Dutch DJ Sander van Dijck, better known as San Holo, has been a musician most of his life. Before becoming a producer and electronic artist, van Dijck was studying guitar and playing in indie bands in the Netherlands. Today he’s an award-winning DJ and a Marquee resident. The Weekly caught up with him to talk about new music in the works and his Vegas show on February 22.
How are you today? I’m good. I won a really cool prize in Holland yesterday. I won the equivalent of a Grammy; it’s called an Edison award, so that was pretty cool. It was for my album that I released a couple months ago, Album 1. So we’ve [partied] last night, and today is just another studio day.
What are you currently working on? Basically I’m always working on music, whether it’s on the road or I’m in a plane or in a bus. When I get to go home I get to go to my studio and finish all of that. I tour a lot, and I toured a lot the last couple of years. I get a lot of inspiration from traveling, meeting people, playing shows and all these bits and pieces. I get ideas from that, and I produce them on my laptop and then I go home and work that all out.
You just released the music video for “Always on My Mind.” Can you talk to me about how you arrived at the concept? I think it’s important to say when I named the album Album 1 [I did it] so that I didn’t put any words or thoughts into people’s heads before they listened to the music, I could’ve called it “Always on My Mind” or numerous titles, but I chose to pick a very boring analytical word so people could link their own story and experiences with the music without painting a picture beforehand. “Always on My Mind” could be interpreted many ways. I asked the director Teemong to interpret the song in his own way and he made this story about depression and anxiety, which I think is a very important subject these days. I initially meant it as a love song … but he felt it was more like a painful song, and that’s beautiful because he really did what I wanted the album to do to people. Whatever it means to you, that’s the most important thing. I could tell you it’s about this or that, but who am I to tell you what it’s about if you feel something?
On February 22 you’re dropping your first single of the year, “Lead Me Back.” Does that represent the creative direction you’re headed in for 2019? What I think is very important is creative freedom, which means I don’t want to be stuck, per se, in a certain genre. I can make a house track or a trap track—for this next song I took it to the next level with making a kind of folky, indie song. It still has electronics and drums and a drop, but it’s a very kind of acoustic-themed song with very personal and honest lyrics. I just really felt I wanted to make something like this, and I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with that or go in a completely different direction. To me it’s a special track.
You studied guitar when you were younger, right? I studied music, and I graduated as a bachelor of music. I’ve got that degree, not that anyone asks for it onstage (laughs). I’ve been making music for over 15 years now, playing guitar in bands, and had several projects. At some point I started San Holo, because I didn’t want to rely on a band or someone else; I just wanted to have full control of what I wanted to do. My sound, I think, is just a result of the years and years of playing guitar and writing songs with bands. There’s a lot of melodies in there; there’s a lot of chord progressions—very colorful-sounding things.
You’re also playing Marquee the same day your song drops. What can people expect from that set? The Marquee shows are DJ sets. I do two types of shows—a live show which has guitars and vocals and all kinds of other instruments—and I do DJ sets which are more based on me playing a variety of songs that inspire me. In Las Vegas you always play for an interesting crowd; it’s partly people who are coming for you, and partly people who are coming for a good night. I play a lot of my own music, and I will mix it with some classics while staying in my own kind of atmosphere.
Have you seen much of Vegas outside the Strip? I would love to get to know Vegas better. It’s not a secret that most of the time I go to Vegas because I have to play shows. I would love to see what happens outside of the gambling and the casinos, because I didn’t really get a chance to see that yet. I know that a lot of people live there that are working, and I can’t imagine what it’s like.
SAN HOLO February 22, 10:30 p.m., $20-$30. Marquee, 702-333-9000.