Esteemed techno and deep house producer, Orlando Voorn launches the new Super Culture label with his new track ‘Everyday Desires’, accompanied by remixes from Fabric’s Terry Francis. Known for quality releases fired off at a dizzying pace, Orlando Voorn’s recent highlights include the ‘Star Travel’ LP on Jeff Mill’s Axis Record; the ‘Internal Destination EP’ on Kompakt Records; ‘Soul Society EP’ on Burek Records; ‘In Deep Thought’ on Alex Attias’ Visions Recordings as well as launching his own new imprint Soul Stage.Originally a scratch DJ and Winner of The Netherlands’ DMC Championships in ’86 & 87, Orlando is recognised as an original and ingenious producer of electronic dance music.
From his early DJ successes, he started producing bombastic hardcore as Frequency, trance before the genre even existed as Format, and acres of vividly colourful techno as Frequency racking up tracks such as ‘Where is Your Evidence’, ‘Kiss the Sky’ and ‘Industrial Metal’ for Lower East Side Records.One of the first to forge early links with Detroit’s techno originators, Orlando was first Introduced to Juan Atkins (Cybotron). They joined forces on seminal cut ‘Game One’, a classic on Juan’s Metroplex label. Orlando worked with Blake Baxter under the alias ‘The Ghetto Brothers’ going on to produce 2 EPs featuring timeless classics such as ‘Ghetto Disco’ and ‘Ghetto Blues’. One of his biggest tracks is ‘Flash’ on KMS Records, which set the techno world alight with its gritty industrial funk attitude.
Orlando also produced ‘Midi Merge’ under the Complex alias for Derrick May’s Fragile label.Based in Georgia (USA), Orlando’s work rate continues to out strip many of his contemporaries and here he chats about living in a pandemic era, his memorable highlights and what’s coming up…
Hi Orlando – great to hear your new release ‘Everyday Desires’ and how did come to create this – where there any particular inspirations?
I produce different styles of electronic music and do things according my mood. This one I could sense the more club peak time affair. I do not have a particular way of putting things together…think of it as a painting, where you have a blank canvas and you just start throwing paint. You start a process depending on what musical mood. When I was younger I grew up to love a lot of disco imports and these times are good for a record like this. I enjoy seeing the young generation go wild on good music and understand.
I can hear disco and jazzy vibes in there and were and are you particularly influenced and continue to be influenced by these musical genres, which seems to be having a huge renaissance on the dance floor at this time?
Yes I have several disco, funk ,soul , house based things going on I donʼt think that will ever fade, I really appreciate these times music wise…it all goes back to the basics and there is a lot of good music around. I do any style I really like and only if I am capable of executing it correctly. So it all depends on mood of the moment.
Originally from Amsterdam in The Netherlands, where are you based these days, and how have thIngs been for you during the pandemic and several lockdowns? Has it further ignited yourcreative juices or are you itching for things to be more open and relaxed?
I am based in Georgia USA and was early prepared for this pandemic. It’s normal for me to produce everyday and you could say that the production output tripled in the last 2 years. I put out a lot of music under various labels and will continue to do so.
Blending and mixing up everything from disco, jazz, funk and more in your techno and house productions, for people unfamiliar to your sound how would you describe it?
I just do electronic music period but I put myself in all things and of course also get influenced by other things. I do not like to be put in a box – to0 many DJ/Producers stick to one thing or theme and never change it up. I like to go adventurous and do different things. I always said everyone got their favourite food but if thatʼs the only thing you’re gonna eat itʼs going to be boring. I make music because I love to do it and will let no one dictate to me what to follow.
Who and what were your earliest musical influences and did your family or neighbours play a part in shaping your journey into music?
Like any real music lover I went through phases of things I liked Reggae, symphonic rock , Hardrock ,Metal, Disco,Funk ,Gospel, house ,Techno, Electro, Hip Hop. I was a die hard Rush fan and studied Neil Peart RIP. I played the drums first before the DJ-ing and started real early with that around 11 years old. The shop that inspired me DJ at that time was Rhythm Import ran by Peter Duikersloot. He imported all the great music from USA straight into Amsterdam. I was there a lot. In my first Techno days I have to give props out to Dylan Hermelijn also known as 2000 and One He linked me with Lower East Side Records and he told me the stuff I made was techno and should connect. The rest is history.
Somewhat of a teen prodigy I heard your were a serious scratch DJ by the time you were 13 and again how did you get into this and where did you get decks to practice on? How did you 1st get turned onto hip hop and scratching?
I was interested in the DJ craft and was totally inspired it. I checked out Grandmaster Flash with his quick mix style and soon I convinced my dad to get me some Technics MK 1200ʼs and a mixer.
