Global dance music megastar Afrojack takes a moment out of his busy schedule to talk Michael Jackson, the Mayan Calendar, Bono and the clichés that make him a happy man.
Afrojack, the moniker of Nick Van de Wall, has been enjoying the success that hard work and determination can bring an artist. Having remixed for Snoop Dogg, collaborated with Pitbull, Steve Aoki and David Guetta and featured with Ne-Yo and Beyonce, it wasn’t long until the Dutch mega DJ starting reaping the benefits for himself. He is currently on tour with JACKED and has got some major events lined up to make sure that 2012 closes in the best way possible.
Haven’t heard of Afrojack before? Well, it’s safe to say that you have definitely shaken your ‘thang’ to one or two of his songs or remixes. He sits on the fence of electro house, tech house and modern hip hop, having made a name for himself by remixing some of RnB’s biggest stars. So much so that he was asked to remix Michael Jackson’s bad as part of the celebrations that were held to mark the 25th anniversary of the iconic song.
Swide had the opportunity to chat to the superstar DJ and find out what it is like to have the King of Pop’s material at your disposal.
2012 is shaping up to end on a high note. You’ve already had global success, stellar collaborations, the opportunity to do an official remix of Michael Jacksons’ Bad and you received and European Borders Breakers Award in January. How are you going to celebrate the rest of 2012?
We have ADE coming up; Amsterdam Dance Event and im hosting my own JACKED show in legendary pop temple ‘Paradiso’ on the opening night of ADE. Then im going back to the US for my 2nd leg of the Jacked Tour. Meanwhile im working on new music,
Let’s focus on Michael Jackson’s Bad. Tell me how you approached such an iconic song. Did you feel the pressure of what it was you were dealing with?
I was asked through the label and through the estate, the actual family of Michael Jackson, because they thought that I was the perfect guy to remix Michael Jackson. I was like, ‘Well that’s really nice, but it’s Michael Jackson, you don’t just remix Michael Jackson. I told my manager, ‘I don’t know, maybe, let’s think about this very clearly.’ We told them that we were busy and they told us it was really important and that they were sure Michael would have wanted it. They said, "We’ll fly you off to LA and put you in the studio there." You can’t say no to Michael Jackson. I was excited to do it but it was really scary. It’s like you are remixing the president of pop music for the last 25 years. He just recently passed away and I have to remix his music, I’m the first guy to remix this.
When have you felt similar pressure before?
I've never felt the same pressure
How do you want to present the song when playing it live on tour?
I’m working with my video guy so that when I play the song live I will actually have the original video and some of my visuals put together. Basically what I do in the clubs mixed with what he did in the clubs and around the world while performing for hundreds of thousands of people 25 years ago. It has to be a really cool look, I don’t want to just play the song, I want it to be an experience. That’s what I always try to do with my live shows.
I did it once before in the Bay Area, really close to San Francisco, in a really big coliseum but it was a crazy party when I was playing with Tiesto and some other DJs. I was closing down the first night and we did it for the first time and I wanted to keep it really exclusive so we never did it again. I think MJ actually started that when he started touring with all of the crazy dancers and visuals and fireworks. I’ve never been to one of his shows but I’ve watched some on YouTube and they’re all really impressive.
How important is the performance element to your presentation as a DJ? Essentially a DJ stands in a booth, how do you create an experience for your audience on the JACKED tour?
That’s very important, and that’s what I love about my job. I try to feel my audience and make a connection with them. To see people understand my music is great!
Ok, If the Mayan calendar prophecy is true, what do you have left on life’s list of things to do before December 21st?
I would play for my fans all around the world till the last day comes around, it’s cliché but true, nothing in life makes me more happier.
Let’s go back to basics. What was the catalyst that made you think, ‘yeh, I wanna be a music producer/dj’?
Well, I just started producing for fun, just because I like making music in general and making music in a program was discovering a new instrument which was really simple to use. I started out really simple. After that and every once in a while I was DJ at my school parties. Since I was seventeen I only started to make music for clubs. When this all started to work out a bit, I went to a Greek Island, Crete for 5 months. It was all about partying, drinking and going wild. During this crazy period I was also busy producing. When I got back in Holland the first Afrojack release was born; Afrojack- In your face! My release came in the top 3 of Dance Top 30. This is where it all started.
When was the last time you felt star struck?
When I was standing at a U2 concert next to Bono, that was pretty impressive!
What’s a misconception of your alter ego Afrojack?
People are often prejudged and think that very easy but they forget I have extreme touring schedules and I have over 30 people working for me, I have a lot of responsibility at such a young age.
What challenges you artistically? How do you over come it?
Always improving myself.
You’ve a new album in the making, penned in for next year, what can we expect from it?
The best advice you’ve been given?
Enjoy your life to the fullest, every day.
Interviewed and written by Ben