Some DJs are jetsetters. Others prefer to be studio-dwellers. Bassjackers do both. Longtime best friends Marlon Flohr and Ralph van Hilst have disctinct roles: Flohr handles DJ duty, reporting back to van Hilst the producer what tracks garner the biggest response from the dance floor. Their hits include “Beat Cut,” picked up by Fedde le Grand, and “Mush Mush,” released on Tiësto’s label. Vegas Seven caught up with Flohr while touring Asia before the next Bassjackers gig in Las Vegas, Nov. 27 at 1 Oak.
Fans can score the original version of “Let’s Get Weird” for free via SoundCloud. Are the days of expecting fans to pay for tracks over, or is it that producers are giving some songs away in hope fans will pay for others?
It’s not that we just wanted to give away a track; it’s more that the labels right now are really busy in their releasing schedule. “Let’s Get Weird” is one of those tracks that’s been sitting on the shelf. The first time we played it was in Miami at the [Winter Music] Conference [in March], so it’s really old. We’re like, “If you’re going to release it, it has to be now or we’re going to give it away.” We’d rather do something for our fans, because people were requesting that track since Miami, and we didn’t want to wait another few months. So, we decided to just give it away and build up our social media. We have a lot of stuff coming up, we were happy [to do it]. We gave away bootlegs before, but giving away an original is a different game. People really appreciate it. We were like, “Here you go. This one’s for you!”
You mention other releases planned in the near future.
We have a lot of collaborations finished already. We have one with Showtek called “Hey” that we think is going to be huge. Also one with Dyro, a new kid on the block, and he’s really talented; he’s done a lot of stuff with Hardwell. The track we did with him, for us it’s the next-level, because it was an old track we were working with and he brought a new vibe into it. There’s another guy called Loopers; he hasn’t put out a lot of stuff yet, but it’s a really fucking cool track. Kenneth G, his first track was on Bingo Players’ label. He’s one of our good friends from when we all started DJing. He just lately got into producing and he’s getting really good at it, so we made a collaboration and we’re probably going to release it on the Bingo Players’ label, but that has no date yet. We’ve also got a lot of remixes coming out. Nowadays, you’ve got to come out with tracks basically every month.
You’ve recently launched your JackinDaBass radio show, airing monthly on Tiësto’s Club Life Radio (SiriusXM). With so many electronic-focused shows and podcasts, why should people tune in to yours?
This is the thing: Of course people always want to hear the new stuff, but we’re the kind of DJ/producer that also wants to bring the old stuff. So we’re going to bring some of the new releases and keep up with the promos we get, people we’re working with, new tracks, our own mash-ups, really exclusive stuff that no one’s heard before, and we are also going to play really old stuff like the classics. I’m pretty sure that if we play a classic, that the new kids will be like, “What the fuck is this?” We came a long way, and we want to play at least one track that has an influence on today’s dance scene. I hope people will love it. I have a lot of those classics.
Do you get to work your favorite classics into your sets sometimes in Las Vegas?
I know how it is, and that’s a really good question, actually, because the Vegas crowd is more hit-oriented, and they want to hear stuff they know. But we’re always trying to find a balance between playing for the crowd, playing for the people who really came to hear the music and are already educated. Sometimes you can push the limits, so when we can, we try to educate. An extreme example is I played one gig-I’m not sure if it was Vegas, but it was an extremely commercial crowd-but I played a James Holden remix or Nathan Fake, the old progressive stuff just to check it out. I also remember we had two days off and were chilling with some friends. I think Deadmau5 was playing, and he played a James Holden remix of [André Kraml’s] “Safari” out of nowhere! He was playing commercial, all his hits and out of nowhere he played “Safari”? I went crazy and Ralph was like “Oh my fucking God, he’s playing James Holden!” No one in the place got it, everyone’s just going with it because it was Deadmau5. That for me personally was an eye-opener because it doesn’t matter what you do, if you’re pleasing the crowd all night long, the last track can be whatever. And James Holden personally to us is a hero.
Maybe that’ll get people to dig deeper and take your advice to check out Holden.
If people are going to listen to James Holden because of this interview, I’d be really proud.
While you’re touring the world, does Ralph ever get jealous when he’s holed up in a studio?
It’s the other way around. I get jealous when he spends a lot of time at home because I’m always touring—I’m just kidding, but he’s not the kind of guy that wants to tour all year long. He just loves to be in the studio. He’s not a DJ. It’s not his dream to tour around the world. It’s his dream to make new music and I’m the one that gets it into the crowd.
Do you bring him souvenirs or send postcards?
Almost every time. I don’t get a lot of time to buy souvenirs, but I always buy stupid stuff like key chains, a “What Happens in Vegas” bottle opener. It’s nothing special, it’s just: “I’m thinking of you.” [Laughs.]