Ultra marches to the beat of a new drum

(from left to right) Jori Collignon, Sjam Sjamsoedin, Rogier van der Zwaag of Nobody Beats the Drum.

For a group of guys who started their career as DJs by simply “fooling around” with music, they have come a long way – Nobody Beats the Drum will play at Ultra Music Festival’s Worldwide Stage at 11 p.m. Friday.

“It’s our first time in Miami,” said Jori Collignon, one of the group’s DJs. “We’re on our way there now and wearing our swim trunks and flip-flops; we can’t wait to get there.”

Originally from Utrecht, a city about 19 miles away from Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the three members of Nobody Beats the Drum fondly remember deciding to take their hobby to the next level.

“Before, our music was more like a trippy hip-hop group; it was a lot of fun and there was a lot of creativity there,” Collignon said. “At a certain point we decided to focus on dance music. But, we didn’t want to be just guys staring at a laptop and playing music on stage.”

Sjam Sjamsoedin is the group’s other DJ, and Rogier van der Zwaag serves as the group’s video artist. All three perform on stage together.

Each song has its own visuals, which, according to Collignon, help excite the crowd.

“Rogier has all his visuals in the back. When we’re playing, Sjam and I don’t realize what the stage looks like or what impact it has,” Collignon said. “Later I’ll see videos and say, ‘Woah.’”

This is the first time the group plays in the U.S. The tour began in Austin, Texas, last week. They played at the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference (SXSW). After Ultra, they’ll head to New York.

The group released their first album in 2008, and every track has a distinct sound.

“From the release of our first album things have been going really steadily,” Collignon said. “The energy of the audience during the live shows is always something we think about when we’re creating our songs. All the little hooks and the funny words in our songs are based on the inspiration we have pop up when we’re travelling and seeing and discovering new things.”

Though the group is relatively new to fame, they have advice for DJs who are starting out.

“You shouldn’t try to copy someone else,” Collignon said. “New people could add to the spectrum of DJs, and to do that, you need to put something of yourself in it. It’s important to follow your own taste and try to stick out that way. Sometimes, that may be the harder way, but in the end I believe it’s the only thing that will last.”

Nobody Beats the Drum isn’t the only new aspect of Ultra Music Festival this year.

Last year, when the festival became an event separate from the simultaneously running Winter Music Conference, Ultra grew. It hosted more than 200 acts throughout the three days, and approximately 150,000 people attended.

According to an article in the Miami New Times, the scale of this year’s festival hasn’t increased. Still, there’s many improvements the festival is undergoing to satisfy its attendants.

A documentary titled “Can U Feel It: The UMF Experience” played at several venues including Bayfront Park Downtown Miami on Wednesday.Also, Ultra Music Festival is expanding beyond Brazil and Ibiza, to places including Buenos Aires, Poland and Korea.

According to its Facebook page, new features include the addition of cell towers and free YouTube HD Livestream for those who couldn’t get tickets. Also, both the iPhone App store and Google Play for Android have the official Ultra Music Festival app, which gives its users the ability to create a customized schedule and see a map of the festival grounds. Also, the app offers its users a group texting feature.

With all the hype surrounding new Ultra features, Nobody Beats the Drum’s members are looking forward to performing.

“It feels like we’re riding a wave at the moment,” Collignon said. “It’s really a dream come true.”