If you are a fan of dance you know Afrojack. Everyone on the planet has heard the name a time or two… hitting star status looks good on this “Super DJ”. The Netherlands native is only 25, and has already achieved goals that one could only dream of. From working with Pitbull and Ne-Yo, to mentor David Guetta, he has some of the biggest names in the business on his side. He recently sat down with Billboard for a cover story interview, and we have the highlights for you.
What makes the Netherlands such a dance-music hotbed?
Our music has a lot of balls. Most music that comes out of Holland is basically the harder part of dance music-hip-hop, drum’n’bass.
How involved are you in the day-to-day of Wall Recordings?
The label is my baby. Every song that gets released, every artist that gets signed, I decide. I try to do everything from picking the cover image to helping [Shermanology DJ Andy] Sherman know what songs to play in a solo performance.
How are festivals different from solo gigs for you?
For a solo gig, the crowd knows your shit. At a festival, a lot of people came to see other artists, so you have to put on a signature set and performance: This is what I do, this is why I’m here. At solo gigs, I’m a DJ — I’ll play two-and-a-half hours, and not just my own music, also my favorite songs by other artists.
So, solo gigs are more traditional DJ sets? No “pressing play”?
You’re never just pressing play. If you’re a guy in a cube with a mask on, you can press play. Deadmau5 also said himself he’s not a DJ — don’t talk about stuff you don’t know about. I don’t know shit about LED walls and giant mouse heads; I can’t judge it. But if you put four CD players in front of me or [Sebastian Ingrosso] or even Skrillex, we’ve been DJ’ing for so long, we can do a lot of things with those CD players.
Your full-length studio debut, slated for a summer 2013 release, might be a double-album. Why?
One album would be accessible dance music, crossover tracks, maybe some hip-hop, and one more underground stuff. Pitbull and a lot of other artists are using the opportunity to get new people into dance music. That’s what I’m trying to do right now. People are always scared of things crossing over, that it won’t be cool anymore, but we don’t do it because it’s cool. Eighty thousand people in a crowd, and they all love each other because they love dance music-that’s why I do this.
On one of your tracks for Pitbull, “I’m Off That,” he sings: “Label execs, I’m off that/But DJs, I love that.” What do you think that means?
I think it shows that these days artists are doing more of what they want themselves. It sounds really dumb to wait for a label to say yes to something. I’m following my heart, basically. A lot of people are scared to.