Exclusive Interview with First State!

The story started not so many years ago in 2008 with Tiesto picking up on Sander van Dien’s emerging production talent of the back of such smash hits as ‘Falling’. Taking the name First State and signing to Black Hole Music, Sander has never looked back and two artist albums later he continues to provide massive smash hits that rock dancefloors the world over. Whether its his eagerly awaited tracks with Sarah Howells such as Reverie, Skies on Fire or the hugely popular mashups coined affectionately as ‘Bashups’ that rock the likes of Armin van Buuren or Afrojack’s sets; Sander is a consistent producer of massive dance floor pleasing anthems. Morphing the First State sound over the last two albums the last twelve months have seen a more underground, housier edge emerge alongside the big riffs, breakdowns and luscious vocals we have come to love from the studio in Holland.

We had the chance to ask Sander van Dien a few question about his carreer, personal life, his studio and much more!

The Interview:

01. Hi Sander, How are you doing and where are you right now?
Hey there I’m doing great thanks for asking. Right now I’m in the studio working on my 3rd album and some new material for the upcoming summer.

02. You recently released the compilation “The Whole Nine Yards 2: Jakarta – Amsterdam” How would you describe this compilation album?
It’s a mixture of Progressive House/ Electro House that I really like lately and it also has some productions of my own.

03. Were you a producer first or a DJ first?
I describe myself as a producer who became a dj later on because of the demand from my audience. My first love is producing as that’s what I started with, but playing out the tunes that I’ve produced in the studio are the cherry on the pie for an artist like myself. It’s a great honor to do so & I have toured all over the world from India to Siberia to Indonesia & so on and I’m not even close to being done 😉

04. Can you tell us something about your first gig? Where was it, and how did it go?
My first gig was in 2008 at club “Escape” in Amsterdam it was a release party for Tiesto’s “Elements of Life” DVD. I never played in a club behind the decks & I bluffed my way in that I could do it but before I had to play I threw up like 3-4 times & I was really nervous but in the end I pulled it off.

05. How do you prepare your gigs, are there any rituals you go through?
As far as preperation before a gig I always make sure that the transitions are nice and most of the time in the key scale of the next track. Also something I take care of is the fact that when I play a track with a crazy groove to it you can’t play a really busy track afterwarts. as it sound like a mess. All-in all I prepare my music as a band would do, but my choises on the night itself are still random and aimed to entertain the audience

06. Who/what inspired you to become a DJ/Producer?
I heard alive set from Paul van Dyk in 2003 from The Love Parade at that point that got me so psyched I heard new music and I was really enthusiastic about that, so that made me decide to give it a shot & that’s how it all started.

07. What does your studio look like and which program do you use to produce music?
My main setup right now is a Mac Pro & I have a UAD system to still have the sound of analog devices compressors, EQs you name it & that’s also what I use to master with. I’m a big fan of Massive by Native instruments. I like the Sylenth synth that’s a very nice synth if you don’t use the presets. I like to keep it as simple as possible as I think you can make most sounds with most synths, it’s just if you focus on one or two synth you know really well, you can actually make a lot more happen than having 200 VST synths on your Mac without knowing how they work.

08. What is your favorite part of the entire music producing process?
My favorite part is the writing part, I love to write melodies & chords, play piano & combine chords. Make it a song

09. What can we expect from you in the near future?
I want to release a lot of new singles this year, I want to also try to experiment with some new sounds, you’ve might have heard that I left the Trance roots & became a little bit more Progressive House/ Electroish as its more challenging for me as I think that music style is moving forward . So you will be hearing a lot more of Progressive House/ Electro House in my next singles as I have been doing for the last 2 ½ years.

10. What do you see as the highlight of your musical career so far?
Playing with Tiesto in the 02 arena for like 30,000 people. That’s hands down the best musical experience ever. Dubvision – Redux

11. What are your favorite records at the moment?
Dubvision – Redux, Deniz Koyu – Rage and Hard Rock Sofa – Rasputin

12. With such a busy DJ and producing life, is there enough time left for you friends and family?
My social life is pretty much busted because of my career choice, but the friends & family that I have are very close to me and they forgive me for the fact that im a studio geek.

13. Thanks a lot for your time! Is there anything you would like to say to your fans and our readers?
Thank you for your interview and my fans thank you for endless support and I hope to see you soon in a club near you.


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Arno Wesselink

With a passion for electronic dance music and a love for technology, I'm always on the lookout for the next big thing. From festival lineups to new releases, I'm dedicated to keeping you up-to-date on the latest news and trends. Let's move to the rhythm of innovation together and keep the music alive! - (Contact:

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