Blending guitars and vocals, Dutch artist/producer San Holo creates a distinctive, forward-thinking style that places him high on the list of trailblazers in today’s electronic music landscape, complete with the daily #blessed percentages he shares with his fans.
this guy is calculating his daily blessed percentage! very precise! pic.twitter.com/PGs6qPn3XW
— ✨ San Holo ✨ (86%) (@sanholobeats) May 25, 2019
San Holo first got interested in music while driving around with his dad in their native Holland — but never envisioned himself becoming an electronic music DJ.
He developed an early affinity for guitar and punk rock — playing in bands at an early age — which led to him attending Codarts University of the Arts in Rotterdam for a music degree. While he went in to study the guitar, he couldn’t help sneaking into the production classes.
In 2014, he took a friend’s advice and started adding his production skills to some classic hip hop songs, shapeshifting them into his own remixes and putting them up on YouTube. The rest was history.
His sound began to translate to real demand — kickstarting his touring career, and a performance at the legendary Tomorrowland for the first time. It was during this time that San also made the pivotal decision to start his own label, bitbird (which would release “Light” a year later), co-founding the imprint with a friend he knew from his old rock band days and bringing on his manager as a partner.
Released in 2016, the track “Light” has hit over 100 million streams on Spotify — garnering traction and airplay throughout the global dance music ecosystem. Grateful and humbled by the groundswell of acclaim he is receiving for “Light” around the globe, San says the best is yet to come.
Carrying on through 2017, San Holo released the tracks “The Future” ft. James Vincent McMorrow, the smash hit “I Still See Your Face” — which landed San Holo his first top 40 record in The Netherlands and a performance on the #1 talk show in Netherlands, “DWDD”. San Holo has also recently released “One Thing,” The Trip EP.
In 2018, San focused on writing his debut album for the first quarter only stopping to release “Right Here, Right Now” — which featured a stellar music video based around an obsessive fan — preceding San’s performance at Coachella. From there, San honed in on finishing up album1.
Debut single “worthy / lift me from the ground” was released to critical acclaim in early August, which kickstarted an intense eight-week roll-out culminating in the album’s release on September 21st. Following that San embarked on a nine-week North American headlining tour which will be followed by tours in Australia, Europe, and a return to North America spring 2019.
Before his upcoming show at Good Vibes Festival in July 2019, Popspoken caught up with the man himself at this point of his musical journey.
POPSPOKEN: You must be a huge Star Wars fan to take on a stage name after Han Solo.
San Holo: The name started out as a joke among some friends I used to produce with because I was just producing under my name Sander van Dijck. Somebody suggested I just go with San Holo and everybody laughed but that’s really how it started.
POPSPOKEN: Name one thing you do as a professional DJ that would surprise other people.
For one, I don’t DJ as much as I used to. Since last year I’ve been doing full live shows as much as possible for my album1 tour!
If I am DJ-ing though I usually try and play guitar as well now as much as I can in the sets.
POPSPOKEN: What’s on your playlist right now? Share with us a couple of songs you’ve been obsessed with lately.
The new EASTGHOST album Misery & Wonder is absolutely insane. He’s one of the most talented producers I know and a very genuine soul. We’ve spent a lot of time together in the last few months and I’m very proud to see him put it out.
POPSPOKEN: Some artists have a love-hate relationship with their breakthrough song. Is this the case for you and “Light”?
Not at all, but I also don’t think I’m defined by “Light” either. album1 was a big step for me as my debut album, and I think that really resonated with my fan-base.
At the end of a show the fans want to hear me play “Light” which is fine, because they’re also very receptive of all of the new music I put out and they appreciate what I’m trying to do.
POPSPOKEN: Congrats on releasing your debut album last year. There are a number of collaborations with other artists in the album, how do you decide who you want to collaborate with?
I just try and write with my friends as much as possible. I rented a little AirBNB in LA where most of the recording process happened and I just had as many friends come by to hangout and write. James Vincent McMorrow, Fazerdaze, The Nicholas, Phil Jamieson (from Caspian) for example.
I met Bipolar Sunshine at Coachella and we really hit it off so I invited him to come over as well, we pretty much wrote “brighter days” in one day and recorded it the next.
POPSPOKEN: Which artist(s) would you love to collaborate with next?
Would love to work with a whole bunch of artists. Kanye West, Sufjan Stevens, American Football, Sigur Ros, Robyn, Tyler The Creator just to name a few.
POPSPOKEN: If you could choose one problem to solve in the music industry, what would it be?
More interesting music on the radio. A lot of the things I hear on the radio could be described as a genre called “radio”. I’d love to hear a greater variety of more interesting artists and songs.
POPSPOKEN: Lastly, what would you want “San Holo” to be remembered for?
Pushing boundaries with my music. Never feeling comfortable with just one sound and always trying to push music forward and produce music I’ve never heard before.
View this post on Instagram
hey :) this picture was taken the last day of the album1 recording process. i recorded a lot of instruments and sounds on this balcony, often times late at night. there’s something magical about this place and i cherish all the memories that were created here, vestal avenue, LA. there’s something so nostalgic about all of this. everything that happened the last 12 months is a result of the music i wrote here; music i wrote and recorded, with true friends, people i look up to and admire. inspired by life and it’s ups and downs…… yesterday i entered a new airbnb in LA, after having toured for months. it was so quiet. no one around. no tourbus engine noise. no noise at all. it almost felt scary and lonely. a very complex feeling. i always feel kind of lost after tour. today already feels better than yesterday. imma go buy myself an inspiring guitar right now and see what happens musically. much love to you all. bless xo ~ san (pic @thorwald__ miss you bro)
Catch San Holo and many more great acts at Good Vibes Festival 2019, happening in Genting Highlands from July 20 – 21.