Showtek Talk The “Art” Of DJing, Terrible Shows, Basketball And More [FNT Exclusive]

Posted by on November 26, 2013


In conjunction with our presenting their Showtek Essentials a few weeks back, we have an interview with Dutch masters, Sjoerd and Wouter Janssen, known to you as Showtek. Their move from Hardstyle to Showtek-styled electro house in the past few has been well chronicled, starting with productions alongside Tiësto and Marcel Woods, like “Maximal Crazy” and then really breaking out with their own collabs and originals like “Hell Yeah”, “How We Do”, “Cannonball” and most recently “Booyah“. I would argue that besides W&W, only Maarten Vorwerk (unwittingly, the most famous ghost producer out there) has helped sculpt the festival-oriented dance music landscape as much as Showtek. They do not waste a single production, and live bring that energy to you every night.

During our interview we cover everything DJing, which they say “Their mum could do it”, their productions, past and future, bad shows, their love for basketball and much more. Head past the break to get to know the Janssen brothers a little better and stream the remixes for “Booyah” while you read.

FNT: I know everyone is asking you about this, but I want to get one question in. People think that your stylistic evolution from hardstyle to electro was very sudden, when in reality it was not. Talk about Boys will Be Boys and your early work with Tiësto and how that was indicative of your crossover change?

Showtek: Yeah, you are correct. “Boys Will Be Boys” was a project from Tiesto and us (and that time Anger Dimas ), which we started just for fun. We thought it was cool to take on another name for tracks that we didn’t know what to do with. We first starting working with Tijs (Tiësto) on his Allure Project (which is his pseudonym for his trance project) and once we established our working relationship, we did more things, like our collab “Hell Yeah!”. We’ve been making all kinds of music since 2001 – techno / house/ hard dance/ everything – but people knew Showtek as hardstyle until 2011. Our love for electronic dance music has started to grow even more and we lost touch with the harder styles – like cheating on your girlfriend and falling in love with your new girl, that’s how it felt. But you cannot lie to yourself.

We didn’t like the evolution in the harder scene and we would find ourselves more into the new music that we were producing behind the scenes. “Maximal Crazy,” from Tiësto, was one of the biggest tracks we co-produced with Tijs and that was the song that convinced us to go another direction. It’s part of evolving as an artist and it’s been the best choice of our lives. We never regret what we did because it brought us to where we are now, but sometimes it’s just time for some new adventures and we felt that urge. It feels like we have a new career and another mountain the climb. We were already at the top in 2011, there was nothing to achieve anymore. Luckily, most of our fans fell in love with our new sound, or lets say – Showtek 2.0! And we still have that Showtek touch on every tune we do. We think our song, “Booyah” with Sonny Wilson and We Are Loud, is the perfect example of our sound these days!

FNT: You have produced for both dance music stars (Tiësto & Marcel Woods) and with Lukas Hilbert for pop stars such as Medina, Carly Ray Jepson, Jason Derulo etc. How is each a different challenge, and what do both achieve for you musically?

Showtek: Well Lukas is a songwriter and producer we met in LA, although he is originally from Germany. We met him from working together on the Chris Brown track and he did amazing stuff that we didn’t know about. Nowadays, we still work together on pop stuff, but to be honest, it’s a very different scene, and with our career, it’s hard to do both. But we love to experiment and grow as musicians because that is what we are – we don’t see ourselves as DJ’s. With all due respect, our mum could be a DJ, not that she will be the next #1 DJ in the world, but we could teach her how to beat match. We see ourselves as artists; producers who love to make music, perform, and let the whole world love it too. So hopefully in the near future we can work more on pop and whatever else. We even worked on a track with one of Holland’s biggest artists. It’s a pop dance song but we don’t care. We put our name on top of the track because we want to show the world what we are doing, no musical boundaries!!!

FNT: With your background in producing behind the scenes, how important do you think it is for big producers to give credit to smaller producers on their tracks, like what you did with We Are Loud on Booyah?

