Up & Coming with
They are two friends from Dutch province of Noord-Brabant that have been making music individually for years. From performances at events like WiSH Outdoor, 7th Sunday and Emporium to frequent guest at the Netherland's most famous dance radio station SLAM! to co-managing the sub-label Soave Sandcastle. These guys have done it all. Expect for one thing: creating a musical alias together. That has changed now! In February 2022, Jeroen (De Hofnar) and Kasper (Kav Verhouzer) introduced Dukewood. An act that produces the most danceabale House music. We shared an ice-cold beer with them and talked about their new musical project.
The first time having not one, but two producers participating in Up & Coming! Most people will probably know you guys as De Hofnar and Kav Verhouzer. How did this friendship start?
It started about seven to eight years ago. We got to know each other through our music on Soundcloud. Both of us were into the Deep house/Saxophone/Tropical-like sound. Then we found out that we lived just 30 minutes away from each other! We agreed to produce some music together sometime. From that moment on we became closer and closer and even became very good friends. I think it's because we have a very similar outlook on life.
That's heartwarming! How did the act Dukewood come into life?
We were already producing quite a lot together, just because it 'clicked' in the studio. Our first release was 'Forget Who We Are' in 2016. Because we had the same manager and were producing in the same genre, we also did shows together. We even toured Brazil together with back-to-back gigs! When corona came along, we had even more studio time and then we made so much music that we thought: let's make it an act then and start releasing songs
If I did my homework properly, the name refers to your hometowns, right? You are both from the Dutch province Noord-Brabant, which is known for its people that are enjoying life to the fullest. Is this also what Dukewood stands for?
You have indeed done your homework well because that's right! I (Jeroen) am from picturesque Tilburg and Kasper from cozy Den Bosch. Two cities in the south of the Netherlands. Den Bosch's street name is Duketown and Tilburg's is Tillywood. Combine these names and you get Dukewood. We liked the sound of it haha!
Who could have guessed, right! What’s Dukewood all about musically? And how do we hear this in your songs Blindly, Don’t Stop and your newest track Good Times?
We didn't really go into this project with a sound in our heads. We just start projects in the studio and see what comes out. Be creative and have fun with each other: that’s the main goal. With this act, we really started with the productions and then added the top lines. Then, when you receive another good top line, you go back to the production and adjust it again. Without really realizing it, you’ve already started creating a sound. Compared to our own projects Dukewood is more pop, EDM-ish and you see that the top line and lead are often used as the same melody.
As your individual aliases, you’ve collaborated with some big names like Pete Tong, Sam Feldt, Armin van Buuren and dutch rapper Sjaak. Without saying these collabs are actually happening? Who’d be a great fit for a team up with Dukewood?
You mention Sjaak, it could be possible that he will join a Dukewood track very soon…
Did we just get a scoop! Exciting!
Anyway, you guys started Dukewood only this year. Now 2022 is coming to an end, let’s get a bit sentimental and look back at your biggest achievements. Are you happy with how it’s going so far?
It's been a great year. I (Kasper) finally had another wonderful summer where I was able to perform a lot. The new collaboration with Soave Sandcastle has paid off as well, as I hit a personal record with the number of unique listeners per month on Spotify!
I (Jeroen) completely agree with that, because the same applies to me. We were both in the top 50 of the most streamed DJ/Producer artists in the Netherlands this year. That's something to be proud of, but of course we want to be in the top 10!
A never ambition won't hurt! And now taking a look at the future: Where do you envision Dukewood to be a year from now?
More streams, more hits and hopefully we can also start doing shows under this name!
Your latest release Good Times makes it, in my opinion, very difficult to keep your feet standing still. Super catchy! What’s the story behind it?
This is a funny story, though, because we had put out the production to several writers and singers. Many top lines came back on this production, of which we thought two were the best. Actually, we couldn't choose and then we thought we'd combine them in the form of a duet. This sounded surprisingly good and the writers were also enthusiastic! Then, we organized some sessions with the writers to make the lyrics fit together. But the track ended up being a duet without that being the initial intention.
Great story indeed! And about those lyrics? They’re quite powerful and get real uplifting as you keep on listening. How relatable are these lyrics to you guys or the listeners?
We must give credit for the lyrics to Jaimes and Larakay. So, they wrote two separate songs and finally made them come together in a powerful, uplifting, feel-good song
With you guys managing multiple acts and being very much involved in King’s Castle Agency and the label Soave Sandcastle, we can easily call you premium level dance music experts. How do you guys see the state of electronic dance music today?
Dance music is back! Over the last year, House music has become increasingly more popular and, of course, we are very happy about that. We also see this in the number of gigs and the feedback we get from the audience.
What are the biggest challenges young producers might face? And what about opportunities? What is your best advice?
Keep on going. We are in the studio every day. And even though we have both been doing this for nearly 10 years, we also continue to learn new things every day. Be creative and don't close yourself off from other genres. By doing so, you make putting in the work more fun and by doing that, new ideas arise. Choose the right team around you with a common goal in mind. This way you can achieve great things together
Great advice! To conclude, anything exciting coming up from Dukewood you can tease already?
It’s not 100% sure yet, but there is a chance that in a short period of time a really nice collab will be released.
Is it weird if I am getting nervous now? Can't wait! Thanks guys!