How Dutch Producer Sander Veeken used SONAR for the new Lange Frans Record

One of the greatest things about working for Cakewalk besides the comradery with colleagues, is the fact that I get to meet and interact with many different SONAR users around the world. I’ve found that from Japan to California and everywhere in between, there are some very talented SONAR users creating music on their own terms.  Since we’ve been part of Gibson we have thankfully had the benefit of a great Entertainment Relations team helping us out with meeting some of these artistic musicians.

Not too long ago on a trip over to Europe, I was introduced through one of the Gibson Entertainment Relations Representatives to a Dutch producer/musician by the name of Sander Veeken who had been visiting our relatively new Amsterdam facility.  The rep had wanted to me to meet Sander because he knew he was a SONAR user, so as you can imagine we had a lot to talk about.  Immediately we started talking about his work and his history with SONAR, but he also mentioned a specific artist he had been working with by the name of Lange Frans.  I had heard of Lange before, but what I didn’t know is how incredibly popular this artist was—I’m talking tens of millions of views popular—on multiple outlets such as YouTube to name one.

As we got to know each other a bit we started talking about the possibility of doing a project together to promote SONAR and Gibson Pro Audio. I had just come off from a trade show in the US where I was talking to some of our Tascam colleagues about their hand-held recorders, and it gave me the idea to sample the city of Amsterdam and then create a track based around those sounds.  Sander was all-in for this idea, and then pitched it to Frans who has always been known as a big advocate and supporter of the city of Amsterdam.  Thankfully, Frans was open to the project and away we went putting together the shell of a song.

Fast forward to today, and we are in the process of finishing up the song/mix which will be accompanied by a compelling video as well.  Sander ended up bringing in a wonderful female singer Laura Loeters to blast out the chorus hook of the song, all encompassed by the edgy direction of Fans’ rap delivery in the verses.  We put together the frame of the song remotely, and then we tracked all the vocals in one day in the SONAR Studio in the Gibson Amsterdam Showroom.  This track will be featured in the Tech + Music “Anatomy of a SONAR Project,” so I won’t go into detail about the finished product as you can read about it in detail there.  But I will say that what I took away from the experience was that Lang Frans and Sander are a force, and since we tracked that single they have already finished a new record that was released this spring titled “Zwart.”

I was able to catch up with Sander this week about the new Lange Frans record and thought he would be a great specimen for an interesting Artist Spotlight (Dutch edition) 😉

CAKEWALK:        How did you start your music career?

SANDER:             I started with a year of General Musical Education at the local music school (Amstelveen). Then I studied the accordion for several years before switching to piano, eventually studying at the Artez Conservatory in Arnhem. I currently work as a freelance producer and pianist/keyboardist while also maintaining a small job as a ballet pianist at the music school in Amstelveen where it all started.  I also do project-based educational projects for them, ranging from band coaching to beat production on primary schools.

CALEWALK:        Who are some of the artists you have worked with in NL and in what capacity?

SANDER:             My professional career has been mainly as a live player doing piano and keys for various commercial bands and name artists in The Netherlands. To name a few, I’ve played with Shane Shu, Pieter Both, Anita Meyer, Glennis Grace, Lange Frans, John West, Thomas Berge, The Fouradi’s, Ravenna Moscoso, Vincent Bijlo, Eve McKing and Sharon Doorson.  On the production side of the coin I’ve produced for Lange Frans, Thomas Berge, Ravenna Moscoso, Elsie Nouvel, Vincent Bijlo and several other one time jobs.  This year I’ve worked on the newly released album “Zwart” by Lange Frans and in the fall I will be doing a theatre program with comedian Vincent Bijlo as the band The Rossetti’s. I’m currently working on their album, which I’m also playing piano on.

CAKEWALK:        Tell us about this new record with Lange Frans.

SANDER:             We basically took a two week “vacation” where we went to a secluded location to help us focus on writing.  It was a small team in a couple of vacation homes.  I worked mainly with Frans, Ravenna Moscoso and Daan van Putten, a guitar player from Haarlem I had brought along.  Later in the week, the band bass player and drummer showed up to record some of their parts.  I would say about 80 percent of my contribution to the album (6 songs) was done there.  Having the time to really focus– work until late and pick up the next morning was a great experience. You can really get into a nice creative flow with each other that way and finish things.  Being a freelancer with many different jobs (as well as a new father!) I don’t always get that chance.

CAKEWALK:        Did you end up doing some of the record in SONAR and if so in what capacity?

SANDER:             I did all production of all my songs in Sonar. I played most piano parts using the Addictive Keys grand. I did a lot of sample mangling, mostly in Sonar itself or with Melodyne through ARA. I mostly used Maschine and Battery for the drum parts but we also did a mock blues song where I ended up recording the band drummer’s electronic kit and using Addictive Drums for the sound. I tracked acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass and (mostly guide) vocals on location and later at Frans’ backyard-based studio we did final takes for the vocals as well as editing and filling out the other parts. In one case I ended up wanting to replace the bass sound so I used Melodyne to create a MIDI clip from it, edited it a little for cleanup and sent it to a VST instrument.

I also did the premix and bouncing of all the stems. Final tweaks and mastering were then done by someone else, mainly to get everything evened out for the album.

CAKEWALK:        How was it tracked and what was the instrumentation?

SANDER:             It was tracked mostly on location. A lot of VSTi’s and samples, some acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric bass, electronic drum kit and vocals.  I then added to the record at my home studio in SONAR.

CAKEWALK:        When was the record released and on what label?

SANDER:             The album is already out, it’s called “Zwart”. You can find it on Spotify and SoundCloud. It was released privately through Frans’ own label.

CAKEWALK:        What are some of the features in SONAR that you use often or that are your favorite?

SANDER:             I use Melodyne a lot and for many different things, so ARA was a huge deal for me. Having upgraded Melodyne and being able to use the multi-track functionality right in Sonar is incredible, I don’t know how we ever managed without.

I also really like the comping that was introduced in X3, and the new refinements have made things a lot easier. The comping feature helped save us a lot of time on this record because it’s all about capturing the most authentic takes with this type of music.  Sometimes we have a lot of takes and being able to manage those easily is huge.

I also use the stock loops in Addictive Drums a lot more than I thought I would, because they help me quickly flesh out the song during the writing stage—I can then modify them very easily now in the new PRV view.  Again, with the recent upgrades to the PRV I can’t imagine working in the older environment.  Cakewalk has always been known for superior MIDI, and it’s been great to see the new updates improving on what Cakewalk has always been so good at—MIDI.

For more information on the new Lange Frans record please visit here.

For more information on SONAR please visit here.