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Showtek on evolving from hardstyle: “At first, people would throw beer and boo”

One of the bigger events for lovers of mainstage EDM at Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) this month was the Friday night party thrown by David Guetta and Chuckie, supported on stage by Dutch brothers Sjoerd and Wouter Janssen, aka Showtek. Formerly associated with the pounding BPMs of hardstyle, the pair now speak of Guetta as one of their biggest supporters.

“Before we’d even met him, he booked us to play several shows after him at Pacha in Ibiza. He was the first DJ playing Booyah,” Sjoerd recounted of Showtek’s recent hit single. “He told us that he literally fell off his chair when he heard it for the first time. He gave it to Pete Tong, and it after that everybody started playing our record. So Guetta was one of the guys who was supporting our new sound from the beginning.”

During the ADE conference, Showtek spoke on a panel titled How To Survive as a DJ, alongside Nicky Romero and Sharam, where the duo tracked its evolution from hardstyle heroes to mainstage drawcards, since coming out of the shadows as co-producers for the likes of Tiësto and Marcel Woods. After the panel, inthemix spoke to the pair.

“We had our transition year,” Sjoerd told us. “That wasn’t easy because there were a lot of fans who didn’t want to see Showtek change. And a lot of our fans, we still have them, because we didn’t lose the Showtek sound. And then we gained a lot of new fans.”

“Oh man, we’re so glad we changed,” added Wouter.

“The first year was hard; people were throwing beer at our shows and booing. That’s definitely hard, but you’re in it together, and you might mentally raise a finger, and say, ‘Okay, go home’. Next time we know they won’t show up because they don’t like us, that’s fine, and if they have a hard time dealing with it, that’s their choice. But I’m so happy now with what we’re doing. Maybe people think we crossed over for the money, but we would have actually been selling out if we had kept doing something that we weren’t happy with anymore.”

The pair had worked behind the scenes for years as producers on mainstage electro and progressive records, eventually growing to feel limited by hardstyle. While still expressing love for the scene they came from, Showtek’s radio hit Cannonball late last year signaled the moment they crossed over. In this year’s DJ Mag Top 100 DJs, they re-entered the poll at the highest new position, #27. “We knew there would come a time when we couldn’t express ourselves through that genre,” Sjoerd adds. “It was like cheating on your girlfriend; that’s what the music was like to us.”

“We’d co-produced a track with Tiësto in 2011 called Maximal Crazy, and he invited us to Las Vegas during EDC. He played that tune, and we saw 160,000 people going off. We looked at each other and thought, this will be us in three years, this will be our music too, we love this.”