Sporting a humble, down-to-Earth attitude, Randy Wieland, or better known as Ran-D is a devoted, passionate musician in its purest form. Holding over a decade of experience, it’s no surprise that this pioneer was the next to step up to the X-Qlusive plate! Now in the final stages of preparing for his big night, I was lucky enough to catch some of Ran-D’s time to speak more about his excitement for X-Qlusive, some of his opinions on Raw Hardstyle and the story behind one of his biggest hits, “Living For The Moment.”
It was early on a Friday morning here in Sydney, meaning it was almost midnight in The Netherlands when I conducted a Skype call with the one and only Ran-D. Frantically preparing a bundle of new tracks for his upcoming X-Qlusive, Phuture Noize was also still in his studio, working on the collab they’d started earlier that day.
– Hey Randy! Thanks for the interview – and welcome to Alive At Night. First of all, we’d like to know if you made any New Year’s resolutions for 2017.
Actually, I didn’t this year. I’ve set a lot of career goals for myself, but no personal resolutions. Perhaps I’ll try to work out a little more. 😉
– You’re kicking off the year with a bang and your own X-Qlusive. Tell us, how did you react when you heard the news that it was your turn this year?
I didn’t really expect it to be honest, so I was really surprised and also extremely happy. Having your own X-Qlusive is awesome; it’s an amazing concept to work with and a great way to celebrate all of the years that you’ve been making music. For me, it’s going to be a big celebration of over 10 years of Ran-D and Gunz For Hire, of course, with all of my close friends and most respected colleagues. I’m really looking forward to it!
– Can you speak a little more about what XQ means to you?
I feel so honoured, because if you look at all of the guys who have had their own X-Qlusive, it’s artists who have done huge things for or have meant a lot to the Hardstyle scene. Also, six thousand people will be there to celebrate the night with me, so yeah, that’s extremely special!
– When creating the line-up, what were some things you had to consider?
For the line-up, I chose artists who I have a strong association with, who I admire in the studio and also some names who fit the Ran-D sound, however there are also many more artists who aren’t playing there that I also have a great connection with. I’ve also created a special slot which represents my vision of the future of Hardstyle, including guys such as Phuture Noize, D-Sturb, Clockartz and Act Of Rage. I love playing their tracks and I feel as though their music fits into my vision.
All in all, I think we’ve created a really good, quality line-up. It’s going to be a night of top-notch Hardstyle and creative music!
– You’ve also featured a mysterious slot titled ‘We Rule The Night’ – can you tell our readers about this one?
‘We Rule The Night’ is a new musical project that I’ve been working on. There’s going to be a lot of new tunes coming your way and I will even drop some of this new material at X-Qlusive during the live-act!
– Before we move on, do you have anything to hype up those visiting X-Qlusive Ran-D?
Well, on the night there’s going to be a mixture of tracks from the past, present and future. I want to ask every artist to not only play new tracks, but also some classics! I think this mentality fits the X-Qlusive really well as the concept is also about the history of an artist and not to mention, I think the fans also want to hear the classics!
I also have the ‘We Rule The Night’ live-act which I still have to finish some music for, so I hope that I’m going to make it in time! Besides that, the whole night and the energy is going to be great; I want the people to experience the energy of every set and playing older tracks is a really big part of that.
Finally, we already told our fans on Facebook, but with Gunz For Hire we’re going to do an exclusive classics set so visitors can experience some older G4H material. We created a poll on Facebook and will play the most voted tracks.
– You are unquestionably one of the most precise and hardworking artists in Hardstyle; for you, what are the pros and cons of having a perfectionist attitude to your productions?
Um… Let’s start with the cons, haha! The cons are obviously that I can get stuck on a track for ages; sometimes I just don’t feel satisfied and continue to work on it for a long time. A lot of friends tell me “it’s already good, leave it as it is,” but sometimes I just feel a little insecure about it. Also, more cons are headaches, stress and frustration.
On the flipside, in the end I think it’s really worth it, because I can always feel satisfied with the track. For instance, if you fix it a million times, in the end you know that you did your absolute best.
