When you think about genuine characters who have continuously given great things back to the hardstyle scene, my mind drifts no further than pioneer, DJ Thera. Known for his extremely kind heart and undying passion for the harder styles, this man has become one of the most respected players in the scene. His label, Theracords, has been extremely successful over the years and is now sporting some of the biggest names in raw hardstyle including Delete, Deetox, Jason Payne, Prefix & Density and many great upcoming talents. Always approaching music with an open mind, Thera strives to create something different within his own productions and also encouraging artists on his label to bring something different to the table. We had the honour to pull the busy pioneer aside for a quick chat about his label, his previous project ‘Brennan & Heart,’ his hosting at Q-BASE this weekend and of course, what he ate for breakfast!
– Hi Pieter, first of all, how are you going today?
Thanks, Alive at Night! I’m doing great, how about you?
– I’m doing fine thanks! How has your Summer been so far? Can you tell me about any huge festival highlights?
Apart from some rainy days it’s been a fantastic Summer! I made so many great new memories by performing at Beat The Bridge, Emporium, Defqon.1, The Qontinent and of course, hosting our own stage at Last World was amazing. Next up, we have Q-BASE where Theracords is hosting its own area!
– Let’s get down to the music, last year you released your album ‘Training Sessions,’ if you could redo the album differently, what would you change?
That’s a very difficult question because this year I kind of developed a bit of a different signature ‘Thera’ sound. So if I would do an album right now, it would be completely different. But looking back at it, I am very happy that I have made an album that is as diverse as ‘Training Sessions’ is. A hardstyle album ranging from hard trance to hardcore focusing on variety. That is what my aim was for the album and in that way nothing needs to be changed. I rather focus on making new music than changing older tracks.
– You recently put on a DJ and production masterclass a few weeks ago, what was your reason to put time aside for this and support newcomers?
I’ve actually been giving production lessons for a few years now in my studio to help out aspiring new talent. So when I was asked to do a masterclass, it wasn’t difficult to say yes! I really enjoy helping out people and giving them the information so that they can get the most out of their talent. If people are interested in these kind of studio sessions by the way, they can always contact me!
– In recent years you have recruited some new great artists, can you tell me a little bit more about these?
Thank you for noticing! Recently, Psyched has signed with Theracords. He was part of the duo Solotio & The I’s before and now took a new alias for his solo career. I have known Barry for quite some time and I admire his great originality both as producer and DJ. I can’t wait to see what he will bring in the near future!
– We’re in ‘raw week’ right now! What does raw hardstyle mean to you?
First let me get this out there: I am a huge hardstyle lover, no matter if it’s ‘raw’ or ‘euphoric’. However, when I produce and DJ, I always go for the harder sounds, which has been named ‘raw hardstyle.’ I think it’s a necessary evil, because hardstyle is that big of a genre that it needs a bit of labeling so people have a better idea of what to expect.
– Last time we talked you dropped the word “Euphoraw,” which soon became a buzzword for while, but also about technical and musical diversity in raw hardstyle. How do you see these things right now?
Actually the whole word was meant in a sort of ironic way, because combining both the softer and the harder side of things, means it will end up in the middle. So basically it’s all just hardstyle! For me personally, my aim is to give people goosebumps and teary eyes during the breaks, but when the drop comes, it should be that rough enough to make you go crazy on the dance-floor! That combination is the essential key element of pure hardstyle. People can name it ‘euphoraw,’ ‘rawphoric’ or whatever the hell they want, however for me this is all hardstyle.
– Let’s get it straight though: While associated with all things raw, Theracords is more than just raw! Can you tell us more about your current vision in hardstyle right now and where does Theracords fit in there?
Yes, exactly! As Theracords, we get the stamp as being extremely raw and rough, whilst I think, “are we?” There is a lot of misconception going on when people think about Theracords. I think people should actually listen to our catalogue from this year a bit better.
For me personally, it is the perfect diversity within the harder side of hardstyle because every single artist at Theracords has their own unique sound. Some artists are rougher, such as Delete, Deetox and Jason Payne, but others are actually very melodic Degos & Re-Done, Prefix & Density and myself. We do want to have heavy kicks in there though, because, well, it’s called “hard”style for a reason, right?!
The diversity of our artists plus the sheer amount of passion and love we have for this music is what makes us stand out, way more than being ‘extremely raw.’ Being such huge fans of this music, we make exactly what we love and we want to share that with as much people as possible.
– Why did you begin Theracords in the first place?
I wanted to get my own music out there but also help talented artists that brought something new and original to the table. Whilst saying this, I actually think that is still kind of the same right now!
– Theracords is also hosting their own area at this year’s edition of Q-BASE – what can visitors expect?
First of all I really want to say that this is a dream come true! I think I have said this is so many previous interviews that I really would love to host a Theracords stage at Q-BASE and now it is actually happening! Visitors can expect a perfect and diverse combination between old and new music and also a great progression through the night. We will build up from hard, to harder, to ‘are you fucking kidding me?!’ *laughs*
– Just a little trip down memory lane, you’re one of the veterans in hardstyle. How did you get into music production and producing hardstyle?
Booo, veteran! I’ll stay 21 till I die, okay?
Well, now that we have that out of the way: From the moment I was born I have always been into listening to and making music in any way possible. I have always had a thing for trance and hardcore music, so to combine the both was and still is a match made in heaven for me!
– What music did you listen to as a child?
I have always loved pretty much any symphonic music, especially combined with rock because then you also have that combination of emotional and rough edges.
– Together with Brennan Heart you’ve been part of a duo once, Brennan & Heart. With the current old-school hype arising, would a temporary reunion be something you’d like to do for some gigs?
Unfortunately I can only speak for myself in this but I think that it would be an awesome thing to do! This year it has actually been ten years ago since Fabian and I parted ways. It is up to him however his schedule is a bit busier than mine!
– What is the weirdest thing that a fan has ever said/done to you?
I love weird and funny moments with fans! It doesn’t happen that much though, so I might end up telling the same stories I’ve told in previous interviews. So c’mon fans, let’s make some crazy new memories! But, for now, I can tell you this. For me, weird is when a fan still bursts into tears of happiness when they meet me. Not to mention, one fan asked to hold hands with me… So weird!
– Where do you see raw hardstyle heading in 2016?
For those who already want a preview what to expect in 2016, listen to the latest Theracords releases! *laughs*
– What is your favourite food?
Only one word comes to mind: PIZZA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
– Would you rather perform a cheesy big-room house set or DJ naked?
Combining the two could be fun, but I doubt anyone would want to say that! *laughs*
– And, you guessed it: What did you have for breakfast this wonderful morning?
Of course, I tried so hard to be original this morning, so I ended up eating coffee and drinking eggs and bread!
Thanks Pieter for chatting with us today! We wish you the very best this weekend at Q-BASE with the Theracords crew and we hope to catch you soon! For all raw fanatics, make sure you keep yourselves updated this week with the finest raw hardstyle content!