Labels, labels, labels. Nowadays there’s a whole bunch of em’! Other than the ordinary labels that dedicate themselves to releasing music within the whole spectrum of hardstyle, in recent years there have been labels popping up that solely focus on showcasing the finest in raw hardstyle. With the raw hardstyle market as competitive as ever, we will take a look at a handful of the most renowned labels that have a stellar team of artists and some of the smaller, more underground movements.
Who’s about to get RAW?! Well, Endymion did when they launched the highly acclaimed raw hardstyle label, Nightbreed Records. Founded at the beginning of 2015, Nightbreed has kicked off to a tremendous start and has been the full-package from the very beginning, it has hosted releases from some of the biggest names in hardstyle and lets not forget that it has become a huge platform for upcoming artists such as Bass Chaserz and Break Zero.
So, why do we love Nightbreed so much?
Well other than the fact that they let us have a short news segment in their monthly radio show ‘We Are The Nightbreed,’ Endymion have handled their label kick-off extremely professionally. Prior to the label starting, the guys left no stone unturned as they planned every minuscule detail with care and precision; from design aspects to the look and feel of the label, they covered it. Music-wise, we all know that Endymion hails from a rewarding history in hardcore, they have now shifted their focus to releasing raw hardstyle that boasts a high quality and brings back the ‘feeling’ into the music. Although their music doesn’t aim to be the ‘hardest’ around, it sure does offer something unique and you can literally feel the atmospheric approach in releases such as “Death Never Dies” (Endymion & MYST), “About To Get Raw” (Endymion & High Voltage) and “Nightcrawler” (Endymion & MC Nolz).
Another honourable mention goes to their monthly interactive show ‘We Are The Nightbreed’ which has grown immensely to be one of the most respected shows in the hard dance scene. With monthly guest mixes, news segments, interviews and more, Endymion has really taken an entertaining approach when creating the show.
So Endymion, congratulations on nailing your new label within such a short amount of time – we hope that you continue to keep up the great work and keep the Nightbreed legacy going!
2. A2 Records
When I think about the most classic raw hardstyle labels, my mind ceases to drift no further than the notorious A2 Records. Originating as a sub label of Scantraxx Recordz in 2008 by the founders, Alpha², the label has been impacting the hardstyle scene in many ways by dedicating themselves to releasing raw hardstyle of the highest quality and credibility. In its earlier days, A2 Records consisted of one of the most powerful teams that a label has ever seen, which included the two heavyweights Ran-D, Adaro and their act Gunz For Hire. Within the label, many musical opportunities were created and A2 Records has undoubtedly been the home to some of the biggest classics that have swept through the hard dance scene.
In recent years and with the huge popularity of raw hardstyle, its certain that A2 Records was in desperate need of a re-vamp. Losing Ran-D and Adaro from the label was unfortunate, however it opened up many new opportunities for other artists within the label such as E-Force, Digital Punk and French newcomer X-Pander.
With lost members from the team and their design in desperate need of updating, 2015 saw A2 Records coming out on top again with the announcement of their ‘team,’ new and improved artwork, a plethora of great releases and the burning desire to be ‘unstoppable’. Earlier this festival season at Defqon.1, the A2 Records team (E-Force, Digital Punk, Alpha2 and X-Pander) performed their first exclusive showcase together and not to mention, stellar live-act Hard Attakk also performed for the very first time. After the huge success of both performances, Hard Attakk will strike again at Q-BASE in September and the A2 Records crew will be hosting their own event ‘A2 Records: Unstoppable’ in October.
I’m curious to see where A2 Records heads in the remainder of 2015 and next year, who knows – maybe they will bring some fresh new talent onto the label…
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A new journey, venture and collaboration like no other… We present to you, Roughstate.
Crowned as one of the most stellar unions in the hardstyle scene, Roughstate is the perfect example of what happens when four of the biggest names combine their strengths. Launched in March, 2015, the label has been off to a slow, but steady start – the guys behind the label really focus on the quality of the music speaking for itself. With Ran-D, Adaro, B-Front and Frequencerz representing the label, Roughstate has become a central hub for some of the highest quality releases in the raw hardstyle sphere and is the perfect representation for all four of their signature sounds. Rather than being limited to somebody else’s deadlines or concepts, Roughstate gave the guys complete freedom to create their own look and bring their personal visions to the table.
