2016 was a huge year for electronic music, not only for mainstream crossover artists, but for lots of headline artists across genres. For artists like Blasterjaxx, finding ways to stay fresh and relevant can be a major challenge once a certain sound has been established and industry trends start to shift over the years. I got the chance to talk with Thom about things he and his partner-in-crime, Idir, learned in the hectic year that passed. For the guys of Blasterjaxx they found joy in going back to the sounds that they originally made with an eye and an ear open for those hardcore fans. Here’s what Thom had to say.
Hey Thom, 2016 has been a pretty crazy year. Tell me about some of the highlights and lessons of 2016.
“Let’s start with the highlights, definitely our own label, Maxximize Records. We never expected when we started the label, at the end of last year, that we would have more than 20 releases on the label in the first year. All the tracks are really powerful and the quality is really good. Some bigger guys are jumping on board like Dannic and DBSTF to release on our label, it’s going really, really well.”
“You can tell there’s still a lot of hunger for those big room sounds, and there are not so many labels that can deliver those kind of tunes, since everybody’s jumping on future bass and deep house and whatever. There’s still a lot of people out there wanting to hear those big room kind of sounds, so that’s pretty good for us.”
“We took kind of a new direction and that’s also the thing we’ve learned about this year. For a while we felt like we needed to change our sound and evolve with the whole flow of the industry, and we were kind of stuck. Creative wise, it really hit us, we were sitting in the studio, we had no clue, or any creativity, no clue who to take an example from. So at a certain point we were like, fuck that shit. For real, we looked back on what we did back in the days, what’s the kind of stuff that people really want to hear from us.”
“We were looking for unreleased stuff from ourselves that people put on YouTube, to see how the comments were to see how the like/dislike ratio was and through that we kind of brought back the joy in the studio and the motivation for ourselves to get back our actual core sound, which we did. So right now we’re more happy than ever in the studio, we are back in that flow, we feel that kind of creativity that we really had in the beginning, what was the essence and whole thing behind Blasterjaxx. Our new track ‘No Sleep’ is a perfect example of that creativity and that kind of boost.”
You’ve got a new Blasterjaxx single and a remix for The Chainsmokers coming out before the new year, tell me about some of the new releases and what else you’ll be working on next year?
“Next year we’ve got something really big scheduled that will drop around March, I can’t spoil anything yet. In February we’ve got a new single, it’s a follow-up of “Ghost in the Machine” with Jonathan Mendelsohn. It’s like a harder Blasterjaxx sound, again we’re really trying to satisfy our own fan base, all the people who were commenting over the last two years, please bring back that old sound.”
“For the Chainsmokers remix I approached the guys and was like, yo, are you guys looking for like a festival mix or a club version of this tune? So they sent over the stems and we started the remix.”
“We’re going to do a lot of old school rave sounds, which brought us this far into the scene, plus we’re going to do some stuff that we really like to do ourselves, for example, we’ve got a track, it’s not completely finished yet, but it’s reggaeton. People might be like, “what the hell?” but we like reggaeton, we liked making the tune, we found some really dope Spanish people to sing on it. So no genres, we’re going to deliver stuff that we like, deliver stuff that the fans like, we’ve finished a lot of music that we made for our DJ sets over the last years, but on the internet, it got like it’s own kind of life, some of them had over 100,000 views and we never released them. So right now we finished them and we’re going to release them.”
There have also been a ton of Maxximize releases this year as well, tell me what it’s been like running the label and giving other artists the opportunity to share their music?
“It’s great. I think for us it already started when launched Maxximize On Air. We already receive so many demos, we were able to give them a spotlight on the radio show, but now we can give them an even bigger platform and spotlight to show to the world. We receive so much cool music, and we can showcase some talents that otherwise Spinnin’ or some other labels would never really pay attention to those names. For us it’s really important, we think that those newer and younger guys they bring that fresh new sound into the scene that’s really important nowadays.”
Any plans for an international tour for Blasterjaxx or any other Maxximize parties (like Governor’s Island) in 2017?
“Yeah, the Maxximize parties, I really hope so. That’s out of our hands, our management is working on that, but I hope we can redo those parties for sure. A world tour…our whole life and career is a tour, but I hope we can schedule more bigger festivals and stay in the same line we’ve done over the last years.”
At this point I mentioned that I hadn’t seen the Maxximize on Air podcast on Soundcloud and Thom told me that Blasterjaxx were among the many artists who have received strikes on Soundcloud. Thom shared with me his thoughts on how flagging mixes can be bad for artist creativity.
“That’s the thing about Soundcloud, for a while, Soundcloud had a lot of issues with copyrights. So they took everything down, we got strikes and everything, so after three strikes, they’ll delete your account, they’re really tricky. So just a few days ago they launched a new rule that allows you to bring back mixes, but we haven’t uploaded the new episodes yet.”
“We’re talking shit about soundcloud on twitter with the big guys but imagine for all the little guys, nowadays no one’s making any bootlegs anymore or original versions of other tracks because they’ll be taken down. I think that’s a really bad development for the scene because for ourselves, our bootlegs in the beginning is how we got known to a bigger audience and bigger DJs. If all the DJs right now can only make themselves known by making new music, they’re going to copy each other. People won’t have that fresh breeze through the scene, I think the whole copyright thing is really bad for the creativity in the scene right now.”
Any dream collaborations or a more mainstream artist you desire to work with in 2017, like Justin Bieber or Ellie Goulding?
“If Justin Bieber will call us after this and he’s like yo let’s go to the studio, eh, that’s not how it works. If we get the chance, we’ll definitely do that, but some of those chances you can’t create them yourselves. You can try, but we’re not Skrillex or Diplo. About dream collabs, not really, we’re just doing music we like to make right now instead of focusing on getting bigger guys on board. We’ve tried a couple but over the whole process stuff happens. Also if you’re working with a big artist from a different industry or scene, they’ve got their own regulations and own management so it’s not easy to do that.”
“For all the fans that have been commenting that our sound hasn’t been as powerful over the last year; wait for it, just wait for it..”
2017 should prove to be a huge year for Blasterjaxx as they continue to explore new sounds and music trends continue to change. Check out the video for Blasterjaxx new single “No Sleep” below.