In the cut and thrust world of the EDM scene, you are only as good as your last gig, even if it is virtual.
With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down this summer’s dance festival circuit, a slew of DJs have gone online with streamed sets for their fans.
Next to test the digital waters will be Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike. The Belgian brothers (real names Dimitri and Mike Thivaios) are presently DJ Mag's number one ranked act and are working with the dance world's movers and shakers to release an online spectacle.
"I can't tell you much about it, but we are working on the best ways to do this. We are still figuring out certain aspects," Dimitri tells The National.
“So I can’t give you a straight answer yet, but we are talking with the guys from (Belgian dance festival) Tomorrowland to see if we can do something that is really great and interesting.”
That said, fans won’t be left without their music fix for too long.
On Friday, March 27, the group will release their latest single The Chase. A collaboration with Dutch DJ Quintino, the festival banger is a bittersweet offering, and the song acted as the set closer throughout the last few months of their expansive world tour.
Saudi Arabia can be the world’s next dance music hub
With Belgium under lockdown and both brothers isolating in their respective homes, Dimitri admits to a sense of nostalgia regarding the group’s last run of shows. One of these was their Saudi Arabian debut in King Abdullah Economic City, where they sold out a 13,000 capacity arena.
Dimitri beams at the memories, because it came at the end of a stressful day on the run. “We came in from a show in India and we had big travel issues,” he says. “Basically we came very late and the crowd was there waiting for us. Man, they were so excited and enthusiastic. We were so surprised and we actually played a longer show than we normally do.”
The duo joins fellow superstars David Guetta, Tiesto and Martin Garrix in having played shows in the kingdom over the last year, and Dimitri says Saudi Arabia has been a major talking point across the dance music industry.
“The potential there is absolutely amazing and once people get there and perform they are always surprised by how cool the crowd is. If everything continues there then I think that part of the world and Saudi Arabia, can be one of the major epicentres of the dance world.”
The Coronavirus has paused the dance music industry
While that’s an intriguing notion, who knows what the state of the modern dance music industry will be in the coming years, or even months.
The present pandemic has been the biggest challenge facing the scene since it emerged nearly three decades ago, with plenty of high profile clubs and festivals likely to go under due to massive financial losses.
While Dimitri admits there is too much of a reliance on live concerts, he is not convinced the virus will cause the industry to change the way it does business. He is confident that once the situation improves, he and his brother will be back on the road again.
That time off the road will probably do them good anyway, Dimitri admits, as both have different personalities. He describes his logical no nonsense persona as an ideal foil for younger brother Mike’s restless creative spirit.
Tracks like The Chase and last year's Instagram (which just hit 150 million streams across all platforms) follow their normal working method of collaborating from separate studios.
“That’s why we didn’t kill each other yet,” he jokes. “Mike is broad thinking and very out there with his ideas, while I am very functional in how I do things. It is that balance that makes our songs work: they are all creative yet functional tracks.”
Learning from Rambo
But even the functional types need a way to blow off steam. With music a full-time job, Dimitri found creative solace in the world of acting.
Last year he made small appearances in Rambo: Last Blood and Men in Black: International as a bouncer and undercover alien, respectively. While he views the work as a good break from the grind of the road, Dimitri has grown to appreciate the talent and hard work involved on a film set.
He says observing Sylvester Stallone on the Rambo: Last Blood set was an insightful eye opener in how to approach a craft.
“He knew what he wanted, he had a vision and he was generous,” Dimitri says. “It was captivating to see somebody with so with so much talent work like that. It was a learning experience for me.”