Up Close and Personal with


Exclusive Interview Miami Music Week:

by Kimberly Phan


Bassjackers, known as Marlon Flohr & Ralph van Hilst, have been best friends since high school. At that age, Marlon realized he could not DJ on his own and recognized Ralph’s ability to produce techno beats. From there, the two friends decided to join up together and create what they are now known as – Bassjackers. For the second time this year we have had a chance to catch up with them, this time we linked up in the Miami Music Week Madness… It was insane to see what new vibes they have in store for us and to get an inside scoop on a day in the life of two of the best producers rocking the EDM Scene today…. This is what they shared up with us:   KP: From Joyride, can’t take it, fireflies to extreme. You guys have created some absolute BANGERS! How do you go about when it comes to production process? Bassjackers (Ralph): Thank you. Well, it’s an ongoing process. Marlon is always touring and I’m always in the studio. Whenever Marlon gets back, he always brings feedback to the table which is very helpful for me to go on. Whatever we experience can trigger a new track, a mood or a sound. We actually do what we feel and that’s it basically.   KP: You guys have become a household name in the music industry. How do you stay inspired? Bassjackers (Marlon): We’ve been doing this for awhile but it doesn’t feel like it. Everyday feels brand new and fresh. I think as long as you enjoy what you’re doing, it’ll keep you inspired because you’ll want to keep doing it. There are new goals and new challenges and there will be bigger and better stages, new crowds, you know? Bassjackers (Ralph): It’s so much fun and that’s what makes it worthwhile everyday. This is our profession, our job, and I love it. KP: Personally, I think you guys have one of the better jobs in the world! Bassjackers (Marlon):  As soon as you think that it’s not, that’s when it’ll slap you in the face. Bassjackers (Ralph): Yeah, like wake up man! I must admit, from time to time, touring is really hard because you’re so many days away from home. For me in the studio, whenever you don’t know it, the pressure is still on. It can be a bit of a wait but then again you look in the mirror and think “man, first world problems.” KP: Are you guys based in the same city? Bassjackers (Marlon): Yeah. Our studio is where we went to college. We live in the south of Holland in Tilburg. That’s where our studio is based. I moved a little bit but it’s still close to it. We’ll probably never leave! KP: In the last couple of years, the popularity of electronic dance music and other genres of electronic music has exploded. Can you tell me a little bit about how you think that’s affected the scene and the music being produced? Bassjackers (Ralph): Actually, the level of producing has really gone up. There are so many people that want to produce and are eager to learn. Because there are so many people stepping in, there are new approaches. People now see music in a different way and it’s continuously changing the game again. It’s a cycle that goes so hard. Bassjackers (Marlon): Access is so easy now. When we started, it wasn’t that easy. You had to purchase a bunch of equipment but now you can just use your computer, watch a bunch of YouTube videos and tutorials. All these young kids hop on it and learn so fast. There’s so much talent now. There’s so many new people that stepped into the game. Bassjackers (Ralph): It keeps you sharp as well because the competition is on. That’s also a drive and it continues to inspire you. You hear new artists creating music and you’re like “Oh wow. How does he do that?” You can then try to search and mimic and make it your own. It’s a cool process. Look at the charts right now. You can see how many EDM tracks there are! Bassjackers (Marlon): Look at our track, “Joyride,” for example with Brooks. Brooks is super young but talented kid. When he steps into the studio, we learn too. We learn from him and he learns from us. Bassjackers (Ralph): When you hear some of the new music, you’ll think it’s cool and you get curious about it. It’s that natural drive that will continue to drive the quality of music.   https://soundcloud.com/bassjackers/bassjackers-ultra-music-festival-miami-2017 KP: Speaking of quality, you stated earlier that there is new music constantly being churned out. Being fully transparent, not every track is made of quality and not every song that lands on Beatport is a banger. With all of this new music being churned out, what do you think artists have to do to stay relevant? Bassjackers (Ralph): I think it’s about being genuine as an artist. Don’t try to be unique, just be yourself. Bassjackers (Marlon): Try to make your own sound and be your own person. We have a sound that is high energy but we try to keep the Bassjackers stick on it. I think that when people hear a Bassjackers track they can already tell it’s us. I think it’s important for artists to be able to define their own sound and to have their audience identify their sound as well.   Bassjackers (Ralph): The most important part is doing what you like, envision it, and be the artist that you want to be. If the public comes, they come, if they don’t, they don’t. It’s your thing and keep it genuine. It must be so hard to try to be someone else the whole time. I couldn’t wear a mask so I’m glad that we can be our goofy selves. This is a tough question because we don’t ever get this one. KP: What would you say makes you two work so well together? What is the fundamental element that keeps you two in sync?   