“We Rise” was released on NEST in February of 2015, acting as the first single from Dutch producer San Holo following his debut EP, Cosmos, in 2014. Since then, both the record and San Holo have seen explosive success, as “We Rise” has notched over 100M streams across online platforms and San has become one of the most in-demand artists within his genre across the globe.
Following the release of his most recent single “Light” featuring “We Rise” vocalist, Tessa Douwstra, San Holo has revisited his breakout NEST single with a brand new acoustic version which echoes the melodically inclined musician’s reinvigorated interests in his guitar-heavy upbringing. The reimagined rendition — originally teased at the front of his Diplo & Friends mix last month — sees San plucking away gently at his acoustic guitar while the simple, sentimental vocal floats feather-like as the unforgettable melody.
With the release of the acoustic version this morning and as San Holo prepares a live, guitar-laden set for later in 2017, we caught up with the bitbird co-founder to reflect on the unexpected triumphs of “We Rise,” the acoustic version, and plans to incorporate his background in bands and live instrumentation back into his DJ sets.
Listen in to the acoustic and original versions of “We Rise,” and read on for our chat with San Holo below.
On the success of “We Rise”…
I made “We Rise” about 3 ½ years ago now. It had been sitting on my computer for half a year already and, before all the San Holo stuff started, I had pitched it to some people asking “What do you think? Can I release this with you?” And no one really wanted it! Maybe because back then — the way this melodic trap sound has evolved, it’s crazy it’s everywhere now – but two years ago it really wasn’t like that at all. So there weren’t any labels interested.
But then I dropped an EP and did some of the ‘Don’t Touch the Classics’ remixes, and after that we established more connections and found NEST and we released it. And it’s still doing really well for some reason!
I think it’s because of the simplicity of it. It’s literally got two lines — We rise, we fall – and a melody. And it’s really what I’m about. Life has its ups and downs, and it’s good to think about that. We rise, we fall. Every time you fall, there will be moments that you rise again. That’s life. It’s universal.
On the Acoustic version…
As you know I’ve been playing guitar long before I started producing music, so my background isn’t…I never went to clubs or parties or raves…it was all about bands for me. Playing guitar, writing songs with bands, performing live. And at some point that got a little bit old so I got more into hip hop and electronic music, and that’s why I made “We Rise.” But there’s always been a part of me that really wanted to play instruments again. Doing DJ sets is fine, it’s cool, but I don’t feel anything from pressing a play button, you know? I feel way more when I play a guitar and bend the strings.
So the plan is to do more live stuff during my shows. So I wanted to do [“We Rise”] live. I grabbed my guitar and found this arrangement. I guess it was me preparing for something I want to go do later this year with more guitars, live.
On the new live set…
I really like DJing. I think it’s fun and gives you a lot of freedom, you can throw in whatever you like. So it’ll be a combination of a DJ set with specific moments when I grab my guitar and perform on that as well. So it’ll be a live show with custom visuals, we’re bringing our own lights, and lots of guitars!
On live elements coming back into electronic music…
My theory is that we grew up with rock music and at some point that got old as well. We started investigating electronic music and now EDM is blowing up. I feel like a lot of producers who grew up with guitars now also feel like “I kinda miss it!” I miss the live element of it all. Maybe we’re getting a little bit tired of saw wave synths, you know?
Live performance is different every time. Sometimes you play shitty and feel bad. And sometimes you play amazing and you feel amazing. That’s the live element of it.