Progressive-Sounds: You were out of action for a little while...what happened? Is everything ok now?
Sander Kleinenberg: Yeah everything’s fine. I guess I was a little worn out from travelling and the global agenda that I’m following. On paper, gigs around the world sound great, but the actual fact of travelling and working ‘til 7 or 8 in the morning is not always as good for the body as you might think. So I guess I overdone it a little bit? And you know, I needed to take a little break from it all, which was great. It’s unfortunate that I had to have let down some people but it was good for me to set some things straight and deal with some issues that I was dealing with and I’m glad I did it. I’ve come back stronger if that’s a way of saying it.
Progressive-Sounds: So will you be doing fewer gigs now to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
Sander Kleinenberg: Well I mean it’s not so much the gigs, they are reasonably doable. I run a record label and I run a business, I have 3 residencies around the world, I do a lot of things. I do remixes, I make original tracks, so it’s not like I’m only doing gigs. I’ve kind of cut down on some of the other aspects of my career, because gigging is basically where my heart lies. I’m a disc jockey, not a businessman. And I think this sort of period was good just to refocus and to recheck what is important and what is not, and it came out that being a businessman is not nearly as interesting as being a disc jockey!
Progressive-Sounds: Over the past couple of years your sound changed from deep, lush, melodic progressive house to phat dirty stomping electro house...a move towards more party-orientated music some might say. Why the change?
Sander Kleinenberg: I have no idea. I guess its other people’s perspective on how I DJ. I just pick out tunes that I like, and I produce records that I feel are effective on the dancefloor.
- I don’t DJ for myself, I DJ for the crowd.
Progressive-Sounds: So there was no conscious decision to change then?
Sander Kleinenberg: No not really, I’ve been making music and records across the board ever since I started making music and DJing out. I’ve never really been one of those who just play a certain sound and then limits themselves to work within that set standard. I’m someone who likes to go left right and centre because I’d like to keep it fresh for myself. And I think this music is so...you know....useful to shine a light on all different angles and vibes. And it just so happens that a lot of really creative music comes out of this what’s so-called electro-ish sort of sound, although I just like to call it "house music" because that’s basically what it is and I’ve always been a house music DJ, and whatever makes the dancefloor work is what I’ll play. I’m not a DJ for me; I’m a DJ for my audience you know?
I don’t DJ for myself, I DJ for the crowd. I’m not a whore – I will have a certain amount of quality for it, I will “quality test” with it. Yeah maybe it’s because those records that I make....y’know, the Beatles didn’t make the same records all the time, you know what I mean? Obviously I don’t want to compare myself with the Beatles, but I think you can call it "artistic freedom" to navigate through different sounds....a good thing.
Progressive-Sounds: How have you been enjoying your monthly “This Is...” residency at Ministry of Sound? The club certainly seems to have experienced somewhat of a renaissance over the past year or so....
Sander Kleinenberg: The first time I stepped into the club was actually the first time I DJed there, and I was just shocked by how amazing that club is. It’s got a phenomenal soundsystem. Not shocked...but pleasantly surprised I should say, because Ministry of Sound had this sort of....tag on it, of being this global phenomenon and compilations and Vengaboys you know what I mean? Although Vengaboys were on Positiva but I’m trying to sort of illustrate the point of Ministry being a big brand. But I checked, it’s got a fantastic vibe I believe, and it’s [the main room] my favourite room in London to be honest. That little black box is a brilliant space to navigate through these styles. It’s a proper discotheque room, and I love it.
Progressive-Sounds: How about Little Mountain Recordings, your label? What tracks have been released recently?
Sander Kleinenberg: Yeah we’re doing really well. We’ve picked up on Rene Amesz who’s a young promising producer from Holland, trying to release as many of his tracks as possible and he keeps on coming with one bomb after another, which is brilliant. We just released something from the Low End Specialists from New York, who are like the new Deep Dish if you want....a great little team of great producers. I’ve just done my ‘This Is Miami’ track which has no transferred into ‘This Is Ibiza’ and I just did a title song, or the theme song for a big party in Holland called Sensation, called ‘This is Sensation’, so we have all these different “This Is....” records...
- It’s very simple - I’d like to make tunes that make the dancefloor rock
Progressive-Sounds: And how will the official release be named?
