Afrojack on Ultra Miami, collaborations and how he wants to fix meet and greets
By: Gibson Johns
This interview is a part of #KanvasLive, an interactive, cross-platform content series brought to life on the Kanvas app and AOL.com. See more on coverage here.
Nick van de Wall, otherwise known as Afrojack, is on top of the world; you could even say that he's "ten feet tall." So, going into Miami Music Week, the Dutch DJ, he was one of the most anticipated names in EDM to hit South Beach.
The "SummerThing!" hitmaker's seventh stint in Miami culminated with a energetic, crowd-pleasing headlining set at Ultra Music Festival, which serves as the kickoff to festival season every year. It's telling that van de Wall has performed at Ultra six times by the age of 28.
We caught up with Afrojack at the iHeartRadio Music Lounge at the W Hotel South Beach for an exclusive interview and talked about helping up-and-coming artists make their mark, what he likes best about the energy in Miami and why meet and greets can be totally "f***ed up."
See photos from Ultra Music Festival 2016:
Check out our full conversation with Afrojack from Ultra below:
Welcome back to Miami Music Week! What do like best about Miami?
Miami Music Week and Ultra, definitely. This is my sixth year playing at Ultra and seventh year playing here. It's an honor to be able to play here. I was in the car yesterday with my friends and my girlfriend, and I just told them, you know, "Oh my God! There's music and parties everywhere!"
And it's not just random parties: All of these people that come out here love dance music. This is like dance heaven. All of those people you see on the Internet and some of those things that you read on the blogs, you kind of wonder if you're the only one interested in this stuff. But you're not.
Do you feel a different kind of energy in Miami than you do in other cities around the world?
Yeah. Of course the vibe at parties is always good, but here the vibe is even more ecstatic everywhere you go. It's not just the DJs, but it's also ten other guys stopping by to say hi. All the people that are there in the crowd, you know that they worked their asses off all year to be able to buy a plane ticket here to celebrate Miami Music Week. Everyone is super stoked all the time here.
It seems as though in dance music, collaborations are more common and that DJs are more willing to collaborate with one another. Why do you think that is?
It's really simple; We all love the same music, so why not collaborate? We all talk to each other all the time, even across genres. Like, me and Skrillex talk all the time.
Kygo is a really crazy fun party guy. I've never met him, but when you listen to his music you'd think that he was really mellow. It's really funny to see all of these different genres come together.
We attended the Afrojack x GStar RAW event yesterday and there are a huge turnout of fans to come meet you! How important is it for you to have that face-to-face interaction with your fans?
It's really important. I get kind of pissed off when I get to meet fans, because there are too many fans there and I can't meet them all! I have to go -- I have to DJ! But it's f***ed up because there are 100 people there, and you only get to talk to 50. It makes me feel like a dick. I can imagine coming all the way and seeing me standing there but not getting to meet me. It's f***ed up.
So, we're working on creating a special area on my website where you can sign up to win meet and greets. Every gig I go to, I'm going to set up meet and greets for, like, twenty people. You can only go through my website, though.
There are so many meet and greets set-up by sponsors that are fake and filled with sponsors' friends. If you want a real meet and greet, go to my website, and I'll give you what the f*** you want. But that's the only way. Only direct -- no more people in between.
You were recently featured on Fais' new single "Hey." How has the reception been for that song?
It's been great! We're at almost 7 million views on YouTube in 3 weeks, which is more than any of my singles for sure. It has, like, 2 million plays on Spotify.
Of course those numbers are all exciting, but what I'm even more excited about is that I've been working with Fais for a year and a half now. I've been hearing his awesome voice for years, and we're been working and preparing songs, so being able to put a song out that we've been working on and have people like it? That's the most awesome thing in the world.
That kid is now here in Miami having the time of his life, performing with me, meeting fans. Before that, when I first met him, he was about to quit music after five years of trying and having a second job. It never worked out, so to be able to give someone the dream is the most awesome thing in the world.
There are now a bunch of requests for him and people have started to want to book him as Fais. He's not just an EDM singer -- he can sing all kinds of stuff. To be able to give an artist the life he dreams of, that's the most awesome thing in the world.
I've been flying all around the world in private jets and playing for 10,000 fans at the same time ... I have the life. But at one point, after living the life, you want to give that to other people, as well. You want to share that experience. So that's what I'm trying to do with my label.
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