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Artist Spotlight: Afrojack
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Whether you’re a clubber, a gym rat, or a low-volume-playing-cubicle-inhabiting-corporate soldier…there’s no doubting you’ve heard his trademark bouncing beats. Since early 2010 Afrojack has turned the house music scene upside-down, leading the wave of the Dirty Dutch invasion, a subgenre of house music that has become popular in recent years, distinguished by its heavy drops, vocoder-morphed vocals, and high-pitched siren- and whistle-sounding synths. An originator and collaborator, releasing his own tracks as well as several remixes with many of today’s hottest musical artists, Afrojack is part of a new surge of EDM djs bridging the gap between underground techno and mainstream airplay.
Born in Spijkenisse, Netherlands in 1987, Nick van de Wall exhibited a passion for music at a very young age. By 5 he was already learning how to play the piano! It wasn’t long before Wall’s creative drive rose to the surface, leading him to create his own beats and mixes by 11, utilizing a software he downloaded called Fruity Loops (the same he uses to this day). Upon graduating high school Wall took to his musical passions with full-force, waiting tables on the side to fund his burgeoning career in nightlife, moonlighting as a dj in local Rotterdam gigs, playing his first nightclub named Las Palmas by age 16.
By 2006 Wall was beginning to branch out. Only 18 years old, he spent five months in Crete spinning at any nightclub that would have him, in an effort to spread his signature sound. His first hit F**K Detroit (a play on Fedde le Grande’s Put Your Hands Up For Detroit) became a big local success. Upon returning to Holland, Wall was able to release an EP entitled In Your Face on label Digidance, with help from fellow dirty Dutchmen Sidney Samson and Laidback Luke. The EP hit #60 in the Dutch Top 100 and #3 in Dutch Dance.
In 2007 Wall started his own label aptly named Wall Recordings, under which he spent countless days in the studio creating more and more original tracks under his new name Afrojack. By this year much of his music had begun to spread internationally with major house music names like Josh Wink, Dave Clarke, and Fedde le Grand playing Afrojack’s tracks. By the next year Afrojack himself was playing at the biggest EDM festivals in Europe, like Mystery Land and Sensation. Collaborated with Partysquad, the track Drop Down (Do My Dance) becomes Afrojack’s biggest hit to date, making the Dutch Top 20.
The game-changer really comes in 2009, when Afrojack is noticed by producer and mega dj David Guetta, who pulls Afrojack on tour with him. Nurturing the young talent, Guetta’s clout in the industry helps initiate Afrojack’s ride to global dj status. The friendship between the two results in several collaborative tracks and remixes, one of which even garners them a Grammy award in 2011 for a remix of Madonna’s Revolver.
But it’s one little track-turned-anthem released in 2010 that lights the rocket sending Afrojack into the upper echelons of dj stardom. Take Over Control feat. Eva Simmons sets records on charts worldwide, remaining on the iTunes Dance charts at #1 for several weeks, as well as 6 weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Airplay. The song’s fast bass beat, undulating siren sounds, and catchy vocal track make it a nightclub favorite for djs worldwide, and just as popular on radio airplay…even to the present day!
Since then Afrojack has become one of the most sought-after djs of our time, collaborating with everyone from Pitbull and Ne-yo, to Lady Gaga, to the Black Eyed Peas…the list goes on and on! In 2011 DJ Mag listed him at #7 in their Top 100 Djs of the Year (in 2010 he was #19 on the same list). By this point Afrojack is playing the biggest EDM festivals worldwide like Miami’s Ultra Music Festival and even Electric Daisy Carnival.
Last month Afrojack won a European Border Breakers Award for his album Lost and Found. The award is handed out every year to 10 European artists who were able to garner an international following with the release of their first international album. His recent iTunes hits No Beef (with Steve Aoki), Can’t Stop Me (with Shermanology), and I Like (with Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias) are climbing up the dance music charts. With what seems like a new remix or track released almost every single week, there’s no stopping Afrojack! This year be sure to catch him live headlining the 3 days of desert debauchery known as Coachella!