Name: Orlando Voorn
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Current Release: Orlando Voorn's Forcefield EP is out via Transient Nature.
Recommendations: Check out Abdul Qadim Haqq. He did the Nightvision Logo, the Baruka Cover, as well as The Obama Label. Great artist.
Also, check out: Alan Oldham’s work.
If you enjoyed this interview with Orlando Voorn, visit him on, Facebook, twitter, and Soundcloud.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started in the 80s, 1988 to be exact. Before I started producing, I was into playing the drums and DJing. I was the Dutch champion in Holland twice and got third place in DMC in the UK in 1986. From very little, all I cared about was music.
My dad gave me stacks of 7-inch singles with various kinds of Island sounds. He was from Suriname, and that was my first introduction to a lot of music. I later got really into hard rock & symphonic rock. My favourite band was Rush, and my favourite drummer in that period was Neil Peart, R.I.P. I studied him bought all their albums, and it didn't take me too long to master the style of double bass drum kick action and offbeat things. That period was important for me as I was developing things for the future.
Rhythm and bass are the canvas to production. If you ain’t got no rhythm, it won’t come out as natural as when you do. I believe you need to be born with that gift as well as the intonation of instruments. If you are tone-deaf, you better leave this field alone.
The next phase I went through was disco and soul, imported from the states. We had a shop called Rhythm Import, ran by Peter Duikersloot. That man has been very important for me. At that time, he did not realise it, but now he does. It was a school for me to listen to music. I would spend hours in that shop sometimes just listening because I did not have the money to buy records every time I went in. But the music he imported shaped my entire outlook on the music they played on the radio versus what he bought in the shop. I also use that music in my mixes for DMC and Avro’s radio show with Robin Albers … another figure that was important and seen the talent I had and believed in it from day one.
Another stage was reggae. I was heavily into it, and not just the music. I listened to the lyrics, and they did something to me. I understood that there is a lot of corruption in this world, and it forewarned me. Then came the funk, George Clinton, and everything that had to do with P funk has forever shaped my style.
Then there is a big part of me that loved hip hop after. First the party stuff, and later the raging of Public Enemy, NWA, and of course so much more. The music would help you release the rage you might have in you about situations. Same as hard rock, if I had an irritating day, I only would have to put Motorhead on full 10, one song and headbang my way into calmness. I also love good drum & bass, ambient, electro which was a huge genre for me early on - shaped my entire way.
At that time, I did not realise I would become friends and make records with one of the producers of Clear, Cybotron, namely Juan Atkins, made a few classics under Infiniti _Game one on Metroplex (produced at my crib at the time in Amsterdam) in the early nineties and Frequency Vs Atkins before that.
I got into techno before this. My first record in that genre is "Frequency Hey Hey Hey". I did not even know it was called techno, what I did. Dylan Hermelijn, aka 2000 and One, told me that it was and connected me with Lower East Side Records, two guys who ran a label from their home. The rest is history.
Some people experience intense emotion when listening to music, others see colours or shapes. What is your own listening experience like and how does it influence your approach to music?
If you don’t feel anything, you should throw it in the garbage can. I like sounds that can move you spiritually to fill up your inner spirit. That is what I strive to do, whether you’re happy, upset, angry, sad, loved, unloved, hated, treated unfair, treated fair, and so forth. Those emotions I reflect in the music I make cause every day is different.
Therefore my music will be different too. I always say this, everyone got a favourite food, yet if you eat that same favourite food every day and you won’t switch up, you’re going to want to suddenly reject that favourite food that now becomes not so good because you ate it too much.
That goes the same for music. The music that lifts your spirit up is the best music. Fans are sometimes confused about how many styles I feel at home in, but that’s alright.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
I got 30 plus years of development. I am at my peak cause this is what I do daily. It’s not a hobby; it’s my mission to leave a legacy of music.
I am not interested in fame games. Nowadays it seems to be the thing to be famous. Too many snakes in the field; I am good where I am.
A production comes naturally, I don’t have to sweat, I don’t have to use a ghost producer, I owned various studio sets and can easily say that at this point, it’s easiest to produce and get the sound I want in a short amount of time. This is why my output is getting bigger.
I had to deal with challenges in this game and characters that made it extremely difficult for me to be me. Where other artists would have most likely played the game the record company wanted you to play, I stuck up my two middle fingers as I was in a situation where I could not move the way I wanted to move. In a situation like that I will not sit.
