I had the pleasure of talking with one of dance music’s all-time greatest DJs and Producers, Afrojack (Nick van de Wall). The Dutch Native has just dropped a new track with long-time buddy David Guetta. ‘Hero’ will send you into summer dancing till the sun goes down. A crossover track between EDM and Pop, this one creates the festival vibes we have missed so much. The track has a simple message; There is a hero in everyone.
The track represents a return to roots for both Nick and David. It features a big progressive house drop that will take you back to the old days. Every vocal is spot on and you know when we get to hear this at mainstage in the future, it is going to be something special. Nick also has a massive performance coming up at Eurovision Song Contest on May 22nd. It is the first time in history a DJ will perform as the final act during the concert.
Nick and I go into many topics during the interview from his new track ‘Hero’ to his love for video games to his favorite festivals to perform at. He was one of the most down-to-earth people I have met in the music industry. Enjoy!
Tell me about your new track ‘Hero’ with David Guetta I know he has been a longtime friend of yours so this must have been something special.
Nick: The main inspiration behind ‘Hero’ is doing a song that we have basically been doing since we started. We have not done them for a long time though. Right now if you look at the culture and the industry, everything is based on maximizing Spotify streams, maximizing Spotify streams will make you a great artist. It is definitely part of the equation but it does not build you as an artist. We did many experiments. The thing is with ‘Hero’ even though it sounds very familiar to what we were doing 10-12 years ago, it still feels brand new. If you look at the territory of dance music on the radio. Everyone’s doing house 90s inspired House. Yeah, which is cool, I love house, but everything you would do now sounds like a wannabe Joe Corry word unless you do it with Joe Corry as David did with ‘Bad.’
But, you know, so for me, it was very difficult to figure out what I wanted to do, and this was already two years ago, so this was right when Joe Corry’s sound started taking over. We had the song ready to go exactly one year ago. We wanted to premiere it at Ultra 2020, which, of course, got canceled. Now the song, it’s here, it’s coming, and I’m actually nervous for the first time because it’s something I’m so familiar with, like doing dance music, big room drop, big drops, big vocals, big chord progression. But it’s also kind of scary because we’re doing it at a time where no one is doing it.
It reminds me of Golden Age EDM in 2012-2014. I think people will like it. I mean it’s a nice in-between pop and EDM, so I think it will be well received. I have high hopes.
Yeah, well, I appreciate it. Another thing, by the way, you got to think of, you say it’s very dance-pop. The definition of pop changed throughout the last 10 years through the takeover of hip hop and mumble rap. So everything now in pop is not sing a song, it’s full-on hook, hook, hook, hook. So when you say dance-pop, it’s actually a dance song because it’s a singer-songwriter type of song. But if you look at Spotify charts like 90 percent of this hook.
So I noticed the artwork was New York based. I also know the lyrics refer to New York. Why did you choose New York as the focal point of the song?
Of course, the lyrics are about the girl dreaming about going to New York City. But New York is a city of dreams. Still, at least from my perspective, if you have like the international standards of when do you make it, you made it when you’re in New York doing what you do. We don’t see L.A. I love L.A., but there is no clear picture of L.A. You know, New York City is Gotham City. It’s a certain vision for sure. Looks a certain way. When you look at Hollywood, the only thing you can see is like some mountains and a sign that says Hollywood, if you take out the Hollywood sign, you don’t really see anything that makes it look like, oh, that’s Hollywood. New York, however, Everyone can recognize just from the skyline and of course, the Statue of Liberty.
What is a hero? What does a hero look like? And usually, a hero sets off into the sunset. And then I thought, well if you have New York in a sunset, that looks like the hero shot of hero shots. Then that’s how we got to the cover. And I send it to David and David, like, instantly approved. I think that for me, it is very inspiring every time I’m in New York because it always motivates me to do more, and I think that’s just the life of the city. Like we talk about the most powerful city, the most powerful feeling I get from being in New York. Wow. I love L.A., but when I’m in L.A., I want to chill and hang with celebrities. When I’m in Las Vegas, I want to party, gamble and party.
*Side Conversation about Video Games* Do you play Warzone with other producers?
I play with some producers. I play with Alan Walker, sometimes Oliver Heldens and Nicky Romero. I started a team Wall gaming thing, which is basically like a wall gaming division because I still believe that even though my platform is very tiny in gaming, it’s still a platform. Yeah, and I really believe that if I just put some talented people there, it will grow organically Yeah. We found some very, very talented people and we’re building them and it’s going well. We have, I think, 3500 followers now in less than a year. So starting from zero and with minimal promotion from my side, it’s not like I started saying, like, Yo, I’m Afrojack, everyone follow this channel. It was just we started it. Don’t do any press, just start organically.
I also know you have your Eurovision Song Contest performance coming up and you’re the final act, which is the first time a DJ is doing that. That’s pretty major, right?
It’s pretty gangster. But I think I think it’s really cool that I get to represent my hometown, of course, Rotterdam, and I get to showcase my music over the years as we made like a special medley, I can’t really say what we did, but we did some special shit and it’s crazy to be invited for a spot like that, which two years ago, I think it was Madonna. And they’re giving us this stage, just 250 million people watching, which is completely insane.
Well, yeah, not just me, there’s the whole team behind it, of course, because we’re making it like it’s going to be like a movie, but we also get to present the hero. So the hero is also part of the performance. Yeah. So I get to perform my brand new song with David Guetta within three weeks after release for 250 million people. It’s a pretty big fucking promo platform, you know for sure that’s going to take over.
That’s wild. I feel like that’s a big moment in your career, you know, you’ve been everywhere. I feel like you’ve done just about everything a DJ can do.
I would say it is a fun moment in my career. Supercool, but For me, still the most important things every year are Ultra, EDC and, Tomorrowland. That’s the holy grail of presenting yourself. Competitiveness within these, just like we’re all homies, but what are you talking about, the ultra mainstage Miami slots bro. “No, I want to close. No, I want to close, I am higher billing.” It’s insane.
It’s like those are the most three most important festivals for every DJ. And if you do a good job there. People are going to watch that YouTube footage, they’re going to watch that stream to say, like, who should we book this year? So those will always be the three most important. And it’s dope that we’re doing Eurovision. But I think me doing Eurovision is not going to make a dance Music promoters say, look, maybe we should book Afrojack.
So out of those three – Which is your favorite festival?
All the best. The owners or like the guys in charge are old friends of mine, very good friends, but they’re all the best. Yeah, like Tomorrowland. I’m there for three days now. They’re doing to the weekend, so I’m there for both weekends, just hanging out, watching all the stages. I can walk in between the crowds. Nothing happens. It’s beautiful. It’s in the valley. There’s a very even backstage. There’s a magical atmosphere to make everything look like Disneyland.
Ultra – there’s no Disneyland, but everyone is there. All the promoters are there, all the industry is there. And everyone is doing their absolute best to try and present themselves as the coolest or hippest shit out there. So everyone’s bringing their A-game. And then there’s always after parties on the boat where I do a lot of underground sets every year almost which is fun.
Then there’s EDC Las Vegas. The first thing when I went to EDC Las Vegas, I came on the helicopter, I got on stage. The first thing I said, it just came out a fucking helicopter. This is crazy. It’s the biggest crowd in the world. You’re playing like if you’re playing mainstage, I think it was eighty or a hundred thousand people in one stage. It’s completely ridiculous. It’s like a sea of people. The stage is gigantic. They also have the Disneyland type of concept, but it’s in the middle of the night.
Make sure to check out ‘Hero’ below!