Nick van de Wall is a name that probably doesn’t ring a bell. But as Afrojack he is one of the most recognizable names in house music. The 24-year-old has multiple hits on both the Billboard and Beatport charts, is touring the world and is set to release his debut album later this year. Vegas Seven caught up with the busy DJ to chat about music, life and what’s next for the Dutchman, who is set to “Take Over Control” at Tryst on Aug. 31 and Surrender on Sept. 1.
So you started kind of young …
I started doing music at 11, for fun.
Not that there’s anything wrong with “Nick van de Wall,” but where did the name “Afrojack” come from?
When my hair grows it’s an Afro, and I had an Afro six years ago. “Jack” is a big thing in dance music: “Jack Your Body,” Jack house music, that kind of thing. I had an Afro, and “jack” is dance music, so Afrojack.
Where’s your favorite place to spin?
It sounds like suck-up shit, but Vegas. If you compare Vegas—the lifestyle and mentality—to other places in the whole world, you’d agree with me.
You were really one of the first big house DJs to make Vegas a regular stop, then sign on for a residency.
XS, dance music and I sort of started together. Two-and-a-half years ago, the DJ booth was in the back of the club, and I was there with my agent, Joel Zimmerman, and [XS owner] Jesse [Waits]. I was in the DJ booth thinking, “This is so weird. You have a club like this with a beautiful swimming pool and everything, but the DJ booth is here.” I was talking to Jesse, and we got along really well and he wanted me to play there, and I was like “Sure, but put the DJ booth in front of the swimming pool, and it will be a way bigger show.” These days, people buy a ticket to see DJs, so when a DJ booth is behind everyone it wouldn’t work. We worked together and made the DJ booth bigger and bigger. It got so big, tables and tickets were selling great. So we decided to put the tables next to the DJ booth. It looks really cool, and you see super-beautiful people having the time of their life. It’s good for the atmosphere. We built up XS into a DJ club two-and-a-half years ago. I think it’s the dopest fucking nightclub ever in the world.
So would it be fair to say that XS is your favorite residency then?
It’s my only residency! Well, I also play at Surrender and Encore Beach, but XS is it.
You have an album coming out soon.
Yes, it’s my first album, so I wanted to keep it really personal. The labels want me to make interesting selling music. When you talk to label people, they talk about money. Money, money, money. I have enough money. I don’t give a fuck; I want to make something personal, and I want to make the fans proud. Everything is going to be real tracks, not three hit songs and seven fillers. It’s going to be a story, an experience. I want it to be like a movie; I don’t want you to just notice my song, I want you to feel everything. Music is emotion: happy songs, sad songs, angry songs.
When will it be released?
I wanted it to be Sept. 9 for my birthday, but a lot of people are getting involved, and some vocals aren’t finished yet. I’m also still making music, but it will be out in 2012, September/October. I want an album like a Radiohead album, that when you listen to it, you get brain-fucked.
Who do you think is the next big thing in EDM?
Shermanology. I did “Can’t Stop Me Now” with them. The other guy who is going to be really fucking big, really fucking soon is DJ R3hab. He’s going to be gigantic! Fadil [R3hab] is the smartest motherfucker in music I’ve ever met in my life. He knows every sound. Play Skrillex to him, give him 10 hours, and he makes every sound. That’s why his remixes are so dope, because he actually knows what works.
You made “Prutataaa” with R3hab. What was it like working together?
Yes, we were in the studio for that and are now touring together. We are on laptops and just send stuff over on Dropbox.
How long does it take you to compose a track?
Two hours, three hours max. I could work on one sound though for four hours to make sure a clap sounds perfect, but after I have mixed it properly in four to five hours, I put it together in two hours. Sometimes I do four or five songs in one night.
What shocks you?
What shocks me about the world the most there is a lot of purists who need to calm the fuck down! Live your fucking life and be happy. But, the good thing is dance music brings happiness to shit loads of people. I get tweets saying, “I’m getting married to your song.” You go to a club and there’s 3,000 people [who] have no idea who the fuck anyone is and when you play that one song they all know and love, suddenly they are a family. It’s weird; they are all on one wavelength and that’s the most beautiful thing. It unites people and the world can use some uniting right now.
What do you do for fun?
Jet ski, private jets … [Laughs.] No, that’s a nice addition, but what I like to do is the same things I did six years ago: PlayStation, barbecue with my friends, go to the beach and just chill—normal shit.
How has life changed for you?
I’ve been touring the world for three years. I party, I’m doing my music thing and I love it, but I’m trying to deliver the message that you only have one life. I’m not special—I don’t have a golden dick! I was born in a small city, and I want to make music and play it for people. I don’t care if I get rich or have to sit on the street, but that’s what I want to do: make someone smile. I think everyone should do that and follow their hearts. Six years ago I didn’t have shit. I was living in my mom’s attic. I had an OK computer. I had an antenna TV till I was 12—I didn’t have a flat screen or remote control. What I learned from traveling all over the world is to live life, don’t waste it. Make sure you’re happy. Show that to the world.
What’s your favorite Sin City restaurant?
I eat fucking room service nine out of 10 times. I’m not a big restaurant guy; I don’t want all this weird French chicken-butt shit. I want a steak. If I order a steak from room service in Wynn it’s good, and if I go to the best restaurant in the world I don’t taste the difference. I’m not a big food fanatic. I like sushi every now and then, but it’s not that Nobu has better sushi than the place next to it; it’s just more popular. But Mr. Chow is some special shit that I’ve never eaten anywhere else! Mr. Chow is dope!
Mr. Chow is coming to Las Vegas, you know.
They have this orange chicken with orange sauce that I’ve never eaten anywhere else in my life. I love that shit.