When I had A&R suckers coming to my studio and telling me I needed to do some trance music and throw some gimmicks in my music, I knew I had to do something. I all showed them the door and sold most of my equipment and went to Detroit. Completely dead inside from all the previous activities, I slowly went back to myself in Detroit. Surrounded by the masters of Detroit sound and the brothers that accepted me from day one. Mike Banks and the Submerge crew made my light shine again, and they understood what I was doing.
No money in the world can make you feel good if the people that gave it to you are no good. The people with a true spirit and understanding of what you want to do are more important than anything else. All this was a learning school for this. I developed fully into a production machine, and so every action that happened positive or negative helped shape this. I am still grateful for the lessons I have learned, but I am also ten times wiser from it and understand the game more than ever.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
No one dictates my identity that is number one. What I do is what I do to please me first. I am not trying to please others, it has to feel ok for me first. That way I can accept if it does not work, because I know that I am 100% ok with it.
I don’t jump on the bandwagon to be hip, I do it because I love to do it and I know it’s been well produced. I have 30 years under my belt so let’s say I know how to do that, but in every style I do you will hear influences from others as well but in my own way translated.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
There are no key ideas - everything I do is because I like to do it. There are different moods for different days.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
In 30 plus years, there has been a lot produced by many techno legends and innovators. Myself, I like to go back and forth between the past, the present & the future. Not being afraid to think different, and most of all have FUN while you’re doing it.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
I have seen many tools in my life but as mentioned I think the best tool someone can have is the knowledge and understanding of tuning and the preciseness of rhythms. All the other tools are only efficient if you understand these things and know how to paint and colour the production.
It also depends on what you consider a production. Some might use one loop and call that a production. And of course it is one but from a simple magnitude. Although simple, it can also be genius depending on what ingredients you have and how they're used. Those tracks have the power to grab you in mentally and physically while listening.
I work in Ableton at the moment with extensive plug ins and it works like a charm for me. Ableton thought of everything in a DAW bundle yet if you apply experience it’s a wonderful tool.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
Make a cup of coffee, roll a blunt, and mostly make music all day. Either it’s mastering some stuff for peeps or doing mixdowns for them. And smoke more blunts.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
On the album The Master I used lot of samples and fine-tuned things together. It’s kind of in a hip hop way, but I also play stuff myself, it’s not only sampling.
I only care what the end result is, I don’t care how I get it to put together. I’ll find little things, bass licks here and there and tune them, resample them, fit them in like it were a real band. I also play and program keys, basslines and drums myself. The end result is what counts, the music has to sound live and like it is a band behind it.
With the track "Oh Lord", my old-time pal Iwan Ten did the track with Mary and had played it before so I asked him to see if I could remix it for the album, and so I did. The whole vibe is James Brown, and that was my intention.
To have that old funk authentic track sounds like a band playing it. That is pretty much the approach on the album. It displays the funk in me, which I give thanks to Mentor George Clinton as well, big inspiration source for me.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
A collab can be nice if with the right person; however, I prefer to work alone because I can already see the ending when I start the painting. So, in order for someone to work with me, they would have to be able to add to the whole thing, and that adding needs to make sense. That is in a music-making situation. If you click, you click. If not, then forget about it.
In a listening situation, it’s definitely on a personal liking basis, but I listen differently to a production than someone who does not know how to make music does. We listen differently. So depending on who it is, they could love a track that has no meaning, sounds flat mixed, or is weakly produced. It all depends on what listener you got in front of you.
I am super critical about my own stuff, and am obviously that critical about other music, but there is a lot out there that is pure magic. But, with the overkill of music, you have to dig deeper than the charts they create.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
It relates to everyone who can enjoy it. This is what my purpose is.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
In every way music is like medicine. It helps you through rough times, a loss of a person, anything negative. You can lose yourself in a piece of work and display how you feel musically.
There seems to be increasing interest in a functional, “rational” and scientific approach to music. How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
Well, science is cool, but I see to many people just twitching and pushing buttons. I think it’s important to know the essence of actually playing chords on a keyboard and understand rhythm. Know when to leave quantize off instead of on.
It’s about the human touch you lay on a production with your hands. Technology is in a way great and terrible at the same time because it is being made for people to use, and they prey on the lazy ones who like to use presets only with full loops ready to go, not adding anything to the sauce. Technology is great in the right hands.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
It’s always a blank canvas and it’s up to yourself to paint the canvas. That is the beauty creativity is endless.
A cup of coffee you can make in different flavours, so I would say for someone whose love is making coffee, that feels the same if you create a new coffee. However, with music, it is limitless.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
I believe if people put their heart and soul into it, it is displayed without any doubt. I think things only elevate even higher and hope it will proceed to do so.