Afrojack is one of the world’s biggest DJs, but who is Afro when he’s done being Afro? Nick van de Wall has been one of the hottest names in electronic dance music (EDM) for nearly a decade. Since exploding onto the scene with his monster-smash, “Take Over Control” feat. Eva Simons, Afrojack has been touring the globe as a DJ; playing at the largest music festivals and most renowned nightclubs in the world.
Van de Wall has remixed songs for a wide range of artists, including Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Leona Lewis, Avicii, Donna Summer, David Guetta, Justin Bieber, Steve Angello, The Black Eyed Peas, Kid Cudi, Duck Sauce, Steve Aoki, Tiesto, Robin Thicke, will.i.am, Major Lazer, U2, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Jeremih, Flo Rida, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Paul McCartney, and many more.
As of late, Nick has just announced the return of Afrojack to the Wynn Las Vegas, where he will continue his residency through 2018. His DJ residency includes performances throughout the year at Wynn Nightlife venues: XS, Encore Beach Club, and Intrigue.
On the new music front, Afrojack started off the year with a sweet Valentine’s Day treat as he surprised fans with a beautiful new production, “Bed Of Roses” feat. Stanaj. This year alone, Nick has already released an eclectic array of hit singles, including “Bad Company” with DirtCaps, “Helium” with David Guetta and Sia, as well as an iconic remix of U2’s “Get Out Of Your Own Way.” All of these are just this year!
In 2017, Afrojack released “LOST” with VASSY, which they performed together at the Ultra 20 Main Stage in Miami this past Music Week. He also joined forces with David Guetta on “Another Life” feat. Ester Dean, which hit the #1 spot on the US Dance Chart for 4 weeks – not to mention a futuristic anime music video which has acquired nearly 30 million views on YouTube. Van de Wall finished off last year on a high note, releasing “New Memories” with DubVision, which marked Afrojack’s 7th original track release within a three-month span.
This past Miami Music Week, we spent some time with Nick during the premiere of ‘What We Started,’ the best electronic music film of our time. Afrojack appears in both the film trailer and the documentary feature itself, where he talks about the state of the scene and just have far we’ve come.
Once the dust settled from Ultra Music Festival’s 20th anniversary in Miami—and the start of festival season—The Nocturnal Times caught up with Afrojack to discuss standout moments frm his UMF experience this year, the ‘What We Started’ movie premiere, his newest singles, 20 years from now, and much more. Read The Nocturnal Times exclusive interview Q&A with Afrojack, below.
The Nocturnal Times: Let’s start out by talking a bit about Ultra Music Festival. You just performed a main stage set where you brought out Vassy to perform “LOST”. How was this year’s main stage experience for you for Ultra’s 20th anniversary?
Afrojack: It was a lot of fun, I of course have the song “LOST” With Vassy which was a lot of fun to do and perform live. But mostly for me the most fun thing about my Ultra set was presenting some new music for the fans this year. Last year I did O.T Genesis and Ty Dolla $ign, and this year I really wanted to put the emphasis on my own dance music producer sound. So, it was a lot of new records that are coming out over the summer.
The Nocturnal Times: You also played a surprise set with David Guetta at the UMF Radio stage during Ultra 20. How was that experience for you and how does that type of set differ from a main stage set?
Afrojack: Well, we try to do it almost every year, the only thing we try to do is bring it back to the old school. No festival production, no crazy lights, no special effects. Just sound system and keeping it fresh so to speak.
The Nocturnal Times: For those who haven’t been to MMW, what is the vibe like during that week at the parties and at Ultra?
Afrojack: It’s like one big epic festival. Instead of going to a festival and being on festival grounds, they turn all of South Beach and the heart of Downtown Miami too into one big epic festival. There’s only dance fans there not really Miami people, it’s just dance music.
The Nocturnal Times: As of late you’ve started changing up your signature bleepy sound for a deeper vibe. How did this come about and was it a progressive change?
Afrojack: I’m very much still on my bleepy sound — and I plan to stay there. I’ve always done that [always been bleepy]. Hip-hop is even still more of a hobby, but bleepy music is where I come from. I really do like to keep the emphasis on that [the bleep].
The Nocturnal Times: You recently released ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ with David Guetta, Charli XCX, and French Montana. Do you take a different approach from the beginning on tracks you want to have more of a crossover appeal?
Afrojack: Well the thing is when I DJ, I want stuff to be exactly how I want it. Whereas producing pop songs and stuff for the radio, I try to produce stuff for the world. So, of course it was still a flavor like when making a song for the radio, I actually try to make it a song that radio people will want to play; a song that my grandma wants to listen to, and that you want to listen to and keep a balance of that stuff. Then, when I’m working on music for myself I take a completely different approach. I just want to make stuff that I think is old school.
The Nocturnal Times: You’ve always been very versatile, which fans may not know about you off the bat. Which artists got you into electronic and which are you most inspired by now?
Afrojack: I still think everything that’s happened over the last four years has been great. Of course, David Guetta but he’s also like my brother. I don’t know, I think I hear a lot of stuff right now that’s really inspired from hip-hop. It’s a very fun scene right now. I’m also really a fan of Swedish House Mafia’s return of course. I gave that a swing in my DJ sets and I’ve been preparing a lot of stuff like back on sounds from 2012 up to 2014, which is actually funny because right before Ultra and Miami Music Week, I released a record reminiscent of 2000’s pop because we wanted to bring back the big room sound of 2012…and Swedish House Mafia. I’m a fan I have the sweater and everything. They’re friends of mine but I’m also a big fan of their production of their music and their sound, they really just do a great job.
The Nocturnal Times: We just saw you last Thursday at the Miami premiere of the new dance music film what we started. What was the experience like for you, being in such a big documentary for the scene?
Afrojack: Well, I have some friends telling me it was a very good film, I haven’t seen it yet. But I heard it’s very good and everyone’s been talking being really excited saying ah it’s such an awesome movie it’s such cool shit! The movie makers really made the movie out of raw material so for me it never really was an experience I just did a couple of interviews. I never saw the process of professionally making the film. The producers were taking a bunch of random DJs, filming, and making it into a movie because at the end of the day we are DJs, we’re not actors. They’ve been able to make it a great movie with us and good for them.
The Nocturnal Times: If you weren’t pursuing a career as an iconic producer and world traveling DJ, what do you think you’d be doing?
Afrojack: I never really perused being an iconic producer or world traveling DJ, I just really wanted to DJ. I wanted to get people to dance and dance to music they haven’t heard before. I don’t think anyone really has the goal to tour the world or be a superstar, at least of my generation. If it wasn’t doing this though, I would probably be a graphic designer or something. I used to do graphic design and I still draw from time to time. I probably would have been a graphic artist or something like that, yeah!
The Nocturnal Times: If we were to look at the history on your Spotify or Apple Music, which albums or artists would we find you listening to lately?
Afrojack: Right now, I still listen to Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. I don’t know, I actually don’t even really listen to albums. I just tend to listen to music from friends – and also music I’m working on, that way I can see how I can make it better. I also listen to the radio; I love the radio.
The Nocturnal Times: It’s 20 years from now… somebody mentions the name Afrojack. What are they saying about you? We think based on the impact you’ve made on the industry that it will be something great.
Afrojack: In 20 years, they’ll totally have forgotten about me. I’ll do my best to live up to that though!
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