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Friday 03rd, October 2003
Sander Kleinenberg

Born and raised in Eastern Holland, Sander Kleinenberg began spinning records at the tender age of 15. He was the guy with headphones. Attached to his head at all times. Sander's first real after school club gig was in a local bar around the corner from his house. He would spin anything that would keep the patrons happy, little knowing that one day he would become one of the world's most respected DJ's and producers, keeping the patrons happy from Cleveland to Kuala Lumpur. Sander's musical taste has always been very eclectic. "By the time I was 14, I was listening to stuff like Mantronix," he recalls. "I was heavily influenced by American and British dance music. Remixes by Shep Pettibone, the sleeve art from Jon "Jellybean" Benitez releases, loops by Simon Harris, a video of Beat Street and Depeche Mode concerts. It was this cocktail of influences that informed the taste of the budding Sander, and led him to making music of his own; launching a career that 15 years later sees him travelling all over the world. Last year alone, this open-minded attitude to music resulted in 250,000 air miles, DJ sets from London to Buenos Aires via New York and rabid support from fans whenever he drops a needle. In 1996, Sander first appeared on the dance radar with the now infamous NY Club Anthem "Y.D.W. (You Do Me Wrong)". Released on Strictly Rhythm under his production moniker S&S project, it was at the time a rare European release for the label and the track was liberally hammered by Junior Vasquez, Danny Tenaglia et al. But clearly his notoriety was ignited by the now classic track "My Lexicon" and has continued to grow with remixes for the likes of Royksopp, Sasha & Emerson and PMT's classic "Deeper Water". After seeing his productions appear on bestselling Global Underground compilations (namely Sasha: Ibiza and Deep Dish: Moscow), as well as Danny Howells' Nubreed, he was finally chosen to mix one of his own, and 2001 saw the release of Nubreed 4 (Boxed), the first from a Continental DJ. He recently won the prestigious Muzik Award for 'Best Radio 1 Essential Mix of 2001' and was DJ Magazine's highest climber in their latest Top 100 DJ Poll (rising 52 places from 67 to 15) further solidifying his reputation. In their influential Next 100 issue, Urb Magazine described Sander's career as "that of a slow but steady build culminating in absolute frenzy." Now with the release of his third 'Four Seasons EP' in early summer, and the first of a series of mix compilations for Essential, Sander is about to shake up the dance world yet again. The secret of his success so far? "You have to grow and change as an artist but still retain your artistic voice; not be subject to the swing of trends. I hope you can hear this consistency in all of my work". Looking at his trilogy work, Sander reflects, "The first EP was quite trancey and serene, the second was more funk-driven and the third and final instalment is a bit rougher round the edges". The tracks almost have a gothic sound to them; big sweeping anthems that blow the roof off yet remain intimate and personal at the same time. His DJ mixes are no exception. Carefully shaped to entertain and please, he crafts his mixes in such a way that they suddenly seem to make more sense with the help of tunes that might be otherwise unnoticeable in another environment. US clubbers are starting to realize just how talented Sander really is. The depth, honesty and universal nature of his sound appeals to every corner of club culture in both the UK and the US. With a carefully cropped haircut and a softly spoken yet confident demeanour, Sander is the absolute antithesis of the superstar DJ. He's the guy who writes songs called 'Frog Dancing' and 'Slipper Sleaze' yet still gets away with it. You may want to meet him. Or better yet, dance with him.

Hi Sander - thanks for taking the time to speak with us. How are you ?
Fine thanks, very good. Itís been very busy the last months. But now the summer is over, my gigs during the week are slowing down again, luckily. So now I can get back to the studio, to do various things. Iím feeling really good now.

How's the summer been for you? What has been the biggest let down and highlight ?
To be very honest I must say I liked the party at Bloomendaal very much. I could always name some exotic place, but Bloomendaal was very cool, a nice closer. And The Space in Ibiza last Sunday was totally cool. The letdowns varied from losing my recordcase to missing flights, and the connected gigs. Midsummer is always dramatic during summer season. Hard to fix everything and get everything together in order to make the deadlines. I remixed Madonna a few months ago, but she didnít like the result, so that was a kind of a letdown also. It had 10 days of hard work in it, and it was kinda disappointing to hear that. But a lot of highlights compensated it!

