Life changes a lot once a person becomes a public figure. We often hear stories of celebrities either spiraling out of control or becoming painfully out of touch with reality. However, that’s not always the case. A lot of times, those with a strong upbringing can remain grounded through the ups and downs of fame. Remaining humble is a victory in and of itself for celebrities with the crazy lives they live. Such is the case for brothers Sjoerd and Wouter Janssen, better known as Dutch EDM duo, Showtek. Although they’ve become some of the most successful artists in dance music, they remain grounded and humble individuals.
A love for music and creative expression was instilled in them at an early age.
Wouter: “I always wanted to become a musician. At the age of 10 I asked my parents to get me a keyboard, but even better they gave me a piano and I was the happiest kid ever. This also had a tremendous impact on me being able to become a composer and producer later.”
Sjoerd: “I never really knew what I wanted. I was interested in sports and I was very creative when I was a kid – taking pictures, making films, and I liked painting. I loved things that gave me an adrenaline rush. I started making music when I was 15 and I found out I was pretty good at making beats. I guess the outcome makes sense; producing music is a very creative process and being on stage gives me a lot of adrenaline.”
Although of different mindsets, these brothers share the same core values. For Sjoerd and Wouter, the philosophy is simple: keep working hard, overcome fear, and await the results. For Showtek there are no disadvantages to being brothers and no sibling rivalry. Business decisions are easy to make and each bring something unique to the table.
Wouter: “Being brothers makes it easy, but also harder sometimes since this is an industry that puts pressure on you. You have to have a strong bond and be able to separate being siblings and business partners. We have definitely learned over the last decade how to maintain that and all the do’s and don’ts. We are still here and we are still in this together.”
Rather than using the word fear, I’d rather say I’m insecure about how little control I have on the world around me and how that can affect my life and career sometimes. All we can do is work hard and make sure we do everything we want so we never regret things we didn’t do when we’re old.”
Sjoerd: “Same here…fear is a big word because you can never make decisions based on fear. It’s important to know where you stand in life so that you make good decisions for the future. As an artist [the future] is a very unsure thing, so that’s a side of this industry that you have to keep in mind.”
Despite climbing to the top of the dance music charts, the guys stay humble and dedicated to working hard behind the scenes. With a strong base of family support, most of the problems and growing pains Showtek has experienced over the years have been related to gratitude, self-respect, and resting and staying healthy while maintaining a heavy travel schedule. Every successful artist encounters these struggles…
Wouter: “There was a time I started taking things for granted, and I lost a bit of perspective, which I felt very insecure and struggled to find any answers as a result. This helped me to realize how lucky and privileged we are by being able to live this extraordinary life!”
Sjoerd: “In 2015 I encountered heavy stress-related sleep problems. There were times I couldn’t sleep even when I was tired…I was completely out of balance. Sometimes adrenaline becomes a drug so getting rest and taking time off is very important because this life can easily suck you in.”
Along with the struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle, there is also the creative struggle. For Sjoerd and Wouter, they realized early on that songs are like lightning strikes…you can’t hope to keep repeating the same formula over and over. Hits come organically, not through plotting to make a hit. For most songwriters and producers the best tracks come on a whim, something inspired from a natural feeling. If you reach so hard for a hit track, it is unlikely you will accomplish your goal. Greatness strikes in the moment.
Wouter: “If you get really successful you tend to lose your impulsive instinct…since your past songs have been a huge success the next one should be even bigger. Fuck that, music is meant to be a creative process, and some productions will work for a bigger crowd, some for a smaller. It’s successful as long as you’re happy with it. You start out making music to free your creative spirit, and hopefully help those listening to do the same. Don’t lose sight of that. If you trust in what you do, you should always go in the studio with that mindset. We had a time where we tried to think of a song being a hit before it was even finished; that doesn’t work.”
Sjoerd: “Yes every new song you have to start over again. The recipe is different every time.”
The Janssen brothers have achieved all of their goals in the music realm. Their brand and music continue to spread across the globe. As they grow as artists, Sjoerd and Wouter have also sought to leave a positive impact on the world, spreading a message of a brighter tomorrow through their music. It’s all about spreading the love and inspiring the next generation of musicians across the world.
Sjoerd: “Lately we also try to send out more positive messages into the world. If you look at our video clip of ‘Believer’ with Major Lazer, you can see there is a story behind it. Of course, it’s not that we always try to do that, but as artists it’s easier to be heard, so I guess it’s a good thing to make people aware of the message behind a song. It’s more than music sometimes, music is just the translation.”
Wouter: “If we can help by sharing our opinion or showing how we feel or how positive change is possible (video clips, etc.), we are happy to spread our thoughts. For example, hopefully our music inspires a more accepting mindset on borders and religion because this world belongs to everyone.”