Perfecting His Passions – Exclusive Interview with Afrojack
Interview by Kristine Kennedy and Michael Beas
Featured Photo Copyright Sander Nagel
When most think of Dutch extraordinaire producer and DJ, Afrojack, they probably envision a constant party, a lavish lifestyle. And maybe there was some of that dabbled in the past, but truth be told, Afrojack is the artist he is today because he has put in countless hours of work daily and he’s showing no signs of slowing down those work hours. He has the drive, the ambition, the vision to guide both himself personally and his career towards success. The following interview – this is the real Afrojack. We hope you truly enjoy getting to know this side of him.
As we sat down for our interview with Afrojack, he was deep in thought on his phone while we got settled. “Actually, I was in a moment – like when you’re in a moment where you’re about to do something. You go to your phone and text the give people you’re talking to “Great idea. Love you baby. See you later. Okay I will see you tomorrow. Thank you, yes, no problem. Okay, thanks.” I was doing that.”
Raver Magazine: This actually leads us up to our first question for you. How do you manage so many things at one time when everybody is trying to get a piece of Afrojack’s time?
Afrojack: You just figure out how to do it. How do you poop and read the newspaper at the same time? And chew gum? I don’t know. How do you brush your teeth and look at Instagram at the same time? It just becomes second nature. You have so much going on in your life these days.
Raver Magazine: What makes Miami special to you?
Afrojack: Ultra. I’ve been saying that for 12 years now but definitely it’s Ultra. Also there’s a really nice beach here. I love the place. The first time I experienced Miami was at Ultra. So I remember there was all dance music and all the little restaurants and stuff and of course that only happens during Ultra. I was very disappointed the first time I came to Miami and there was no Ultra. I was like “wow – this is not much fun.”
Raver Magazine: How did you feel about playing at the new location versus the old one at Bayfront Park?
Afrojack: It was amazing. Now there is a lot more space for main stage and the other stages around. So it used to be people at main stage would have to settle around the trees and stuff but now main stage goes all the way back. It was crazy!
Raver Magazine: It was weird to walk through Brickell [downtown Miami] and not be surrounded by everything Ultra by Bayfront Park.
Afrojack: I know. I went to the old location a few days before I played at the new location this year and the park is just a regular park now. I walked over to where main stage was where the DJ’s play and look out over that crowd and I opened a beer and just sat there and reminisced.
Raver Magazine: That would have been an amazing shot to catch – what a great idea.
We know you have some new music coming out very soon – give us the scoop. When you cross genres, do you as an artist find it difficult to do?
Afrojack: It’s very difficult to keep up the façade of being passionate about everything at all times. Most artists are very self-conscious because they are aware they are lying about 50% of what they are truly passionate about. I’ve always loved hip hop and I will always love dance music. I have a new track out called ‘Sober’ and I’m super excited that I got to do a hip hop record. As a producer, it is a very fun challenge. I used to be a break dancer and a street dancer, so it’s like a natural thing.
But at the same time, if I went to Ultra and just played it like that in the set and tried to act as natural then I’m moving the wrong things. Just like it is great to put peanut butter and jelly together on a sandwich but then you go play tennis and while your forehead with it and it just doesn’t work. That’s basically what happens a lot of times when people cross over genres. So I’m aware of the risk of the process. So I’m excited to have released the hip hop track. Next I will do a club remix of the track and I’ll probably release a pop album this year. I think people are ready enough to understand that. I have a pretty successful career and I’ve been doing all kinds of stuff throughout it. Of course I get some hate and they’re like “oh, this is way too slow or oh this is too poppy or oh, this is too hard” but at the end of the day, every time I do a show, people accept that from me.
One time in an interview I said “I’m not EDM.” But I said that in a way that if you eat chicken, you love chicken, it does not mean that you are chicken. You might also love pancakes and some days a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So for me back then I cared about my career as Afrojack as that was the only thing I had. Now I’m in a position that I only care about my fans. I love my fans. I love my career but I will never try to let my career success precede my personal success. When I was younger and a lot artist are definitely there, you tend to think your career is all of your life. I went through a lot of stuff that showed me there’s more to life than just that. So I love it but I will never place it before my personal happiness anymore. Since I’ve learned that everything has been way better. I have a better connection with my fans, my music comes out more easy, my DJ’ing is more fun. It works its best this way.
Raver Magazine: That’s how it has to be -you are right. Why limit? It’s a talent not to have to be limited. People get so comfortable in a certain spot that they don’t want to try different things.
Afrojack: I’m lucky I’m in EDM. If you’re a techno DJ and you make pop records, you are an asshole according to your fans. “He does pop records – fuck that guy. I’m not going to go to his show.” This is real. I’m kind of lucky in the place where I work but I think eventually we just want to inspire people to be happier and be more comfortable with being who they are. I want to give people the good experiences I’ve had, not the shitty ones. The shitty ones aren’t fact based. They are mental. It’s in your head. You think people care. They don’t care. Everybody is busy caring about their own shit.
Raver Magazine: We’re glad you’re taking the position you are with this. We also know that mentorship is something you are passionate about and you’re all about bringing up the young talent. You just finished the Global Remix Battle – is there more to come on that in the future?
Afrojack: The company I do it with is called LDH. It is a Japanese company that’s been in artist development for twenty years and has massive success. It’s almost a billion dollar company in Japan, so imagine what they could do worldwide. So the Global Remix Battle was our way of doing The Voice or X-Factor, but for producers. But we didn’t specify how many winners would be picked or what the prizes were. If a guy makes the sickest remix but he’s a dick, I’m not going to sign him. I might still play the remix in my sets because a good remix is a good remix. Here with this competition we are more so trying to open up the vision of showing people that if you work hard enough, this is your opportunity. If you make dope shit and send it to people, they are going to find it. That’s how I started. I didn’t start by making shitty music and then someone says “wow you’re making shitty music but I like you. I’m going to make you a star.”
We are an artist development company. We steer the artists away from financial issues, away from party issues. I never had any party issues, but I wasted a lot of time doing after parties and I used to drink. I didn’t have a drinking problem but I used to drink. Now I quit drinking. It gives me a lot more time to focus on these kids. I want these kids to have a party but I don’t want them to go Netflix for 8 hours a day. That’s what I did when I was younger. I had no competition so I could get away with it. These days though if you want success, you have to be okay putting in 16 hours a day or others will pass you by skill-wise.
I used to mentor kids before, but now I can also provide all services. We don’t do management in a sense of managing their careers, but we do mental management, some skill management. Are you practicing? Are you spending your time well and making the right decisions? Are you happy? That is my responsibility. I make your dreams ocme true and if you are not happy then I am clearly not making your dreams come true.
Be sure to check out Afrojack’s new track with Jewelz & Sparks featuring Emmalyn ‘Switch’ – Official Music Video is below!