Dutch electronic musician San Holo is a bit of a perfectionist. “Everything I do is paired with perfectionism,” he tells me over the phone.
As a kid, Holo (who was born Sander van Dijck) says he didn’t have much of a life besides school and studying. “I have this weird obsession for doing it right,” he goes on. “Studying for a test, or studying for a song.”
In fact, that perfectionism led Holo’s mom to encourage him to do something just for fun, so he picked up the guitar.
“I was always intrigued by the guitar,” he adds. “Playing guitar changed my life.”
The guitar remains central to Holo’s debut full-length Album1, though much of the record lands squarely in the world of EDM and contemporary DJ music.
Branching out into electronic music helped him reinvent himself creatively, Holo says. “What motivates me the most is doing something new,” he says. “A whole palette of sounds opened up to me. I have so much freedom with this laptop.”
Somewhat unique to Album1, when compared to a lot other EDM, is the heavy use of vocalists like Sofie Winterson and Bipolar Sunshine. The music still has plenty of the exhilarating bass drops and frenetic energy EDM fans look for. Lyrically, the album stays positive, both in terms of the present and as an outlook on the future.
“Brighter days will come,” Bipolar Sunshine sings on “Brighter Days.”
Growing up in Holland, Holo remembers his parents supporting him creatively. But as anywhere, planning to pursue music as a career brought out the naysayers. It took a positive outlook to get Holo where he is today.
“If you say you want to become a musician,” he explains, “people always ask you, ‘That’s cool, but what do you want to do for a living?’”
With the success of Album1 and his current American tour, Holo won’t have to worry about that any time soon. He calls the positive response from audiences while touring the states “incredible.” Shortly after the album was released, crowds were already singing the lyrics back to him.
“It’s magical,” he says of hearing audiences sing his songs. “One of the most beautiful things I’ve experienced.”
San Holo performs with Eastghost, Taska Black and DUSKUS 8 pm Wednesday, Dec. 19, at McDonald Theatre; $20-30, $99 VIP packages available, 16-plus.