Showtek: A lot of artist walk away with the fame, that’s why we keep co-producing on a low-key level, unless we can put our name on top of it. With a hectic schedule like ours, we need to keep the focus on Showtek, but we are always looking for new talent and we love to support smaller artists who we think can break through. Though there’s only a certain level of support you can give, like a feature on our radio show or tour support like we do with Jordy Dazz / Tv Noise or Justin Prime. We Are Loud! and Sonny Wilson are guys who would never think of entering the charts in the UK for example, so for them it’s amazing exposure. But their next song that they did by themselves needs to be a hit, otherwise the attention they have right now will disappear like dust because this business is fast as fuck. We entered the UK charts at #5, which is amazing these days because it’s so hard to break through that ceiling. Two weeks after, we are at #15 cause Lady Gaga, Eminem and One Direction came out with new singles and that’s real competition!

FNT: How did the idea for “crazy collabs” come about and how will it continue into the future?

Showtek: Let’s try to keep this one short, haha. We switched genres after 2011. The big players in the scene knew who we were and what we were doing, but we needed to make a plan to get the Showtek name out there as soon as possible. The fact that we worked with Tijs behind the scenes made it easy to come up with collabs like Tiesto & Showtek. So by working with big names, it was easier for us to put the Showtek name into the scene. The idea was also to come out with new kinds of music, so we would be the ones who bring a new dimension to EDM, and in some ways we did. Tracks like “Cannonball” & “Get Loose,” for example, were really innovative and had a certain kind of shock value. Working with artists from other genres creates different vibes and that was exactly what we needed to do to go from hard dance to what we are doing now, without losing the Showtek touch of course. We might do some more collabs but we’ll have to figure out the details.

FNT: Were you guys surprised by the backlash you received over the Chris Brown production?

Showtek: As we said before, we are producers who love all kinds of music. If J-Lo wants to make a song with us next week, we’d do it. As long as it’s a good song, who cares? Think outside the box. Sometimes people are so narrow minded. We love to make music and we want to be as diverse as possible. It has nothing to do with being commercial or not. By doing EDM, pop and r&b, you stay well-versed as a producer and you get influenced and inspired by lots of different people, which is good for Showtek as well. That’s how we stay relevant! We started this career by producing music, that’s the key of Showtek’s success. Maybe as an outsider it’s hard to imagine, but when we are listening music in the car, we listen to everything that makes us smile! If you want to have an idea of what we really love, check out Showtek’s Essentials, our weekly NON-EDM podcast with our favorite tunes! Go to our soundcloud and find out!

FNT: Have you guys ever had a show that just sucked, either the crowd wasn’t feeling it, you guys were off or the vibe just wasn’t there, and if so what happened?

Showtek: Believe me, there are so many bullshit tweets from artists saying that they had the time of their lives. Some shows just suck big time, but as for why, it’s hard to say. It doesn’t really happen that often. Sometimes the crowd isn’t good, sometimes it’s the detailed stuff that just sucks, like bad production or the crew of the club doesn’t take care of you. Music is all about vibes, that’s why the details are so important.

FNT: You guys posted a throwback Thursday pic of you guys on a bus wearing Orlando Magic jerseys? You guys basketball fans? If so, who is your team and do you have any predictions for this year?

Showtek: Yes, we are big basketball fans. We are related to the old Indiana Pacers player, Rik Smits, also known as The Flying Dutchman. Our dream was to become a professional basketball player in the NBA, but unfortunately our family wasn’t in a situation to send us to the USA. So we played high level basketball in the Netherlands as a hobby, but when music became another passion, it was hard to combine. We still kick-ass on the court though. When we are in LA, we go to Muscle Beach and play ball vs some big boys and we aren’t pussies when we play. White men can’t dunk but that’s not the only way to score, haha! We love the Lakers and the Heat but we used to be Orlando Magics fans when we were young. Wouter still has his Penny Hardaway shirt and Sjoerd still got his Patrick Ewing shirt from back in the days.

FNT: What is coming up for Showtek? Collab with R3hab? A third album possibly? Showtek bus tour?

Showtek: Well another album would be so cool, but we need to work months on that, so that means we need to take time off – less shows more studio. If we do that, we will not start before the end of the year. Anyways, it’s in our head but we need to figure out what, how, and when. We are planning a bus tour for 2014! We just want to make more songs like “Booyah” because productions are our key to success. We had so many tracks that were supported by lots of DJs last year – our name was out there all the time. And that’s how the rise of Showtek went so fast! We love touring and performing because it gives you a lot of energy and creativity for the studio. But we don’t want to be the next DJs who just play 250 shows a year and barely have time for studio. We see ourselves as artists and producers who like to perform once in a while. So yeah, more studio time in 2014!!

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