Despite being quiet and gentle in person, San Holo can fill a whole venue with his intense sound and heavy hits. Between playing the electric guitar and producing his own music, he creates a unique live electronic experience. He started his own record label, bitbird, and is constantly helping new artists emerge into their own spotlight. I’ve seen him multiple times, and I was amazed at the unique moments he creates with each set. One of his top and my favorite singles of his is “Light.” Don’t forget to add it to your playlist.
I have a question from a mutual friend. She told me to ask you about how you feel about pineapple on pizza.
*laughs* I like pizza on my pineapple, tell her that.
The description I saw on Google is bitbird is a creative record label you created. Can you tell us a little more about it and your mission behind it?
With bitbird, we strive to support artists who want to bring something new to the table. A lot of labels are trying to get the music that is popular and what’s going to work. I think we want to release something that is new and ahead of its time. You can’t release something that is too futuristic because people have to be ready for it. In bitbird, we want to create a group of music lovers who love music the way we do. We release classical, trap, and band music, as long as it reaches our heart. We believe in what these artists are trying to say, whether it is with a piano or a laptop. It’s clear we don’t have a specific genre, but we have an emotion. We just want beautiful music that touches us.
The only thing in the about section other than a photo is Marcel Duchamp’s quote, “I force myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.” Why this quote, or why Marcel Duchamp?
I think it’s a powerful quote. If you are always doing what feels right, how do you get out of your box? Like Duchamp is saying, he would make things he didn’t like because maybe eventually he would like them. “Weird” is just another word for “different”. If you make something that is weird, you are making something different. It doesn’t mean you can’t start to love it.
Moving these elements to a live setting, you create such a powerful presence. The whole venue is just bursting with your heavy sound and melodies. In your eyes, what is so vital when performing live, and how do you create that so powerful stage presence?
I’ve never thought about creating a presence. I played in a band before DJing, and I think one of the most beautiful things is feeding off each other’s energy in a band. I can’t do that now, however, because I am playing by myself. But being in a band is like being in a relationship, and relationships are hard. Even though I am by myself now, I still try to find that energy. I’m vibing to the music just as much as the people in the crowd are. I can’t stand still and only press buttons, I have to move to it. I suck at dancing, I really only jump and headbang.
You recently worked with Yellow Claw on “Summertime,” such a cool set of guys. Tell us a little bit about collaborating with them on that.
The fun thing about them is they are in a whole other realm. They are very heavy, very trap. I’m very sparkly and colorful. But it worked really well together. We are both from Holland, and they saw me play guitar and asked for me to play a guitar solo on their record. They first painted the image of me standing on top of a car playing a “Purple Rain” type solo, but I told them that sort of thing was outdated. I wanted to do something new but simple. I played a few notes, and they loved it and put it on the record. They shot a few scenes of me playing guitar in the rain on the car, and it was awesome.
Diving deep for a second, what’s been one of your biggest fears in this career and how have you overcome it?
I never started making music to become a performer. I just love making music. I liked bands, but I never thought about touring. I used to be very uncomfortable knowing I had to wake up and go to another city or fly in a plane to Australia or America for 13 hours. Now, I’m better at it and way more at ease. I’m way more relaxed and calm seeing more of the world. I’ve been in LA for three months but go back to Holland next week. I’ve realized anywhere can be home if you feel comfortable with yourself.
Lastly, what’s one song you can’t stop listening to?
Do you know Sufjan Stevens? Let me look at my Spotify. I’m looking at my airplane playlist. I’ve been listening to The Blaze a lot. Listen to the song, “Virile.”
STORY & COVER PHOTO ELIZABETH STAFFORD
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