NETSKY’s rise up the ranks has been a sight to behold. He first made his name with Hospital Records in 2009 with a series of blistering releases including single ‘Memory Lane’ and his infamous self-titled debut album ‘Netsky’ propelling the talented young producer from Antwerp into the premiere league. Starting out with an underground drum ‘n’ bass label like Chase & Status did before him, Hospital Records ended up being the perfect springboard for Boris Daenen to get to where he is today.
Hailing from Antwerp Belgium, in a few short years, Netsky has built a reputation for consistently delivering hard-hitting drum & bass anthems. As comfortable onstage at festivals and club shows as he is behind the studio mixing desk, (Netsky’s live show, unveiled in 2012 at London’s Brixton Academy, was also something of a game-changer), he effortlessly blurs the lines between artist and superstar DJ/producer, with a slew of A-list artist remixes under his belt, including Swedish House Mafia ‘One’, Rusko’s ‘Everyday’, and more recently he lent his magical touch to remixes for Madeon, Ed Sheeran and Jack U. Fans, of course, have heard these tracks at some of the world’s biggest festivals: from Ultra Music Festival in Miami and Coachella to Future Music Festival in Australia and Wireless in London, not to mention more rock-focused festivals like Reading & Leeds and Pukkelpop. And at every show, the reaction is the same: complete carnage. Netksy is a bona fide superstar and the reaction to his shows has been akin to legendary rock concerts of days gone by. So far, so good.
Having signed to Epic Records for his first major release, ‘Rio’ is the first taste of the forthcoming new album from Netsky in 2015. We assume you’ve been to Rio at some point? ““I went to Sao Paolo a couple of months ago but I’ve never visited actually!” he laughs. “What happened was I was working with Digital Farm Animals and the whole track had a sunny samba vibe and the vocals were about having relationships but not settling. Not thinking about tomorrow, thinking about today. It’s about traveling and having fun and staying young.”
Of course, Netsky himself is doing a lot of these things already. In person, he is super-chilled, calm and collected, with his forthcoming and third artist album now in the finishing touches stage. So is the rest of the album like ‘Rio’ in spirit? “Production-wise, it’s much more about songs and much less about production – every song regardless of whether it was a ‘pop’ song or drum ‘n’ bass, we would write on piano. ‘Thunder’ is a track with Emili Sandé which we just performed at Wireless together – she wrote the song and I produced it but it was quite organic in the end as we wrote the verses in the studio together.” Sandé is a big deal in the Netsky household, “For me, it’s a big deal,” he nods. “Emeli is the first big UK singer that I’ve worked with and she just happens to be my number 1 new singer of the past 5 years! I introduced her to the band and she was amazing.”
As well as Beth Ditto and Emeli, the album also features one track called ‘TNT’ (“it’s called ‘TNT’ because it’s a very explosive funk pop song!”) with US funk-soul brothers Chromeo which has an 80s Prince vibe and sees Netsky “going back to my roots before I knew electronic music.” He reckons the album will ultimately be ten songs and also “…quite diverse. It’s a much more live sounding album. There are lots of strings and live guitars and it’s an organic album, not one made with 10 producers and engineers. A lot of it is just me in my studio at home.” With additional strings by the Brussells Philharmonic, for the record.
He’s especially aware that some artist albums are weighed down with too many guest collaborations. “I didn’t want to go that way at all but I enjoyed working with Digital Farm Animals and we wrote a lot from scratch. There will be a few songs on the album together. It felt alright doing it that way rather than getting massive vocalists at the start. I would love to sing myself but I cant sing and that’s not what people want to hear!”
The final piece of the puzzle is performing the new music live. “Saturday at Wireless was fantastic. We’ve already been touring for two-and-a-half years. We just did a 40 date tour in the US which was incredible and now is the beginning of Version 2.0. I’m thinking of having cartoon imagery onstage – the ‘Rio’ video is made up of some very cool animation so I’m trying to incorporate more visuals as well as more instruments onstage! ‘Rio’ is starting to do well in America so I may get a second base in LA soon. America has been inspirational, one of the best tours I’ve done in my life. “And finally, are there any other surprises you can tell us about? “I want to focus on all the different cities in Europe as well as the UK and Belgium. We’re thinking about doing a show for each city in Europe. With the new single ‘Rio’ showing a more unusual side to Netsky’s musical palette, it’s clear that he’s only just getting started. For the record, the name Netsky is based on a particularly icky computer virus: clearly, resistance to this Belgian superstar DJ/producer is futile.