South Beach can be a dangerous place. Everyone is too sexy. The rich VIPs run the clubs. And even though electronic dance music is currently the biggest thing in pop culture, famous DJs still get kicked off the decks.
Obviously, though, clubbing in Miami isn't as hazardous as grappling with giant reptiles in the Everglades. Especially if you make a living with your hands, like EDM superstar and veteran disc jockey Sander van Doorn.
But he's a real cool dude. And nothing fazes him. Not even the EDM explosion, bottle-service clubs, or wrestling gators.
New Times: Electronic music has exploded. Now you guys are playing American cities like Boise, Idaho, which would've seemed ridiculous just five years ago. And like many other DJs, you've hooked up with a major concert promoter, Roc Nation. Are bigger tours, bigger venues, and bigger crowds good for the scene?
Sander van Doorn: Oh, yeah. And the U.S. is a very big place. So if you compare it to a country like Holland, you can see how much denser the American scene can get. For the next five to ten years in the U.S., there's definitely a lot of room for growth. In Holland, you will have four big summer festivals in one weekend, and they'll be no more than a half-hour from one another. The American scene still hasn't gotten that crazy. [laughs]
Talking festivals, it's been only a few weeks since Ultra. Usually, people wanna take a nice, long break from Miami after that madness. But you're already coming back. Do you really love our city that much?
Absolutely. [laughs] I've been coming to Miami for eight years. But I have to say, the last year, between Winter Music Conference and Miami Music Week, I've played a lot of shows in Miami and built up a pretty big fan base. So I always love coming back. For me, it's a big treat.
That's nice to hear, because Miami has always gotten a bad rap as a place that disrespects DJs and caters too eagerly to the bottle-service crowd. After he got kicked off the decks at one of our megaclubs, DJ Shadow has even snubbed us with his tour at "venues that value music over bottle-service." In your experience, is Miami actually all about confetti music and $1,000 champagne in the VIP?
You know, I have to disagree that the scene is entirely focused on bottle service. But when I've played Miami or South Beach, there's a big difference between playing a Wednesday or a Saturday. Obviously, you get more of a fan night during the week. So outside of Winter Music Conference and Miami Music Week, I really like to do most of my shows in the middle of the week, and sometimes Thursday or Friday. You get a different crowd. But even when you're playing Saturday in a more commercial club, you still have your fans there. And if it's a tough crowd and it's a challenge to get people partying, then you've got to compromise, play a bit more big room or whatever. As long as I can do my own thing in the end, I'm cool.
Well, this week's gig is scheduled for Friday night. How's it gonna go over?
It's exciting, because I'm playing Story. It'll be my first time. And I've heard a lot of really good stories. [laughs] Uh, I don't actually mean it like that. [laughs] But anyway, after my main-stage set at Ultra Music Festival, I decided to go to Story just to check it out. And I was pretty blown away with the whole setting and the sound and the vibe. It's got me really excited about this week.
So, as a seasoned visitor to our city, got any mandatory Miami stops or required SoBe rituals?
Actually, it's sad. [laughs] I've been coming to Miami for seven or eight years, and I've only just discovered a few favorite restaurants. It's always so intense and quick — in and out — for shows that I've never figured out what Miami is all about besides the whole party scene.
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We do party. But this time, you should take a field trip.
Well, I've never been to the Everglades.
Right on. Everyone needs to learn how to wrestle a gator.
Yeah. [laughs] That actually sounds like a plan.