Artist Spotlight – Sneijder (revisited)
At the end of 2019, Andrew Liggett, the tech-trance producer…
…better known at Sneijder was hailing from Northern Ireland at the top of his game but then the world came to a full stop. Like everyone else, Sneijder was faced with a new reality and some tough experiences. Experiences that have continued to shape him and make him not just a better dj/producer, but a better human being. From opening up personally to the world, he has not only found a way to help heal himself but those who follow him. Sneijder continues to dominate the trance charts with a unique sound that makes his brand stand out in a very crowded field.
2022 is looking to be the year Sneijder takes his place amongst the elites while taking us all on a musical journey.
Welcome back to Hollywood. The last time I interviewed you in this room, we discussed the Live Series you were doing, and you played one of the best set I have heard in my life. How do you top that night here in Avalon?
There’s a lot of preparation [that] goes into those live performance, obviously because it is being recorded live to be produced on CD. So there’s a lot of preparation with a lot of new music. And I supposed with the pandemic, producers haven’t really been releasing as much new music, [however] I made a lot of new music last year, and truth be told I feel like I’m playing older music, just because it is the first time I am playing them live really. And I was just having this conversation with John O’Callaghan a few weeks ago in Romania, and it still feels like I am playing older music even though I wasn’t. But I just put the same prep that I would in most of my sets. It is always the same to just go for energy and uplifting and tech and it’s just a mixture of them all and have a folder full of tunes and just go with the Dance Floor.
Why do think the LA live series was so successful?
I’m not sure. It took me by surprise actually, you know. Thinking back, I spoke with John, and he told me his Joint Op stuff is always very popular here. So, I think the Afterdark sound is on that tip, very raw and stripped back. They take tech-trance and just with a wee bit of uplifting threw in there. [And that is] just really a reflection of what my sound is.
The LA crowd seems to like it hard and they even like their uplifting music hard, so it suits me perfectly, really. So, I just think that I have a good connection with the people here as far as my music taste and how it goes down really.
Danielle: Well, LA loves that mix of techno, but still trance, but at the same time kind of hard. And you do it well.
Sneijder: This is something similar to Argentina, I think.
Danielle: I need to see you in Argentina. I need to see everyone in Argentina. I have only heard amazing things about it and I really need to visit.
Sneijder: It’s really the place to be. They are just so passionate about music…it’s hard to describe, you just have to be there and experience it really.
You have been busy in the studio the past few months, are you ready to start releasing all the tracks and remixes you have been sitting on? What can we expect to hear from Afterdark Recordings in the upcoming months?
I think I was making a track a week at one point for 6 months. I have a stock pile of stuff ready to go and I was just actually going over my schedule… looking at all the new music. I think I have enough tracks to release a track every two weeks for a year.
Danielle: Oh, wow! That’s a lot of music.
Sneijder: So, I think starting the New Year, I am going to be rolling the stuff out, and pretty fast. People are going to be surprised with the new sound that I am coming out with. I am going pretty old school. Going back to my roots, really. And even back to my roots with my uplifting stuff from when I started back in 2010-2011.
So, I just think music in general, trance is becoming a wee bit predictable. I want to try and sort of shake it up a bit. [To have more] raw sort of tracks not overproduced. So you just have the good parts of a track and just have good music.
Danielle: What can we expect from the Afterdark label?
Sneijder: Loads of stuff coming Afterdark as well. Been stock piling stuff there as well. Tracks from Billy Gillies, Shugz, Matt Asteroid has been working and his tracks have been doing really, really well actually on the label. As well as stuff from myself. And I’m hoping to get another Joint Ops track in there. I’m trying to beg John for one.
Talking about Billy Gillies, he is your prodigy and you both played at PlanetLove. What words of encouragement did you pass on to him before his set? In your opinion, what makes him special to be the next break out star in the trance scene? And how much of yourself do you see in him?
I don’t think Billy needs it, to be honest. When I started to nurture him on Afterdark, I always knew that he was going to be a big DJ, and he sort of rose up pretty fast. It’s not due to anything that I done, just helped him with the platform. He’s a natural talent. He is out there to make music and he knows what is good. I think that’s evident over the last two years, with as much good music he is putting out there. He knows what he is doing and the sound that he has is pretty current. So playing the music that he’s playing at this time is a no-brainer for him. He really is just here at the right time
You were able to play for your home crowd in Belfast at PlanetLove in September. How did it feel to play in front of your friends and family for the first time in 20 months?
It was incredible. Honestly, it was incredible for a number of reasons. The trance scene in Ireland took a bit of a batter over the last five or six years, it really went downhill. Coming from the background that I came from, which was a really ripe scene, and there was so many DJs that would come to play in Northern Ireland and Ireland. Sort of spoiled for choice on a weekly basis really. And then, that all sort of fizzled off. [So to come back to this] it was quite emotional for me actually. It was just a moment where everybody was, everybody was together in the trance scene, and it was probably the best it’s ever been.
Danielle: Even in the crowd the atmosphere and the vibes was electric. I was there for Belsonic the week before PlanetLove…but you could just feel your guy’s energy and presence. Everyone was feeding off of it and it was a great feeling out there in the crowd
Sneijder: I feel that the crowd at PlanetLove is a lot older crowd and mixture…Not to say there is anything wrong with a younger crowd because there are instrumental in keeping the scene alive. They are really the roots of it as well. [But for me, it was] really good to see and I would argue to say that Belfast is the best place in the world right now to play.
You were away from your family for over five weeks in June and in that time you also got sick. You talked about it in your interview with Viktor Kidson, but please share with us what was going through your mind during that time?