You recently played at events in Oslo (Rexx Club) and Stockholm. How did these two gigs go down ? Is there any difference between the Scandinavian crowd compared to Dutch, UK, US ?
Fantastic, Iíve spun a few times in Oslo before, but I never felt really good about the place where I ended up, but this time it was good. Super cool, good club, everybody was enthusiastic and I was very satisfied with my set, so cool. And Stockholm, it was actually the first time I spun there, was also great. I had a fun time going there doing my thing.
Before I actually went there I had the slightest feeling of difference in scene in Scandinavia, but nowadays I cant say so. Iíve got very good experiences in these countries. Iíve had a gig in Scream, Helsinki and that club is always great. The Stockholm gig was fantastic, I really liked the overall production of that event. The look and feel and the eagerness of the people, really good stuff. Iíve also been very interested in some Swedish producers, and I met them in real life now. Im very happy about that. Oslo more of the same, superb. Remember, its house music, everywhere in the world it has kind of the same ambience, I think itís a ďtruly global experienceĒ, and thatís the same for these gigs. I loved it.

DJ Mag's Top 100 vote ends tomorrow (friday). Last year you finished 15th - what are your expectations for this years vote ?
I donít have a clue! To be honest Iím not that concerned about it. It would ofcourse be disappointing if I was out of the list, then it would touch me. Those top 100ís are compiled by one group of certain people, who are very close to the DJís themselves. That would be around 10 to 15% of the dancefloor. So I donít think it should be too important. But itís always very exciting on which spot you have been placed. Iíve had my interview with DJ Mag and everything will turn out fine. Itís always cool to realize Iím just a regular guy from Almelo, seeing myself in there next to the people Iíve always looked up to. Iím very happy to be actually in there. The smallest place would also do it for me.

You've just launched your own label - Little Mountain Recordings. Has this been a long process in the making ?
Iíve been contracted at other labels for a fair amount of time, but Iíve always had the feeling then when I was able to begin my own one, had the energy and the name for it, Iíd do it. And when it has happened now I can only be very thrilled about it. I love doing projects with new talents in the music, and also to give the scene new things, instead of only spinning records or doing productions and remixes. Just doing something very positive and valuable for the music scene. Some people have said I had to be crazy to start a label in these bad times, that I wouldnít get far. But now we got those first few releases out, I must say its going great! I love the fact people like the tracks and feel good about them. There are a few good producers and projects that have found a home at our label, and we are going to work on those projects very hard for a few years. Iím super enthusiastic about it.

The debut release was the last and eagerly awaited Four Seasons EP Part 3 of 3. What has the reactions been like ?
Very good. Itís a wide variety of tracks. ďBuenos AiresĒ has been picked up by Oakenfold, Collins, Graham and those are the more melodic orientated DJís. ďWork To DoĒ, which is actually more of a diva-style new-yorkish record, is being spun by Danny Tenaglia and Deep Dish and that is very cool ofcourse! Itís really nice to see the variety in DJís picking up the tracks and spinning them. Thatís the positive thing I can only be happy with being a DJ or producer.

Is there any chance that the first two EP's will be re-released ?
No most probably not, but we are working on a remix-EP at the moment. Meaning some of the highlights in the series will be taken into remix by other producers. For instance the Cass & Slide remix of ďMy LexiconĒ is a bit of an obscure track. People have been asking me for ages when the track would see the daylight, but thatís a track that will be released on the remix-EP. And the idea we are toying around with is maybe to release a bonus-box with all releases of the series in it, including the remix EP. Might be a box with 6 or 7 vinyls in there, if people have ever missed out, they can get another chance at getting the tracks.

Recent remixes include "BT - Somnabulist" for Nettwerk, "Spork - Freek Like Me" for Southern Fried, "Junkie XL - Don't Wake Up Policeman" for Mostiko, "Justin Timberlake - Rock Your Body" for Jive/Media Italy. Sadly your remix of "Madonna - Hollywood" will never see the light of day. Are there any new remixes scheduled?
Iíve just remixed Annie Lennox; that track is called ďWonderfulĒ. I actually had enough of remixing lately, since Iíve done a lot of things around remixes this year. But then that passed me by and I couldnít say no. Annie Lennox is one of the best vocalists in the world, and for years Iíve been listening to her music. It was enjoyable remixing and a couple of weeks ago Iíve finished it. So in a few weeks it should be out there. It might sound ďclichťĒ but I really like it myself, Iím very satisfied with it.

