One of the Biggest Names House on the "EDM" movement, on slumming it in Hungary, and how all famous DJs Feel the love
It’s good to be Afrojack. While he’s been a charting force in Dutch house since 2006 in his home country, he’s now enjoying the ample fruits of the new American and global obsession with electronic music. Since his Eva Simons collaboration “Take Over Control” took over the planet, he’s been spinning all over the world to audiences 60,000+, working with the EDM elite, and dropping new tracks with a chart-topping, Midas touch.
We spoke to him backstage at the infamous Tomorrowland festival about his new success, about being in the family of ridiculously famous DJs, and how he likes to slum it sometimes.
In light of the insane EDM movement in America, what has changed in the last few years in your perspective?
I think the understanding of electronic dance music and dance music as a whole — house music, techno, everything — I think the understanding of it became way better. A lot of more people got to know it, got to see how it works, and see the joy that people experience at these festivals. So I think that’s the most important thing of the whole growth. I think that’s basically the only thing that grew. Of course, with that growing you get bigger performances, you get bigger festivals and everything, and bigger exposure. That’s why I’m doing an interview now with MTV World.
But I think the most important thing that people have to realize about this growth, is that it doesn’t change anything. People don’t go to festivals to be cool, because there’s nothing cool about standing in the middle of 60,000 people going like “Oh!!!” That’s not cool. But it’s so much fun, for me. I still try to do that when I go to Hungary or Slovenia where I’m less famous, when I finish the festival I just sneak out and go with my hoodie on and go into the crowd. That’s the nice thing about the growth, it’s just attracting more people but with the same love, so there’s an even bigger community to share your feelings and musical love with.
Wow, like I didn’t think about that, I was not prepared for that question. But I’m happy it worked.
Do you think a lot of that also has to do with the fading of boundaries between pop and electronic music too?
Well I think in certain ways of course, of course like borders are disappearing, and of course you have some more bigger artists that have more commercial hits, but live you don’t really see us play it. Like I don’t play “Give Me Everything,” Swedish House Mafia doesn’t play the original version of “Save the World.” We don’t play the three minute versions when we go out to the festivals. So even though we’re trying to give dance music more exposure, like pop has a really almost no influence on the actual dance scene when you go to the festivals. You hear a’ capella here and there but we just use the a’ capella to get people excited, build it up to a bigger climax and then drop the beat like we always do. Because that’s what we do.
Watch Afrojack kill it with Shermanology on “Can’t Stop Me”
What is your experience as a person within the family of electronic music and the sort of larger names? Do you feel like it’s a small family at this point?
You mean all the big DJs? I think we’re sort of like a really big family and expanding more and more because every big DJs bringing on new names, like Steve Aoki’s bringing Datsik, and Swedish House Mafia’s bringing out Alesso and An21 and Max Vangeli and basically a few years ago I was a big fan of Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello, then I got to meet them backstage and they were really nice, like it’s a really open family and they’ll say “Oh yeah you make nice music” and then you get to be part of the family slowly. And now all the big DJs around the world, we all know each other and we’re all really good friends.
No matter what kind of music, like Skrillex and David [Guetta] love each other, me and what’s like complete opposite of me? Me and Tiesto, for instance, we are really good friends. And like it’s totally different music. Me and Armin [Van Buren] are good, and they’re also total opposites. So it’s pretty funny to see the way that the family, even though we all do different music, we accept it and we work with it and just enjoy each other’s company and have a lot of fun around the world.
There are like maybe 100 really really big DJs mainstage names, or however you wanna call it, and we’re all working together and having lots of fun. But the most important thing that I see is that millions of people around the world get so happy through our music, and that love, it’s so good to see that it’s still there. And it was there ten years ago when I started. And that’s just, I think the most amazing thing about the whole dance music, what I always said, that’s the most important thing about dance music, everyone’s there for the love. Not there to be cool or look at my new sneakers, look at my new watch or whatever, we’re just here to have fun and enjoy music.
What do you think is next? Do you think that we’re in a wave right now or..
I think it’s going like this [upward hand gesture] where my career’s going like this, and I think everyone’s career’s been going like this, so I think it’s gonna keep going like that for a long time, at least five more years. And after that I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but for sure I get the question a lot, “Do you think this is just a hype that’s gonna pass away?” It’s never been a hype, it’s been there for 20 years. Just now a lot of people are getting to now about it, but it’s been there for like 20, 30 years.
Like right after disco, suddenly there was house music blowing up in America in underground clubs. It’s always been there so it’s never gonna leave. It might get smaller, we might have really different music on this mainstage in a couple years, but dance music will never ever ever disappear. There will always be love for it, and it might be huge and then get smaller, get bigger, but if you love dance music do you care about how big it is? I don’t. I’m having just as much fun playing for 60,000 people, when five years ago I was playing for 20 people in a 200 people club.