San Holo (a pseudonym of Dutch musician/producer Sander van Dijck) has never been one to conform to any musical status quo. He was already an odd one out while studying guitar & music production at Codarts music academy in Rotterdam. While his fellow classmates settled for the traditional band approach, San Holo broke out by diving head first into electronic production. His remixes, for instance Dr. Dre’s The Next Episode, were instant hits and eventually paved the way for his career as a DJ/producer, scoring international hits such as Light, We Rise and I Still See Your Face that catapulted the future bass sound towards the mainstream. However successful, it is not in San Holo’s DNA to linger. “Everyone is doing it now, there is no point in repeating myself. The traditional EDM world could use some shaking up anyway. I hope I will be able to do that with album1.”
album1 is an album in which both San Holo the formal guitar-trained artist and San Holo the electronic producer meet, and the result is a dazzling piece of work where innovative beats and high production level are combined with the ghosts of bands like Explosions In The Sky and Sigur Ros. Filled with depth and musical richness, the album maintains an unmistakable and very DIY sound, which came about from the homey surroundings in which it was created:
“A very large part of album1 came about in an AirBnB in Echo Park, California. In a way, the album is an ode to that place where the songs came to life in a very organic way. We were creating music all day long, friends dropped in and played along, there truly was a very inspiring lo-fi atmosphere. What you hear on the album was mostly recorded in one take. In a world where you can get perfect sound with one push on a button, we wanted compile the songs from recordings that never sounded the same twice. The music industry these days seems increasingly about a quick hit. Dropping track after track, maintaining momentum. In this world the craft that is the making of an album is slowly disappearing along with the art of sitting down and listening to an album. I hope that I can inspire listeners with album1 and keep them fascinated throughout the entire play time.”
It’s that “one take” nature of the album creation process, in which the music seems to be a natural projection of the artist, which can be heard in every track, particularly in a track such as ‘show me’. The song leans heavily on San Holo’s guitar playing, and he explains that “my instrument is an extension of myself. Playing is like breathing, I do not think about it, it just happens. I wanted the recording process to be very intuitive. The songs had to come straight from the heart, not from the head. I have been searching for a hybrid form somewhere between an analogue and a completely electronic sound.” Searching for the ultimate form, San Holo wrote and recorded a large number of new songs, musically going in all directions. Picking the right songs from this vast collection was all about the right feeling. “With a track like ‘worthy’, for example, I immediately felt a special bond. It is a very important and personal track. At the other end of the musical spectrum you will find ‘lift me from the ground’, a poppy dance track with vocals by Sofie Winterson. Musically you could argue that it is in line with hits like Light and We Rise. This time, however, a guitar layer has been added. That makes it fresh and new. A good example of the musical transition that I am making.”
As part of the transition, San Holo is completely unraveling the musical limitations that the EDM world has imposed on itself. San Holo draws from a wide variety of musical styles and merges them into a sound that is completely original and unique. always on my mind feat. James Vincent McMorrow & Yvette Young combines addictive beats with a folky lo-fi sound, while the spellbinding album opener brighter days feat. Bipolar Sunshine flirts psychedelics. A track as surface feat. Caspian is a musical roller coaster which gives the listeners a merciless knockout when an emotionally searing wall of sound rolls out of the speakers. A sound you’d otherwise only hear on an indie rock album.
“I always want to keep moving forward, not dwell on past successes. That is not always easy, but it is a necessity. In the current musical landscape the craft of the artist deserves more attention. The crowd does not know better anymore than a DJ plugging in a stick and the music rolls out of the speakers while he’s waving his hands in the air. I hope I will be able to change that image by playing live on stage and by working together with artists that come from all sorts of musical backgrounds. In music history it has always been the artists that dared to do something different that have become the icons and their albums have altered the course of popular music. Now I’m certainly saying that album1 is a turning point in music history. But it has been created with the ambition to stretch the limits of electronic music and change the way in which the EDM community listens to music. If I can succeed only a little bit, this album is a success for me.”