Dijf Sanders’ boiling dark exotica

Brugge-born, Gentbrugge-based producer Dijf Sanders pens and produces soundtracks for distant, far- flung places he’s never actually set foot in. Think brooding exotica, with hints of jazz and electronica. Here, he talks about his love of field recordings and how his music grows out of accidents.

What’s behind your name?

My name is actually an adaptation of the phonetic version of an abbreviation of my real name David. And Sanders is my real last name. In school they used to call me Dave and spelled it “Deef”. So it changed over the years into “Dijf”.

How would you describe your music? Where does it have its roots?

It can be best described as simmering, boiling dark exotica. Its roots can be found in the music of Moondog and Eden Ahbez. Acoustic, in an electronic way or vice versa.

Where were you born, and where are you based today?

I was born and raised in Brugge but I now live in Gentbrugge.

How did you first get into music?

When I was 14, I had a friend who’d get all the girls by playing his guitar. This was my first motivation. So when I reached the age of 15, my brother gave me a cheap acoustic guitar. The beginning of my unsuccessful hippy period, which made my girl- obtaining powers worse. It was only at the age of 18 that I swapped my guitar for a computer.

How do you record your music?

It never starts with an idea. It always grows out of accidents. It’s a slow process to encounter accidents, but when there’s one, it can go fast. Sometimes it’s a rhythm, sometimes a sound or an atmosphere. I never rehearse. I only record and improvise. Out of these improvisations, I cut and edit until I’m satisfied. When I record the sax, horns and flutes (by Nathan and Jon), I also let them improvise. I never let them hear the song before we record. I let them play in a loop and in the meantime I make mental notes of where the best parts are and if I have everything I need I press the stop button. Improvisations are the only way for me to keep the song mysterious after I’ve finished editing, mixing and mastering.

Can you describe your recording space?

I used to record at home in the attic. Mostly a very sloppy studio with cables in knots and gear trashed all over the place. It’s hard for me to hold on to an idea or atmosphere for a long time, so I need to act fast, hence the trash. I don’t have time to clean up. The outdoors are my second studio. I love field recordings and recording instruments in other places. Now I have a new studio outside my house, which is great! I can finally work at night, which is for me the only time to be truly out there.

What do you find the most challenging when recording music?

Breaking old habits.

Studio or on stage?

Both. It depends on the project though. The studio is great when inspiration is peaking and the stage is great when the audience is on the same pace.

Tell us about the cover artwork of your last release.

It’s a painting by Henri Rousseau, The Snake Charmer. The painter was also called “ The Good Customs Officer”, because he painted these great African landscapes without ever visiting the continent. He actually never left his region. I can relate to this. I’ve never visited the exotic places that I’m writing soundtracks for.

What do your parents think about your music?

My mum’s a fan. But only when it’s not too experimental. My father likes it too, but I don’t think he ever listens to it. I think he uses it more to boast to his friends ;)

What’s the most important piece of music equipment to you?

That’d be my computer. Although I don’t like computers, I really need mine. I tried to change to other hardware, but on the computer I can stack so many ideas. I never use software synths and only a handful of VST effects, so I use my computer only to record everything.

What’s next for you in terms of releases, concerts, etc…

I’ll be working on productions for other bands, live shows with The Violent Husbands and the Dijf Sanders project. And hopefully I can start collecting ideas for my next album.

Dijf Sanders’ latest album, Moonlit Planetarium, was self-released in November 2015
soundcloud.com/dijf-sanders