The ‘Anywhere With You’ hitmaker continues to approach his vocation with the same wide-eyed whimsy that ushered him into the early days of his success

The role of a music producer is often subjected to continuous debate. Are you a craftsman, compelled to create something tangible out of the tools at your disposal? Or are you a dot connector? Linking ideas and sounds that most others would assume to be distant? Nick Van De Wall, known across the world as Afrojack, is the love child of these two schools of thought. “Electronic music has always had a kind of boundless universality to it. What drew me in was its ability to create an energy that transcends boundaries, cultures, and languages, almost like a universal language that connects people,” he says excitedly.

Having cemented his place as one of EDM’s most prolific DJs and producers for the better part of two decades, Afrojack continues to approach his vocation with the same wide-eyed whimsy that ushered him into the early days of his success.

On December 17, 2023, OnePlus celebrated its 10th anniversary by hosting the OnePlus AI Music Festival in Bengaluru, with Afrojack as the headlining act. A celebration of creativity, technology, and community spirit, the event served to highlight not only the changing tides of music production but also the stalwarts that are pushing the craft forward. The event embodied all the qualities of these stalwarts by bringing their creative processes to the forefront of the festival.

When asked about his process, the Dutch-born DJ said, “I’ve always believed in pushing boundaries and staying true to my roots. Over the years, I’ve experimented with various sounds and genres, always seeking a newer sound. My creative process has become more collaborative over the years. I’m all about exploring new techniques and tools. Technology has been a game-changer, opening up endless possibilities.”

Electronic music continues to test the duality of the earlier debate. Its status as a cross-cultural medium has only proven to increase exponentially in the last few years. “The beauty of electronic music is its fluidity. It’s in a constant state of evolution, and that’s what excites me the most,” says Afrojack. “The fusion of genres, the experimentation happening right now—it’s groundbreaking. I’m particularly fascinated by how technology is shaping live performances. The way we can create immersive experiences for the audience is mind-blowing.”

The naturally collaborative nature of electronic music beckons back to the European club scenes of the early 2010s, which witnessed rampant cross-pollination. Since then, not much has really changed in how musicians approach collaboration.

The “Ten Feet Tall” hitmaker shares that “sometimes it’s through organic connections, mutual respect, or just a crazy idea that sparks it.” Working with different artists brings fresh perspectives and styles and the best part is that learning curve—”that”exchange of ideas that leads to something completely unexpected and beautiful.” This serves to reinforce the fact that Afrojack won himself a Grammy in 2011 for a remix. A tangible recreation of someone else’s art.

The OnePlus AI Music Festival saw the likes of Ritviz, known for his signature amalgamation of Indian classical music and contemporary electronic sounds, and Kayan, one of India’s rising pop icons, who parallelly exercises her high-energy DJ sets, decorated with jungle and D&B selections, as key elements of the event. Swedish DJ Diorange, Pro Bros (Sunny Sharma and Karan Bhalla), and Lost Stories (comprising Prayag Mehta and Rishab Joshi) also featured at the festival to truly round up the lineup.

“I’m grateful to have been part of some big, big events. One that stands out is Tomorrowland. The sheer magnitude of that festival and the energy from the crowd—it’s surreal. When you’re up there and you feel that intense connection with thousands of people, it’s like a feedback loop of energy. That kind of synergy is what makes a performance truly unforgettable. The OnePlus AI Music Festival was [very] unique, more intimate, and the vibes were great,” says Afrojack.

As a producer, DJ, or beatsmith, having tools that allow for more intentionality is crucial. How can you accurately execute your sonic vision? Where do you find these production tools? OnePlus’ newly launched AI Music Studio aims to provide the answers. According to Ishita Grover, Director of Marketing at OnePlus India, “the OnePlus AI Music Studio isn’t just a tool; it’s an unparalleled fusion of technology and creativity, providing users the opportunity to unleash the artist within. It’s about giving our community the power to shape their musical journey.”

This innovative platform allows users to craft lyrics, seamlessly blend them with AI-generated beats, and witness their musical vision come to life. The Studio offers a visually stunning interface, culminating in the creation of captivating music videos, all easily accessible at the user’s fingertips.

With an emphasis on community engagement, the OnePlus AI Music Studio additionally allows users to share their compositions with the world, inviting them to download and spotlight their masterpieces across various social media platforms. The platform also provides a unique avenue for recognition, enabling users’ tracks to be voted by other users to the top and potentially featured by OnePlus.

The democratization of music has been an important buzzword in the industry for a while now. When coupled with the concept of music production across genres, true democratization for young, aspiring producers involves access to sounds and beats. From sampling to licensing, what a producer has in their arsenal is critical to their growth. The shift in focus then goes directly into the realm of creating a musical collage.

To then create the tangible from the intangible seems to be a less daunting task. One that allows your tools to become more intentional and the dots that are expected to be connected—less further apart. When asked about the advice he would give to young, aspiring artists, Afrojack said, “Persistence and passion are the keys. Stay true to your sound, but be open to new ideas and collaborations. Networking is huge—build genuine relationships. [and] most importantly, never stop refining your craft. It’s a journey, and the more you embrace it, the more rewarding it becomes.”

It goes to show the necessity for well-conceptualized and well-executed live concerts. On the topic of what compelled him to collaborate with OnePlus, Afrojack says, “This collaboration isn’t just about the music; it’s about fostering an environment where people can immerse themselves in the energy and emotion of live performances. OnePlus understands the essence of what makes a live show truly special, and that’s what makes this partnership so exciting. We’re focused on creating a space where the audience can feel every beat and every rhythm and be part of an unforgettable experience.”

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