One of the mixes is very vocal orientated and almost everything has been used in it. Itís a sort of Benni Benassi meets Annie Lennox, a bit of electro-techno track. The other track has some more rave elements in it. I think people will be surprised by them, since it might be a new style of mine, Iíve not been doing a lot of things in this style.

What is the story behind your remix for Justin Timberlake? People say you were to remix after you lost a game of tennis to him. Is this true?
No thatís all gossip. One time Iíve told an English magazine, after I got a bit fed up with people asking if I really knew Justin and all that, that I knew him and we were playing tennis together and that I had to remix his track after losing a match of tennis. That was more after they really bugged me with questions and stuff. I was making up a story at that time and I just made it fun instead. But ofcourse I donít know Justin, he has better things to do than meet a DJ like me.
It was all arranged by Jive, his recordcompany, who called my management in order for me to make a remix of his track. I instantly bought his album at that time, to check out what he was up to, since his name was still connected to NíSync, cause this was all way before he got into the solo-spotlight. NíSync was not really the group I liked to connect my name to, not the musical style I was interested in, see it was more like pop music for young girls. I listened to that album and was surprised by the quality. This guy was inventing himself again, working together with the Neptunes and Timbaland..I made the choice to remix it.

It seems like remixing pop music has boomed as of late. Has the commercial market finally discovered the beauty and importance of EDM (electronic dance music) ? What's your view upon this ?
In the past there has been a clear line between remixes and the scene. Now the artists see that they have to make themselves known in various styles and scenes. If they want to have a broader audience and a wider spectrum of musical style, they cant forget the dancescene. Weekly there are millions of people going out, going to clubs and parties.
A remix will never pay off the amount that has been paid for it. A pack of remixes by Oakenfold, TiŽsto or me for instance, has to be paid for. We donít remix for the fun of it, thereís ofcourse a financial side to it. Luckily recordcompanies start to realize that their records get extra promotion, although it has cost a lot of money. If a DJ spins a remix of for instance Justin Timberlake, the people on the dancefloor hear the record being spun and then the next day they hear it on the radio, those people get interested and might take a listen at his album. Thatís marketing ofcourse, and its fun to see we are not being forgotten about. I feel good about helping it and I just love working with that sort of vocals and being able to get to work with that sort of productions. Also the fact being Dutch and all, there are not a lot of Dutch people in the scene. And I feel honoured to be one of the few that do it. Iím trying to get The Netherlands on the map. Really good, feels like pioneering.

Are there any producers or bands you would like to remix?
I really dig Beyoncťís voice, I really look forward to hearing the new Destinyís Child album. Thereís always artists or bands that I would like to lay my hands on. Iím not a guy that digs into the history and try to remix the Rolling Stones or Elvis. If itís a fresh record with sounds I can do something with, Iím open for everything. ďCrazy in LoveĒ for instance is a record I would have loved to remix. But thereís always tracks or artists I hear things on which I would like to work myself. A lot of American superstars have an exciting special sound, and with that sound you could have a club-minded track in no time which will do great.

You've signed material from Matthew Dekay and Steve Porter to your new LMR label. Any other exciting tunes or artists in the pipeline ? Will you be showcasing your own material as well ?
Iíve just signed something from Roland Klinkenberg, who has produced with Miss Bunty, called ďFunk is the KeywordĒ. Itís a superphat groover, which is also on my new mix-cd. Also a guy from England called Mick Burns, who made track called ďCorrective TonesĒ. Itís a huge track with a trance-like break which will certainly work very well. Iím always open for everything, I get a lot of demos and Iím on an all high quest for talented people.

My new track, which I want to release around Miami Winter Music Conference, will be on LMR. Iím trying to have it finished before then and it will ofcourse be released on my own label.

Year long rumours has it that you are set to do a new Global Underground compilation ? What's the official story ?
Itís partially true. A year ago Iíve was busy working on it, but then Global Underground got forced to close down. And it was taken care off in a not so nice way, so I kept it away for some time, and its never been finalized. Iíve been concentrating more on the Renaissance CD, called ďEverybodyĒ. I like to be doing some new sounds, new things for me and try to do my thing in a new style. Itís a bit closer to my own liking, since the Renaissance events are always nice. At my residencies in the US and in Canada Iím gonna do so called ďEverybodyĒ-nights. Itís like an all over international residency, different locations, but the same feeling, style and intentions. And so Renaissance gave me a perfect platform to work with. But ofcourse if Global Underground gives me the opportunity to do a mix with a city, Iím the first to say yes.

