Representing the NuBreed
by Brett Abramson
Sander Kleinenberg's status in the dance music industry has skyrocketed as of late. It's no wonder why when you hear his mixed CDs, his numerous productions, or get the chance to see him live. I was able to catch up with Sander in Mexico City during his current North American tour and get to know this NuBreeder a little better.
Get used to the name, because Sander Kleinenberg is here to stay.
Lunar: So how's the tour going?
Sander Kleinenberg: It's going good. I've never done a tour as big as this one, DJing five or six days a week. I'm having three days off in Mexico now, which is welcomed. But surprisingly it's going really well. I thought it was going to be harder than it is. It's still fun every night and I really enjoy the DJing.
Lunar: Do you get frustrated when you play so many nights in a row? Do you feel like you want to play a different set each night?
Sander Kleinenberg: Luckily I brought loads and loads of records, and every crowd you meet is somewhat different. Not the crowd maybe, but the clubs and the sound. I did an open air [event] here in Mexico City, and I did a small club in Philadelphia a few weeks ago with only a hundred people. So you learn to take things day to day. It's been better than I though it would be.
Lunar: Your Essential Mix CD has just been released in America. Would you like to talk about the sound of that CD?
Sander Kleinenberg: When I do mixed CDs, I try and make them interesting. As a DJ I always play longer sets. If I play like five hours at a club, there are records that have more monotonous sounds to build up the vibe and get the crowd going. When I do a mixed CD, I like to make it so that there is a lot of layering to go on, stuff that at a club I wouldn't do. The way I put the tracks together is different so it has more of an immediate impact.
Lunar: I read that you've worked on a track with John Creamer and Stephane K. How did that go?
Sander Kleinenberg: It went really well. John and Stephane and I have known each other for a while now. I went to New York to work with them, and we made several tracks together which I am really happy with.
Lunar: Do they have any release dates yet?
Sander Kleinenberg: No, not specifically. It's just when we get time to all get together and finish them. That's what the benefits of digital recording are though; you can lay something down and come back to it later.
Lunar: Does the Four Seasons EP Part 3 have a release date yet?
Sander Kleinenberg: When I get back I need one more week to master the tracks and lay down some more vocals. Then it will be done, and in the next two or three months it will be released.
Lunar: In what ways is it going to be similar or different from the previous two?
Sander Kleinenberg: What I wanted to do was represent what I am feeling at the moment, not just stuff I play at the club. There is more downtempo stuff. I mean, it's all 4/4 driven, but it represents me on different nights. That's what the title, Four Seasons, means to me. I wanted the third part to be the end of the series that represents me one hundred percent, and not just bang out tracks. I think that after this is done I am going to start working on an album that is not far away, but away from the concept of dance floor tracks. With the Four Seasons EPs I wanted to make a set of tracks geared for the dance floor that would have a lasting impression on people, so they can go back a few years from now and still have it sound fresh.
Lunar: Your sound has definitely evolved over time, in your production and your DJing. Would you mind talking about that and how you feel that it's evolved?
Sander Kleinenberg: I don't know. How would you say my sound has changed? Because it's hard to judge your own sound, which comes naturally.
Lunar: It seems in general that your sound has gotten a bit darker and moodier, as opposed to "My Lexicon" and "Sacred."
Sander Kleinenberg: So you're talking about my remixing.
Lunar: Yeah, that's all that I have heard recently.
Sander Kleinenberg: Well when it comes to my remixing I thought it would be nice to step outside of how I DJ as well. My personal stuff has a lot more vocals. "Sacred" was originally a vocal track. I like to work with vocals because they represent a melody in itself, and you don't need big, overpowering sounds.
Lunar: The classic progressive sound has seemed to fade away a little bit into a darker, moodier sound in general, as a reaction to the cheesy trance that has filled the dancefloors in the last couple of years. Do you think that the proper, progressive dance tracks will return in another form?
Sander Kleinenberg: I put a track on the CD by Redanka called "Out of the Darkness." When I spoke to him he said, "I am so fed up with those dark, deep, endless, tribal beats." When it comes to remixing, to return to your last question about them being darker, that's only because they are more stripped down because I use vocals to make it more interesting. When I look at dancefloors that I DJ for, in an ideal world I could play dark and deep all night and really get them locked into it. But there's only a handful of places that are like that. In Montreal you can play for six hours like that to a thousand or twelve hundred people and they are up for it. But the reality is that if you play in Ireland or other places, they want to hear what you call that proper progressive sound.
