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May 07, 2018

Exclusive Interview: Afrojack

We were delighted to speak with Afrojack last Thursday ahead of the release of his brand new collaboration “One More Day” together with Jewelz & Sparks. The release of the surefire crossover hit gave us a good chance to explore the diversity in Afrojack’s productions, and clearly parse out his three aliases, Afrojack, DJ Afrojack, and NLW. The single also importantly marks the start of his massive North American tour, which sees 12 dates this month including EDCLV. After unleashing an incredible set full of IDs on the crowd at Ultra, we talked with Nick about many of those new tracks as well as how he looks to build on that performance at EDCLV. Enjoy the long read with the ever insightful and honest Afrojack.
Tomorrow you drop your new single together with Jewelz & Sparks and earlier this year you released your edit of “All I See Is You.” How did you guys end up back together for this collaboration?
Just to jump right into it, Jewelz & Sparks recently signed to WALL and we’re going to try and really help get them more exposure. I think their records are completely awesome, and I think they are completely awesome.

With “All I See Is You,” I did some edits, rearranged some parts, did the break, but I didn’t do so much with the production. With the single “One More Day” that just released, it’s different, and it’s not a club single, it’s a full on radio song.

Also while I’m here, if anyone reading this has any suggestions for some killer remixes, I’m already thinking about it and I reached out to Bad Royale, but please let me know. There are a lot of talented producers out there, and we’re trying to find the undiscovered talent who could really benefit from remixing a big track like this.

When it comes to releasing the more radio friendly tracks we’ve seen all of your productions released under Afrojack, whereas the club music has come out under DJ Afrojack or NLW. Can you tell us a bit more about those aliases?
NLW and DJ Afrojack is sort of the same thing, but I want to make a clear distinction of where I base my records. When I do an Afrojack record I want something that works in the club, but also on the radio. When I do a DJ Afrojack track, that’s going to make people who hear it on the radio turn their radio off as they say, “What the hell is this crazy noise coming through my radio?!”

If you’re on Spotify or iTunes I want there to be multiple artist profiles. Think about Diplo, with Jack Ü, Major Lazer, and Diplo. Major Lazer is reggae oriented, Jack Ü is old school hip hop oriented, and then he’s just doing all kinds of music.

You mentioned Afrojack tracks should be able to cross over between radio and club, so have you road tested “All I See Is You” yet?
I’ve played it a couple times before and it works, but that was moreso me just editing their initial record. You know, I’m not very close to the whole trance genre, so before playing it in my major festival sets, I just wanted to put it out there and see how people reacted.

Actually, that happens a lot of times, where I produce records and don’t put them in my sets until other people start playing it. That happened with “Ten Feet Tall” actually. I played it at EDC once to test it out and it kind of worked, so I finished it, but I didn’t really start playing it out religiously until I saw a ton of other people playing it.

What makes Jewelz & Sparks special artists to work with?
They are very, very good producers. They work very hard. When we’re working in the studio, they’ll work 16 hour days, from the moment they wake up until they go to sleep. Sometimes they even forget to shower, that’s very dirty [laughs], but they work extremely hard and I think that’s the most important thing. They work hard, work smart, know how to create almost any kind of sound and they’re just nice guys. They’re humble and open – creatively open – they have an open mind, which is really important if you want to do any kind of growing.

Switching gears a bit, can you tell us any more about the IDs in your Ultra set [full tracklist]?
As you’ve probably noticed I like to play a lot of music that isn’t even finished. Just a drop, a lot of bootlegs, or even when I’m making some of these bootlegs and mashups, I can’t find a drop so I create the drop myself. That’s actually what happened with the “Get Jacked” record (the “step back we might get jacked” track). I made the drop just so I’d have a remix of “Lost” to play live at Ultra. And then I was working on the drop and created the break behind it and then another drop and now I’m in the studio trying to figure out what to do with the break to make the record even better, to give it its own signature. In my opinion, just a drop is not a record, a good record is an experience. Swedish House Mafia – “Antidote” is a fucking record.

Most of the tracks I played at Ultra I’m still working on finishing. I’m also working with some other guys on some collaborations. Most importantly, “My City” is coming soon!!

That’s awesome! I’ve marked that one down for my workout playlist already!
Yeah. I’m pretty sure that song will get anyone pumped! It’s a very, very aggressive song.

Can you tell us any more about how “My City” came to be?
If you actually watch my sets you can see where at one point I get bored with a song and then I replace it with a different song or I replace it by making a different song. That happened with this record, where I used to play the Ricky Remedy and Bro Safari remix of Zomboy – “Terror Squad” all the time and then I thought I can’t play it anymore because everyone is playing it, but I still wanted something with the same BPM change, so that’s where I started with “My City.”

And now you’ve got another huge set coming up for EDCLV, what’s the plan with that one?
I have some new music, you’ll hear updated versions of all of the records I’ve been working on, and it’s very interesting. I’ll tell you honestly, I’m playing after everyone plays. Sunday at 4am on the Mainstage, so I’m going to be playing to a lot of people who are attending for the first time and people who have heard everything all weekend. I’m playing after Zedd, after Seven Lions, and after The Chainsmokers, so it’s going to be a challenge to keep the dancefloor packed and give the people an epic experience towards the ending of their festival weekend.

I don’t just want to do a classic Afrojack set for the first timers, I want to give some “Oh Shit!!” moments. Especially the hipsters in America, I want to make them go, “Oh shit! He’s actually good.” Everyone knows I can play “Take Over Control,” “Ten Feet Tall,” “The Spark,” bye, thank you. But that’s not going to make the set next level so I’m working on it. Worst case scenario it’s the Ultra set on steroids!
Check out the DJ Afrojack Edit of Language in the JACK3D Stage Recap Video from Ultra!!

You kind of mentioned this earlier, but what makes playing in America different from the rest of the world?
Well America is just one country and every country has their own culture. Right now in America, everyone is on the hip hop vibe, you’ve got to play a little bit of it. What’s your creative take on it? You need to put that in your set and do something cool.

If I go to Europe or Asia, especially Europe, hip hop is just not as alive. If I play Lil Pump – “Gucci Gang,” 9 out of 10 people in the club are going to look at me like what is this?! I don’t get it. That’s one big thing, plus the social media and cultural lifestyle of following the Billboard Charts and daily news cycle is very American. We read about it sometimes, but no one really cares, it’s very different playing in Europe versus America.

What do you make of all the talk saying progressive house is coming back? Your track “New Memories” together with DubVision is absolutely sick and right in line with that!
Well I would say DubVision did that record with me. I just directed it a little bit. You can hear very clearly by the sound, that they did most of the work.

The thing with progressive house is, it is making a comeback, but it will take time. A lot of people, how do you say it... sort of abused the system, and that created a very stale genre of badly produced, fake progressive house records which are almost there, but not enough. That really made people take a break from it.

Also, you can’t really play a set of ten progressive house records in a row. You can’t have epic moment after epic moment after epic moment, even Eric Prydz who is the master at progressive house tracks and arrangements, has certain builds throughout his set. You have to balance the emotional load of the tracks, so it’s very difficult to place those tracks wisely in your sets.
Afrojack & Jewelz & Sparks – “One More Day” is available to buy/stream on your platform of choice today!
Afrojack's One More Day North American Tour kicks off this Friday, May 11th! Check out the tour dates below and be sure to grab your tickets here:
Connect with Afrojack: SoundCloud | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
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