Van Norden’s Move From Folk to EDM a Triumph [Review]

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Van Norden

Van Norden, a well-known folk songwriter from Vancouver, Canada, moved to Los Angeles a few years ago and began working with many of his contemporaries in the continuation of his chosen genre. As the lead vocalist and guitarist for the Los Angeles-based country roots group, SPINdriftr, this guitarist and songwriter has showed his readiness to branch out in recent years, but few in the folk world could have predicted his move to pop-driven EDM and house. With his very first single, Love at First Sight, this new producer has shown his electronic chops with no mistaking.

Released in November as an EP called At First Sight, Love at First Sight has several remixes and edits. The ability to make several versions of the same song quickly and easily may have been one of the things which attracted Van Norden to electronic music. Ever the collaborator, he teamed up with electronica up-and-comer An_Hero for one of the remixes. The original, An_Hero’s Subliminal remix and the extended mix are all slightly different, but equally interesting.

Despite describing his composition style as “random and chaotic,” the original and extended mixes of Love at First Sight belie Van Norden’s more classic musical roots. The song’s main structure, for example, has a typical A-B-A-B-B song form. The lyrics follow this structure in kind with vocalist Natalie Major, as they have the standard verse-chorus-verse structure, giving the track pop as well as an EDM cache. There is a colorful lyric video on Van Norden’s YouTube page for this original mix.

The extended mix of Love at First Sight winds out the original radio edit and makes the song more club-ready with an intro which is slower to build and more vocal verses from Major. The chorus also builds more slowly in the middle of the track. These structures help DJs play and cut up the track in clubs and raves. There is also a small dubstep interlude in this version of the song, so it can be used with a number of EDM sub-genres and tempos. The nuanced approach to this mix shows that Van Norden already has an understanding of the club/EDM world’s needs.

Van NordenFinally, the Subliminal Remix of Love at First Sight from Van Norden’s collaboration with An_Hero is quite different and will draw in the more marginal factions of dance music culture. With a syncopated beat structure which goes from dubstep to trap and back to dubstep, this remix is quite a departure from the solo mixes. It shines a spotlight on An_Hero as well, and introduces him to more straight-laced deep house and trance fans within the EDM community. This remix seems a bit choppy in places because of the difference in genre between vocals and beats, but that is to be expected. An_Hero’s weird, esoteric style seems to be something Van Norden is interested in and would like to learn about. His openness to new styles and collaborations may be one of this EDM newcomer’s greatest strengths as he makes this transition to strange new genres. There is also a second version of this remix with its own haunting video on YouTube.

Van Norden’s foray into the EDM world seems fraught with new challenges for the folk veteran but with Love at First Sight, it is clear that there is plenty of potential for him to grow in this genre. He sets the bar high for himself with this triple single, but as long as Van Norden remains open to ideas and collaborations, he will be able to live up to his own standards and will be well-received in the EDM and pop communities. With his solid musical base and creative openness, Van Norden will no doubt continue to grow in whichever genre he chooses.

Review by Layla Klamt

Sources: Van Norden “Love at First Sight Lyric Video” Van Norden “Love at First Sight Subliminal Remix v2.0” Van Norden “At First Sight” “Blog’