Return of the Jack! One of the most consistent heavy hitters remains in the top 10 for the seventh year on the trot, and he appears more enthusiastic than ever. “I’ve been producing soooo much and getting ready for tour after 18 months,” the DJ born Nik van de Wall tells DJ Mag. “I can’t wait to share it with the world!”
He’s already sharing it. Release-wise, 2021 has been one of the most prolific years the Dutch DJ has ever had with a whole slew of big pop/dance sing-along bangers landing on a monthly basis. As 2021 kicked off with another lockdown, Afrojack lightened spirits with a flexback to ’96 as he, Chasner and Rob Adams covered Mark Morrison’s R&B sing-along ‘Return Of The Mack’. This was the tip of the EDM iceberg, as Nik has proceeded to deliver smash after smash. As always with Afrojack — who has recently been on honeymoon and shaved his signature full-bodied barnet off — the styles continued to fly across the spectrum. He delved deep into the likes of trap with Zafrir on the smouldering ‘Boom Boom Pow’, then Coldplay-esque stadium sizzlers with fellow EDM lord David Guetta on ‘Hero’, followed by classic ‘90s-flavoured euphoric tackle with Timmy Trumpet on ‘Stay Mine’. And these releases barely take us up to spring 2021 as the Dutchman has continually levelled up with his output, climaxing in August with a brand new project he’s dubbed Never Sleeps.
Inspired by collaborations and taking things back to the roots of why we’re all here, the project has been in development over lockdown and is gradually being unleashed to the world now following his and fellow Dutch anthem-crafter Chico Rose’s end-of-set feel-good moment ‘You Got The Love’… The timing was perfect.
“Never Sleeps is a project which is basically just there to emphasise dance music built for the festivals and clubs,” Afrojack told DJ Mag in the summer. “Within the music industry, there's a lot of pressure on artists to keep their brands relevant or to try new things and challenges. With Never Sleeps, it's just about the music and the people — making music for people on the dancefloor and celebrating life.” Now out of lockdown and catapulting himself back onto the international mainstages with a full US tour imminent and plenty of big dates beyond, Afrojack definitely has a lot to celebrate. Armed with yet more major league productions such as ‘All Night Long’ (with Azteck) and now the humungous ‘Anywhere With You’ (with Dubvision and Lucas & Steve) he’s fully back, refreshed and eager to remind us why he’s been one of the most consistent DJs in this poll in the last 10 years.
“It’s an honour to still be up here after all these years,” says the DJ who kept many of us smiling through lockdown with his weekly Jacked Radio broadcasts. “Nightlife is in my blood and I will continue to give it my all. Thank you to all my fans around the world for voting for me, and I will see you on stage soon!”
How was your first gig back after lockdown?
“Magical. It reminded me that DJing is in my blood.”
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
“I started to see the potential of collaboration and benefits of no constant pressure to work.”
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
“Raise awareness and inform our people.”
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ set-up this year?
“Definitely the upgrade to CDJ-3000s.”
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?
Kanye West ‘Donda’. Creatively amazing.”