At an age when most kids are trying to make the junior high basketball team or stressing about their latest crush, Menno de Jong was making electronic dance music.
"Dance music is a really big thing," says de Jong of his native Netherlands. "It's all over radio and TV and everything, so we all sort of grow up with it. I started making the music that I make when I was 13 years old."
Now 25, the Dutch DJ/producer played music at school and at birthday parties around the same time, buying his first turntables at 15.
Ten years later, De Jong already has garnered a spot on DJ Magazine's top 100 poll four years in a row (number 56 in 2009), a noble feat in the industry for someone his age. He also earned the lucky number 13 spot in TranceAddict's Top 250 Trance DJs poll.
Though de Jong has been to Las Vegas before, chances are you didn't see him. He was 11 years old at the time and spent the visit with his family at Circus Circus. This Saturday night, he'll be back for a different kind of circus spectacle when he headlines at Rain for Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto. Not bad for his first Sin City gig.
While the Vegas club scene might not be familiar with de Jong, Above & Beyond's Anjunabeats label picked up the DJ/producer's first track "Guanxi" in 2004, and it's been uphill from there. He has since started his Intuition Recordings label, graduated from college, received critical acclaim for more original productions and remixed The Thrillseekers and Alex M.O.R.P.H., to name a few. He also kicked off his Intuition Radio show in 2005, which is on the FM dial in Holland and available online at di.fm and as a podcast on iTunes.
Impressive resume, but does this young talent ever get flack from the industry veterans? "I guess they're supportive," de Jong says. "I've been really lucky with that. Guys like Armin [van Buuren] and Tiësto have been playing my tracks for as long as I can remember, so that sort of contributes to where things have led today."
The musical workaholic says beginning his career early has proven to be an advantage. "The benefit is that I have a long time to go and I can still stick around the scene for a while," says de Jong. "It's a lot of flying, a lot of traveling and stuff, so I guess once you get a bit older it takes a lot more energy out of you than it does now. I can come back home and rest for the rest of the day, then get back to the studio the next day. I mean, productivity-wise it's great!"
Youthful energy definitely comes in handy. After closing for Tiësto at Global Gathering in Belarus, de Jong had a brief rest, then went to the airport to make a flight for his next gig outside Amsterdam. He made it from Belarus to Frankfurt, Germany, only to find his connecting flight was canceled. The next available flight would find him arriving later than his set time. "I ran outside, got a rental car and — seeing as you can drive pretty fast in Germany — I sped at about 200 kilometers per hour [approximately 125 miles per hour] for about three hours straight to make it to the gig," de Jong says. "I got there five minutes before I was supposed to start playing!"
The DJ also has a new mix album in the works for early 2010. "It's the second part to this series I've been doing called Intuition Sessions," he says. "It's based on a trip I made to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. ... CD 1 is going to be Copacabana, which is sort of a house-ier, progressive sound. Then, CD 2 is going to be Ipanema, which is a party beach down there, so that's going to be more trance based."
De Jong also is hoping to release an artist album by the end of next summer, and he plans on test-driving some new productions at Rain on Saturday.
"What I like about being a trance DJ is that you can get away with playing house, progressive, anything that has the trance-y feel to it," de Jong says. "So I can be playing a progressive track that others might think is trance, but still get away with it and play the music that I love at the same time."