Interview: Sam Feldt Is Building A Legacy That Extends Far Beyond His Music

25-year-old artist and radio host Sam Feldt is seeking to make a more sustainable and long-lasting global impact than your average DJ.

“Platinum award-winning musician,
radio show host, main-stage festival DJ, venture capitalist, and philanthropist”

At first glance, that might seem like a snippet from the start of a long-winded bar joke. In reality, they are the calling cards and notable titles of one extremely ambitious Dutch house producer, Sam Feldt. At just 25 years old, the multi-talented Feldt (real name Sammy Renders) has parlayed his early accomplishments as a globally recognized DJ into a diverse variety of new opportunities that extend beyond recording and producing music alone.

Among his many ventures include two peer-to-peer technology platforms for engaging with fans, a new non-profit for creating sustainability in the entertainment industry, and a digital radio show with global reach. Press play on the latest episode of Sam’s Heartfeldt Radio and scroll down to read my exclusive interview with one of the music industry’s most active and visionary young stars.

This interview has been lightly-edited and condensed for clarity. 

EB: Toward the end of june You broke your leg in a scooter accident, forcing you to cancel tour dates and multiple major festival appearances over the remainder of summer. Now that you’re back to full health, what does it mean to finally get back on the road to see your fans and perform again?

SF: “Playing for my fans is everything to me, and that fact became even clearer when was forced to retire from it for two months. There’s nothing I missed more. I’ve always loved playing every show I’ve done, even when there were just 10 people there at the start of my career. Every show is special and unique in its own way and as long as I can DJ, I’m happy. I’ve been dreaming about becoming a DJ since I was 11 years old and to be able to play all these huge festivals and stages now really means the world.

EB: What did you do during that two-month period to keep yourself busy? Were you able to work on new music, and did that time off give you any new creative perspective?

SF: “During that period, I spent a lot of time in the studio. I managed to finish six brand new Sam Feldt tracks that will all be coming out this year or early next year. Having two months of dedicated studio time (instead of producing on the road and between tours) really allowed me to get into a more creative flow and experiment with different sounds and techniques.”

EB: One of those new songs you created was the recently released single “Heaven (Don’t Have A Name)” featuring vocals from Hollywood actor Jeremy Renner. How did you two get connected, and what was it like collaborating together?

SF: I was working on this new song and then my publisher reached out to me and said Jeremy was interested in collabing on it. I was flabbergasted, and of course I said yes. When I then heard what an amazing singer he was, I was even more convinced. Overall, the collaboration was a very smooth process, with Jeremy recording vocals in Los Angeles, with the two of us basically sending versions back and forth until we hit the spot. It just so happens that Jeremy’s cinematic voice fit well on a trap style track.

EB: Your new live set incorporates an actual, physical band. Tell me about the inspiration for putting together a live crew to play with you on stage.

SF: “A lot of my tracks were made together with the band in the studio, so the Sam Feldt Live experience is the most genuine Sam Feldt set one could ever witness. The music that comes out as “Sam Feldt” is, in reality, usually made a team project with multiple musicians involved, like the trumpet, sax and guitar players in my band.”

EB: Aside from the busy tour schedule, you also host a weekly radio show – Heartfeldt Radio – that’s shared on your website and on streaming services. What has it been like as a radio host, sharing your favorite songs, artists, and mixes with your fans and the broader music community?

SF: “I love it! Playing shows, you can only reach so many people, and with my radio show the possibilities and reach are endless. Even people from countries I’ve never been to can listen to my music and the Sam Feldt sets, which is great. I also love receiving demos and other products from fans via, my online community, that I use in my radio shows a lot.”

EB: At Amsterdam Dance Event (A.D.E.), you’ll be hosting your own special fan event at the National Maritime Museum. Tell me more about what you’ve planned that will add to your legacy as an artist, and why now was the right time.

SF: “The past two years during A.D.E. I hosted editions of the Heartfeldt Pool Party concept, which is awesome (and I will continue to do in the future) but I believe after everything that’s happened this year with the accident, I owed it to my biggest fans to do something special and even more unique. That’s why I invited a select number of them to come to a show for free, instead of buying a ticket, all taking place in a unique historical building in the center of Amsterdam. It’s my way of saying “Thank you for sticking with me through these tough times over the summer.”

EB: By the end of the week at A.D.E. you’ll not only have performed, but participated in a couple of conference panels as well. In particular you’ll be a part of panels titled “Artists Empowering Their Community to Create Change” and “The Future of Plastic.” What are you looking forward to about those discussions and why did you pick these in particular to associate with?

SF: “At the start of this year, I made the promise to my fans that I would use 2018 to become a more sustainable and eco-friendly DJ. Being part of A.D.E. Green and the panels you mentioned is part of a bigger movement I’m trying to start. During this year’s Amsterdam Dance Event, I will actually be launching the Heartfeldt Foundation, which is a non-profit that aims to become a platform for sustainability in the dance and entertainment industries.

I’m also taking other steps personally to make sure I reduce the impact I have on the planet such as investing in CO2 offsetting projects in Ethiopia, driving an electric powered vehicle and removing all plastics from my artist rider.”

EB: On top of everything else you have going on musically and with your foundation, you’re also gearing up for the big launch of your peer-to-peer loyalty program, FanGold. Can you tell me more about your role in the venture and what excites you about getting involved?

SF: “Over the past few years, as artists we’ve all seen our reach declining as social media algorithms prevent us from getting in touch with fans. To combat that, two years ago we launched Fangage, a service that provides tools for artists to get closer to their fans and become less dependent on third party social networks like Facebook and Instagram. Today, Fangage is going well and we are servicing almost 30 top artists and influencers.

The new FanGold project is going to be my next venture that aims to not only bring artists and fans closer, but also allow them to reward each other directly. Instead of paying Zuckerberg 10 Euros to promote a post on Facebook, artists can now pay out these 10 euros to their fans for sharing and promoting the content. We’re basically cutting out the middle man (again) and shifting power back to where it belongs.”


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