound?
I have a very wide range of music that I’m interested in. It’s a colourful mix of different musical styles.
So, how do you approach stitching these different styles together? Does this happen rather intuitively?
It’s very intuitive. I always look at who’s playing before me. It’s very important to either move on from what they’ve been playing, if it fits my own idea of the night, or to start with something completely different.
So does the pleasure for you come more from the tracks you play or how the audience reacts to them?
I think it’s both. It’s very important to get a good response from your audience. If you don’t get any response at all, then I think you’re not doing the right thing. I’m also not a DJ that’s so arrogant that he would just play whatever he feels like. It’s really important to feel and read the room, and give everyone an enjoyable time.
What does your DJ setup look like?
At the moment the core of my DJ set is my laptop with TRAKTOR. I have an Allen & Heath MIDI controller. I use a Native Instruments sound card, the Audio 10. I use an iPad as well, with Liine Lemur. The setup is quite simple, but I like it like that.
How did your DJ setup evolve over the years?
When I started DJing it was with vinyl, because there was nothing else. I then played CDJs for a few years, but I always felt that they were kind of in between things. Then I saw guys like Speedy J and Chris Liebing play four tracks at the same time, and focus on creating the music, rather than focusing on beat matching. So when I saw these guys with TRAKTOR, I was like, “That’s exactly what I want to do.”
What is your favourite TRAKTOR feature?
My favourite feature in TRAKTOR, besides the effects, is the beat jump function. It allows me to rearrange tracks on the fly. Very often, I will take two of the same tracks on different decks, and I will kind of mix them together; mix one track in between two channels.
What’s your process to select and find tracks whilst playing?
One of the great things about using TRAKTOR is that you have very easy access to all the music that you’ve been collecting. The way I organise my sets is by using all the favourites, and trying to update my playlists by music genre. I have a different musical genre in every favourite playlist.
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