Afrojack, the 24-year old Dutch DJ and producer (real name Nick van de Wall), is about to blow up in the United States like never before.
Though he has already won a Grammy and recorded a slew of Billboard hits with such artists as Pitbull and David Guetta, to some stateside he may still be best known as Paris Hilton’s boyfriend.
That will soon change for the man DJ Magazine labeled the seventh biggest DJ in the world in 2011. This year he will release his first full-length album and embark on his most extensive North American tour ever — “Jacked,” 30 headlining dates and festival stops with appearances in Chicago, Atlantic City, Las Vegas and Miami.
His North American takeover kicked off last weekend at Coachella and continues with his nearly two-hour set Friday night as part of the festival’s second weekend.
TheWrap talked with Afrojack about how Daft Punk inspired him, becoming the next Guetta and the explosion of electronic dance music in the U.S.
What has been the biggest change for you since you played Coachella last year?
Commercially I grew a lot more popular, and music wise everyone is always advancing every year. And I have a show this time! I have visuals and stuff. I just gave the visual guy some movies and some Naruto episodes, little video stuff I found on YouTube. It will be more personalized.
How has your music changed over the past couple of years?
It’s expanded. I still do underground stuff, but I also have expanded into pop. I never knew how songs worked until I started producing them, which is another fun way to make music and completely different from dance. But I’ll never go on stage and play a three-minute radio version of a song.
In terms of the music you play rather than produce, what makes you distinct from other EDM artists? I don’t play one style. I wanna play like 128 bpm-130 bpm and take everything that’s in there — classics, jumpy stuff, hard, soft, progressive — everything I like. I take everything and tell my story. That’s why I say, “Are you ready for Afrojack music?” Afrojack music is everything I like.
If your live show was inspired by Daft Punk, who are the people you’re most excited to see this year?
The Swedes [like Sebastian Ingrosso, Steve Angello and Axwell] have always been really inspiring for me especially when I was just starting producing because it sounded so fat. And I mean … really … Dr. Dre — with Eminem coming — and Snoop Dogg. When I was a kid. like everyone I listened to hip-hop. I look forward to what they’ll come with, especially the old-school stuff.I’m not saying that Avicii did, but I definitely wanna keep it close.
A couple of years ago, Guetta told me you’d be the next person to break out in the U.S. like he did – both as a DJ and a producer. Do you feel like you’ve gotten to that point?
Well, I think I got to point where David was a couple of years ago, and he showed everyone there’s room to grow way more.
I don’t know what direction I’ll grow in, but there’s always growing. I don’t necessarily have the urge to grow bigger and bigger. I just want to have fun along the way.
How does touring here differ from touring overseas?
It will be a little more crazy here than in Europe. They’ve been doing it longer in Europe and are used to it. Here it’s like the raving thing with colors and beads and things tied around waists. It’s like going back to the 1990s in Europe.
What kinds of venues are you going to play? I know Avicii has announced an all-arena tour.
I’ll do some arenas, but also some 2000-, 5000-person clubs — to keep it closer.
I don’t wanna not do something like Connecticut because I can’t fill up an arena. I’ll do a 1,000-person club there if there’s 1,000 people who wanna see me. And as for prices, I’m not going to charge $100.
I don’t wanna sell out, basically.