I read somewhere that you guys started making beats because you were tired of the sound that was dominating the scene in the Netherlands at the time.
Nils: It was more like we had our own evening at Jimmy Woo, and there wasn’t enough music for us to play that was good for our parties. So, we just created our own music. We didn’t even know it was called “trap” at that time.
Leo: We just started experimenting a lot back then with all the 75-BPM hip-hop, but also with stuff that came on the radio—like Ludacris “How Low” kinda shit. Then we’d mix it up with dubstep stuff from the UK. That’s when we created a rougher sound.
You started messing around with festival trap right when it was barely starting to catch on.
N: We already did it, and then it was given a name. There were no festival trap remixes back then.
It’s definitely come a long way since. How would you describe the current state of trap?
Jim: I think it’s kind of like the cooler side of the track of big-room EDM. I think it has proven it has a life of its own. It’s gotten bigger than most people thought it would. Sometimes we play parties, and there are a couple of scenes coming together there. People can play it in their cars; white chicks can dance to it in their dorm. It’s gotten pretty universal—maybe even a bit more universal than the mainstream EDM stuff.
What forces do you think are at play that are pushing trap into the foreground?
J: In the States, you guys have a big cultural history with hip-hop, so people are really feeding that hip-hop vibe because they grew up with it. It’s a hip-hop version on steroids, and it’s easy to adapt to. The whole scene is still not as big in Europe as it is in the States, ‘cause we don’t have that hip-hop history. We have a lot of old-school electronic music like hardstyle and other stuff happening. For us, it’s cool because we like bringing them all together.
Do you feel like the underrepresentation of hip-hop in Europe will hinder the growth of trap overseas?
J: No, not really. In Europe, it’s just yet another form of electronic dance music. We already have like 20-something genres, so this is just another one of those.
Do the preferences toward hip-hop in America versus Europe have a noticeable influence on the type of sets you perform at each market?
J: No, we only play our own shit, so it doesn’t matter for us.
There’s a clear line being drawn here between the DJ and the performer.
L: It’s our ambition to become more than just a DJ.
N: Not just ambition; DJing is such a small part, compared to making music or being an artist. We just like to create music we like to perform.
You each have your own role in the studio. Do you think the division of labor helps streamline the process, or does it make overcoming disagreements more challenging?
J: At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who does what in the studio. We have tracks that some of us didn’t even touch, then there’s stuff where all three of us have written multiple times. There are always three opinions and constant feedback. There’s never a day where one of us is not in the studio. We even got double studios now. There’s a lot of time where there’s a collab going on in this studio and an original going on in that studio.
Does every decision have to be unanimous, or is there an option to throw out a veto?
J: It has to be unanimous.
N: Absolutely. You can’t put on a show and not feel your own music.
J: We do 20 to 25 shows a month, so there’s a lot of space to convince the other guys, like, “Come on, just play the song.” It happens often where something in the studio doesn’t feel right for one of us, and then when it’s played out there, everybody goes, “Ahh!”
N: Or even the other way around, like, “I’m really fucking into this track!” and you play it live, and people are really confused. It happens.
J: And then the rest of us are like, “We told you! This is all you.”
Do you road-test your tracks often before dropping them?