Basto permanently looks ahead. The Belgian artist and producer, otherwise known as Jef Martens, remains on the cutting edge of electronic dance music, keeping his eyes on the future at all times and consistently challenging himself and the genre at large. That forward-thinking mentality has been ingrained in his very DNA, and it serves as a creative catalyst for him to this day.
Growing up in Belgium, he picked up the piano at three-years-old, eventually studying classical music and composition at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp thereafter. In the midst of his studies, he also found time to experiment with his DJ father’s turntables—a foreshadowing of what was to eventually come for the budding musician. Leaving law school with only one year left until completion, Basto dove headfirst into a career making music.
“It all went quite naturally,” he recalls. “It just felt like something I was always meant to do. I’d been working towards it without necessarily thinking about it for so long. I didn’t have a plan. I just made music.”
Sharing his stage moniker “Basto” with a cat he adopted, the artist dropped his first smash in 2005. “Rock With You” topped charts in Belgium and Holland, and it took off at radio. As he continued to release singles, he eventually embraced his more classical inclinations with “Gregory’s Theme” in 2010. Originally written as a tribute to Hugh Laurie’s titular character on House, the song exploded as a worldwide club phenomenon. Soon, the likes of Kylie Minogue, The Wanted, Keane, and Flo Rida sought Basto out for high-profile remixes, while he eventually dropped the mega-hit “Again and Again”, which currently exceeds 20 million cumulative views on YouTube and occupied Beatport’s Top 10 for a month upon release.
2012 saw him churn out two landmark songs under his production name of Lazy Jay. He produced the triple-platinum smash “Scream & Shout” for Britney Spears and will.i.am and Azealia Banks’s breakthrough “212”. Unforgettable performances at the likes of Tomorrowland followed and he garnered the NRJ DJ Award for “Biggest Revelation” in France as well as being named #37 on the “Most Successful Songwriters of 2012” list. However, everything really revs up with his 2014 debut single for Ultra Music, “Keep On Rocking”.
The song merges frenetic dance floor energy perfect for an all-nighter at your favorite hotspot with a seductively melodic sensibility. It’s a pure banger emblematic of Basto’s signature style. “It was initially conceived as a festival DJ tune,” he explains. “There’s still this melody to it though. That’s important to me. You’ve got to find yourself humming it in the shower or the car. It’s my philosophy.”
That philosophy carries through his forthcoming full-length. It offers a glimpse at the future of dance music.
“Music is the best language to convey emotions,” he concludes. “It doesn’t send a clear message though, and it can be interpretable on many levels. I love that, and I want to communicate with as many people as possible.”