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Poll 2019: Afrojack

9
Afrojack
Down
1

This year, Afrojack somewhat took the power back... again: his now 12-year-old label Wall Recordings started out as a sub-label of Spinnin’ Records, then went independent for a year, then became a sub-label to Armada Music, but in 2019 went independent again. 

That move no doubt gives the Dutch dance legend more creative freedom and control to do what he wants when he wants. As such, he has put out music from Slay, Chico Rose and Buzz Low, who has risen to prominence since winning the label’s first global remix competition last year. The second edition has just ended as we go to press and may well unearth the next Afrojack. 

The boss himself, who recently turned 32 and still spends much of his time traversing the planet on his own private jet, also put out new music this year. A collaboration with DubVision called ‘Back To Life’ is an unashamedly pop-leaning and stadium-pleasing house track, with sing-song chorus and maximal synths. Meanwhile, his ‘Bass Is Kicking’ track also landed as part of the second instalment of his ‘Press Play’ EP series which started last year, and it’s a colourful tune with rave synths that got road-tested at Tomorrowland and electrified the crowd. 

Amongst gigs everywhere from China and Japan to India and all across the United States, one of the other live standouts of his year was his performance at Ultra 2019, which was a visually explosive affair with plumes of fire going off while he dropped all manner of house, prog and electro, Cardi B edits, old school ’90s mash-ups and plenty more popping tunes in between. 

The best place to catch his latest sounds is on his Jack Radio show, on which he explores an even wider range of sounds than in the DJ booth. Whatever he is doing after all these years, Afrojack continues to connect with fans, who have kept him in the Top 20 of our poll since 2010, and the top 10 since 2016.

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2019-10-16 11:15

Best known for: 
Wall Recordings

Poll 2018: Afrojack

8
Afrojack
Stay
0

From: The Netherlands
DJ style: “House, trap, electro.”
Best known for: “‘Take Over Control’.”

Away from making and playing music for himself, Afrojack is as busy as anyone. This year he launched Global Remix Battle I, a competition that invites producers from around the world to submit their remixes for the chance to win big: the prize includes an artist development contract with Afrojack’s Wall Recordings, having a release on the label and a pair of high-end monitors. They are testament to the Dutchman’s desire to help bring through the next generation, having broken through at such a young age himself.

“I see kids down in the dumps and they don’t have the money for the right laptop or the right plug-ins,” he told EDM.com earlier in the year. “Well, if we make a deal to work together for a few years, I believe in you, so I’ll invest in you. I’ll promote you, I’ll give you a place to stay, I’ll give you the right laptop. Let’s go, let’s have some fun.”

Afrojack started DJing aged just 14, and by his early twenties he’d had worldwide hits and soon entered our Top 100 poll, climbing ever higher since. Essential Mixes, features on Pitbull’s No.1 hit single ‘Give Me Everything’ and contributions to Beyonce’s ‘Run The World (Girls)’ all followed. By 2013 he was one of the highest-earning DJs in the world and became an in-demand producer with David Guetta and even Madonna.

This year he has put out his ‘Press Play’ EP as well as ‘One More Day’, a new collaboration with Wall Recordings’ newest members Jewelz & Sparks. It has a big halftime drop, which proved quite the innovation and always gets huge reactions. “I don’t really care to achieve mainstream success,” he has said of the track. “I just care that it makes people go like, ‘Oh shit, that’s so cool, I never thought of that!’”

In terms of gigs, he did a huge North American tour after focusing on Europe and Asia before that. He has said that he feels like it’s very much time for America to go back to more pure dance music. “When the EDM movement started back in 2010 and 2011, everything was purely about dance and then over the last couple of years it got very like, ‘Oh, let’s make a dance-pop song’. I was guilty of that too, of course, with a couple of songs like ‘Give Me Everything’, which is fun, but people are down with EDM and they’re jumping on the hip-hop bandwagon now. So we can have our own parties and they can go to hip-hop shows and do whatever they want. I’m actually kind of happy with that situation.”

With Afrojack still at the sharp end and dictating trends, anything is possible.

Words: KRISTAN CARYL

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2018-10-12 11:21

Poll 2015: Afrojack

8
Afrojack
Up
4

If you were to accuse Afrojack of anything, it couldn't be of using a ghost producer. The Dutch DJ is in the studio when we call, prompting a load of back and forth texting to schedule the interview, and at one point accidentally starts blaring out a track he's been working on, causing our waveform to go a bit haywire.

The man born Nick Van de Wall laughs when DJ Mag asks him what he thinks about people who do. “I’ve had a lot of people saying, 'Ha ha ha, where’s your ghost producer, Afrojack?' I've been using the same programme and the same instruments for all my music for the last 17 years. It's pretty funny. I'm not gonna try to prove them wrong.”

On reflection, Afrojack has little to prove. He’s been having a pretty good year. ‘Hey Mama’, his recent track with Nicki Minaj and David Guetta, hit the Top 10 all over the world.

He’s been delivering his bouncy brand of hyperactive house to Ultra Peru, TomorrowWorld, Taiwan and Japan. He’s working on stuff for Rihanna. He’s just about to unveil the immortalised wax version of himself at the Amsterdam Madame Tussauds. It could be worse.

“I actually split up with my management this year, and it gave me more control about where I wanna go with my music,” he nods. “I've been producing a lot, outside of the EDM genre — I've been doing a lot of techno stuff with some friends.”

The Wall Recordings head, as well as being known for having dated a certain hotel heiress and crashing multiple(!) Ferraris, has become a household name for tracks like ‘Take Over Control’, and his collaborations with Bassjackers and Martin Garrix.

On the topic of women who mix, Van de Wall is all for the “feminine movement” that’s taking place. “I actually think that when a girl is DJing it makes it even cooler, because when a girl's DJing the guys can go, 'Oh that's so sexy', and the girls can be like 'Oh that's so awesome'. I'm pretty sure if Martin Garrix was a girl, he would still be as successful as he is now. But his name would be Martina.”

“DJing requires shit-loads of practice and I can imagine that a lot of girls just aren't that interested in DJing. I can't imagine another reason” he shrugs.

There’s that saying: find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. “The first thing I do when I wake up is work,” Afrojack finishes. “Because I love my work. It's more like a hobby. It's difficult for me not to work 16 hours a day. But sometimes I do it, sometimes I just chill out and watch a movie or something.” 

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-10 12:25

What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“The skill of DJing to me is still reading a crowd and playing to the crowd. I have the most respect for the DJs that focus on making it a fun party rather than just giving a dope show.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“If by EDM you mean dance music then yes, for sure. Dance music will always be dance music, and it will only get bigger. It means there's an entire new generation getting into dance music, so we have a long future!”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Not mentally. Sometimes physically. It's not really that complicated: just have a lot of sleep, drink a lot of water and rest as much as you work.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“I want to educate kids around the world about the freedom that life has to offer outside of society's perspective. Me and almost every other DJ and everyone else who's out there enjoying dance festivals and parties, we are the example that you can have an amazing life outside of society's limitations.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“The little club in Scotland, The Arches. I heard it recently closed down, that sucked. That was an exemplary club for dance and underground music. That was a real passionate thing.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“Dance music is everything but sexist, so if there aren't enough girls in the DJ Mag Top 100, that's probably because girls aren't trying hard enough.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“If you get a ghost producer and you're open about it, that's fine. But when you try and hide it and act like you do know what you're doing, that's kind of stupid.”

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