"This experience was beyond my expectations and I've played quite some festivals. You have certain expectations but I came here and I saw the field. This shit is sick," Thom Jongkind said in all sincerity. After wrapping up his dynamite set at the Electric Zoo on September 4th, he met me inside his trailer to talk about the events that just transpired.
Jongkind, alongside his partner Idir Makhlaf form Blasterjaxx--one of the biggest producer and DJ acts on the planet. Jongkind quickly followed up describing his experience playing at the festival. "It's so good. People were everywhere. I had the perfect slot. I had a sunset! This was the first time I have ever had a sunset. It was so beautiful to do. I'm really, really happy with the reaction from the crowd," he told me. As the sun went down, the crowd's energy continued to rise. When discussing how the festival circuit has exploded over the years, Jongkind nodded, "It is really good for Electric Zoo as well. Looking back on the past and how far the scene has come." Every year, more and more people come to check out artists like Blasterjaxx at every opportunity they can get. How could they not? Few people have the talent that Jongkind holds. His ability to read a crowd is second to none.
"Well first of all it comes down to set times. At most festivals you have an hour to play. So what you need to do is fit in all your hits and all the tracks you really want to play. I'm talking about the unreleased tracks and the big hits because the crowds are there for those special moments. And the kind of tracks you want them to hear or the songs being put out by our label. It's really tough," Thom Jongkind said as he explained his creative process to me. He continued, "For smaller crowds or intimate places--lately I play two hours everywhere so I can really do my thing. I can build up and I can do some breakdown moments. You can really show the people what you stand for. But I can also play on a bigger spectrum as well like I did tonight." Jongkind had his bases covered. For no matter the occasion, Blasterjaxx always delivers.
Blasterjaxx's rise comes to no surprise. The guys knew how to capitalize on a craze that was sweeping the country. Jongkind broke down the history of Blasterjaxx. "Whatever you do, don't call it EDM. Let's call it the big room--like the electro-house scene. We started years and years ago while making tribal house in the Netherlands. It was really popular there," he said with a smile. He continued, "You can call it the dirty Dutch house style. We never thought about crossing borders with it. All of the sudden we started making some what we now call electro-house and for some reason it got picked up by the bigger DJs. Laidback Luke started it. Then Tiësto. Also guys like Afrojack and Hardwell. Everything we made, more and more people were approaching us for it. The tables started to turn, you know? Due to the big wave of how the scene blew up in America, we were definitely on top of the world. We've done really well. It was all about perfect timing."
Thom Jongkind is soaking in his magical life one day at a time. He told me, "It's still surreal. Sometimes I still get moments where I wake up and ask myself 'Am I really doing this for a living? Playing shows for more than 10 people in a club?' I still can't get used to it. I think it's better to stay on this train, experience it in the moment and do your thing. Later on in life you can look back and really take it all in." He explained his current train of thought, "Right now you can't even realize how crazy it is. To stand here and play in front of massive crowds especially where I came from." He continued, "For example 10 years ago...If you would tell yourself like, 'This will be you in 10 years.' How crazy would that be?" I nodded my head in agreement. Most people would have done the same. Jongkind was on to something.
When I asked about Jongkind's superstar lifestyle he gave me a surprising answer. The powerful DJ told me, "Funny that you call me a superstar. I don't see it like that. I don't feel like that. I'm really happy people appreciate my music. It's crazy. Luckily for Blasterjaxx, in our own country, we are not that well known where we get recognized on the streets. Because my colleagues like Hardwell and Afrojack really can't walk the streets with ease anymore. For me--that's good news. I like to walk," Jongkind laughed. He also likes to enjoy the beautiful scenery of New York City. He described his experience when he arrived in NYC. "As soon as we landed, I really enjoyed the view. Taking in the big buildings and the size of the whole city. While I was playing here I could see the entire background. Just all of New York City. I really like the sights and sounds," he told me with great enthusiasm. There is something special about Jongkind's spirit. His level of intense thoughtfulness exceeds the human condition. His involvement with the the 20x20x20 foundation proves that.
20x20x20 is an organization that helps blind people see the world. Blindness is one of the biggest global health problems that the general public is unaware of. The amount of suffering caused by blindness is beyond staggering. Jongkind explained why he got involved with the organization. "As Blasterjaxx, we wanted to do a charity thing. All of the profits go directly to the foundation. We were in right away." With a fiery passion, he continued, "When I was really young, for whatever reason, I felt really bad for people who could not see. They can hear. They are in life but not fully here. I think it's really sad because they are missing a big part of their life. For some reason that had a big effect on me. It stayed with me. So I said, 'Let's do something with the visionary aspect. Let's give something back to people who lost their vision.'" Children and adults all over the world are incredibly thankful for the charitable work done by the dynamic duo known as Blasterjaxx.
Fans can expect great things from Blasterjaxx for many years to come. When I asked what was next for the guys, Thom Jongkind said with a sly grin, "We have our own label--Maxximize Records. I think we are at release number 18. We did really well in less than a year with 18 releases. It's really great to have our own label. We have a new track coming out on October 3rd called "Big Bird." We have so much music in the pipeline but right now we're in the kind of place where we are experimenting with a lot of other stuff and seeing how the crowds respond to it. Not your typical 130 BPM. We will see what the future will hold."