Afrojack promises ‘classic’ set at Riyadh dance music festival
Afrojack gets to work preparing for his biggest performance of the year on Saturday.
After the pandemic led to the cancellation of 18 months of his headlining shows at European and American dance music festivals and residences, the Dutchman – real name Nick van de Wall – has made a regular comeback before to take the decks to Soundstorm, formerly known as MDLBeast, the four-day EDM spectacular in Riyadh starting Thursday.
These included a series of well-received club dates in North America, followed by a private show in the United Arab Emirates last weekend at the Global Citizen Forum in Ras Al Khaimah.
So, what’s it like to hit the road again after the forced absence?
“I was terrified at first,” he says. The National. “My first shows were in America and it was after a year and a half and you’re wondering things like ‘Do people still like my music?’
“I remember hopping in line and seeing how people reacted to techno at these little parties, so I started to over-prepare things and by the time I got on stage I first played a techno song, followed by a house track, then mine material and they responded to that the most, so after that I just went back to my own set and it went well.
A star boost
Aside from the temporary drop in confidence, Afrojack echoed many peers in describing the unforeseen professional benefits of the pandemic.
“It gave me the break I never thought I needed,” he says.
“For the past 12 years my life has been an uninterrupted roller coaster and I never really thought about what to do next. I’m 34 years old [old] now and it got me thinking where I’ll be when I’m 44.
This new thinking led Afrojack to focus more on his label, Wall Recordings, and forge closer ties with MDLBeast, the Saudi music company behind Soundstorm and the young in-house dance music label MDLBeast Records.
The two interests were combined on On the ground, the first single from the first official release of MDLBeast Records, the compilation album Sound storm, volume 1.
A vibrant house remake of the 2010 hip-hop hit No hands By rappers Waka Flocka Flame and Roscoe Dash, the track is a collaboration with Black V Neck, a Miami duo signed to the Afrojack label.
“They only came on my radar because they were recommended by the MDLBeast team,” he says of Black V Neck.
“You can tell the team there in Saudi Arabia are so passionate about what they do. They have the enthusiasm and the heart and I wanted to give them a chance to take the label out of the crowd.
The relationship stems from Afrojack’s keen interest in the growing Saudi dance music scene, which he witnessed firsthand with a pair of performances in 2019 in Jeddah and the inaugural Soundstorm Festival.
It’s all about the fans
As the spearhead of EDM’s entry into China five years ago, Afrojack is experiencing the kind of excitement and hunger that EDM enthusiasts experience in an emerging market.
So his advice to fellow DJ superstars making their debut in the kingdom as part of Soundstorm, which features British techno pioneer Carl Cox and Dutch trance music star Armin Van Buuren, is to kick back and create. a memorable and enjoyable set.
“It will be amazing, but you have to guide the crowd a bit because they’re not used to being able to just go out and party. So you really have to adjust your set-list to give everyone a first experience, ”he says.
“There is no need for complicated remixes. As a DJ you have to realize that many fans are seeing you for the first time in their home country, so you really want to play the classics and the hits.
Afrojack performs at Soundstorm on December 18th. The festival takes place from Thursday to Sunday, from December 16 to 19 at a specially constructed venue in Banban, Riyadh. Tickets start at 399 Saudi riyals ($ 106), which includes a shuttle from various locations in Riyadh, and go up to 8,999 Saudi riyals. Doors open from 3 p.m. More information is available at mdlbeast.com
Scroll through the gallery below for photos of MDLBeast in 2019:
Update: December 15, 2021, 7:40 a.m.