What are the five biggest records in your bag right now ? Any cheeky whites/promos we should look out for ?
Well Scumfrog - Yet another famous dutchie (not a lot of people know that actually) living in New York, but raised in Holland - has done a few very good remixes the last year. He should be the one to win a grammy for best remix of the year with his remix of Monica ft Missy Elliot. He has been working with Jewel lately, not the first to think of, but his remix of the new Jewel single called ďStandĒ and it is absolutely huge. Its insane. Itís a new style oldschool, techno, house, really everything is pumped in. Superfreaky remix! Iím spinning it like crazy.
I really think Sashaís remix of U.N.K.L.E. is really good. Typical Sasha sound and ofcourse UNKLE is a good producer with fantastic sounds on his album. The track is called ďIn A StateĒ, with a Sasha sound on it. I think itís the way Sasha likes to work on remixes. I dig it and spin it a lot. And I must be honest, I donít say this often, but I really dig my own remix of Annie Lennox, I think that track made me enter a new phase. Really satisfied.

Upcoming gigs include Stereo in Quebec, Arc in New York, Vibe in Dubai, Amnesia in Paris and Magazzini Generalli in Milano. What are your favorite clubs to play at ?
Generally I like the clubs with the capacity of around 1500, 1600 people. Not too big, not too small, and thatís the amount of people that I feel comfortable with. I can spin the style of my liking, and donít have to spin over the top to satisfy all people. I love to have a few hours to build up, take people on your musical journey. So the clubs that offer me that opportunity I like the most. I like Amsterdam, I really dig these ďEverybodyĒ parties. Also NY is a favourite residency of mine, really like that one. And the parties where I can spin 7, 8 hours are the best. It kinda points out who are the big guys and who are the small boys. It takes me a few days to select my records and I am not saying its always good, but I really feel great when I succeed on playing a good set.

Any locations/clubs you'd love to spin at or where you haven't spun already ?
Ofcourse there are always places where I would love to spin. For instance Beirut, not the first to think of when saying dance music, you might think shot down place, but it was the most bizarre experience for me that month. Its been built up after those crisis periods and the vibe was really good. Southern America is also always very cool. The more things I can find out over there, the better. Soon I will spin in Santiago, Chile, Iíve never been there, but Iím looking forward to that big time. China Iíve never really been to, Iíve spun in Hong Kong once but never really got to see what it is like. The scene is happening over there, so its very interesting to see what they are up to.

You were spinning at Mysteryland this year. The crowd went nuts and was totally enthusiastic. What do you prefer, spinning in a club or playing at outdoor festivals like Mysteryland?
At Mysteryland I tried my very best, I spun harder than normally and somewhat more big crowd minded, a few more accessible tracks. Both are good in their own way, see, itís a huge experience to spin for such a big crowd. Iím aiming at next year to give it more power, more energy and get it more interesting. DJ-ing alone in front of such a crowd requires more than only music-playing. Either you spin bombastic overwhelming sounds like Tiesto, Ferry or Carl Cox do, that are filling up big spaces. Iím thinking of taking the entire performance to another level, maybe with a live element, to give it more body. I get the impression that my music goes over peoples heads, you see, its meant for smaller, cosier spaces with less people to get the right atmosphere. I want to improve that cause I love to play in front of such crowds.

What can we expect of Sander Kleinenberg in the future?
On production point, Iím trying to concentrate more on it and continue producing. Maybe even grow towards more of a producer, to help other people or cooperate with others. Iím starting to feel better about the things I do, Iím starting to notice that Iím not only known for my beautiful melodies so to say, but I see that people see me also as someone who can make a tight production with good vocals. I might take vocalists or artists into my own productions. Iím also thinking about new projects and do some experimental things, maybe even form a band. Iím feeling that the music is getting better and also the ďcommercialĒ music is getting more accepted these days. You would never believe that a Tiesto track would be such a stormer on MTV for instance. I think time is right to try some new things also on other media.

Thanks for the time Sander. We wish you the very best for the future - any words of wisdom for all your fans out there ?
Oh ofcourse. I would like to thank everybody for the support Iím getting from all over the world. I always work very hard to please the crowd, cause thatís the main reason Iím working so hard and that Iíve reached what Iíve reached nowadays. Itís the appreciation of the crowd that makes me continue, and Iím working on that for the future even more!

Trance.nu would like to thank Maarten, and ofcourse Sander himself for taking the time to sit down with us. We wish you all the best for the future

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