Afrojack may be poised to take over the world as a triple-threat musician—artist, remixer/producer and DJ—but for the time being, he’s content to Take Over Control.
His addictive blip-and-beat-happy single, featuring vocals by Eva Simons, propelled the renowned Dutch DJ and remixer to the global charts, saturating radio and dance floors in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and the U.K. The electro-pop anthem, which Afrojack produced and co-wrote, has also garnered more than 1 million views on YouTube.
Meanwhile, countless accomplishments behind the turntable have earned Afrojack (a.k.a. Nick van de Wall) the No. 19 ranking in DJMag’s Top 100 DJs in 2010, the result of over half a million votes in 235 countries. The result is without doubt partly thanks to the numerous eminent dance festivals he has headlined, including Holland’s Mystery Land, Miami’s Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival, Belgium’s Tomorrowland, L.A.’s Electronic Daisy Festival, Norway’s Extrema Outdoor and New York’s Electric Zoo. As a remixer, Afrojack has created rerubs for Lady Gaga, Madonna, Rihanna, Estelle and The Black Eyed Peas—while he refers to Grammy-nominated global remixer and hitmaker David Guetta not only as a mentor but his older brother and good friend.
“I am very grateful that the USA scene has received me with open arms,” Afrojack says. “The U.S. was the first major territory outside of Holland where my bookings took off in a big way. The size of the U.S. market is of course very different; in Holland, a DJ can play three shows a night, whereas in the U.S. you sometimes need three flights for one booking.”
Van de Wall began playing piano at the age of 5 and by 11, was ably toying with remix program Fruity Loops, a tool he uses to this day. By 16, he was working the board at clubs throughout his native Rotterdam, followed by a five-month residency in Crete, Greece, where he polished his DJ skills at countless small clubs. Within two years, aged just 18, he scored his first hit, “In Your Face", which became a no. 3 Dutch club smash.
In 2007, he adopted the DJ moniker Afrojack. He explains, “I used to have an Afro. Jack was a term from the early days of house. Mix them up and hey presto… Afrojack.”
The DJ was inspired to try his hand at pop music after hearing Guetta’s production of “Who’s That Chick?” for Rihanna in the studio, which bypassed traditional tricks of the remix trade for a more melodic production. Afrojack notes, “Playing with big names and working with them in the studio is a fabulous learning experience. When creative minds meet, sometimes great stuff is the result.”
Cue “Take Over Control”: The song came together after Afrojack recorded a killer instrumental track and - thanks to his experience with Guetta and Rihanna - realised it would benefit from the addition of a vocal. Eva Simons, who won the Dutch “Popstars” reality competition and scored a European hit with electro-pop “Silly Boy,” was hand-picked by Afrojack. “The original instrumental version rocked when I played it in my sets,” he says. “I had met Eva on the Dutch scene and knew she was a good singer.” Simons composed the lyric with her mother Ingrid Simons, with further songwriting assistance from Mike Hamilton, who also co-composed “Silly Boy”—and “Control” was ready for its close up.
There’s more to the story. Afrojack cleverly inserted an enigma into the song—a mysterious rubbery deep bass vocal tic at the halfway point that begs the question: Who and what was that? He’s not giving away the teaser just yet. “That’s a secret,” Afrojack says. “With my friends there is a contest going on. The one who guesses what the sample says wins a nice bottle of their choice.”
Afrojack has spent half his life in the driver’s seat preparing for a career in music. Now, at 24, he has ignited all eight cylinders into a name brand around much of the globe. “I’m living my dream, doing what I love to do behind the decks and in the studio,” he says. “It’s most important for me to be considered a strong artist and producer, and I will continue to make music until the day I die—being happy and taking care of the people I love.”