In the space of just a few years, Blasterjaxx have ascended the journey from relatively unknown producers to heroes of the current scene in astounding fashion. With an energetic sound that’s packed to the brim with huge riffs, enormous builds, killer drops and infectious melody, they have time and time again proved themselves to be amongst the most exciting producers and DJs in the EDM scene.
Thom Jongkind and Idir Makhlaf’s meteoric rise to the top has has brought it’s challenges, but they’ve always stood by each other. Together they have taken electronic dance music to new levels and their sound is still ever-evolving. Born and raised in The Hague, Netherlands, Thom Jongkind and Idir Makhlaf draw on their home country’s rich heritage in hard-edged dance music to present a sound that interprets that distinctive toughness in a cutting-edge, contemporary fashion.
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Chris Remmers: We’re going to be talking about the places you’ve been, the things you’ve seen and how that’s molded your career. Let’s start off by telling me, and the folks at home, a little bit about where you’re from. When did you first start getting into and creating music?
Thom Jongkind: I’m from the beautiful city of The Hague, Netherlands. I actually started making music when I was just 13-14 years of age. A lot of things have worked out along the way. We’re literally able to go out and make our money playing music all over the world. That’s something that is amazing to me.
CR: That sounds like something most people only dream of. What inspired you to start making music at such a young age?
TJ: The thing is, in Holland dance music has been huge for a few decades now. I think with that it’s been very common to grow up with it. A lot of people start going to clubs, and getting into the underground scene, early. When I was growing up, dance music was on the radio and TV. It was what people did when they went out. My personal passion just kind of grew from there.
CR: It’s interesting to hear that, in the United States it’s a bit different. Fast forwarding, how was it that you and your partner, Idir, came into collaboration together?
TJ: It’s funny! I already had started the project Blasterjaxx, and he was a big fan of what I was doing. At the time, I was also looking for a second guy to bring on board, because everything is more fun when you get to work with people. It’s more fun in the studio and on tour. Really, it’s just a better experience all around, in my opinion. With that in mind, we went to the studio together, he was already an established producer, and things just ended up working out. We have great chemistry together.
CR: That is incredible! To find someone you have great camaraderie with, who you can work and go out with, is rare today. If someone were to be visiting Holland for the first time, and wanted to experience a local club feel, where would you send them?
TJ: Oh, this is a really good question. If you’re getting into the club scene for the first time, I would highly recommend checking out some festivals. I think if you can make it to Tomorrowland, that would be enough to amaze any first-time festival goer. I basically say that it’s Disneyland for adults. It’s just an experience unlike any other. I highly recommend to anyone looking to experience something new and different, or for people that just love to dance, to go to Tomorrowland. It will change your life for the better.
CR: I was actually in TomorrowWorld the first year it was up and running in the states. I can vouch that it was a life changing experience. When you’re getting together to create music, where does your inspiration come from?
TJ: It really all depends. We listen to a real diverse amount of music. We don’t really listen to too much dance music, because that’s already what we do for work. So, we tend to drift into all kinds of genres like rock, reggae or classical. There are just so many genres we listen too. Then, when we go into the studio, our goal is to make some of these different sounds come together and just “wow” our audience. We love to play those tracks that when people hear it they say, “Woah, what the heck is this!” In the end, it can be different and weird, but when you get the crowd feeling that drop it’s just amazing. We pretty much always go into the studio with the crowd in mind. We always aim to create something new or unique.
CR: “All I Ever Wanted” is your latest release that just dropped September 1st. I know it’s only briefly been out. but how do you feel it’s being received by your fans?
TJ: I think it’s being received really well. This ended up being more of a progressive mellow track. Not what our fans are used to, but it is being received really well. I feel it’s important to switch things up and bring new things to the table, no matter how daring it may be.
CR: Couldn’t agree more. I love hearing these stories of people pursuing their passions, and turning their dreams into a reality. It’s definitely a characteristic I admire in people. I wish you continued success. With that being said, how do you feel music and travel really fit together best in your life?
TJ: I think you can say that music is almost like a universal religion all over the world. Music doesn’t have a language, it’s something that you feel. You can be anywhere in the world and get that same feeling by listening to something that speaks to you. For example, now you have places like South Africa, Australia and North America, places all around the world, playing our music and bringing people together. That is extremely inspiring to us.
As DJs, we fly to a lot of different places — venues, clubs and festivals — all over the world. It’s really amazing, but it’s really tough at the same time. We actually had a year where we had something like 280 flights, and even more shows. So, we’re always in different places, experiencing different things, and it’s reflected in our music.
CR: Wow, that’s a lot of travel time! I couldn’t even imagine getting on a plane almost every other day for an entire year. That’s a prime example of passion and dedication for what you do. Spending a lot of time traveling, what are some of the first things you like to do when you touch down in a new location?
TJ: In the very beginning, everything was still really new. We were really excited to go places. Now, it’s more of a routine. I think we’ve seen something like 80 percent of the commercial, or popular places, in the world. Now that we’re a little more experienced when we touch down places, I like to FaceTime my girlfriend, doing my workouts and having a proper meal. I used to go out and travel around the places I was DJing, but after a while traveling takes a toll. I need to rest a little more. Most of the time our shows are two-three hours after touching down, so we don’t get much rest.
CR: That is an intense schedule! So, you had to be ready on the drop of a dime to preform. I’m sure that becomes tiresome. Have you ever visited or preformed anywhere that gave you a bit of a culture shock?
TJ: Not really actually. I normally prepare myself pretty well when I’m traveling to different places. I have experienced three-hour rides through the jungle, and we get to this club that’s packed with people. It makes you kind of wonder how the heck everyone got there. I would not say I have really experienced a culture shock, but I’ve had many different experiences. Sometimes, the food in places can take a bit getting used to. You never really know how your body will react. I would say some of my least favorite food, when I travel, comes from England. I don’t know what it is, but I just have never had to good of an experience with food over there.
CR: That’s good to know. Food is one of the major things I look forward to when traveling to new destinations. Lastly, are there three places you would like to visit that you’ve not yet been able to hit yet?
TJ: I would actually really like to go to Greenland. It’s such a beautiful country. I love nature, and I’ve heard a lot of amazing things, so it’s on my bucket list. It’s relatively untouched by people or industries so far, so hopefully I make it there before anything changes. Other than that, there’s some spots in eastern Australia. I believe it’s the Gold Coast, but it’s a beautiful place to visit. The pictures look amazing, and I’ve heard the people are really nice. Lastly, I would have to say New Zealand, pretty much because it’s by all of the countries I love the most, including Australia. New Zealand is basically Australia 2.0.