If you’re familiar with the dancefloor, there’s no doubt you’ve heard his name before. After more than two decades of a career, creating both beautiful melodies and stomping beats, and testing them in clubs and festivals all around the world, it’s easy to say he’s earned a spot in electronic music’s all-time Hall of Fame. That’s why we are pleased to welcome the Dutch maestro, Joris Voorn, who chatted with us about the past, present, and future of his music just before jumping on stage to take control of the decks amidst the natural setting of Delirium Festival in Girona, Spain.
First things first, Joris. Let’s kick off this interview with a very, very important question: how are you?
I’m good! Look at the sun; it’s beautiful out here in the countryside, close to Girona… Super nice.
Another summer is coming to an end. After all these years of almost non-stop touring, how do you mentally prepare yourself for the busiest season of the year and avoid burning out in the infamous “DJ tour life”?
I try not to think about it too much, so I try not to prepare too much because there’s nothing you can do, really. I think the only preparation you can do is to make sure that there are not too many shows so it’s still fun to play. I also have my family at home, you know. I can’t be on the road for too long and do 30 shows a month, for instance.
A lot of things have changed since the first time I came to Ibiza. Parties are much bigger, it’s a bit more VIP sometimes… But the vibe is really good. People are really interested in music, which is the one thing that remained the same.– Joris Voorn for Xceed (2023)
We are now minutes away from your DJ set at Delirium Music Festival and you will head directly to Ibiza after unplugging your laptop from the CDJs. How do you feel about Ibiza’s evolution over the years?
I think this season has been really good in Ibiza. I played so many shows in almost every single club; I’ve been pretty much everywhere. All really good shows, great audience. Of course, a lot of things have happened and changed since the first time I came to Ibiza, which was like maybe 15 years ago. Parties are much bigger, it’s a bit more VIP sometimes… But the vibe is really good. People are really interested in music, which is the one thing that remained the same. Everything got more professional: there are more LEDs, there are bigger clubs, better sound systems… So everything’s got an upgrade, but the one thing that really remains is the love for music.
Production-wise, your 2023 has been all about remixes so far. When you sit in front of your computer to put your twist on a track, what’s your modus operandi? What are the differences in your creative process between remixing a track and composing an original one from scratch?
It’s difficult with remixing because sometimes it’s very easy to make a remix. I might have a sketch within, let’s say, half an hour or one hour, and then I make little arrangements, and it can happen really fast. With making a track by yourself, you need more time to write a melody, put in the drums, the bassline, and all the different elements in the track. So sometimes, remixing is a little bit easier, but usually, the last 10% is very difficult. It’s good to have a nice start, but then to finish it is the hard part.
With major labels trying to grapple with the legal challenges posed by the creation of fake songs using voice-changing software that produces realistic results…What are your thoughts on AI’s impact on the music industry?
So far, I’ve seen a lot of great visual images done with AI, whether it’s moving images or stills. I think there’s a lot of amazing content being created. Actually, I’m working on a new album at the moment, and the artwork is partially done with AI. It’s all photography shots, but we used AI images to incorporate, so I think it’s really amazing. But so far, I haven’t really heard any fantastic music done by AI. I’ve heard some music, but it doesn’t sound like music, really. The elements are there, but the mix is not great, and also the melodies are not necessarily amazing… yet! But I’m sure it’s going to change; there’s no way around it; it’s going to happen. I haven’t invested any time yet.
Nowadays, people let other people produce their music, do the mixing, mastering, or anything. But I think that, as an artist, you need to create your own story, and to let AI do it is a little bit like cheating so far.– Joris Voorn for Xceed (2023)
I still feel that, as an artist, you need to kind of create your own story and not leave it to AI to create it for you. Maybe that’s going to change at some point; I mean, the rules of the game are always changing. When I started out, everyone was doing everything about their own music. Nowadays, people let other people produce their music, do the mixing, mastering, or anything. But I think that, as an artist, you need to create your own story, and to let AI do it is a little bit like cheating so far.
It’s been more than 20 years since you released your ‘Muted Trax’ EP, and since then, your resume has been filled with a few albums, multiple hit tracks, and hundreds of gigs all over the world. What would the 18-year-old Joris would say if he could see all that you’ve accomplished up to this point?
Oh my god… I wouldn’t say anything (laughs). Maybe that’s not the answer you wanted to hear, but the great thing about starting on a musical journey is that you never know where it’s going to end. I had no idea that I was going to be standing here, so many years later, speaking to you, playing a headline show, and flying to Ibiza tonight. That was never really my intention when I started, and every show that I do, I’m happy that I’m able to do it, you know? And I’m happy to have an amazing year, and I hope that next year is going to be great again… So I think I probably wouldn’t have said anything. I try not to put the wrong ideas into someone’s head by telling them where they should or could possibly be in 20 years. Because it’s probably easier to not know. One of my life mottos is “ignorance is bliss.” Sometimes not knowing something is better than knowing too much.
To wrap it up and get to know you a bit better, let’s do a rapid-fire round of out-of-context questions:
- Favorite food: It’s already a very difficult question (laughs). I’m really into Japanese food.
- Favorite analog synth: Maybe… My Juno-60 or Juno-106, yeah. My first synth actually.
- Your musical guilty pleasure: My musical guilty pleasure is maybe 90s uplifting trance music.
- A hobby besides music: Definitely photography.
- A must on your rider: Boring, but I do like some champagne. Although lately, I’ve also really been enjoying tequila. We’ve just had some shots already, you know. I’m playing in two hours, so… (Laughs).
- Club or festival: Oh yeah, I’m not going to choose because I like both. I’m going to give you a long answer for this because I love festivals in the summer and having that big exposure, playing for many people. And then I love going back into the clubs in the winter. That balance is what makes music very interesting for me.
- Dream collab (dead or alive): Ooh, oh my god, dream collab… Maybe I wouldn’t have minded making a collab with Jeff Buckley, an amazing singer from the 90s who passed away at 27 years old, I believe. That would’ve been amazing.
- Favorite gig of yours so far (before Delirium, obviously): Yes, ask me afterwards! (Laughs). Oh, I’ve had so many. Maybe one of my very favorite ones was Só Track Boa, a really big show in São Paulo, in Brazil. I played for like 25,000 people, and it was a real journey from the beginning until the end. The show is on YouTube, and I watched it back, and I thought it was a pretty good one.