[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap]n March of this year, ElectRow arrived at Club Octagon, greeted by one of the longest lines any of us had ever seen. Although a small number of people in line might have shown up by chance, most of them were there to see the Dutch DJ/production duo known as Firebeatz. Having played The A in Gangnam in 2014, the guys were no strangers to Korea. They were also scheduled to play the original World DJ Festival date before it was rescheduled due to the Sewol ferry disaster. Unable to play the new date, South Korea’s fans had to wait patiently for their return. Feeling stuffed from a dinner of Korean barbecue, the duo sat down with ElectRow’s Mike Swig backstage at Club Octagon to chat about a little bit of everything, including the inspiration behind their latest release, ‘Darkside’.
Have you had much of a chance to see Korea or Seoul?
Tim: Today we got in really late, so no sightseeing for us. The last time we got in like one or two days earlier, so we just went out and saw temples and really cute food places…Lotte World. The ice rink. Yeah, we did everything.
Jurre: …and then the food. It’s so good.
So you guys met at university, right? Can you tell me a little more about how you two formed Firebeatz?
Jurre: Yeah, it’s a university…but it’s like a… school for arts and dance music.
Wow, just focused on dance music?
Jurre: Yeah, so it’s actually pretty cool. It’s a very small school. We only had like 4 or 5 people in our class. And we had this assignment to work together on some tracks [and] make some music. And the track we made worked out great and our teacher really liked it. He was also producing with Fedde le Grand and sent it to him, and then Fedde started playing [it] and that’s how we started. And then we were like, “Well, we need to get on with this.”
So is pretty competitive to get into?
Tim: Yeah, yearly there are like 300-400 applicants for the one year. And then they cut it down to 100. We actually sent a demo and then you have, I don’t know, 5 people who make it. So, it’s pretty crazy.
Can you tell us a little more about your track Darkside (Out April 6th)? What inspired it?
Tim: [It’s] funny we talked about University because when we did that, we were really into Fedde and his stuff and more the grimy, more housey, flowy stuff. And actually, it’s a little bit [of] that influence which we really liked, but we never got the chance to really do and we’re going to do it now. So, that’s actually some of our roots in there.
Jurre: It’s something totally different now…
Any tips for aspiring producers that maybe don’t have the opportunity to attend a university like you guys did?
Jurre: …For a producer, just start making music and produce a lot. Make different stuff everyday and you will learn everyday.
Tim: Be diverse. Try to hang out with as much DJs and producers you know, [and] also in other genres because that helps a lot. Everybody has these little tips and tricks. Take from them what you need and just move on and just be versatile. Do a lot of stuff.
Have you had any mentors or teachers that have helped you along the way?
Tim: …mentioned him earlier, [the] producer Fedde works with, Robin Morssink (aka Robin M). You can check him out. He’s doing crazy stuff. He actually helped us out producing the first year and a half.
So this was during university?
Tim: Yeah, so what’s crazy — everyday going to class was f***ing so exciting…
Jurre: Yeah, that was so good. And DJs like Fedde Le Grand started supporting us from the beginning. Sander Van Doorn is also still like a kind of mentor to us. He helps us. Tiësto. Chocolate Puma…legends — it’s crazy to work with them!
How was it working with Sander Van Doorn on your new big hit ‘Rage’?
Tim: [We] made the track in the bus, during the Canada tour. Which was really awesome…We just got wasted everyday and made music.
What is your go-to drink?
Tim: Well, we are basically straightforward….vodka, Jaeger, Coronas. He gets in a little tequila sometimes. A good mix.
A little bit of everything, you got to keep the body guessing.
Tim: But yeah, when we did the track, basically [it] started out as an idea in the bus. By the end of the bus tour we had a first version. Then after that we met up a couple of times and finished it over a couple of weeks. That was fun…
I can hear all your different influences on ‘Rage’. All the different sounds mixed together really well.
Jurre: It’s something new as well. People call it the future house sound, but it’s not like that because it’s heavier.
Tim: I heard a new [genre]…deep room. Like big room and deep house…
Jurre: It’s really a banger on the main floor…We just label everything house!
Do you guys constrain yourself to genres or just go with what you feel?
Jurre: Most of the time we just go with what we feel, but of course you can always get labeled to something.
Tim: Let’s put it this way: 80% of the labels we got on Beatport were not quite right… We were like, ‘How is this progressive?’
Jurre: We just play what we like and make what we like! It’s actually as easy as that.
They say if you can play in the Netherlands you can play anywhere. Dutch DJs have influenced the music scene so much. How has the Dutch culture influenced your music?
Jurre: When we started it 10 years ago the dance scene was really, really booming in the Netherlands. Because it’s such a small country, you have these big DJs playing every 20 miles or something. So people got spoiled and that’s actually a good thing for Dutch DJs, because you really need to stand out and work very hard.
Tim: And for instance dance music has been on AAA radio for over 20 years in Holland and Belgium. That doesn’t happen anywhere else. So, the sound is like copied in our brain…like hardcoded. We’ve been with it for so long, I think that’s also what makes us really critical about what we hear as far as electronic music goes.
Jurre: And we all support each other…all the Dutch DJs. Like almost everybody gets along. It’s more like a big family, so that’s really cool as well I think.
Tim: It builds rather than breaks down…
How do you guys switch up your sets between the European and Asian audiences?
Jurre: It depends. We always try to play a lot of [our] own stuff, at least 60-70%. For the rest it depends; sometimes we go more groovy underground, if it’s possible…but sometimes you also need to play a little commercial or heavy.
Tim: It seems like they like vocals a lot here though.
After thanking the guys for their time and wishing them the best of luck on stage (not that they needed it), we made our way to the main floor to watch them perform. Opening with their track with Sander Van Doorn, ‘Rage’, the club erupted, and we understood why there were so many people waiting in line that night. (You can check out the set via Octaview above!)
Be sure to check out Firebeatz’ latest release ‘Darkside’ on Spinnin’ Records, available right here on Beatport.