VANDER has demonstrated an incredibly diverse set of talents through remarkable releases, unique hybrid performances, and a number of entrepreneurial ventures. Of Dominican descent, his history of bringing records to high-ranking labels include The Gardens of Babylon, Stil Vor Talent, Pipe & Pochet and Klassified. His distinct yet diverse sound dances the lines between Afro-Latin influences, synthwave and the darker sides of disco. He sat down with 6AM to discuss the influence of his Hispanic heritage on his music and how electronic music can become more inclusive.
What does it mean for you to represent your culture in the world of dance music?
Bringing my Latin culture into the world of dance music represents honor and diversity. Living in this worldwide community and having the opportunity to travel gives me a sense of responsibility to show the sounds and colors of my native country into the world. Sometimes I feel like a cultural ambassador since I believe that part of my job is to showcase all the beautiful culture the Dominican Republic has. It’s surprising to see that not everyone knows that the country even exists!
What prompted your move to Amsterdam?
I moved to Amsterdam in order to learn from the best electronic music scene in the world. I felt it was a move I needed to do in order to excel in this industry.
“If we love the artist and they don’t have any social media presence, we do take a leap of faith. Part of our mission is to support upcoming artists as well, but their music needs to speak to us.”
On booking artists for his shows
When booking talent, what do you look for? (streams? club relevancy? social media?)
When booking talent for my Corals event we need to love the music, of course, being a fan of the artist is also the first priority. After that, we take into consideration social media presence, streams and relevancy. All these points are factors we consider in order to know how much we can offer and to know if it makes sense business-wise. It’s how the music industry works these days, sadly. However, as mentioned before, music first numbers later.
If we love the artist and they don’t have any social media presence, we do take a leap of faith. Part of our mission is to support upcoming artists as well, but their music needs to speak to us.
As someone who wears multiple hats, what do you enjoy the most: creating opportunities for talent or getting behind the decks?
Can’t choose, I love being behind the decks but I also find incredible joy when I give the chance to someone else. Hard question!
Do you feel dance music has become more inclusive considering most of the festival lineups are still dominated by white male artists?
I feel these days promoters are heavily trying to balance the lineups at least with female artists. I can see that now female artists are coming way stronger in the lineups. Very happy to see this shift. I also don’t feel that “white” artists are dominating, I’ve never felt this way.
What kind of shifts need to happen to elevate other voices in the scene?
I think the shift we need to see is actually having artists raise their voices! In electronic music specifically, artists are too silent when it comes to social issues, which I understand because it’s ‘safer’ to be on a neutral side of things. If we really want a change [then] we shouldn’t be afraid of creating discord.