Dutchman Joris Voorn is set to unveil his third LP, 'Nobody Knows', which will be released on 17th November. It's his first album since 2007's 'From A Deep Place' and it's an album which sees him moving further away from the dance floor and into more melodic and ambient territories. We caught up with Voorn to discuss the new LP - taking in tedious albums, photographing California, the influence of Aphex Twin and more.
How did you find the Ibiza season? Good, I had a really good season. I did my night with Nic Fanciulli at Ushuaia, it was a great success – we had a really good time. Every single time was different and we had some great artists playing for us. It really felt like a big family thing.
How did you find it at Ushuaia? The production is certainly impressive. It is – actually it’s an amazing venue. I know they do mostly commercial music or mainstream music, whatever you want to call it, but it’s a venue that lends itself to anything. Anything can work there. We play underground music there, but it works just as well. The right people know how to find their way to our night so that’s all that matters in the end. Your outside which is amazing, it’s great to be in the outdoors when you’re in Ibiza, doing a party in the day time. Sometimes you can go to bed early which is great!
Do you have plans to do it again next year? We would love to, to be honest. We’re speaking to the guys at Ushuaia at the moment and they have to look for availability of course, that’s always a challenge because every night of the week was fully booked this year. We’ll see what their plans are for next year, but we definitely want to do it again, yeah.
Moving onto the album – it’s been seven years since you released your last album. What made you decide to start working on this one, ‘Nobody Knows’? I think making an album as an artist is always a pivotal moment in a career. At least for myself, I feel it is important to express myself in a different way than releasing just 12-inch tracks that are meant for the dance floor. I think doing the album makes you challenge yourself in a very different way than when you’re making these dance floor tracks.
Dance floor tracks are relatively easy, it’s always a matter of trying to keep it as simple as possible because if you make it too complicated no one is going to understand it. This is also the reason that the music on the album is not something that I have been able to play out so much. It’s really a musical journey and about experiencing and expressing myself in a different way. Also trying to reinvent myself and trying to come up with a new sound – experimenting and seeing what else I can do rather than just dance floor tracks.
Was there a concept to the album? You mentioned about wanting to discover new sounds, how did you go about doing that? I think one of the problems was that there wasn’t a concept. This is why it took so long. I just started to make music for fun and I just started making sketches really. I just felt that it was time to start making music again – just sketches out of the blue and completely different things that I’ve done before.
After a couple of years I collected all these different sketches and there wasn’t really a coherent concept behind it. They were all very different and very down tempo – things that I could never play in my sets. It was a challenge to work some of these sketches into an album and the fact that they were all very different made it difficult to get to a coherent overall final sound. It was a challenge.
Personally, I think straight-up house and techno albums run the risk of being quite dull. Obviously you’ve moved away from that type of album. Yeah, of course. Personally, I don’t listen to house and techno albums – maybe because I’m listening to it at the weekends all the time or I’m making it, but they can be quite tedious and boring. Especially in this day and age, when there’s so much music. It’s hard to focus on beats for that long. 12 tracks is quite a long time. I think it’s best to try to do something else, to get a better listening experience.
There are a lot of ambient and airy sounds on the album. What would you say are the biggest influences on the album? I’ve really been into ambient music for almost 20 years now. When I was 18 or 19, when I first started listening to electronic music, there was nothing that I liked more than sitting with my headphones on, closing my eyes and listening to these abstract soundscapes – Aphex Twin, Autechre, all the Warp stuff, Orbital and things like that. There’s definitely a big influence from that time. That’s always been a part of my music. To be honest all my albums have featured a couple of these kinds of tracks, which are very atmospheric in a way.
I think for this album I just felt that certain songs were going to sound like that. There wasn’t really a concept behind it though, I wasn’t sitting down and going, ‘right, let’s make this kind of track’. It’s a really interesting sound to work on and a really interesting way of expressing yourself and finding the right tension between it becoming to generic and too boring. It can be quite generic, you know, drones and soundscapes. It’s also not difficult to make that, so it’s also a challenge to work on these sounds and make them musically interesting as well.
