It’s hard to believe that Afrojack just recently released his debut artist album. He's been releasing tracks since 2006, and his big commercial crossover “Take Over Control” and entry into the DJ Mag list were in 2010. The album ‘Forget the World
’ is a song-driven album featuring collaborations with a wide variety of artists – Sting, Snoop Dogg, Matthew Koma, Chris Brown. Listening to him, either through his music or when he speaks, you can tell his is a very emotional personal with strong convictions and not afraid to speak his mind. Hearing what he has to say, unfiltered, you get a true idea of what he thinks.
RS: I was walking down Lincoln Road and I saw your display at the RAW store. How did your second collaboration with the clothing line come together?
Afrojack: We had the first one and it was a tiny and gigantic success in the sense of what it could have been. It was sold out in the store in two days and in two minutes online. I never really created merchandise because I didn’t want to just start selling shitty shirts that said Afrojack on them for $50. I felt like that would degrade my name, so I waited and waited and finally I have started my worldwide full clothing line and we are now in 350 G-Star stores now.
RS: We were very lucky to hear a preview of your upcoming album the other day. The reactions have been overwhelmingly positive.
Afrojack: I was doing an interview and they said the previews had gone up, I had no idea. I have been so busy here in Miami that I forgot the previews from my album came out online. People are finally able to put the pieces together. I have no idea what people are saying and I shouldn’t read the comments, you just have to tell me!
RS: Let me share one with you, this is from Holly who is an artist manager. “I love the movement Afrojack is creating, he literally shocked me. “Ten Feet Tall” and “Illuminate” have an amazing message. I love that he is sending a message about being authentic and living for what makes you happy and doing what you love and not what society expects you to do. At that moment he inspired me to remember what is important in life, being true to yourself.” Is that kind of where you are going?
Afrojack: Yeah. I am happy that she understood. I got a little emotional back at the listening session because I have always had a hard time explaining myself in a way that other people would understand. For the first time ever I finally have my own voice, no one is speaking for me and no one is talking about something that I supposedly said. It is all coming from me and now I get to speak to everybody and people finally understand.
RS: It almost feels like you have been reborn as a new spirit. Were there any other changes that came along with this new album?
Afrojack: It doesn’t feel like I have been reborn; it feels like I have just been born. I have been in the fetal position for the last 6 years and now the connection is finally direct. I have had a connection with a handful of friends and a couple hundred fans around the world that I speak to on Twitter and Facebook but now my message has finally gotten out to everyone.
RS: I loved the message of “The Spark,” were you involved with the writing of the lyrics to that song?
Afrojack: No, the lyrics were already there but I chose the song out of hundreds of songs. I have great picking ability, which is why I am a really cool producer. Honestly the credit goes to Spree Wilson; all I did was create the music around it.RS: On the album you have two tracks with Matthew Koma, what about his voice inspires you to work with him?
Afrojack: His voice is really special; I am going to be honest though, the first time that I heard his voice on “Keep Our Love Alive” I thought that it was a female’s voice. When you get to see him sing you see how beautiful his voice really is. It is not just his voice though, it is also his writing. He writes really different, he wrote “Illuminate” and “Keep Our Love Alive.” He is very unpredictable with his sounds and that is why I love working with him so much.
RS: How did you meet up with Sting for the album?
Afrojack: I met him through Martin Kierszenbaum of Cherrytree Records; he is a good friend of Sting's. I wrote the song with a couple of friends and it was really creative. We were talking about who would sing on the song and one guy said Sting. We all started laughing because he was the last person that I thought I would have the honor to work with. A couple weeks later I played the song for Martin and he said that he thought it would be a song for Sting. He called him and 3 months later I was in the studio in New York with him, it was pretty crazy.
RS: That’s crazy, what is also crazy is the Thirty Seconds to Mars remix. How did that come about?
Afrojack: I met Jared and Shannon backstage during their concert in Amsterdam and they were really cool. The Universal team was there too and they said that we should work together for “Do Or Die.” They thought it was a great song, but they thought the format was wrong for the radio. They sent it over to me and I stayed in touch with Jared and we worked on it for a couple of weeks. It became the ” Do Or Die” remix. It is also a collaboration because Jared and I sort of did the remix together. It was funny to work with someone just like me, we both wanted to change everything and push all the buttons.
RS: One of the things that I really respect about you is that you have the guts to take on a legendary project like Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” or Michael Jackson’s “Bad.” When you approached these records, how did you do it?
Afrojack: I always have to think about what my parents taught me, when someone asks you to do something for them if you respect them you say yes. Michael Jackson’s estate, label, and family asked me to remix it and I couldn’t say no. It would be disrespectful to them and Michael if I had said no; it was an honor to be able to do it. You will always receive slack for doing something like remixing such a legend like Michael Jackson but they asked me to do it. It was the same thing with Donna Summer’s record; it is such a legendary record. The crazy thing about it is that Giorgio asked me himself. He didn’t want anyone else to remix it besides me. It’s Giorgio, if he asks you to do the dishes you do the dishes, if he asks you to remix Donna Summer, you say “yes sir!”
RS: This is a sensitive topic that you addressed in your presentation this week. You talked about how all the EDM music is starting to sound the same. What do you have to say about that and how do you think you can change it?
Afrojack: It doesn’t matter, there are a lot of young kids that produce what they hear works. When you start producing you want to make something that’s cool but you also want to make something that is effective so that the crowd goes crazy. That is what a lot of kids have started doing and that is why a lot of music has started to sound the same. The essence of the effectiveness of EDM is really obvious right now. They use their brain; they know that if they make a song that is just like every other song they will be on stage DJing. If they will end up in Miami and have someone pay for their ticket and get to play for a crowd, they would rather do that then create a creative, original song. I believe that is why tracks have started to sound the same. Avicii just took everything to a whole new level and so did Calvin and David Guetta, we are all trying to move forward and create new music. I think it is just a waiting game at this point.
Interview conducted March 2014 during Winter Music Conference.