Bassjackers: Jacking The Bass

Bassjackers first caught the attention of dance enthusiast when their track ‘Beat Cut’ was recognised by Fedde Le Grand. Now signed under Tiësto’s new label, Musical Freedom, the duo has released a genuine hit of a single, ‘Mush Mush’, and toured and spun at major events the likes of Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, and Tomorrowland in Belgium last year. No wonder they’re storming up the dance charts. When 1 half of the Bassjackers, Marlon Flohr (the DJ to Ralph van Hilst’s production), decided to spin at Zouk last 6 April, JUICE scrambled to the scene to catch Marlon for an interview and stare at his beautiful brown eyes.

Introduce to us who are Bassjackers. How did you guys start?
I was already DJing few years ago and Ralph was already making and playing around with music. When I started DJing, pretty soon I figured out that I need my own music to stand out from the rest, so Ralph is one of my best friends and I showed him some examples for him to help me make music. We started working on it together and 2 months after that, we had our first track called ‘Beat Cut’ that we were satisfied with. Then we came out with the name Bassjackers and send it out to some big DJs and we got a very good response from people like Fedde Le Grand. He picked it and put it in his chart and played it in the club. And some other big Dutch DJs were playing it too and that was how we got our first gigs in Holland. We played for a few years in Holland. In 2011, we got our first track ‘Mush Mush’ that got picked up by Tiësto and it was in Tiësto’s label and that launched us internationally to do out first tour.

What initially inspired you guys to pursue a career in EDM?  
I was always fascinated by the art of DJing. I was always clubbing and I grew up with dance music. I was always recording different tracks on cassettes and cutting it and putting it all together. At parties, I would play with the volume pretending to be a DJ.

Do you find any differences between spinning with vinyl and digital?
I started with vinyl but pretty late. I started practicing DJing in 2006, before that I wanted to do it but the equipment was really expensive so I started with vinyl and it was a good learning experience and everything after that was much easier.

Do you find the sound different though?
Well, people say vinyl has a much warmer and authentic sound but I think nowadays digital music has evolved so much that I like digital better. Vinyl to me sounds more nostalgic with the vinyl cracks and has a certain feeling to it but I’m happy with the evolution of digital music with the new equipment. The possibility is endless now, you can do so much to manipulate the music on stage and interact with the crowd.

Besides EDM, what other music genres inspires you both?
Ralph and I, we never listen to dance music when we’re in our daily activities. We do listen to dance music to check it out when we’re producing, but Ralph listens to a lot of rock music while I listen to a lot of hip hop and rock. It’s not that you can say we’re directly inspired by it, but of course subconsciously we use it. We’re big fans of The Prodigy and Daft Punk. One of our latest collaboration has some Daft Punk influences. Inspiration is everywhere with other genres too, not only dance.

How do you guys work though? How would you describe your studio process?
Right now, I hope [Ralph] is in the studio. He’s the producer and I’m the DJ, we’re a duo but we separate the task. I’m doing all the touring while he’s at home working on new music.

Oh wow, that’s how you guys work?
Yeah, that’s how we work. When I come back from touring, we try to wrap up all the stuff he’s working on and get my DJ vision on the tracks.

Is there any time that you guys went touring together? Like for big festivals?
We do but he will never play. The only time he’s in the DJ booth was in Miami for only a picture. But he was in Vegas and Ibiza to just check it out but never to go on stage. We’ve been doing this since 2007 and he has never played, but he’s in the press pictures because when we just started we didn’t know what to do, we’re just 2 friends who decided to make music together and after that he figured he was not a DJ. So he put me to represent Bassjackers on stage and Ralph is the man behind the scene.

You’ve travelled all over the world. Are there any events that you’ve been dying to play?
Last year we’ve played a lot of international music festivals, we’ve played at Ultra Music Festival at Miami, EDC in Las Vegas, and Tomorrowland. We’ve already played some of the festivals that we’ve wanted to play but what we’re doing right is that we want to continue this streak to keep playing at those events in the upcoming years. Get our name bigger, tour even more, and headline all the big clubs.

What was it like playing for 60,000 people?
The funny thing was I knew there would be a lot of people but I didn’t even see the crowd because I was backstage until I took a peek when Alesso was spinning before me and I was like “Holy sh!t!” But when I started playing, I was the happiest boy in the world. When the crowd goes wild, it gives me goosebumps.

So what’s your favourite festival that you’ve performed so far?
It’s probably EDC festival in Last Vegas because we had the main stage and a good time slot. And also in Ibiza, it wasn’t a festival but it was an outdoor gig of 5,000 people at Ushuaia Hotel. That gig was together with Tiesto, we played before Tiesto and that was the beginning of our career and it was really memorable.

You guys did a collaboration with Showtek for ‘Hey!’ recently. Tell us about your experiences working with them?
We met Showtek in Miami last year; we are fans of each other’s work. They live very close to us in Holland, and we decided to collaborate after Miami. So Ralph went into the studio with them while I was still touring and they made a track together and sent it to me while I was touring so I could spin it on the tour and wow, the response was so good. But it took a while until the track was released – the track was finished in May and we released it last December. We got in Beatport Top 10. Showtek was fun to work and they are talented producers. It was a good collaboration and we’re going to do another one too.

Been bothering us for some time now… what does ‘Mush Mush’ even mean?
(Laughs) A lot of people asked us that question on Twitter, on Facebook, everywhere. Because there’s no song title like that, nobody knows what it is and I’m going to tell you… I’ve never told anyone yet. There’s this one guy on Twitter, he guessed it right. Back then we watched this South Park episode where they were making fun of Jersey Shore, in the show Snooki was like “Snooki wants mush mush,” so after we were done doing the track, we were like “mush mush, mush mush” and we decided to name our track ‘Mush Mush’ and that’s how it went. It’s just a random thing we came across. We get our track titles from stupid stuff.

We dig stupid sh!t too! What was the craziest thing that happened to you when you were DJing?
(Pauses) Well there’s a funny story. Recently I was spinning for a gig and a girl came up to me. I’m not being whatever, I mean it’s normal that girls flashes their boobs in front of me. But this girl was running and came up to the DJ booth I was playing and she was like “Hey! Do you have the wi-fi password?!” And I was like “What?! No! Go away!” It was really random.

Bassjackers played at Zouk Club KL last 6 April ’13. More on the duo at www.bassjackers.com