When you can make it work a lot of ambient music can hold a lot of emotion. Exactly, yeah. That’s kind of what I’m trying to say. I think that if you do it right, and if you do it well, you can really touch on something which other types of music can’t.
How was it recorded? It was recorded in many different ways. I started making sketches with my guitar and bass guitar and at the time I had bought some microphones, I started using shakers and all kinds of things. I was recording things in a way that I have never done before and really making music from scratch without using any electronics. Then I used some of those elements along the way and I’ve also been in London with a musician and engineer called Shaun Lee, working on a couple of songs.
We’ve been recording things there and he’s been adding some elements, which has been great too. Not everything that we worked on got to the album because I just couldn’t fit everything in with the right kind of sound that I was looking for. Some other tracks are completely digital, some others I used a few synthesisers and outboard gear. There was a lot of different ways of making music and it came together in the box.
Some of the tracks you haven’t released – will they see a release eventually? You know, it’s been such a long lasting project that I can’t way to put a lid on it and just never look back [laughs]. It was kind of the same when I finished my Balance mix in 2008. It took such a long time, like 5 months, and I felt completely empty. I just wanted to do something completely different, so I’m looking forward to doing that with this album as well! At the moment I’m still working on the vinyl version, some of the dance floor oriented versions of the tracks. I’m not completely finished, but I can’t wait to have that finished as well.
Will there be no plans to play it live then? I’m not sure about that yet. To be honest I’m quite interested in looking at the options and opportunities of performing some of the tracks live, or getting inspiration in any way. I think there’s definitely a challenge there and something that could be interesting. I just want to keep the option open, I don’t want to promise anything.
For producers there are so many different options to play live, it must be hard to work out how to do it. Yeah exactly, there are so many different ways of doing it and everything is possible now with the way that technology has been developing. There’s always the challenge of making something live – getting the right balance between making it really live and sounding good as well. Also not too pre-programmed, but keeping options open. Again it’s a real challenge to make something really work on the dance floor, rather than just saying I will tour it live and not really making convincing sounds.
There are a few collaborations on there as well – how did Matthew Dear and Kid A become involved? Well, Kid A I knew from music she was working on with Agoria. I thought she had this really amazing voice. She was one of the first that I really wanted to ask. She was very happy to do so. She was very eager. I sent her a track and the next day she sent me all these vocals back and they all sounded amazing – recorded with different layers and in a really interesting way in which I could really use the vocals. For me, it was really inspiring to work on.
Mathew Dear is very inspiring and someone I listen to and he was keen to work on a track. He also turned the track around and gave me something really unexpected, a very bluesy kind of take on a very deep and melodic track that I sent him. That was really interesting as well and I’m very happy about the results.
I was thinking about the image on the cover as well – I believe you took it? I went to California with my family for a couple of weeks earlier this year and I took my camera. I’ve always been into photography and my previous two albums have featured my photos as well. in the beginning I thought I wanted to do the cover differently and I was going to get an artist or a designer to do it. I was talking to one for a long time and then for whatever reason he said he couldn’t do it.
When I was in California I was shooting so many images that at some point I decided it wasn’t bad material to create my album artwork from. I took a lot of pictures, but I think there are around 20 or 25 that end up being used for the album. We’re making a really nice booklet for the CD version. It’s all very landscape oriented photography from California. For me, it’s always been quite personal to be very much involved in the artwork as well, with this I just felt very confident doing it myself, in the end. I did all the photo treatments myself – the cover is quite heavily treated colour-wise.
Finally, what else do you have coming up? I’m working on some stuff with Joran Van Pol, who is a Minus artist – he makes very good minimal techno. We’re working on two tracks and another I am remixing, which is proving to be quite an interesting song. I’ve been playing it a few times and people have been asking about it. That’s going to be interesting, I’m going to try and send that to a good label or maybe I’ll release it myself, we’ll see. I’ve also got a couple remixes for Audion and Royksopp at the moment.
‘Nobody Knows’ will be released November 17th through Green.