The world of DJs and producers is extremely competitive. No matter where you look there’s another young phenom waiting to break through. It’s like the NBA draft, if you haven’t already released a hit single by the time you’re 19, you’re way behind in the game. At least that’s how it seems. Alas, even if you do manage to pop out a hit as a teenager, even that is not a guarantee of future success. Our guest for this week’s Aspire to Inspire is Dutch producer/DJ, Julian Jordan, who has experienced fame at a young age thanks to hits such as “Pilot” and “BFAM” with pre-international superstar, Martin Garrix. Despite his immense talent as a producer, Julian says he was always a shy kid, and travelling at a young age helped him to open up.
“When I first started I had to really get used to all the travelling and being away from home a lot. It made me grow up really fast, but I think it made me better in life. I used to be a really shy guy. However, because of the travelling and seeing different cultures and meeting new people, I was challenged to be very social. I think that’s one of the things that I have really learned on this journey.”
Despite not being the most outgoing kid growing up, Julian always knew that he wanted to be a famous musician. In fact, Julian studied drumming from a young age, however, as he got closer to his teen years he discovered a passion for DJing and producing. Growing up in Holland, electronic music was prevalent and Julian knew he could have success with producing.
“I wanted to become a famous drummer when I was five. I started going to a music school, and my parents put me there on purpose. It was a school where you can discover which instrument you really like, and I chose the drums. Then, I was like, okay I want to become a famous drummer, like a rock star. I don’t know, becoming famous was never the goal, but I always liked having attention and having people watch my sets. Then I discovered DJing and I started doing school parties and parties at friends’ houses. When I was 12 my father bought me FL studio as a present, and that’s when I discovered creating electronic music.”
Despite starting producing at a very young age, that didn’t make Julian a prodigy right off the bat. In fact, he says after he produced a couple of early tracks, he encountered some writer’s block and struggled to come up with ideas. However, a little pep talk from a record executive made Julian realize that all he really needed was to be comfortable in his own skin. Once that happened, the tracks started flowing again.
“In the beginning there were a few months where I just didn’t have any inspiration, and I was like is this ever coming back? And it was a really frustrating time because I couldn’t make a song in a few months and the record label told me I needed a new track. Then one of the people at the record label told me to take my time, find my inspiration and creativity, and produce what I wanted. He told me that as long as I’m happy, I’d make good music. At that time it felt like it was necessary to do it and nothing was coming out. Now I’m just having fun and I feel like that’s what this is all about, plus making people happy. That’s when I started to get the inspiration back and get on a roll producing. The music struggle was just for a few months and I started to learn from it. You don’t need to make music, you just have to have fun with it and everything comes naturally.”
For Julian, his friends and family keep him grounded. He says that no matter what he always makes time to return home and visit with those close to him. He says inspiration can strike anywhere, whether hanging with friends or riding his bike, he is happy to be a recording artist. One of the unique ways he connects with his fans is through a fan mail address he established. He says it’s easy for him to just round up the letters and start reading. He’s always amazed by how he’s impacted people’s lives. Isn’t that something we all want, to have a positive impact on people’s lives?
“I actually have this fan mail address. It was one of the best choices I have made, because a lot of people send me fan mail and I always grab these letters from the post office and read them. For some people, it’s like I changed their lives. It’s crazy to read it because I see myself just as a normal kid who makes music and hangs with his friends when he has time off. One letter was from a girl who used to be really sick. She said one of my tracks got her through her really hard period in life and made her feel better when she was sick, so I was really touched by that story. I felt like, okay this gives me a lot of inspiration to do this for more people and give something back, even though I do this for fun. That story really touched me and was really inspiring for me to read.”
It’s tough to be the best, and a lot of times, the best mindset you can have is to be happy to be at the table. It’s like when an actor says it’s an honor just to be nominated for an award…it is. For Julian Jordan, peace of mind and comfort in his own skin have allowed him to be a better producer. The journey is just getting started for the young Dutchman.