Lunar: I feel that you have a knack for playing records that others would overlook and putting them together in such a unique way. So what kind of sound or vibe do you look for when listening to a track?
Sander Kleinenberg: I look for tracks that have a certain honesty to them. I don't mind playing records that have a hit element to them. I just try to put in a little more effort to find tracks that in my opinion are different and a little bit more special. It's risky because sometimes you try to forcefully play them, and they do not always hit the spot.
Lunar: Yeah, but I think it keeps your integrity up.
Sander Kleinenberg: Right. I try to find tracks that are made with integrity, just because I think that lasts longer. That's what I do when I compile CDs. My main focus is to put together a group of tracks that will represent that time, and will also be able to be played years from now. When I did the Essential Mix, I was sent a thousand tracks, and you know some of them are going to be big. They are amazing, I DJ them out, they work on a dancefloor. But putting those tracks on a CD would make it less interesting in the long run. I want people to discuss my CD a long time from now on a message board and ask, "Where can I get that track?" So people can rediscover stuff and say, "That was really interesting." I don't really care about putting the track du jour on there.
Lunar: So what tracks or producers are really big for you right now?
Sander Kleinenberg: There is a guy named Jim Cartwright who has a project called "Flatline" that is really doing it for me. When I initially heard it, I wasn't that into it. But as I listened more, I loved it. It's really funky and the crowd loves it. At the Ultra Festival in Miami I played it on the main stage and it went off. Also, Steve Porter is a very promising producer who has a very great future.
Lunar: We were there when you played at Ultra. I was looking out at that crowd and it seemed like there was probably eight thousand people or so going off. How was that?
Sander Kleinenberg: It was really cool. I was obviously really fucking nervous! I was on after Crystal Method, who I thought were amazing. I wasn't a real big fan of them before that. I just didn't get my head around their albums. But when I saw them live I was like, "Oh my God!" They are really, really good, and they actually do it live. They have a sequencer running the beats obviously. But all of the chords and everything, they are doing live, and it gives it so much energy. It's like rock and roll. But seeing that crowd go off and thinking, "I only have Terry Francis records with me what the fuck can I do here?" And Paul Oakenfold being on after you is not the easiest thing either. There were equipment problems too. Only one turntable and one CD player worked, which was not good. All of the odds were against me having a good time, but I played a couple of tunes and the crowd went mad.
Lunar: Yeah. I was wondering if you were going to play these huge tracks to blow it up on the main stage with such a big crowd. But it was great to see that you didn't need to. You rocked it still with your own sound.
Sander Kleinenberg: It's fun to see that I played a record there that I played in Philadelphia as well for like a hundred people. Now there are eight thousand people hearing the same thing, which is what is so inspiring about this music, and what makes me take to electronic music.
Lunar: You're so young and have had so much success already. So is that what keeps you going?
Sander Kleinenberg: Well what keeps me going is every week when I get a bunch of records that I get to listen to in my house. They take the same theme and push it forward, and you say, "Oh my God. This is great." My guess is that that will be happening forever, and I will always be inspired by electronic music. Actually I think that I still have a lot to prove. Maybe not on 4/4, 130 bpm tracks, but maybe on an album. I don't want that to sound too pretentious. I just want to be able to document my experiences in traveling all over the world and flying 300,000 miles a year. There is a lot of inspiration in that. So I've come to realize that I want to make something with less dance floor tracks that's deeper for an artist album. With "My Lexicon" they wanted to make it a commercial hit and play it on the radio by adding vocals to it. I was like, "No, it should stand by itself."
Lunar: So is there anything that bothers you about where the dance music industry is heading?
Sander Kleinenberg: No, not at all. Sometimes when I do my gigs I get a little frustrated because there is a huge crowd of people hovering around the DJ booth that are there to check your skills. I'd rather have them dance and feel the music, instead of getting so technical.
Lunar: What is the oddest gig you've ever played?
Sander Kleinenberg: I played in Luxemburg one time years ago. I drove down there with this girl that I had been seeing for about a week and spent my last money on gas to get there. It was at this bar, and only one person payed to get in. While I was DJing the promoter left without paying me. So I stood there and had to borrow money from this girl that I was trying to impress to get back.
Lunar: Finally, what can we expect from your upcoming gig here in Atlanta?
Sander Kleinenberg: Well I have a lot of fresh new tunes from Miami. I had a great time last I was there [in Atlanta.
Sander will be playing for Liquified at Blü in Atlanta on Wednesday, April 10. Thanks to Jonathan and Betty at Formula PR, and Sander for taking time out to talk to Lunar.
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