Sander Kleinenberg: It’s just been released - it’s called ‘This Is Miami’ and the other side is ‘This Is Ibiza’, so you can call it ‘This Is...’. And you can make your own version. I’ve got like 16 or 20 different versions. I played in Lisbon recently, I made a ‘This Is Lisbon’, I played in Paris so I made ‘This Is Paris’, I made a ‘This Is London’; this is just a tool, I mean make music for my own DJ sets – I don’t make music to become a rich man or something. It’s very simple – I’d like to make tunes that make the dancefloor rock, and if other people like it then fine, and if it sells that’s fine, I’ll set up a label for that, but its prime purpose is to rock in my sets, that’s the only real...how do you call it, purpose of my producership.
Progressive-Sounds: What tracks have been getting the biggest reactions in your sets recently aside from your own stuff? There’s some really great material around at the moment.
Sander Kleinenberg: I like what Funkagenda’s doing. Basically almost everything they do is to me really fresh and great house music the way I always liked it and the way I will always like it....proper stuff. I love what Soul Mekanik done with Robbie Williams; I think that’s fucking unbelievable! I was listening to the dub for quite a while and then I realised it was a Robbie Williams record and I was like – “Fuck! This is fucking AMAZING!” So seeing dance music more and more integrate with modern day pop music and people like Soul Mekanik, Kelvin Andrews and people like that making it real big, it’s just heart warming to see that the scene is now sort of fully grown up and become mature and is part of the establishment. It’s something I’m proud of. It’s something we’ve all done together and it’s wicked, and it still is kind of merging and searching and going it’s own way, which makes me feel fresh. That’s not the answer to your question “what do I love as a tune” but in general...tunes are just tunes. They last a week and then there’s another tune. Just in general...yeah Funkagenda. I love what Saved Records with Nic Fanciulli on the helm is doing, that’s pretty cool. There’s some real fresh talent around.
Progressive-Sounds: What tunes do you feel have been overplayed this year and possibly spoilt due to this over-exposure?
Sander Kleinenberg: Unfortunately I don’t really have time to follow everybody and everything constantly. But I’m doing a compilation at the moment, ‘This Is Sander Kleinenberg’, it’s like the first set of ‘This Is....’ compilations from our label, and it’s hard to find tunes that don’t get picked up immediately. You know with the internet I think tunes get picked up far more quick than they used to do in the heyday of let’s say Twilo, when Sasha would play a white label and you wouldn’t hear it for another two years and you’d be guessing what it was, and nowadays it’s like I play a tune in China and someone in England picks it up, and it’s on the internet and before you know it everyone’s got it. It’s not become easier to stand out from the crowd, because of the ways of communication it’s definitely a bigger job now to make your DJ sets unique or stand out from the crowd. Therefore a tune might have a shorter shelf-life than it used to have. It used to be in the hands of a couple of DJs for 6 months and they comfortably could play that song and it could comfortably be played by the masses when they picked it up. But nowadays you have to bring that extra little element, the extra little vibe to it. I’m trying to do it with my DVD-DJing, trying to put video to my DJ sets just to make it special, just to make it that 5% extra that makes it...interesting.
Progressive-Sounds: You are playing at South West Four on August 26th. Will this be your first outdoor appearance in London?
Sander Kleinenberg: Well I’ve just done Godskitchen’s Global Gathering and I’ve done Hi-Fi, but you’re right actually, yes it is. I’ve not done a big festival in the city of London, and I’m obviously looking forward to it and I’ve heard great things about it from my DJ friends so I’m looking forward to entertaining the crowd for sure.
Progressive-Sounds: Are you going to stick around after the set and soak up the vibes? Are you are party animal generally or clean living?
Sander Kleinenberg: I would love to, unfortunately I have a gig that same night in Amsterdam so I’m jetting across the pond again...but I’ll be there a couple of hours before my set to pick up on the vibe, to see how my peers are doing.
Progressive-Sounds: And finally, what’s the funniest thing that you’ve seen at a club or festival recently?
Sander Kleinenberg: I don’t know.....munching Liverpudlians?? [Gurning??] I don’t know. I got to sit on this for a bit. I can’t just come up with something funny.