Bassjackers (Ralph): Well, Marlon is a very good DJ! That’s also one of the main reasons why I’m not on stage. I would be in the way big time. He has a real clear vision of the music. I also have a clear vision but they can overlap. Whenever he comes back, he has great feedback as to how to make it more effective. I want the audience to be able to listen to it easily but it also has to be easy and effective for a DJ to play. I think that’s where we meet and that’s what makes Bassjackers’ sound so special. Bassjackers (Marlon): Ralph is a producer and I’m a DJ. How I look at music from a DJ’s perspective is by feeling out the crowd. I know how a song will go when I see and hear the crowd so I’ll suggest how to tweak it here and there. It goes vice versa. We try to meet in the middle and together it’s Bassjackers. KP: It’s a nice marriage of the two. Bassjackers (Ralph): At some points it’s like, wow this really works. We’ll look at each other like we never expected it. Bassjackers (Marlon): We have this one track, it’s called, “Like That,” and when we were in the studio the sound sounded so cool but I didn’t think it would work for a crowd. Maybe if  changed some sounds or sing some melodies, which is really weird, but he knew what I meant, and we tweaked it and it worked! So when I was playing at the same festival as Martin Garrix and I played the track back to back, Martin was like “WHAT IS THIS?” And I said it was something that Ralph just made in the studio. It was insane. That same song was the main song played at Tomorrowland. It was played 4 to 5 times. It’s so funny how it goes. He works on all these sounds and I just  barge in the studio. KP: I think that you (Marlon) being a DJ and you (Ralph) being a producer is what sets you guys apart from most artists in the industry. You’ve identified your strengths within one another and have truly embraced it to make your music so synonymous. Bassjackers (Marlon): Ralph doesn’t like to DJ or be on stage, he wants to be in the studio. I don’t want to be in the studio 8 hours a day. I’d rather go on stage and play around the world. We do what we love most. https://soundcloud.com/bassjackers/bassjackers-vs-dangello KP: How did you guys find… Bassjackers (Marlon): Each other? Bassjackers (Ralph): Tinder. KP: *HA* No! How did you guys find this systematic balance? Bassjackers (Marlon): It was very natural because he was one of my best friends and I was a local DJ and he was a producer. I asked if he could make some tracks and we decided to send them out and got great feedback. We didn’t have a name so we threw Bassjackers on it and had our first show. KP: How’d you guys come up with the name Bassjackers? Bassjackers (Marlon): There was a brainstorm session on MSN Messenger actually. Bassjackers (Ralph): We were checking some sounds too and found that we were jacking some bass so let’s call ourselves Bassjackers! It sounds bad ass. Bassjackers (Marlon): So we had our first show and he didn’t want to DJ so I DJ’ed. I told him to check it out. Bassjackers (Ralph): I checked it out but I never wanted to DJ. Bassjackers (Marlon): That’s when we figured out what the vision of our tasks were. Bassjackers (Ralph): I must admit, sometimes when I look at him, it looks like a lot of fun. Then I remember that that is not for me. KP: Last question… It’s not music related but I want to get inside your heads a little bit. Bassjackers (Marlon): Are you sure you want to get inside our heads? KP: I’m ready to enter the Brave New World of Bassjackers ;). My question isn’t too deep but would you say your spirit animal is? Bassjackers (Marlon): I’m a monkey! Bassjackers (Ralph): Back at home, they call me a wolf. KP: Leader of the pack? Bassjackers (Ralph): Maybe… They describe me as calm and collective. Bassjackers (Marlon): And he’s got great leadership qualities. Bassjackers (Ralph): It’s a strange thing to say about yourself but if he says it, I’ll take it! KP: What do you think Marlon’s traits are? Bassjackers (Ralph): He’s really energetic and brings a lot of entertainment to the table. Whenever he’s around, things happen. You’re guaranteed a good time. Especially as a DJ, he has all the good characteristics of one. That’s why I look at him and he makes it look like fun. KP: I can attest to that! Whenever I’ve seen Marlon play a set, he always gets the crowd moving. No set has ever been the same and he really tailors accordingly. I feel like Marlon will want to drop a banger but he’ll see how the crowd is reacting and will improvise and drop something the crowd wasn’t expecting at all. Bassjackers (Ralph): That’s really Marlon. We don’t have a specific set. He can go every way. Bassjackers (Marlon): Sometimes you get sh*t for your sets. People expect you to always have it prepared but I always go all over the place. I try to prepare it but I play what I feel. The worst that will happen is I’ll forget to play a track that was supposed to get dropped. So, I don’t really prepare. I just create a note that says *DO NOT FORGET TO PLAY THESE TRACKS OR ELSE RALPH WILL GET PISSED!*  


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