Afrojack Says He'd Like to Work With BTS' Suga, Talks K-Pop: 'It's How the Music Industry Should Progress'
Global DJ Afrojack stepped into the scene at the age of 14. He has worked with famous artists like Pitbull, Chris Brown, and David Guetta, and his beloved song “Take Over Control" peaked at No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100. Many Korean fans have come to see him at his concerts held in their country, as well as his performance at Ultra Music Festival KOREA in 2016.
The Dutch record producer and DJ met Billboard Korea during a recent visit to Seoul for the Incheon Chroma club open party. Check out our Q&A below.
First of all, welcome to Korea. You’ve visited Korea in 2011, and in 2013 and 2016 for UMF KOREA. What’s the purpose of your visit this time?
Above all, I wanted to meet my fans in Korea, and I was invited to Incheon Chroma Club's opening party this year.
Could you tell us a little bit about your performance today?
[I'll play a lot of music] from my Press Play EP which was released recently, and I am going to perform remixes I've done of Nicky Romero and Alan Walker.
Do you have any special memories from your previous visits to Seoul?
Once, I spent sixteen hours playing poker [Texas hold 'em]. There were pretty good players in Korea, though I had beat them all! [Laughs] It was fun.
Now that the Press Play EP is out, what are your future plans?
My Global Remix Battle is coming soon. The purpose of it is to discover new, talented DJs and producers. The opportunity is open for anyone. It is likely that the winner will get a chance to release their official album [though my label] and sign up with Wall Recordings and LDH. Previously, I hosted the Global Voice Battle Audition to discover talented dancers and singers from age 15 to 25. I had a lot of fun discovering young talented people and thought a DJ and producer battle audition would be meaningful. Until now, I met DJ/producer dreamers through my friends and people I know. Now I am doing it openly.
What are you looking for in the participants?
Well, I don’t want to restrict my thoughts to specific standards. I want the participants to show me what they’ve got that’s special. It makes it easier for me to find someone I want to work with. Creating the best music is important, but finding the person who I can create great music with is also crucial.
If were to be a similar audition TV program in Korea, would you feature as a judge or a special guest?
If the program’s purpose meets mine, why not? Also, I have to be paid. [Laughs] Most of all, I have a lot of things I want to do, like investing in labels.
Your stage name "Afrojack" was derived from your former hairdo and a style of dancing. Do you still like your stage name?
Frankly speaking, since my hair has changed -- just kidding. [Laughs] I still like it.
What’s it like to see tens of thousands of people dancing to your beat?
Totally fascinating. It’s surreal and full of excitement. Performing at big festivals is always fun.
Do worldwide tours give you musical inspiration?
Yes. Most of the songs created in the last few years were created in hotels or during flights. They provide a quiet and private space. Especially during the time when passengers are sleeping, the calm atmosphere in the airplane makes me feel like I am alone in my world.
You’ve worked with many artists so far. Who do you want to work with in the future?
I know BTS. They have a track [with] Steve Aoki. I would like to work with Suga of BTS later. Like always, I'm really enjoying working with artists right now. While working together, we naturally become close and not only work together but also do other things together.
What are your thoughts about K-pop?
Great music. Although, as CEO of LDH EUROPE, I am focusing more on J-pop, like J Soul Brothers. That doesn’t mean I don’t like or don’t have [an] interest in K-pop. I believe that leaders like YG and SM are putting into practice how the music industry should progress. I heard that their focus is in artists rather than labels.
What’s the philosophy of LDH?
[Laughs] It's a secret. The primary focus of Wall recordings and LDH is people. It corresponds to the words that make up the acronym LDH: Love, Dream, and Happiness. If people are the main theme, everything else follows naturally. It might sound easy, but that takes a lot of effort.
What advice would you give to the people out there dreaming of becoming a DJ?
A lot of people imagine playing at big festivals, but that's definitely not [all there is]. Becoming a DJ literally means becoming a DJ. You have to be able to perform at places other than big stages. Start by getting out a CD player and a drive, and just play a beat. Start to record, remix and create sounds.
What does music mean to you?
Music is my lifeline. It’s the simplest explanation I can give you.
Any last greetings to Billboard Korea readers?
I hope to meet you guys again, and I hope I get the opportunity to work with Korean artists soon.
This article originally appeared in Billboard Korea. It has been translated and edited for clarity.