Signed to Afrojack’s Wall Recordings and said to be ‘one of it’s hottest talents’ rising Dutch superstar R3hab has just completed an Asia tour having made a name for himself on mainland Europe. Playing the signature Dutch pounding house style and with a long list of impressive production including remixes for names as varied as Dada Life and Snoop Dogg , the 26 year old’s star continues to rise with the EDM tide.
You made a debut in 2008 with Hardwell, you’ve worked with a number of internationally known artists, and, skip forward to 2012, you’ve been named IDMA’s best breakthrough artist: How did you start out?
Dance music just blew up massively in Holland. Chuckie, Sidney Samson, and the energetic Dutch sound just interested me. Then you start trying it yourself and you just get, stuck basically. (laughs) It grows and it grows. Then America happened, the EDM thing. I guess there were so many good DJs from Holland that you sort of get led into it. I started DJing first, but I knew quickly that production would, long term be the thing I had to get into. I was DJing from 16, just parties with friends, then I sort of got into DJing...more formally I guess, aged 22. Then, in 2010 summer a few of my tracks started to get very popular. Frustratingly I had to stop to finish college, but I quickly got back into it.
You’re one of increasingly extensive family of Dutch producers and DJs - why do you think so many emerging DJs are Dutch?
The Dutch are bad at singing. And writing music. So we turn to electronic music. We’re a nation of DJs. I think that’s actually true. So many of our music icons are DJs, Armin, Tiesto, so everyone aspires to be like that.
It seems a lot of Dutch producers collaborate, is that just a popular thing throughout the Dutch scene, or is that very much just the group you’re now in?
Yeah, Hardwell lives two streets down from me, in the same city Tiesto’s from. We were both at the same high school. Holland’s so small, you can drive from the North to the South in two hours. Hardwell, Afrojack, Sidney Samson, we all know each other because we see each other all the time at house parties, or just at the airport. It happens all the way down. As soon as someone starts producing and puts out a couple of cool tracks, then you kind of start to see them more often. It’s a very tight community. In the end, DJing’s unique because you need other DJs to support your work. That’s very different to other musicians. If you’re a rapper, you don’t really care if someone else covers your stuff, but that’s important if you’re a DJ.
You’re part of a generation of producers that are younger than ever before, why do you think producers are getting younger?
The audience can relate to it. The audience doesn’t want a guy whose 50 years old. This is a new generation - everything needs to move fast. Careers, tracks, mixes. The younger producers do that. Everything is so quick, it’s like an industry that has ADD.
You’ve seen the whole American EDM scene take off - do you feel that’s a phase or is this how things will be from now on?
Sometimes an idea happens and it just evolves and evolves and evolves. I wish I knew how it will pan out. I think the right shows, the right artists will stick around for sure. I think everything has its peak then a fall and I’m not sure how much further, really, the whole EDM thing can go.
You’ve done a lot of remix work. Do you ever weigh up a kind of risk of becoming too commercial or is it a case of, I like the song, let’s do this?
I don’t think about this. It’s old fashioned in a way. People who look at it that way are only trying to preserve their own sound. I think most people, were they to be offered remix work from a “mainstream” name, would take it. It’s not something we worry about.
You’ve played all over the world - how do different scenes react to your Dutch sound ?
It’s been really good this year in Asia. Last year they didn’t really understand this kind of music quite as well, but that’s all changed. I think people who come to the show look the artists up and really think about it now, whereas back in the day people just went along without a real understanding of what was being played. Now you can check an artist’s facebook page, their tracks and go from there. It’s made for better crowds.
Will the Dutch big room sound evolve?
It’s hard to say. Now that Trap’s getting big in the ‘States, perhaps it’ll get big in Europe and influence us. I don’t really look at genres, I try to combine things I like.
What’s R3hab got in mind for 2013?
The same idea - just follow the hot trends. 2012 was very similar style wise. 2013 - some kid will change everything. It’s hard to change when you’re already into something. It’s the kid who is not touring, who is just sitting in his room all day - he’ll be the one that comes up with something genius!
What advice would you give aspiring artists?
If you develop a new thing - then you are sorted. Look at Skrillex. He basically took something and totally made it his, added his own sound. It’s so hard to compete when you start out - it’s like going against Goliath, so just do your own thing.