Less than an hour before his set, Holland-bred producer/DJ San Holo opened up to me about past, present and plans for the future. He touched on how the New Sky Tour was going, why he created the “Don’t Touch The Classics” remix package, told us a bit about his background as a musician and reminded us about Bitbird and what it has to offer new artists. Read on below to find out more….
Daily Beat: Tell me how you like Miami. I know you’re not originally from here so what do you like about it?
San Holo: The fact is that I’ve only been here for like four hours now, first time, weather’s great, very humid though. Where I’m from its either cold or warm, not wet and warm. But yeah I love the palm trees and stuff.
Daily Beat: So this is obviously your first Ultra, how does it feel to play at such a big festival?
San Holo: This is really a big step up for me because I am so certified here. For some reason festivals like Ultra and Coachella, you play there and it means you’re on to something. And that is also what I really feel like the fans are excited and get to some places which is awesome. So it definitely feels like an honor to play here.
Daily Beat: What’s something that you could tell me you do to prepare for your sets that nobody would really know about?
San Holo: Well mostly like half an hour before my sets I get into this zone. I think ten minutes before my set I’m not nervous at all anymore because I kind of prepare to get into the vibe. I like to get an hour before the set and to try and relax, breathe normally. Ten minutes before I go on I just go to see the crowd and see how they are and then I just play. The biggest preparation for my set is having a good sleep the night before.
Daily Beat: Does that really happen all that often?
San Holo: No, I did not sleep last night. I played a gig in New York till’ like 3. So we had to go straight to the airport. It’s pretty heavy on me. I love sleeping.
San Holo: No no, I wasn’t even that much into Soundcloud, someone just said “yo you need you upload some stuff to Soundcloud”. So I did the “Miss Jackson” remix first, that got like 1,000 plays in a couple of weeks and I was very happy like wow. Then I did the Dr.Dre thing and things started to, the plays just kept on coming. Normally when I uploaded a song before I did San Holo, I would upload an experimental track under a different name and it just got like a thousand plays and then it just stopped. But these tracks kept on going, not only a thousand or ten thousand but to a million plays.
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Daily Beat: And you got a lot of support on it right? Like a lot of people shared? Who are the few bigger names?
Daily Beat: What was the inspiration behind the whole remix package?
San Holo: I just wanted to do some remixes that; there aren’t a lot of good remixes of “Miss Jackson”. There aren’t a lot of good remixes of Dr. Dre’s “Next Episode” so I picked those classic songs where all of my friends said “don’t touch the classics” and that’s what I named it because nobody really touches them. I think the reason it worked was because I didn’t like try to add something to the song, I just made something completely different out of it. That was my idea in the first place, to use the vocals and the main melody and then create a like 2014 at the time, to make a 2014 kind of beat on it. I guess that sound kind of connected with people.
Daily Beat: I think more people need to have the confidence to do that because most don’t even want to try.
San Holo: Yeah lots of the same stuff, no disrespect to anyone but yeah. There’s a lot of similarities in EDM specifically in huge acts. Sometimes I cannot even hear the sound of a producer because it all sounds the same. But only love, I’m not going to hate.
Daily Beat: So you mentioned in an interview with I think Your EDM that you started out in bands, you were a guitarist correct? How does being familiar with a guitar translate over to how you produce?
San Holo: I just thought about that. I think actually being able to play an instrument has a different kind of expression to it then behind your laptop. On the guitar you have to bend the strings sometimes like if you’re going to wah wah wow, you know? Got to throw some dynamics into your play and I think that kind of a very emotional thing to play the guitar there are so many things like strumming and timing and t think that might be something that’s in my music that I don’t hear in other music because it’s mainly computer.
Daily Beat: So you take the melodies from that and you kind of translate them over to get the sounds you want? And I’m not techy or anything, I’m just trying to understand and it sounds really cool.
San Holo: Yeah, I’ve heard producers that don’t know anything about instruments create amazing things. So it’s not one way, it’s just that for me this works.
Daily Beat: You’ve talked about musical freedom and that’s what you like in a label. And that’s why you’re not specifically signed to any one label, but what can bitbird offer signees that other labels cannot? What would you say specifically?
San Holo: Not to bash other labels but I think we are very, of course we are always going to be curating music, of course we will always say this has quality, this is not there yet. In terms of artwork and the vision of the artist, you are very open minded to create whatever you have in mind. So if we have an artists that says “I love your guys’ artwork but I want to do artwork with another guy, it would be cool”. Other than that we really try and really want to create something that goes beyond EDM. We really want to open people’s mind. We’re both from like a band background, you know? We used to sing in bands, I used to play guitar in bands. We really grew up in organic music not electronic at all and I think that’s what we’re trying to get in the EDM world, open people’s mind. Also like classical music and stuff that’s not for say about the drop but more about the vibe. Like to me a classical music piece can hit just as hard as a heavy dubstep track, probably from a different view, different angle but can still hit you really hard. We want to introduce people to those vibes.
Daily Beat: I think it was Mija who mentioned you in one of her interviews saying that you’re definitely one of the artists to watch, how does that make you feel?
San Holo: I’ve tried to meet her a couple of times and I would just hit her up again on twitter and we keep on missing each other. In L.A, we’re gonna go to the studio together. She has been supporting my music, that’s awesome. I’ve seen videos of her playing my music, she’s quite a big name with OWSLA.
Daily Beat: So you’ve talked about how certain sounds are naturally made in certain parts of the world and why it’s weird to have different sounds invading those areas. I’ve spoken to Stooki Sound and Flux Pavilion before and they would say that it’s really weird for trap to be made in the U.K or in Holland, how does that work for you because most of the people where you’re from don’t play/produce trap?
San Holo: The only thing I’ve noticed playing here is people still love really heavy stuff. You could go so far as in, I don’t know if it’s true but, I would not know if people would mind if I played a one hour dubstep set. People would be fine with me playing the heaviest shit ever.
Daily Beat: There are acts like W&W who switched from more trance to more electro.
San Holo: But see, I don’t want to do that. I want to keep spacing out. I want to keep floating. So I think America might be a little bit behind. I love America and I love playing here but I think the spacy stuff is starting to get bigger and I’m already starting to make that stuff new. Sometimes a lot of people don’t understand yet really.
Daily Beat: What can we expect from you next?
San Holo: Original tracks on my own label, BitBird. I’m really excited about that.
Daily Beat: What’s your favorite drink?
San Holo: Water.
Daily Beat: Do you drink at all?
San Holo: Yeah I sometimes drink, but I’m not very picky. I like sweet drinks.
Daily Beat: Favorite sport?
San Holo: I wish I had a favorite sport. That’s my main focus this year, more exercise.
Daily Beat: Do you like watching any sports?
San Holo: I love soccer and international world cup stuff, but I would never watch football on my own. I just listen to music.
Daily Beat: Other than your BitBird brand, favorite brand?
San Holo: DONDA, Kanye West collective and Australian, they have these weird spacy jackets. I really love those. It’s big in Holland, the gabbers used to wear it a lot.
Daily Beat: Favorite food?
San Holo: Thai food.
Daily Beat: Favorite artist right now?
San Holo: I don’t have a favorite artists because I love so many songs. Ranging from Classical music to bands to Electronic music.
To stay up-to-date on all things San Holo visit his website HERE. Check out the remaining days of his New Sky Tour below to catch him in your city.