In the space of only a few years, Afrojack has become one of electronic dance music’s major icons. From humble DJ beginnings in his native country of Holland, he has grown to become a multi-award winning, platinum-selling producer. His skills are some of the most sought after in the world, and with two Grammy Awards under his belt, it’s easy to see why. In addition to this, his DJ sets have fast become both iconic and unparalleled, providing an explosive take on the current state of dance music across the board. Dan Prince gets an exclusive interview in the middle of another crazy summer.
Nick, welcome to DMCWORLD young man, we’ve been waiting for you! Where in the world are you right now?
“I’m actually flying right now, on my way from Portugal to Ibiza!! Tonight at Pacha me and the boys from the label are doing a BIG JACKED night together with David Guetta, so flying and excited!”
Congratulations on the Beatport No. 1 with ‘Rock The House’. Does having a Beatport No. 1 mean more that an iTunes top 10?
“Yes!! To me it’s a really personal thing being up there, 6 years ago when I started all I had my first remix out on Beatport and that was something I was SO proud of! I never dreamt or thought about being charted there, I just wanted my music to be released and available for sale that was the cooolest thing for me! Now having my third number one there and my first SOLO number one I think it’s safe to say I’m the proudest kid in the music scene right now Dan!”
You are one of the headline acts at one of the world’s biggest festivals Creamfields next month in the UK. Why do you think Creamfields is one of the dates that DJs and producers block off the date in their diaries every year knowing they can’t miss it? What makes it so good?
“It’s a legendary festival! There are so many things happening in the world but Creamfields has always been the trendsetter musically, last year I actually turned down the MTV Awards for it, and I think most DJs would do the same!”
You are sharing The North Stage with David Guetta, a friend you have enjoyed a lot if success with over the last three years. Did you have any nerves meeting up with him in 2009 when ‘Toyfriend’ was created in the studio together?
“David Guetta is my best friend in the whole music scene, never had any nerves because he’s just a really normal guy. After all the tracks we did together (Louder than Words, Titanium, the Sweat remix and a LOT of productions for other people) I’m just proud and happy to be sharing the stage with him as an artist, and as a friend.”
You are in the middle of a huge 3 month European tour hitting 19 countries which is on the back of a mammoth US tour – let’s be honest here, do you ever get homesick or are you happy just being on the road all the time…?
“Honestly sometimes it gets hard, but I don’t really have a home anymore, I just have some places around the world where I have lots of friends and family, so every time I’m in Ibiza, London, Amsterdam, Miami, LA, NYC, Las Vegas and a lot more places I feel at home, and I try to bring a lot of friends with me on tour, this keeps me happy, relaxed and importantly smart when I’m on tour.”
The Summer Tour sees you hit such glamorous locations as St Tropez, Mykonos and Riccioni. Where have been the highlights over the past few weeks?
“I’ve been flying to a lot of places and performed on some amazing events, the opening of the Olympics at Holland Heineken House, crazy nights in Ibiza, 5 hour + dj sets in Mykonos, playing on a big bookshelf at Tomorrowland, the summer tour’s been pretty good to me!”
What’s been your Summer anthem?
“There’s been a lot of great tracks this summer, but I think my favourite every time has been this mashup I did of Tommy Trash’s ‘Ladi Dadi’ remix and Gotye’s ‘Somebody I Used To Know!'”
Let’s go back to the beginning for a minute. You started playing the piano aged 5 and was experimenting with the Fruity loops program by the age of 11. What sort of music were you listening to back then?
“Basically everything, but especially Drum n’ Bass, Hip Hop and weird stuff like the Prodigy. I didn’t get into dance music until I was 13-14, it basically started off when I heard ‘Satisfaction’ by Benny Benassi!”
The first promoter you ever played for paid you $250 to DJ to 30 people in the middle of nowhere, you said after that he was an “idiot for paying me so much” – but you weren’t complaining! Did you ever hear from that guy again – has he any idea you are now one of the biggest stars on the planet?
“Well he wasn’t an idiot I just thought he was crazy, turned out to be a really cool guy, I DJ’d for him at a couple of gigs after that in the next two years, not recently though, but everytime I think back about that time I imagine he’s still doing his parties in his area.”
You quite admit that you like “getting fucked up from time to time” as life is meant to be fun. How much fun did you have DJing in Crete for 5 months when you were a teenager?
“The same fun I’m having right now, for some reason ever since I started DJing I couldn’t be any happier!”
EDC looked like a riot, as did Miami for you. When you are hitting these hotspots you bump into a lot of your fellow Dutch producer friends – who are the crazy ones in the group?
“Of course I have my own crew – Quintino, Shermanology, Bobby Burns and Apster but we’re also really close with Tiesto, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Aoki, we always have tons of fun together!”
As mentioned, you have just completed your first major US Tour, many of the cities you have played at before – where were the new places that stood out?
“Minneapolis and Edmonton were the best new places!”
Do you change your sets as you move around the world – for instance, is your set different in Asia than it is in Europe?
“I actually change my set every single night, I play a lot of the same tracks of course but every night I try and change it up, order and new edits, and new tracks every now and then!”
Afrojack has had a distinct sound for the last year, is this something to continue in the studio or will you refresh and find a new style for the 2013 season?
“It started with full on ghetto hard bleeps, and I’ve been hearing so many styles around the world it changed my view on music constantly, so my production style also continuously changes, a little chords here and there, melodies, dubstep sounds, drum and bass sounds and even vocals nowadays!”
I heard you being interviewed on the radio whilst in the States a while back, the presenter was saying he was scared that EDM could easily follow Disco in the 70s over there with people getting sick of the saturation of the music. Can you see that happening?
“Of course you will see the music scene getting oversaturated at one point, but for sure it will never go away, people have been going to house music and techno parties for the last two decades, just like trance it will never stop, it might grow bigger, get smaller, change here and there, but it will never go away!”
What sort of artists do you listen to outside of EDM?
“I Love Imogen Heap, really enjoy movie scores (classical music), I like to listen to the radio to hear what everyone’s doing, and that old school LTJ Bukem every now and then!”
What is the record that changed your life?
“Take Over Control first, then Give Me Everything…”
After the Summer Tour, you will be releasing your long awaited album. You produced it whilst staying in Los Angeles and features a number of massive collabs. How has the road testing of the tracks being going?
“It’s been going great, I basically play them on standard selection now and I’m happy the first instrumental single got received so well (Rock The House).”
What can you tell us about the collabs? How did you choose them and who have you got?
“I’m not gonna tell you anything about the collabs Dan, I’ve worked with some amazing people and I’ll talk about it once the album is there, but for now I want to keep it focused on my own music, that’s why I did the album in the first place.”
Will they be any special home coming parties at ADE this October?
“Yes! This being the first time I’m saying it, were doing a huge opening party for ADE on the Wednesday!”
You said that getting a record like ‘Take Over Control’ was a challenge for you. You wanted to be the first to get a song with bleeps and a vocal on the airwaves. Where was the strangest place you heard it on the radio?
“I heard it own some home improvement programme in Holland, some soap series a couple of times, I don’t know, a LOT of places lol!”
What has been the proudest moment of your career to date?
“The coolest thing was Roseland Ballroom in NYC, 6000 tickets sold out in two hours or something back in December, that was my first actual “rent a hall and put on a show” show!”
And finally, everyone has one, what is your guilty pleasure record?
“Aha – ‘Take On Me’!”
Afrojack performs on the North Stage at Creamfields UK on Saturday 25th August Bank Holiday weekend. Tickets & Info www.creamfields.com