Showtek Interview (ADE 2013)
The brothers Sjoerd and Wouter Janssen, better known as Showtek, rocketed to everyone’s attention in 2013. Making the move from hardstyle to electro by way of a set of “Crazy Collabs” with Hardwell, Justin Prime, Noisecontrollers, and We Are Loud, they’ve had an impressive run of big club records (“How We Do,” “Cannonball,” “Get Loose,” and “Booyah’) that have topped the club charts and crossed over to the pop world. They also managed to reenter the DJ Mag list in the top 30. With new releases coming on their own new label Skink Records (part of Spinnin’) and the vocal version of “Cannonball” (now called “Earthquake,” with a topline by the in-demand singer Matthew Koma), it looks like 2014 is going to be just as big.
DJ Ron Slomowicz: What is it like as brothers being on the road together and making music together?
Sjoerd: It’s great to share these moments together as brothers because it makes the experience stronger and the hard parts less hard. We can share and talk about stuff and lift each other up when we are down, so it’s great.
Wouter: It makes it easier, especially with traveling because as a DJ or any kind of artist it can be quite a lonely job. We share the same sense of humor and can talk about the show we played and just watch movies and laugh together. We are not little kids anymore and we can fight without fighting and we can argue about stuff without really disagreeing or having bad days afterwards. It’s an easy connection because we are blood brothers.
RS: Talking about movies, after watching Dexter what is the strangest nightmare you‘ve had? What’s your favorite movie?
Sjoerd: It’s funny that you asked this because I had serious nightmares. I would wake up out of breath and feel crazy because I don’t like blood. I gave the show a try and I liked it so much so I said “fuck the blood, I don’t give a damn about it.” I enjoyed the series but I have seen some weird stuff in my dreams.
Wouter: I haven’t finished the series yet, I’m stuck on season four. Our favorite movie is We’re the Millers, we watched it in Hollywood with our friends and literally laughed our balls off, it was so hilarious.
Sjoerd: Great movie.
RS: You guys started with hardstyle and you’ve gone in more of a electric/progressive direction, what caused the change?
Sjoerd: Well there were a few things; we got older and our taste started to change. Besides that, I’ve worked with Marcel Woods behind the scenes as co-producer for 12 years making tech-trance and tech-house stuff. We have also worked with Tiesto for 4 years behind the scenes. We were doing all this electric/progressive stuff but nobody knew about it and we secretly fell in love with it more than our own sound.
Wouter: Like a second love.
Sjoerd: We were making fools of ourselves for not going for that because we loved it so much, especially the track called “Maximal Crazy” that we did with Tiesto. We produced it with the three of us, and we loved it so much that we wanted to do it as Showtek but the crowd wasn’t ready for it. We changed some stuff in our production and now it’s fully accepted. It took a year and a half. It feels like a new career and I am happiest guy in the world.
Wouter: As an artist you want to have artistic freedom. I don’t know how to explain it all but we began with real rough, ‘no melody’ techno, and then started making hard dance/trance stuff which has become hardstyle over the last few years. I think you grow as a person and you evolve, even fashion evolves and that’s how music goes. It took us a year to really get everyone convinced and we are doing really well.
RS: Great. You can’t turn on BPM in the US without hearing “Cannonball.” Did you have any idea that track would become so big?
Wouter: No. The funny thing is we were in the studio and we were already recording the song and suddenly we stopped recording because we had a new idea and thought that it could be even better. Tiesto walked into the studio unannounced and was like “what song is this?” We told him it was a new Showtek song and he asked if he could play it at Electric Zoo. So he played it a year ago at Electric Zoo and that’s where the kickoff started and from there everybody started playing the song. It was something new in the electro scene and it made the name Showtek go around really fast. But we personally think “Booyah” is an even better song.
RS: “Booyah” feels like it goes back to your roots with mixing the different styles together.
Wouter: Yeah, we love that. We have a certain love for urban beats and urban grooves even though we are little white boys.
Sjoerd: We are like the Beastie Boys of the electro music scene. We love hip-hop and we love reggae so we put it in an electro track.
RS: “How We Do” has a million mashups, which is your favorite?
Sjoerd: I heard a new one with Lana Del Rey “Summertime Sadness,” and that was pretty good, but my favorite is the original mix.
RS: The strangest thing I’ve seen you guys do is the mix with Carly Rae Jepsen, what did you all think of doing that?
Sjoerd: What was your opinion?
RS: It was unique, but it didn’t make sense to me.
Sjoerd: Our great friend wrote the song and it was more of a fun favor, not a Showtek thing, and then we decided to make a remix of it.
Wouter: He produced the song and wrote it and he went to the label and said “we could use a dance mix of it and I know the perfect guys who are hot at the moment, Showtek.” They had heard “Cannonball” on the radio a few times and wanted to give it a try. We have a very diverse taste in music; we love Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Carly Rae Jepsen. We really love the American stuff, so it was an honor for us as producers to do that and it became an official remix.
Sjoerd: Carly even said how much she loved it a couple times. We don’t really want to do stuff that people expect from us, we like to have shock value sometimes.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Sjoerd: Without them we would be shit and nothing. We really appreciate that we are following our hearts and expressing our musical emotions in a way that we think is great and people are actually admiring.
Interview conducted during Amsterdam Dance Event 2013.