Throughout its history, the Netherlands has not always been known as a hotbed of musical talent and innovation. Before the EDM explosion, Americans largely visited to get high or to wile away hours during a layover. But in the past decade, the country's soundscape has been dominated by one of its most lucrative exports: DJs.
Among the talent sits Yellow Claw. The Dutch DJ duo of Jim Aasgier and Nizzle (real name Nils Rondhuis) came together in 2010 at one of Amsterdam's most famous nightclubs, the Jimmy Woo. "We actually started as a way of exploring the gap between hip-hop and EDM, which turned out to be a successful concept," Rondhuis tells New Times. "There wasn't really enough music for us to play that fit our parties, so we started playing a lot of hip-hop instrumentals... We would often mix it with the harder stuff like dubstep. From there on, we started producing our own music, and we just love to experiment with all these sounds."
Yellow Claw quickly found success on the Dutch charts. And it wasn't long before an American record company, Diplo's Mad Decent, signed them to release their first international EP, Amsterdam Trap Music, which was soon followed by Amsterdam Twerk Music. In 2014, they started their own label, Barong Family, where their single "In My Room" — made in partnership with DJ Mustard, Ty Dolla $ign, and Tyga — has so far clocked more than 80 million streams. Throughout the pair's journey, Yellow Claw has always striven to stay true to the collaborative process. "Most of the time, one of us creates a beat or a demo, and later on we start working on it all together," Aasgier explains. "It's a very dynamic process and never the same."
On Yellow Claw's latest single, "Invitation," which has been climbing the iTunes dance singles charts, Aasgier says the creative process took a slightly different route when Yade Lauren, a newcomer who provided the song's vocals, emerged as a muse. "On Facebook, we spotted a video posted by Yade's sister," Aasgier says. "It was a cover of a song, and we were immediately amazed by her way of performing and her voice. We got in contact with her and did a kind of trial recording session. That's when we recorded her vocals on 'Invitation.' It immediately sounded so good that we just decided to go with it."
The video for "Invitation," directed by Jim Taihuttu, aims to evoke a long-gone era of European and American glamour. "The director of the video was fascinated by the story of the famous 'Last Sitting' photo shoot of Marilyn Monroe by photographer Bert Stern," Nizzle says. "This photo shoot was the last one she did before she died six weeks later, so it's a pretty special and pure type of atmosphere."
The video is set in Paris in 1960, and Yade serves as a Monroe stand-in, a bombshell falling in love with her photographer.
But don't expect sentimentality this Thursday when Yellow Claw comes to LIV. The pair's live show is far from glamorous, a sweatier production inspired by another 20th-century pop-culture idol who left us too soon, Aasgier says. "For all of us, Michael Jackson has been really, really important. I can remember my dad taking me to this Michael Jackson concert on my seventh birthday. This was the first time I experienced music on that level."
As far as what fans can expect at LIV, Rondhuis puts it like this: "Straight-up madness, that's for sure... It is just a great show, because that's what we do."