Showtek Lets Loose on Both Coasts: A Miami Q&A with the Emerging DJ Duo

Tycho Merijn/2-Dutch Agency
Showtek

With fans like Tiësto, Skrillex and David Guetta, the Dutch brother duo is ready to blow.

“We have the melodies to make the girls love it and we have the drops to make the guys love it,” says Sjoerd Janssen, one-half of the Dutch DJ twosome Showtek. “You need both. It’s really important.”

Showtek showed off its dual-target chops on its recent seven-week headlining tour of North America, drawing mixed crowds to enjoy the brother duo’s hits like “Cannonball,” and their collaboration with Hardwell, “How We Do.” They haven’t taken a break from touring since before Ultra Music Festival and played a whopping 22 shows in March, with a focus on building their fanbase bicoastally in the U.S.

“The last couple of years the West Coast has been really great for us, and we needed to build our name up on the East Coast,” said Janssen. “It was really good for us to invest some time here.”

Sjoerd and his brother Wouter have been producing tracks since the early 2000s, mostly in a harder, more techno-leaning style. But it wasn’t until recently that they’ve been in the DJ spotlight themselves, thanks to a shift in their sound, and some famous fans. An enthusiastic endorsement from Tiësto for their collaboration "Hell Yeah!,” released on the mega-DJ’s Musical Freedom label in June 2012, got their star rising. A fortuitous encounter with label head Skrillex at a wedding led to their most recent single “Get Loose” getting a release on OWSLA. Even the king of pop-dance likes the bros: “We got an email from an assistant of David Guetta and he seems to be a real fan of our tracks,” says Sjoerd. “So he put us on the lineup for [his] ‘Fuck Me I’m Famous’ [party] in Ibiza this summer.”

Showtek spoke with Billboard from Miami during a few well-deserved days off, where they discussed their sonic evolution, working together as brothers, and what they’re listening to right now.

You guys have been producing for a long time, why do you think your music is finally getting so big now?

Wouter: "Our background was a little bit harder, but then this electro/progressive sound became huge here. We had been working behind the scenes with the likes of Tiesto, producing tracks with him, and we found a new energy with this new sound coming up, so we gave it a Showtek touch.”

Sjoerd: "We always have the desire to do more crossover, but we needed to find a way to get to a [different] market without doing too many weird things. We were in Las Vegas in 2011, watching Tiësto from backstage, and [the crowd] just went just crazy. It inspired us to invest in this [new] sound. Since 2011 we were convinced of doing a style change but not to totally lose [our original sound]. No matter what track we do, they all have an energetic, hard touch.”

Who is making music right now that impresses you the most?

Wouter: "Knife Party dares to be different, which is amazing. They established themselves with these huge tracks -- ‘Internet Friends’ and ‘Antidote’ -- and they do something completely different at the moment. That shows courage, and I think they trust in their own sound."

What up-and-comers have you most excited?

Sjoerd: "TV Noise. They're young kids and we always support them in every radio show we do. We booked them for our Clevelander Hotel party in Miami during Winter Music Conference to close down, and to be honest it's not really easy to play after us -- especially if it's our own party, of course -- and they did a really great job. I don't think anyone could have done it better."

How is it working together as brothers?

Wouter: "It's so convenient and easy because you know each other since you were zero-years-old. We know what to do. Sjoerd is the audio guy in the studio, I'm the melody guy. We never have to doubt anything. It's all really easy-going and we have a great chemistry in the studio, as onstage. This combination couldn't be better."

Sjoerd: "You win a lot of the time when you're business partners and you're always together. When we fly from L.A. back home, we have another 11-hour flight: We work everything out, get back and give our manager a list. We watch the same movies on the plane, we make stupid jokes. You're brothers, that's what you do."

What collaborations can we expect for the rest of the year?

Sjoerd: "One name we can mention is R3hab, but there is a lot more to come. This business is not for sure unless it's on paper and finished, so I don't want to make people happy and then disappoint them later."

Wouter: "We just made a list yesterday about how many songs we have, and seriously we are satisfied for like the next two years. We cannot choose which to do first because we have four really big bombs and it's hard to choose."