Road to Afrojack: The Road to Ultra Taiwan Interview That Almost Was

Here’s a story I can almost tell.

I don’t know much about EDM, but when I received word from my boss at another publication I write for that I would potentially be doing an interview with Afrojack while he was in town for Road to Ultra: Taiwan, I knew this was the type of story I would live to tell.

Like the information junkie/stalker I am, I read up so obsessively about Nick Van de Wall I managed to convince myself that I was not only a diehard fan but that my whole life had been leading up to this moment. Everything about Afrojack that was available on the internet, I knew – from the Afrojack mission statement (“Forget the world – do what makes you happy”), the brands of his four luxury cars (Rolls Royce, Lamborghini and two Audis) down to his bedtime (7 to 8 am). Van de Wall, standing at 2.07 metres tall, was not a basketball player – and I wanted to ask him why, as well as other silly questions like why his DJ name is “Afrojack”, among other serious things such as the obligation he feels towards his fans to create music his ‘community’ would be proud of.

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All the while, we worked against the clock to set up the interview; there were lots of emails back and forth with Afrojack’s team, phone calls with organizers in Taiwan who were initially reluctant to give us media passes and plenty of waiting. At one point, I even considered paying NT$3400 for a ticket just to get in.

With two days until the event, we told Afrojack’s team that we would indeed be on site when they asked us whether we would be able to conduct the interview there. We also told the organizers in Taiwan that we would need four media passes.

I awoke at 10 am the day of the event, having only gone to bed only four hours prior, to find confirmation from neither Afrojack’s team regarding the interview nor the organizers in Taiwan regarding the media passes. With less than three hours until the event, I called the organizers and received confirmation we’d be receiving media passes.

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So Joanna and I went, one deliriously tired, the other with a sense of trepidation so intense it was practically crippling.

After a kerfuffle of trying to prove our identities at the media check-in as we had yet to have business cards printed (startup strugs), we signed a complicated contract in Chinese before we were led in and let loose by one of the workers, who assured us the organizer contact would be in touch. And when she didn’t call, I tried to reach her only to find that there was no mobile data nor reception due to the sheer amount of people in the area. When I finally got through amidst the boom of Fedde Le Grand’s set, the signal cut out before we could let her know our whereabouts.

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So we set off looking for the backstage area ourselves, pushing through throngs of people, commenting on all the festival tropes – blow-up doll, Indian headdress, hot EDM girl – dancing a step or two, and miraculously made our way into the VIP area, where we were denied a drink because we hadn’t bought a festival card.

When I approached the staff for help getting backstage, another round of proving our identities sans business cards and media passes ensued; blue ‘worker’ wristbands were shown, media contracts were leafed around, pleas were begged, before the manager believed us enough to walkie talkie up backstage workers to come get us.

But none of it mattered then, as we had finally found the elusive backstage area. Just over the rails, we could see the DJ tents and some rather tall figures walking around behind the main stage. Our goal had never been so within sight and physical reach (we’ll yet come closer) than it was at that moment.

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The kindly manager took pity on us, offered us some free coca-cola before Joanna took off to explore as I waited and chatted with him, all the while resisting the urge to dance to Fedde because #professional. It turned out it was actually by some sort of miracle we got into the VIP area as even workers needed VIP wristbands to enter, but then again, VIPs were handing a guard a beer over the railing on the sly.

Beats dropped, ravers leapt, time passed, the kindly manager put his phone up in the air for reception, and no one came. He had so taken it upon himself to get us to our goal he went in search for ‘them’, who were supposed to come to get us, so considerate that he told us he’d return in 10 minutes whether he found them or not.

And return he did – he had found ‘them’, he said, but there was some complication. Regardless, he’d take us to ‘them’ and ‘they’ could explain to us there.

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Again, we ventured into the general area. Crochet top, blow up minion, guy riding inflatable dinosaur. The manager led us to a guy, whose hand I half-shook when I realized he was the head organizer who I had spoken briefly on the phone with. The guy said yes, he was aware of who we were, and yes, he knew we had set up an interview with Afrojack, but that he was in charge here, and that he couldn’t let us backstage because Afrojack was going on stage very soon. It was just a short 15 minute interview, I said, and perhaps we could just do it quickly after his set ended? The guy then explained to us that 1. He hadn’t received a notification from Afrojack’s team, 2. We were not an official media partner so he could not let us backstage, and 3. Afrojack was so busy that his schedule had not been confirmed until hours before and he was flying out right after his set. So, sorry, he couldn’t let us do this interview, but he could let us in to party, and that was that.

And it was that indeed. That was the closest we came to an interview with the #12 DJ in the world.

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Actually delirious and somewhat disappointed, we dove into the crowd for Afrojack’s set, and the whole experience was intensified by how much I had worked myself up over the non-interview and all the information I had obsessively gathered; I was well-aware he produced “Titanium” when it came on and could predict with somewhat accuracy what song he would end his set with (“Summerthing!”, with a bit of “Ten Feet Tall”, which he also opened with). I could also sing along and be judged by Joanna as a basic bitch.

The entire thing culminated in a full circle moment when Afrojack played “Pompeii” by my favorite band Bastille, and I practically burst into tears due to the intense combination of stress, stress relief, disappointment and surprise (Bastille! At RTU! Of all bands! Of all festivals!). Add the adrenaline rush that comes not from alcohol or drugs but from dehydration, sleep-deprivation and delirium and an inner stormer of a fangirl that tends to break loose whenever any DJ plays a Bastille song, and you have me on the brink of tears standing atop a stone thing, a sea of ravers below.

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After Afrojack’s set, we somehow shoved our way back into the VIP section and collapsed into a heap on the floor – tired, delirious, hungry – before proceeding to discover and scarf down free food. Dehydration was taken care of next, thanks to the kindly manager, who we will forever be indebted to for not just the effort he put into helping us but the two cups of iced water that otherwise would have cost us NT$200.

Never mind Alesso was playing; the tunnel vision had set in – I remember nothing of Alesso’s set besides his opening with Maroon 5’s “This Summer”; everything after Afrojack was a daze. My life will be forever be divided into everything that came before Nick and everything that came after him. OK, just kidding. What a day it was though – the craziest, last-minute non-interview ever, and just another average day in the delirious lives of Kassy and Joanna.