There’s stories of you borrowing records for your first DJ set/competition and is that true and what happened? What were your killer cuts to scratch and mix with at that time?
Yes this is true. It was in Flora Palace at that time and the judges were all American. I went there initially just to watch what was going on and one of the contestants I knew a bit. His name was Johny Tiffany and he was quite good so he had a lot of confidence…so much confidence he said to me ‘Why you donʼt compete? You can sign up right now’. I told him damn if I knew that I would have brought some records, so he offered to lend some of his records.
That was not a smart idea as I cut scratched and backspinned with his records and won the competition. The fact that it was American judges was the kick. The only thing was a part of the prize was you would go on TV if you won but you couldnʼt be underage, which I still was. I was like 14 or 15.
From this competition you graduated to the DMC World Mixing Championships, how did you find your early experiences in this arena and was it your first time in the UK for the Finals?I think you said DJ Cheese won and were you disappointed or was it just a great learning experience and what happened for you coming out of the competition?
I won the Dutch `championship twice and Robin Albers set up the connection between the Dutch mixers and contesters The #1 would go to the DMC Championships in UK and I can honestly say looking back that was a hell of an experience and of course I was young and very very opinionated (still are bout some things). The only thing I at that time was against was that it was called DMC which is Disco Mix Club so I figured transitions of records from one to the other, mixed with scratching and so forth. When DJ Cheese came on he did amazing things like backspinning with handcuffs on and making a beat with his hands. The one thing was he did not do was blend one record into another and me as competitive as I was back then and impulsive at the same time, I grabbed the mic from Tony Prince when he announced me in 3rd Place and said let me ask this “ Is this a mix competition or a scratch competition?”. I got enormous applause and Tony Prince grabbed the microphone back and kicked me lol. Me and Cheese are on a good level and there is absolutely no bad vibes or anything I was just young and extremely competitive. It had a whole backlash and I got interviewed by the magazine. In the end I think that though DJ Cheese deserved to win the entire rules changed after as hardly nobody made blends and it went straight to the cutting up and backspin routines.
This magazine grew out of DMC and the Mixing Championships are still going and do you still love/play vinyl and do you utliise your early skills when youʼre performing these days?
Yes I still love vinyl I also still produce my music on vinyl I also like CDJʼs as you can test out your own music while you play out. As you know there is a big part of the scene now ran by bigger Agencies that mostly dictate what is hot and what not and make Individuals rise up quickly and without any history, they become “#1” picks Obviously there are some people that deserve it through skills and arenʼt puppet slaves to the corporate machine. If you have one not so good gig in this game you will be shut down as a DJ. Today itʼs about (paid) followers, a big team, Marketing etc, and they donʼt care about History. So my true love lies with production which I’ve been doing non-stop for over 30 years now, You wonʼt see me much but you’ll hear me everywhere.
Some might see your departure from hip hop into techno as not really linear, and how did youcome to break into the early techno sound and can you tell us about some of your memorable experiences and releases from the early days of techno music?
I wouldnʼt say departure but I understood we were born in a small country with back then small budgets and big egoʼs. Those 2 things don’t wor ktogether very well. The thing that made me stop doing hip hop productions was that it had to be something commercial if you wanted to succeed. Dutch A&Rʼs were always saying to underground producers you need a gimmick blah blah blah. I figured it would be better to brighten my horizons and do stuff by myself. I basically started the hip hop way in Techno. The first workstation I owned was a Roland W30 and I did everything on that one unit. I sampled sounds and drums and put stuff together that way and expand bit by bit by buying synths and modules. As mentioned earlier my career started with Lower East Side Records who were 2 lads -Jeroen Flamman & Abraxis – which they ran from their home. The underground just press up records and with very little promotion my stuff just took off. No followers or big agency behind it…just some cool cats with love for the music. It was a fruitful time and everything went smooth like butter. Lower East Side thought me and Juan Atkins would be a good combo as my Frequency Productions were similar to his hardcore stuff. A little later I met Blake Baxter and went to Detroit.
I brought productions with me and spread them out there at to KMS, fRAGILE and Metroplex and all the guys there called me their brother from the jump.
So lovely chatting with you and whatʼs next for you in terms of releases/touring etc?
As far as productions it is limitless I have a load coming out including Orlando Voorn & Amp Fiddler _ ‘Future’ (Back 2 Basic) mixes on Burek; a Fix Mastercuts EP on Heist; my own Orlando Voorn releases ‘No Doubt’; a ‘Swing The Jazz’ album on Contrafact; Frequency’s ‘Turn The Light RRR’ on Clone; a Pokerface EP on Transient Nature.