Few other European countries churn out top draw house and techno talent quite like the Netherlands. The list at this rate is an exhaustive one, but refreshingly, the music’s quality from the country stays at a consistent rate. One such man who we reckon you’ll be hearing plenty more from soon is SQL AKA Pim van Horssen over the next while. For a recent introduction to his talents, be sure to check his latest EP on Flow Vinyl, ‘Velour’. A lovely and fitting amalgamation of sounds, it might just be the catalyst for something great to come from the man behind the music. With all this in mind, we checked in with the man behind the music to find out more…
How did you first get into electronic music? Why did you like it so much?
I think it was my sister that dragged me along to my first rave. It was an illegal outdoor party somewhere in the outskirts of Amsterdam. Actually it wasn’t the music in particular but the whole experience that captivated me that day. The combination of it all, the people, the music. It was all very new to me at that time. After that day I got into the music more and more and very quickly I decided that I wanted to make it myself
Are you a trained musician then? How did you pick it all up?
Around the time I started going to my first parties I was actually still playing electric bass in a psychedelic rock band together with some friends. So the musicality came very early on. What made electronic music very different is that I was finally able to control the whole process of making a song, not just one element. It was like a whole new world opening up to me.
How important was growing up in Amsterdam to your success?
Amsterdam and especially the underground scene has been very good for my development both as a producer/DJ and as a person. Due to all the people I’ve met that were living a very alternative lifestyle I’ve also made the decision to drop out of college and focus on music fulltime. So in that sense it has been very important for my career, I really don’t know where I would be now If I didn’t decide to pursue a career out of music only.
What was the last record you bought? Do you still go buying records?
The last record I bought was Todd Terje – Ragysh. I’ve actually only recently started collecting vinyl. The last few years I’ve been more of a producer than a DJ, but now feel the urge to play more DJ-sets again. So I’m quite actively searching for new stuff, both on vinyl and digital. I don’t play vinyl outside of the confines of my own home though, I have to admit It’s a bit scary [Laughs]. But I love the feel, the smell and the sound of it.
Do you understand why people don’t? Are you in favour of or against the digital revolution?
I really don’t mind any form of playing music, as long as it’s from the heart. This whole analogue vs digital debate is a waste of time if you ask me! There will always be new technology that enables DJs to play in new ways that we would never have imagined, and on the other hand there will always be purists who prefer vinyl over anything.
As a DJ, how do you define your role then?
What I find most important is providing the crowd with quality tunes mixed to perfection. For me it has always been about the music and not so much about technology or performance. If you close your eyes and the music takes you on a journey it’s a job well done if you ask me.
Why do you think DJs almost have to produce these days to get heard? Were you a DJ or a producer first?
I think that the role as a DJ has become much more than it was 15 years ago. Because so many consider themselves to be a DJ these days, playing records is not very unique anymore. Therefore it’s very important to produce your own tunes so you can show people your musical identity. I myself started out playing and producing around the same time, so both come quite naturally to me. But the last few years I’ve really focused mostly on producing music and playing live shows. The advantage of that is that people get to know your sound and what you stand for musically.
What do you consider the first ‘big break’ in your career then? Or is the best still to come?
Besides one very successful release called “Distorted Reality” back in 2009 I don’t think I’ve had my “big break” yet. Around the time of that release I’ve had a lot of support by DJs like Richie Hawtin and Marco Carola. The problem was that I was already over that sound when the track became so big, so I wasn’t able to keep a steady flow of music that was in the same direction. But I’ve grown steadily for the past few years so I’m happy with that. I’m very happy with the fact that I never really sold out or changed my music to fit the market, I’ve always made music solely to express myself. Musically I feel I’m still learning and growing every day, so maybe my big break is yet to come
How would you best describe your style and sound?
I guess it’s a fusion of techno and progressive. Or maybe just melodic techno. I find it very hard to describe my own music, I guess you just have to listen to it and hear for yourself! [Laughs]. But one thing is for sure, I love music that tells a story. This is a very important aspect of my music.
Who’s been your biggest inspiration and source of advice over the years?
I think mostly the people in my immeadiate environment like Olaf Stuut, Kaap, Secret Cinema, Steve Ward and Child. We show each other what we are working on and give each other feedback constantly. This really helps when you are stuck with something or if you don’t know if something sounds right. Sometimes a fresh ear and some good constructive criticism can really help in the process.
Will you be in Ibiza this year then? Or what are your plans gig-wise?
I wish! I’ve never been to Ibiza – shame on me – but I hope to go there soon. If it’s not for gigs I’ll definitely go there on holidays. I just got a back from a tour in Australia, which has been amazing, and I’m planning to go back there again in the near future. In the near future I’m mostly playing in Holland on a regular basis, which is something I haven’t done much in the last few years! It feels good to finally get some recognition in my own country.
What else is exciting you about modern electronic music?
Loads of things! Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of electronica artists like Mount Kimbie, Little Dragon, Bonobo, Four Tet etc. I’ve been hearing some more 4 to the floor stuff from many of these artists, which is very inspiring.
So what producers and labels are you keeping an eye out for?
You should definitely check out some music from my friends Olaf Stuut, Kaap de goede Hoop, Child and Steve Ward. They all have a very unique sound and I think some of them are on the verge of a breakthrough. Especially Steve Ward with his label Chameleon which I very like very much. Besides that I think my home label Gem has been releasing some very interesting stuff lately, so check It out if you haven’t already.
What more can we look forward from you soon?
I’m releasing a new EP on flowvinyl somewhere next month. The tracks on it include a collaboration with Tom Real plus a massive remix by Wehbba. It’s out now so watch out for it!
SQL’s ‘Velour’ EP (with a remix by Whebba) is out now on Flow Vinyl. Check it out at www.beatport.com