We sat down with LNY TNZ to discuss why he doesn’t like to be called a DJ, why we should forgo genres all together and just focus on the music.
This interview was originally published on the Drop Bass Not Bombs podcast. The following is a transcribed excerpt from that interview hosted by Amy Farina (MC Unicorn).
Can you let everyone know a bit more about you. Who you are, where you’re from, what do you do? What’s your story?
Oh, my story. So, my name is Jan. I’m from Holland. My artist name is LNY TNZ so Looney Tunes without the vowels. Started making music back in the day with my ex-partner Mitchell. We started in 2003, we had our first official release on vinyl, a 12-inch record. So that’s crazy, that’s 20 years ago. Then we made music for a couple of years. Then we had a short break, I went to college, finished my degree. Mitchell took a break and did his own stuff then in 2013 we decided to make some new music. Following that we had an official release “Last Night Ever” with Yellow Claw. That’s almost ten years ago, so that’s funny! Ever since 2013, I’ve been focusing on music full time.
So much has changed since then, since 2013, 2014. I remember especially a track really fondly, “Fired Up”, that was such a party anthem for me back in the day.
It was quite a challenge to come up with the original music because back in the day in the Harder Styles scene, there was a lot of sampling going on, like old records, old movies, or whatever samples, vocal samples from a movie. You name it. But I think we started making some original music as in original singers, songwriters, and that was quite a new thing I think in the Harder Styles scene. So for example, “Last Night Ever” was very original. Our follow up track was “Fired Up” with the Chemist, from Miami, from Jamacia but he lives in Miami, and there was a whole thing with Hardstyle and a Hip-Hop vocalist. Jamaican reggae and a Hip-Hop vocalist. There was something crazy! Then we did the track “Techno” with Yellow Claw, Diplo, and Waka Flocka Flame. Everyone was like, what’s going on here? Combining Trap and Hardstyle with a Hip-Hop focus. That was quite interesting back in the day.
So looking way back in the day, so prior to 2013, prior to 2014, what’s your earliest electronic music memory?
Obviously in the Netherlands you hear it everywhere, but do you have a moment when you were a kid where you heard a record or a CD for the first time and you’re like, this is my music, I want to become a DJ. But no, no, I never had that, my dream was never to become a DJ. Also, I don’t like the name DJ because I think when people, when I meet new people or whatever and they ask me like, hey, what do you do, I’m like, I’m in the music industry, I make music and then they’re like, oh, you’re a DJ. And like to be honest, I don’t think being a DJ is cool, you know, because in my opinion, a DJ is when you think about the DJ, you think about partying, drugs, alcohol, after parties. And I’m the opposite of that, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs, I drink tea, basically like a grandpa. But I’ve always tried to take this job very seriously and I’ve never been drunk on the on the stage or whatever. Of course, back in the day, once in a while I had a few shots. When you meet the promoter or the guy who invited you to play, like to be polite, you take a few drinks. But I know my limits, one time I remember I had a few shots too much. That was at Electric Love Festival in Austria. But that’s only one of the few experiences that I was like a little bit wasted. I just take it seriously, I don’t want to be that drunk guy or whatever.
So do you prefer DJ, Producer, Artist, or just LNY TNZ?
The DJing part is only a small part of it on the weekends. The other seven days a week. I’m working my ass off, like in the studio, or making new connections, working out contracts, managing other artists, being creative. So much stuff going on and then the weekend hits and then of course you’re traveling. And then the moment, the big moment is your set and your set or hour and a half set and then you go back on the plane, and the whole week starts again finishing music studio. So the DJing part itself is only like an hour or depends on how many sets you do in the weekends. I think of myself as more of an entrepreneur in the music industry, it sounds a little bit more boring, but that covers the whole thing.
Do you have a moment then when you decided you wanted to work in the music industry?
It basically kind of happened as a hobby for fun. Back in the day we were making beats, making mash ups, always working with music, going out on the weekends. Back in the day you had the site Party Flock, it’s still around but back in the day it was the main calendar of all the events in Holland. You could select the city and what DJs were playing. We could see who’s playing on what day for example tomorrow in Amsterdam and the next day in Limburg or whatever and we were just jumping to see those guys who had new music that was not out there yet…It was impossible to listen to their music anywhere outside of the club DJ sets. If we were a fan of the track, we would just follow the DJ to enjoy the exclusive tracks.
You’ve been in the scene for a long time, how has the Hard Dance scene specifically changed since you first got into it?
When I first got into it, songs were seven to eight minutes long, there would be an intro and an outro. Then in the past ten years, songs have become shorter and shorter. So, my single “Rainbow” for example, the main version is two minutes and twenty nine seconds, back in the day it would have been seven or eight minutes. People don’t have the attention span anymore to listen for eight minutes.
Do you think tracks will get shorter and shorter then?
I think back in the day, the radio version was tops three minutes and thirty seconds I think and now I recently saw a song that was two minutes and ten seconds. I was like wow that’s almost a minute shorter already. If you asked me ten years ago, do you think songs will be two minutes and ten seconds in the future? I would have been like you’re crazy that’s impossible. It’s interesting, maybe in the future songs will be one minute but I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I don’t know.
You’re known to take a f**k genres approach, why has it been important to you throughout your career to not put yourself in a box to not call yourself hardstyle or trap?
What I think is annoying during the production process of a song or track there are rules. Hardstyle is like this, kick, snare, clap whatever. At some point we were making tracks and it’s like let’s add something different you know but then the guys were like oh that’s not Hardstyle. Then I was thinking if it’s not Hardstyle then why not? You know it’s like just do whatever feels good, whatever you like and try to be different so that’s also we were one of the first using real Hip-Hop vocals in hardstyle tracks which was back in the day impossible. It was like Hardstyle and Hip-Hop are two different worlds they can’t be combined. Why would you limit yourself with following the book?
To full episode can be viewed below.