– Let’s take a little trip back in time, back to when you created “Living For The Moment.” What was your thought process behind this track and did you ever expect it to become so popular?
Back then I’d gone through a rough time and when I made the track I was looking back on the time my dad had passed away. I was going to a lot of parties to forget stuff and I think that music and my friends really pulled me through, so that’s where the inspiration came from. I never expected it to become so popular; maybe it became a hit because the feeling in the track is very real and based on personal experiences.
Last weekend, a girl asked me to play it and I was pretty sceptical at first, mainly because it’s one of my older tracks and I don’t play it very often. However, when I dropped it the whole room sung along to every lyric! Even the younger people, who I thought might not even know the track were singing along! It gave me a really positive vibe.
– Towards the end of 2016, it seemed as though Hardstyle turned over a new leaf and the ‘raw’ sounds started to become a little more balanced. What is your opinion on the current state of raw Hardstyle?
It’s kind of hard to predict where the scene is going, however I have noticed that we’ve reached a bit of a turning point recently. A lot of guys who are making ‘raw’ Hardstyle have been experimenting a little more with melodies, and I also feel as though the crowd is ready for these melodic-based tracks. Nowadays, you can also create a raw track in many different ways – it’s not just about the screech and kickdrum.
For me, the extremely raw stuff is a little too similar to Hardcore; don’t get me wrong, I love a good raw track, but I personally want to maintain my style and keep the musical aspects in there. The strange thing is that years ago, when we started as Gunz For Hire, we used to play Wildstylez and Noisecontrollers tracks during the sets and at the moment… Nowadays, a Radical Redemption fan probably isn’t a fan of Wildstylez and that’s logical because music from both of those artists is so different. It definitely feels as though the scene has drifted further apart and I hope to be one of the guys who can help bring both of those worlds back together again. After all, it’s all Hardstyle and each producer makes the music that he or she likes – in the end nobody can judge that!
For me, it’s important to make music that keeps Hardstyle a little accessible for new people. My aim is to continue making fresh music and keep developing.
– You’ve performed numerous times internationally and on the biggest stages in the world; does the ‘magic’ of it all ever fade?
No, I don’t think so! Whether I’m playing at Defqon.1, Qlimax, Decibel or whatever other great, big party, it’s always going to be awesome and I always get a huge rush, especially when I drop a new track or recent hit. Obviously things in general start to feel more normal as I’ve been performing for a long time, but still, even if I’m playing in a small club sometimes it’s so special, as the vibe is super intense and intimate.
I always get such a great feeling whenever I step on stage; so no, the magic never seems to fade.
– Does your music career ever put stress on your health or personal life?
My health, sometimes. Like I said, I’m a real perfectionist, so sometimes I can become quite stressed. I not only have my own solo career, but also Gunz For Hire and Thijs (Adaro) and I also make a lot of music for that project too. For example, when we have a new G4H tour coming up, or something like X-Qlusive, sometimes I can sit in the studio for up to seventeen hours per day! There are periods where I may not leave the house for a week, and eventually that can take a toll on your health.
– Have you ever had a writer’s block?
Not really, thankfully. Whenever I need inspiration I can find it from everywhere; from movies, other genres, or from simply writing random melodies on the piano. There’s always something different that works for me.
– It seems as though time flies when you’re having fun, because your label Roughstate has been around for almost two years! How has it been going so far?
The releases are steady, the quality is good and we all have a different sound, however our music is all quite accessible. I feel as though our label now has its own position in the Hardstyle world and I’m really happy with how it’s been going! We recently had our second Roughstate night which had an awesome vibe. We are all really happy with how things are going and if we come across cool music that fits the label then we might do some more guest releases!
– Finally, Ran-D, before we wrap this interview up, we have to ask our signature question – what did you eat for breakfast today?
I had oatmeal with mango, almond milk and some almonds!
A huge thanks to Ran-D for this interview! We wish him all the best with his final preparations for X-Qlusive and can’t wait to hear some of his new tunes. For everybody attending X-Qlusive this weekend, we wish you a night filled with classics, new memories and great times! And for those still sitting on the fence, I suggest you jump online and get yourself a ticket, because you don’t want to miss this!