INTERVIEW: R3hab (2012)
When reviewing music, I often use the term “WTF track” – a track that is so different or aggressive that one must say “What the F*k” is that? That was my reaction when I first heard “Pump the Party” a few years ago – the sheer aggression and powerful noise made me think of the first tracks from Benny Benassi or Mr Oizo. With guidance and mentorship from Afrojack, R3hab has quickly risen in the ranks to become one of the most in-demand remixers by adding “chainsaw madness” – his special take on the Dirty Dutch sound. In 2011, he pumped out over thirty remixes, perfecting his sound and giving a new spin on everyone from the biggest pop stars (Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Pitbull) to rising stars in the EDM world (Dada Life, Ralvero, Sander van Doorn). With so much time in the studio and doing so much, its no shock that he hasn’t even had time to produce his own artist album yet!
DJ Ron: How did the Jacked tour work out for you?
R3hab: Awesome, it was amazing. Afrojack is one of my favorite artists and he put me on as his main support act. People were ready to party and have a good time, which is the most important thing for me. The parties had an energetic crowd wherever we went. I like a crowd that wants to party and they were the type of people that we attracted, I was very happy with that.
DJ Ron: Was your set the same every night or did it change from city to city?
R3hab: It changed a lot. In Nashville I closed down so it was very different- sometimes I would play before Afrojack or we would play together. I always wanted to play my big records like “Sending My Love.” I try to be impulsive in my DJ sets.
DJ Ron: You are very tall, I was wondering if you ever get back pain from leaning over or from the positioning?
R3hab: No, not really. Afrojack is taller than me and I often think how low the set must be for him, he never says anything about it though.
DJ Ron: Where did the name R3hab come from?
R3hab: It was just a name that I came up with. I thought that it was really cool because electronic music is very addictive. The name came to me about seven years ago and I like it a lot because it is really short and catchy.
DJ Ron: Speaking about short and catchy, I noticed that your mixes are often less than five minutes, what is the reason for that?
R3hab: I like them short and sweet. I like to bring a lot of energy, some mixes are a little longer but it just has to fit the song with the long breaks and the long buildup. Sometimes I just like to get things moving.
DJ Ron: How do you describe your sound?
R3hab: A roller-coaster ride with some chainsaw madness.
DJ Ron: Where did “Chainsaw Madness” come from?
R3hab: Some of the sounds that I use sound like firing up a chainsaw.
DJ Ron: Congrats on winning breakthrough artist at IDMA last year, how did you feel when it happened? What was your reaction?
R3hab: I was proud and happy. It is really cool when you work for something and get an award. It was the first time that I ever won an award so it was a special moment for me.
DJ Ron: Going back to “Pump The Party” what style of music was that?
R3hab: That’s a good question; I call it Middle Eastern because it sounds like a snake whisperer’s anthem
DJ Ron: Was that something that you played or that you sampled.
R3hab: It was actually played.
DJ Ron: Was that music tied to your background or ethnic routes?
R3hab: Yeah, my parents are from Morocco and I used to go to a big square where there were snakes and things. I wanted to add that feeling into a song and when I created it I pictured a snake whisperer and the snake coming out of a box.
DJ Ron: Are you ever nervous when you get a really big pop project to remix, like with Lady Gaga, Madonna, or Katy Perry?
R3hab: No, I don’t really get nervous. I am actually more nervous with projects that are really special to me- like Calvin Harris’s “We’ll Be Coming Back.” I am in love with the original song and it’s so special to me, I wanted to make something that was just as good.
DJ Ron: One of my favorite remix of yours is the mix for Mysto & Pizzi “Where is Love (Love Is Hard To Find),” I am wondering if you find it harder to work with male over female vocals.
R3hab: It depends on the track and the chords. For example, with the Porter Robinson “Language” and Afrojack ft Shermanology “Can’t Stop Me Now,” I really love the female vocals because it fits in the track very well. With “Sending my Love,” a big male vocal fits. It just depends on the track; I don’t really have a preference.
DJ Ron: As you are doing more production and remixing, how do you think your sound is changing or evolving?
R3hab: It slowly goes with the market. You try to switch it up, use new sounds, new scenes come out and you slowly start moving towards that. The dubstep sounds are getting really popular on the electro.
DJ Ron: When I hear a R3hab remix, I always know that it is a R3hab remix, are you worried about being too associated with the sound or stereotyped?
R3hab: I think that it’s an honor that people know it’s me. It is such a signature sound and I find it funny that when you hear a copy of it, you still think of me because they copied my stuff. I think that there are still very diverse R3hab remixes- from Rihanna’s “We Found Love” to Lady Gaga’s “Judas” or “Marry the Night” to Calvin Harris’s “We’ll Be Coming Back.” I think that it is totally different; it just has a R3hab flavor in it somehow.
DJ Ron: You also moved into production and you worked on the Havana Brown “Big Banana” song, how did y’all hook up for that project?
R3hab: They invited me to Stockholm to make two tracks with her, we went to the studio and made a couple tracks pretty easily, it was fun.
DJ Ron: Are you looking to do more production and less remixing, or what are you planning on doing next?
R3hab: I am going to do some more production for other artists.
DJ Ron: Can you name some names?
R3hab: No not yet, but they are going to be real big artists. Things are very different because I work for them. Even if I am the producer and they use my sounds, it’s their track. I try to make something that fits them well; it is very different than making music for myself.
DJ Ron: Will there ever be a R3hab artist album?
R3hab: Let’s hope, if I can find the time and the creativity.
DJ Ron: Who are some artists that you would love to work with that you haven’t yet?
R3hab: Coldplay. There are so many bands that I would like to work with. It is hard to make something with a band.
DJ Ron: It is a different mindset.
R3hab: No it’s not that, it is really just trying to find the time to work on something together. It’s really easy to do a remix because you can do it in your own time, you don’t need people around you to make it happen. With a band you have to find out where you are going to meet, what you are going to do, and it is hard to schedule that.
DJ Ron: How much do you find yourself on the road now?
R3hab: Around 200-230 days a year.
DJ Ron: Wow, do you carry your laptop around with you and do remixes while you are in the airport?
DJ Ron: What are you working on right now?
R3hab: I am working on some original material which is going to be released in the next 2-3 months.
DJ Ron: What effect has Afrojack had on your career?
R3hab: He has had a huge influence with helping me out and teaching me stuff, it has been enormous.
DJ Ron: You were involved in the Amsterdam Dance Event last year, what effect do you think it has had on your career and Dutch dance music?
R3hab: A lot, you meet the right people from labels and work together and you get to know people in the industry not only over email but also in real life.
DJ Ron: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
R3hab: I am really grateful for all of the help that they gave me last year. Without the fans the music is worthless. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and enjoy the parties.