From the Netherlands to the US, R3hab has become a household name in dance music all across the world. Being one of the founding fathers of the modern Dutch house subgenre, Fadil El Ghoul only gets better with time. Read more…
Following the release of his debut album Trouble last year, the DJ/producer has since maneuvered from the hard, aggressive records to more pop-friendly, mainstream vibes. Now, he teams up with pop singer Sofia Carson for “Rumors,” proving his palette of sounds is as versatile as it comes.
We caught up with R3hab during his two days in Los Angeles before heading out on tour. He arrived on the scene jet lagged, claiming he had only slept two hours. Another day in the life.
For those who don’t know, who is R3hab?
I’m from Holland. I make music. Just finished my second album out on the 24th of August.
Where do you fit in the realm of dance music?
I think I’m one of the stars of the Dutch house music in the early 2010’s, and now slowly progressing into a broader space of dance music. I push out a lot of music.
You’re actually from the Netherlands, how does that play into your life and career?
It definitely helps. Growing up, I listened to dance music a lot. When you’re young and growing up in Holland, all you heard on the radio is dance music. I think that’s the big difference. That helped a lot. I gained a lot of knowledge. Of course, there are guys like Tiesto who paved the way.
How does your fanbase there compare to the States?
Wow, good question. I haven’t really looked at it. I think it’s solid. The fanbase is pretty international. Dance music as a whole is international.
How important is it do you feel to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
It’s inspirational. A lot of good songwriters from here. The first time I came here, I realized the level is higher here.
What’s your favorite part of the city?
There’s a lot of talent here, that’s what I like the most. A lot of talent. Being around for all these years, you see people that started and then got really good. That’s amazing to see.
You really blew up off crazy big room electro house, and now it’s more melodic, pop-influenced, tropical house. I know you said this has to do with you growing as an artist, but can you pinpoint the exact moment you wanted to explore these new genres?
I still do big room. I did four big room records this year, which is probably on average more than most big room acts. I just wanted to do more. I wanted to make more music, and I felt like releasing 24 big room records a year was soo much. I think it changed two and a half years ago when Rihanna asked me to remix “Work.” I made that remix and I did it really well. I was like, “This is something different. I’m feeling this.” From there, I was like, “Let me try something new.”
So Rihanna reached out to you?
The label reached out to Rihanna’s team, and then Rihanna reached out personally for “Needed Me” and “Kiss Me Better.”
Most artists I interview always say their dream collab is Rihanna, and she hit YOU up.
Everyone right? Rihanna Rihanna Rihanna. I was on tour with her too.
What was the best part of that experience?
Just meeting Rihanna. [laughs]
Were there any particular songs or artists that really influenced you along the way?
Not particular songs, but artists like Rihanna and Drake. I’m a big fan musically of Calvin Harris.
As your style and your sound changed, how did it affect your deejaying?
It affected a little more open format I would think, but still energetic. ‘Cause you have remixes, VIP edits, personal edits, etc.
From Vegas to clubs all around the world, what was the initial reaction from the fans?
It’s been good. The reaction has been good everywhere, especially in Asia. They’ve been killing it.
Were you worried they wouldn’t like it or what they would think?
I wasn’t worried at all. Nope.
Do you ever miss the harder, more aggressive style you began with?
No because I still released “HYPERSPACE” this year — and “Let It Go,” “Starflight,” and “What You Do.” And I did a remix for Calvin Harris’ “One Kiss,” which is a banger. It’s more bangers than most.
What’s been your all-time favorite remix you’ve done thus far?
“How Deep Is Your Love” with Calvin Harris.
Do you prefer playing clubs or festivals?
Festivals, probably because it’s festival season. But also I am just enjoying it at this moment. I like the clubs when it’s winter.
What’s been your most memorable festival set?
Of course, Coachella, EDC, Tomorrowland, Djakarta Warehouse Project. Those were very memorable.
Favorite song to drop in a set?
I like the “One Kiss” Remix right now. I’m feeling that one.
What type of equipment are you using?
CDJ and DJM. Very simple.
What’s your optimal setup when you perform?
Four players and a mixer. I like to keep it simple.
3 things you need on tour?
Laptop, eye mask, and headphones.
What’s your worst nightmare as a DJ?
Records failing or crashing. It happened to me this year once. I was in Indonesia and it just crashed. I just laugh now. I was just like, “Okay guys, we gotta start it over.”