We can’t wait to explore the infinite possibilities of San Proper live this Saturday night. The Dutch technical pioneer is one of our favourite acts to return to Room One journeying us through his distinctive vision of sound and style, showcased by his extroverted personality that never fails to ignite the stage. As an ambassador of the underground Amsterdam scene, his tight relationship with excellent Dutch imprint Rush Hour goes back to his first release in 2007 to last year when RH asked San to deliver them a debut LP, ‘Animal’ out later this month. A project sounding so good, close friend and Chilean mastermind Ricardo Villalobos has helped mix down the tracks in his Berlin studio, as well as provide two first class remixes of the title track for a recently released 12”.
In a peak time of his career, we caught up with San Proper ahead of Saturday to talk more on the cinematic feel of the album tracks, the personal thing he shares with Rush Hour and why the album work is far from done. Read on for all of this and more, plus you heard it here first - Fact have got three vinyl copies of Animal EP, remixed by Ricardo Villalobos to give away.
News is travelling fast about your debut 'Animal' album unleashing later this month on Rush Hour. How are you feeling about finally sharing the project with the rest of the world?
I’m very happy it’s coming out 28th May, I started to work on it in August when Rush Hour approached me to do an album in the style of two other tracks I released on the label before. The track “Caught on You” which is the first track on the Amsterdam Allstars Compilation, and the last track which I did on Tom Trago’s album “Iris”, both vocal tracks. Since August 2011 I’ve been working hard on new material and it relatively all went quite fast; writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering it. All of the tracks have been written on the road; recording vocals in hotel-rooms and studios around Europe and even Brazil. Eventually bringing it back to my lab in Amsterdam and finally mixing tracks in Berlin. I feel blessed with the result.
What was this album-making process like compared to previous projects? What were the main inspirations behind each of the tracks?
Like I said, the process took place while I was performing and playing around, but all tracks have topics which reflect all the adventures and emotions I’ve been going through in the last months. There was always a particular story which I had in mind, but this usually is the case with my work, even with remixes. I like the tracks to have a cinematic feel, plus with the lyrics I usually try to express the emotions of the storyteller more than just telling the tale itself.
Two Ricardo Villalobos remixes are now available of the title track. Tell us about your collaboration with the Euro-Chilean mastermind in his studio? Who approached who?
We’ve known each other for quite some time and we’ve been jamming and working on several tracks before. When I was working on “Animal” RH got a little hungry for a taste of our collaboration, so in December I got together with Ricardo and we started dubbing and playing around for a couple of days and these two remixes were born.
Your vocals appear on the remixes in all their splendour. How important is it to use your vocals in your tracks?
When I started to sing more for the project I did with Tom Trago, The Dirt Machine, where we played all instruments ourselves and wanted to do something different from most of the House music we produce, fusing Disco, Wave, Rock and other influences. After touring a bit with this project I noticed I couldn’t keep myself from singing on my solo productions. It also felt important to me to do so because it’s a way to share more feelings, ideas and opinions, especially when you keep it a little abstract for people to relate to it in different situations. Since the dawning of House-music people have been singing to electronic music and there are many artists which I respect for that today. Robert Owens with Mr Fingers for instance.
What's your relationship like with Rush Hour since you first released in 2007 to today for the debut 'Animal' LP? In what ways has the label allowed you to have free reign in what you do?
Rush Hour to me is family. It has grown like that since I started digging for vinyl when they opened the store in ’97 and grew even closer when I first started to release with them in 2007 but because they know me well, they can also give me the toughest critique, most interesting inspiration, treasurable trust, funk feedback alongside cruel comments from time to time. I appreciate that and I can handle it well. Of course it’s important for some artists and A&R-people to stay a lot more ‘respecting the artists for what they are & do’, but I have a personal thing with Rush Hour and the way they treat me, which is about honesty and love. I think in this case it often brings out the best in me and my music.
How was the San Proper live experience born?
I was born ready.
Can you tell us what is the Animal live show set to launch this summer going to be about?
It’s about unleashing the animal in all of us, right there on the spot so you can stay in touch with ‘soul-animal’ at any given time after this proper experience of a live.
What’s your live gear set up?
It depends on my mood and the setting but I usually bring some curiosa & crazy percussion with some new tools to keep it live. Apart from that there's a mic for the vocals, the occasional bass guitar or another set of strings, some effects, sequencers, laptops, controllers, drummachines and other toys. My new shows will be much more simple and straight-up, but in the last couple of years I've been really been enjoying fucking around with this format. The issue is it takes up so much attention which I'd rather use to connect with other mammals in the crowd.
With the album out in a few weeks, what else should we be looking out for from you?
I think you shouldn’t see it like; “The album is out, so now all the work is done…”
First of all, there’s a lot of promotion & touring in store and I hope to extend it to a level where my live-show can also grow into another formation with more guest-appearances and other live musicians, instead of me solo. To do some more concert-gigs too, next to the club-tour. Apart from that I’ll be working on the next album in the next couple of years, but I can’t say much about that right now.
Second; There are plans with ‘The Dirt Machine’ too and I’ll be doing more collabs in between, but I’d rather come back on that when the time is right if you don’t mind. I’d like you also to focus on ‘Animal’ for now…