DJ and producer, Lee Van Dowski has earned a reputation as the dark prince of uplifting electronic music. Having played shows throughout the world, Van Dowski’s finds deep love in spreading his sound, while creating an atmosphere for happiness for all in attendance.
Lee Van Dowski: I actually was raised in the South of France, close to Avignon. It’s a really small city. Actually, I think there’s seven thousand people. My mom is still living there. I moved in 1999 to Geneva for my sound engineering degrees and stayed there for over fifteen years. Recently I just moved to Zurich, so it’s really new for me.
LVD: I was always connected to the city, but lately I was bored of Geneva [after] fifteen years. I have a lot of links there. The mother of my kids’ still lives in Geneva and my kids live in Geneva, so we came with a solution they will come for holidays in Zurich. My new girlfriend is from Zurich. That was the main reason or cause of my move. Also, I have an attachment with a lot of people in Zurich.
SR: That’s great. Was traveling a part of your inspiration when becoming a DJ?
LVD: Music is my main passion. Traveling was something that came from the music business and my career as a DJ. As a DJ you have to travel a lot. As a kid my parents were traveling a lot so it’s not something that was new for me. The main thing for me was the music, but of course over the years traveling is something that became a routine. I would say it was something that became really important in my life, because sometimes I’ll have one or two weekends off and I just miss the airports and the planes. It almost becomes an addiction when you do these shows for so many years. Two weeks after I’m home, I’m bored. I miss running for the movement, you know running for the gate. Even if there is a flight delay, that could be something I’ll miss at some point.
SR: Absolutely. You get into a routine, and you’re on the go. When you’re on a personal getaway are you more of a beach guy for the relaxation? Or more active in the middle of the city?
LVD: I’m traveling so much that when I have some days off and can move with my girl or family I need something relaxing. When I was younger of course I was more into adventure. Right now, I need something quiet, maybe a beach or somewhere in the mountains.
SR: I was looking at your tour dates, you just had stops in Turkey and Switzerland. Specifically, what stands out about Istanbul to you? Have you been there before?
LVD: I was always in the airport, but I never played in Istanbul. This is a premier [place] for me, everything I have heard about it has been amazing. The club [I played] at is one of the best in the country I think – very excited. I’ve heard so many nice things about the city. There’s a lot of history and it has a lot of culture. It was the center of the world at one time.
SR: That sounds like a really dope show. One thing I find cool about Istanbul is that it’s on the border of both Europe and Asia.
LVD: The airport is like a city. You can play golf there. There is a golf simulation, you can get a massage and there’s a cinema. They have the biggest lounge I have seen in my life in the airport.
SR: You touched on how traveling came with your music career. For me, what’s interesting, is you don’t really have to speak someone’s language to understand and enjoy music together with people of all walks of life in one location. How is it deeply intertwined? How does it bring people together?
LVD: I think lately this music has gotten so popular and broke so many barriers. It used to be a much smaller scene. Now, for example, I was in Tunisia and even Africa is getting open to this music. I have to say it’s great because of the crowd there. It was reminding me of the 90’s for in Europe. Everything is new to them. It’s not this kind of board crowd where they’ve seen it all. You don’t have to speak the language. It’s all about the music and putting all the people together and dancing about it. That is the beauty of it. What’s crazy is you would not think that it would have a really good scene there. I was really skeptical at the beginning. There’s not so many acts traveling to this part of the country, because Tunisia has had a lot of terrorism lately. So, a lot of acts are cancelling their gigs. So, when an artist is going there they’re like, “Oh my god!”
SR: Touching on the terrorism a little bit, what made you say, “You know what? I am going to do this anyway.”?
LVD: I got the request last summer, but it was right before [terrorists] attacks and at that time it wasn’t really fitting my schedule. To be honest, I was not really hot to be doing it. If you think about a terrorism attack, you have a club with a DJ coming from aboard and all these people dancing and drinking alcohol. It’s the perfect target. It was not something that I was feeling comfy about. But, at the same time, I have been talking with my agent and if you think about it what is the percentage that you could be involved in an attack? It’s like .0001%, because now it can happen anywhere in the world. We are safe nowhere, you saw what happened in Paris. If you want to beat terrorism, we can’t be terrorized. If we are terrorized they are winning. Of course I was a bit scared and worried, but I don’t want to change my habits for this kind of fear.
SR: Exactly. Everyone has a list of places that they haven’t been to but must hit. Are there any that stand out to you?
LVD: I would love to go to Iceland, it’s the country of Björk and romantic. Everything I have seen, documentaries and read, there’s nothing like it. It looks so different. I would love to go there. I have played in Japan, but only in the cities. I would love to visit the countryside, which looks totally different from the cities. I have only been to North Africa. I would love to visit more of Central Africa. I have heard a lot of good things about South Africa. I have a lot of friends in Zurich that have come from there. They have always told me that you have to go there. South Africa is definitely a place I would love to go. I have two 12-year-old twins and my girlfriend and I have a project to go and rent a truck or van in New York and cross the states to Los Angeles. The goal is to visit Route 66, the Grand Canyon and visit all the good spots for skateboarding and end up in LA. That’s what is in store for the next years.
SR: I am from outside of New York City, so the dream of going across country always stood out to me too.
LVD: I think that’s the best way to understand and see a country. Even if it was for a month, I am always in the airports and I think that would be a great way to understand it better.
SR: Driving across the country is definitely a more personal way to see a destination. You may not spend as much time in a spot, but you are getting a true sense of what it’s like.
LVD: When you’re in a plane, you don’t get an understanding of how big a destination really is.