Moving from human grounds to a transcendent high, with adrenaline pumping through his every vein, Willem Rebergen, aka, Headhunterz gazed out to tens of thousands of astonished ravers, screaming “I’m never gonna leave you again!”
Perhaps you’ve heard those words before…
In desperation and with a tearful apology, an ex-lover realises they made a mistake, or when a lost kitty is reunited with its owner – the phrase “I’m never going to leave you again” possesses a powerful, eternal kind of emotion to it.
We all knew that this was bound to happen; for months Headhunterz has been teasing a return through some insanely clever marketing tactics. From his decoy ‘Flatline’ gig, Q-dance’s mysterious new event on the 30th of September, to his vlogging series, Project One’s return and numerous other social media posts, we all knew that this legend’s return was imminent.
Tears poured from the eyes of many, many who praised this ‘lord’ of the Hardstyle religion. Now I have some sort of idea about how Mary and all the others felt when Christ rose from the dead. A mix of bewilderment, joy and a subtle confusion…
His soft, serene voice spoke:
“Dear members of the Hardstyle community. Exactly one year ago I stood before you – and it was a life-changing experience for me… In this world you can be anyone, do anything if you fight for it. But I’m done fighting, done running; whatever is out there in the world to achieve, there is only one thing left for me to do. And that, is to surrender – to who I really am… Thank you, for showing me the way…”
Followed by the stunning choir melody from “Sacrifice,” a voiceover continued, ending with one impactful line – “Headhunterz, is back!”
Performing some of his most cherished tunes during his iridescent performance in the Defqon.1 legends slot, you could feel the joy radiating from Rebergen, as well as the thousands of people celebrating amongst him.
Long story short: Headhunterz regal homecoming was a spectacle for all, an emotional reunion, but also a major turning point for the Hardstyle scene in general.
His return raises many questions. Aside from the painfully standard “hey man, will you be releasing Hardstyle?” or “what kind of parties will you play at?” questions, something that looped around my minds for hours was: “is Headhunterz the new messiah of our scene now?”
Will he be setting all the new trends? Will he have some sort of ‘control’ over what’s hot and what’s not? And most importantly, what the hell does this mean for the numerous other artists who’ve worked their asses off over the past two years…?
Who remembers what it was like for Heady before he left Hardstyle? If you look behind the rose coloured glasses, one would see that his time in the Hardstyle scene was, at times, extremely difficult.
He was under constant scrutiny from fans.
“Your Hard With Style podcast was too soft.”
“Your new track sucks…”
“Your kicks are weak as F*CK”
“You’re a sell-out!”
These were some of the most common comments that would surface on his social media channels.
For me, if I was an international DJ and treated like that by my fans, I would undoubtedly feel lost and estranged from the genre… For Willem, leaving the Hardstyle scene was a journey of self-discovery, a new chapter of his story and a time of reflection where he could spread his wings without the constraints of closed-minded individuals…
You never know what you have until it’s gone and I feel as though Rebergen realised that once he’d opened himself up to a wider scene of music. It’s exactly like a break-up; things become bitter between a couple and they part ways. After the shock of it, they begin to realise small things that they miss about their ‘ex.’
In broader sense, Headhunterz had to estrange himself from Hardstyle to reform the connection, which in sense, feels stronger than ever.
However, the questions mentioned earlier are still on my mind and on the minds of many others.
This weekend, I watched numerous sets, performed by incredibly talented artists who have worked their asses off to achieve what they have today. I watched guys like Noisecontrollers, Frequencerz, Audiotricz, Radical Redemption and Technoboy showing their undying loyalty to Hardstyle and it got me thinking: will the achievements of these other artists be lost underneath the hullabaloo of Headhunterz’ return?
I don’t know if I can speak on behalf of these artists (as I don’t know how they truly feel about the matter), but I can only imagine that any hard-working producer would feel somewhat threatened by the changes that are occurring in the scene, especially the Raw Hardstyle artists. Raw has ruled the scene for a few years now, and although the Melodic-Raw sound is the most impactful sound at the moment, we could very well be on the verge of another shift, or major split between the diverse styles.
In amongst all the joy sparked from this incredible reunion, it’s an absolute necessity to keep other artists in mind. Hardstyle is NOT ONLY Headhunterz, and Headhunterz alone is NOT Hardstyle – there is so much more to this genre than one ‘godlike’ figure. We should be a leaderless movement that thrives on a variety of different talent, whether it be Raw, Euphoric, Early or god damn Hardcore.
So, let’s be stoked that he’s back, but at the same time he should not be placed on a pedestal either. This will do more harm than good for our scene, instilling such faith and worship into one human being. Instead, let’s share our praise and cherish ALL of the artists who have (and still make) made this style of music accessible for all.
So, for hard-working, big-shot artists such as Noisecontrollers, Frequencerz, Coone, Wildstylez, Bass Modulators, B-Front, Ran-D, Adaro, Crypsis, Radical Redemption, Da Tweekaz, Technoboy, The Prophet, DJ Isaac, Atmozfears, Max Enforcer, Zatox, Warface, Brennan Heart, Psyko Punkz and D-Block & S-te-Fan amongst the many others – please know that you guys are loved, no matter what. We appreciate your on-going loyalty and the great music that you all release. Let us all work together WITH Headhunterz to keep developing and innovating the scene; and let his return be something that refreshes us, rather than threatens us…
Alright, let’s take it to our readers – what are your honest thoughts about Headhunterz return? Will this be detrimental or a positive addition to Hardstyle? Shoot your answers in the comments below!