It was horrible. I had traveled to Australia with intention to play a show out there. And I was only supposed to be there three days after the week quarantine. We had to quarantine for a week and then get out of the quarantine on the Friday, we can play the shows over the weekend and leave on the Monday.
I ended up there for like seven weeks because I had tested positive for Coronavirus when I landed. So I ended up having to spend three weeks in a hotel room to quarantine. I had to take a blood test every day, or another test. I didn’t have any symptoms, which ended up being a double-edged sword. Because I wasn’t sure if I was getting better because I wasn’t sick. And it became torture because I thought every day I’m going to wake up and going to get really sick, and it never happened. So, I was just sitting for three weeks, basically in a room, on my own. I couldn’t have been any further away from home, my wife and daughter. It was just mental torture. All sorts of things going through my head, like who’s going to help me here if I get really sick, I might never see again, so it was terrible. But I was okay and I never got sick, and the show actually didn’t even happen… due to an outbreak of covid…when I was in quarantine, I was even on the news.
So, they moved the festival and the lockdowns came with them. I actually think they are just coming out of the lockdowns now.
Danielle: So, being away from your family for seven weeks, and being such a family man; has that changed your mindset when it comes to your touring schedule?
Sneijder: Nah. I still love music, and I think my family knows I was born to do music. And I always will. Obviously I love doing construction too, and that is what I did before and I’ve been doing a lot of that during lockdown as well. So between those two things and take one of them out of my life, I don’t think I’ll be a happy man. I mean the touring side with travel; it isn’t nice being away. But it is just part of what it is.
Prior to the Covid-19 talking about your family was a hard limit topic. But in your recent interviews with Viktor and Bryan Kearney, you really opened up about your family and your personal mental health. How has talking about your father and family helped you mentally get through those dark months? Has it changed your overall perspective on the subject? Why or why not?
Yeah, well I suppose I am sort of like a man’s man, I don’t show emotions. Don’t talk about that sort, it’s a taboo subject for me. When my dad passed away last year during Covid, I never really spoke to anybody about it but Bryan, [since his] father passed away and he had been through this similar thing. So doing that podcast with Bryan was a big thing for me because it forced me to open up and all those emotions that I had, that I didn’t even know were buried in there, it helped me get them out. And now I turned the corner because instead of grieving, I’m more celebrating my dad’s life.
Turned the grief into good memories. So now it’s all about good memories and thinking about all the good things that he did, and all the good times we spent together, and all the rest. I’ve completely turned the corner. So, to answer your question, talking to Bryan was a massive help to me. You know, I don’t think Bryan knows how much he helped me. I’ve actually said to him at PlanetLove, but it’s just like I said that men are really quiet when it comes to this sort of topic and talking about things like this. And now I don’t think it should be. I think it’s amazing what Bryan is doing with his platform and his podcast that helps people to speak about things like this. I don’t know if you heard his most recent one, he was talking about some really personal stuff.
Danielle: I love this because, with your interview it got both of you guys to really open up. And as a fan, we can see a different side. But for Bryan and you are able to touch some taboo subjects, and really get you guys to be honest and genuine.
Sneijder: Yeah, it’s very natural. The conversation came across was honest and natural. You could tell that we have known each other for a long time. So you could tell it was very genuine.
Danielle: I really do appreciate that you are opening up and changing your overall perspective. Because it helps obviously you, but also fans and other people who might be in a similar situation. And talking about does help and just getting it out there.
Sneijder: There was people who contacted me after with private messages. It was good to speak to people. And if I can help someone in that position or put their mind to rest and have a chat with them or whatever and that’s what I’ve done. And it was therapeutic even to do that.
You also recently shared an old CD from PlanetLove 2006 when you were known as DJ Andrew Liggett. Where did Sneijder come from? And why did you stop DJing under your own name?
I started DJing when I was 13, so it was a long time ago. I had no CDs, I used to make my own CDs and go around, when I got my driving lessons, to go outside to the nightclubs and people would be coming out drunk and whatever. I would give them my CDs. I always knew then they would be going back to after-parties and have been listening to that CD. And that was how I got my name around where I lived because somebody’s giving you a free CD, you’re going to stick it on at the after-party. Then somebody will say, “Who’s that?” and then it just spreads like that. So that was my wee way of advertising myself. And to be honest, I was just using my own name.
I was a hardcore DJ for many years, and then progressed into psy-trance, and then to trance now. I had no interest really in production, and it was only when I met Jordan Suckley, and he said to me, “You know, the way forward is production. You need to be producing because being a good DJ really isn’t enough anymore. Like you need to have a brand, you need to have the whole thing.” And that was around 2008 and I just said, “I need to think about that”. So, I set up a studio one, and that’s when I decided to make an artist name. Wanted a fresh start to veer away from everything. The name Sneijder comes from a combination of two things. One, my love for soccer, there was a football player called Leslie Sneijder. And two, I used to play Dutch hardcore music. So he’s a Dutch football player, that’s where it bridges the gap between those two things. That’s where it came from. I wish I hadn’t picked it now, because any time people type Sneijder into Google he comes up. So they can never find any of my make music.
I asked you, in 2019, if you could only live by one motto what would it be and you said “live life to the max every day”. Since that time, has the motto changed why or why not? And if it has what is your new motto?
Not really. I mean probably like, believe in yourself. I mean self-belief is a big thing and that’s got me to where I am now. I’ve had so many knockbacks over the years. And it’s the self-belief that has got me here. I think that’s probably the best thing I can tell anybody. No matter how many knockbacks you have, self-belief will always get you to where you have to go.