Blasterjaxx's Thom Jongkind on Chester Bennington, producing music, and his backstage routine
Editor's note: In a new series called 'Brain Freeze', our contributor R Prashanth Vidyasagar puts musicians in the spotlight, seeking quick answers to an eclectic set of questions.
In the world of EDM, being heard is a difficult business — let alone striking gold. The rate at which tracks are produced and released can be compared to that of a production line in a cola manufacturing factory. Lakhs of music producers across the world release thousands of dance music tracks every day. Some go on to be the next big kid in the business, whilst many float around.
Dutch EDM act Blasterjaxx — comprising Thom Jongkind and Idir Makhlaf — is almost the same, but what set them apart was their relentless pursuit to create a sound of their own. Their understanding of the genre big room house, and Dutch house and producing skills got them slowly taking over the airwaves while also getting noticed.
Two years after they hit the scene, Laidback Luke signed two of their tracks from the EP Reborn, which got them rolling like a juggernaut. Today, they are one of the biggest names in the EDM world having more than two million fans on social media. They have also collaborated with acts such as David Guetta, Hardwell and Afrojack among others.
Thom Jongkind recently performed in Bengaluru and in an exclusive interview with Firstpost, answered these questions as part of our new series 'Brain Freeze'.
What is the first thing you packed before leaving for Bengaluru?
Good one. My protein shakes.
What was the last thing you did before you slept last night?
Was in the studio working on new music.
What is the longest you’ve partied?
[Whistles, thinks] Thirty-five hours. I think it started somewhere in the city I used to live.
What is the one question you hate answering?
What’s the sound of Blasterjaxx?
Your favorite drink?
Sparkling water with vodka or Mojito.
Your worst nightmare?
Oversleeping for a show. Waking up half an hour before a show starts. It’s happened a couple of times before, due to the time difference etc. I get a call saying your driver is here and I’m like wtf!
How do you deal with jet lag?
So basically my tour manager and I have an army strategy, which is — eat wherever you can and sleep wherever you can [laughs].
The last song you heard?
I was actually listening to one of our new songs.
The last movie you watched?
A French one. I forgot the name.
Your dream collaboration?
We wish we could do something with Linkin Park, unfortunately I don’t think that’s going to happen. Daddy Yankee is still on the list. I actually think it’s great to work with anyone outside the dance industry.
What do you think of the Grammys?
Out of my league, I think so. [Laughs]
What was the last lie you told?
That’s a good one. [Thinks, laughs] I actually don’t know.
If you could curate your own music festival what would you call it?
Maxximize [just like their label].
What is the coolest thing you’ve done while playing a set?
A few years ago we stage dived, it’s really uncomfortable, you get grabbed in the wrong places [laughs]. I had two phones then, lost both of them.
If you could go back in time and change one thing what would it be?
Don’t sign a contract without getting it checked by a lawyer.
The most important thing one’s got to do to be a successful music producer?
Getting a spotlight on yourself and make original sounds. It is really tough these days, it was easier some years ago.
How much did you get paid for your first ever gig?
Twenty-five euros. It was 10 years ago.
Your favourite time of the day?
Morning. I am morning person.
What was the last dream you had?
Smoking in a plane and then I don’t know what happened. It was strange.
The first thing you noticed when you got to Bengaluru?
There was not much traffic as I expected as I arrived in the night.
What is the current trend in dance music?
Copy everything that is done by Chainsmokers. There is a current trend called Future Bass and I personally think not everyone can pull it off in a club as it not suitable for clubs.
What’s your hidden talent?
A great lover in the bedroom [laughs].
If you met an alien what would you tell it?
Don’t stay here for too long.
Your favourite moment from this year?
When my girl told me that we’re going to have a baby.
If you could choose another career what would it be?
If you could have one superpower what would it be?
Time travelling. You can redo your parties as many times as you want.
Twitter or Facebook?
Both. [Laughs] Actually Instagram.
What makes you say yes to a demo?
To be really honest, I see all the names first in my inbox. This might seem harsh but if a DJ has a crappy name, I’m not even opening it. If there is no originality in your name, then mostly it isn’t in your music as well.
What's the one thing you always do before taking to the stage?
Texting my girl, having a word with my tour manager and having a drink.
What the one thing that Netherlands and India have in common?
We both like spicy food.
What does your last name — Jongkind — mean?
Wow. I found out this week actually, it’s a German name and means young kid.
Remix or original?
Who came up with the name Blastersoldiers for your fans?
I am not sure if it was us or our fans calling themselves that.
The shortest time you’ve taken to compose a song and which one?
Three hours and the track is not yet released.
What do you do during your days off?
Finishing my home, playing games, driving my car and spending time with family and friends.
When are you the most creative?
It depends... changes from day to day. Sometimes you like it a little dark, sometimes you have a drink.
If you could choose one person to compose the soundtrack to your life, who would it be?
Did you learn any new skill this year?
One of them when it comes to producing. This is going to be really technical for people reading this. From any vocal we can make a vocoder, which is following the chords we are writing in midi. So basically, we can make any melody from an existing vocal.
If you could play one of your tracks to a famous personality, who would you play it to and what would it be?
I think Chester Bennington from Linkin Park; we did a really cool bootlegger of 'In The End'.
Cats or dogs?
Allergic to dogs, so cats.
If you were a rap artist, what would your stage name be?