Unlike recently launched label Nightbreed, Roughstate appears based more on administrative benefits and not really focused as being a platform for talents. Saying that, when we caught up with the Roughstate team earlier this year they stated that “good demos are always welcome,” so who knows that the future brings!
Performance-wise, at Dreamfields Festival earlier this season, the Roughstate team jumped up for a huge b4b set, showcasing all of their new releases and upcoming material. On the 10th of October, the A-team will be back again, this time with their own event ‘Xxlerator presents: Roughstate.’ Assured to be an unforgettable and unmissable night packed with the finest raw hardstyle, you’d better jump online and grab your tickets! (Click for tickets)
The artists don’t need to prove themselves, we all know that they always bring a top-notch quality, but what’s next for Roughstate? I’m hoping that after a few settling years the label will become more competitive and expand to recruiting some fresh meat!
Spoontech is one of the most niche labels in the harder styles that specialises in hard music like no other. With music strictly not for the faint-hearted, many euphoric listeners compare Spoontech to a construction site, however if you listen a little closer beyond the surface you can hear a lot of different influences throughout their sound. With a stellar line of ‘spoontechnicians,’ including the renowned Australian producer Vazard, Main Concern, Sasha F, Mind Dimension and many more, this label is one that firmly represents the underground and traditional sub-sets of hardstyle. Banging hard kicks, industrial influences and brutal atmospheres is what Spoontech is all about!
In earlier years, this sound within raw hardstyle was so underground that many fans were actually unaware that it existed, however now with the booming popularity of hard and raw music, the signature Spoontech sound has been recognised and celebrated as a force to be reckoned with! Although Spoontech will probably never be a ‘commercial’ label with a highly accessible sound, it’s always nice to keep some things more underground – it makes it more special of course!
Founded in 2010, this year the 5 year Spoontech anniversary is celebrated and the label are sure to be putting on a show! Held on the 28th of November and hosted by Bass Protocol, this night is sure to be brutal and harder than ever! (click for tickets)
Being notorious for housing artists who push boundaries with their sound, this next label has been home to such a large and versatile collection of music. Since their origination in 2008 by the one and only DJ Thera, Theracords has been a label that has always represented something different within the harder styles.
With pioneering front-man Thera being dedicated to maintaining a close ‘family’ atmosphere within the label, he has always been open to recruiting and supporting new talent and also supporting them by offering constructive feedback which is a key aspect of why this label has been so successful.
In previous years, Theracords used to branch throughout the entire spectrum of hardstyle which we can hear with Geck-o’s experimental edge to Phrantic’s crunchy kicks and Delete’s industrial raw flavour. However, in the past years and with the rise of raw hardstyle, the label needed to find another solution as they decided to focus on raw hardstyle within Theracords and re-vamp AVIO Records for artists with a more melodic sound. The label has always offered their artists a huge amount of creative freedom which is something that has ultimately made Theracords such a highly regarded label, even when euphoric artists no longer released on Theracords, there was always another option available.
Nowadays, Theracords boasts some of the most unique artists including femme fatale Deetox, fast-rising newcomer Jason Payne, Prefix & Density and many more! Apart from an impressive release schedule, Theracords has hosted stages at many festivals, with a huge hosting night coming up at Q-BASE.
They preach ‘music produced from the heart,’ ladies and gentlemen, this is Theracords!
6. End Of Line
In the depths of 2014 arose another new venture that represented the savage sounds within the harder styles. End Of Line Recordings may be famously known for being home to one of the fastest rising artists in the scene, Warface, however this new label also represents the music of other talents including Hardcraft, Zyprus and most recently signed Artifact. Although the label is in its early stages and has quite a small team thus far, if the progression of raw hardstyle keeps continuing with its popularity, this label could immensely thrive in later years.
With Warface as the ultimate front-man, you can see by the amount of great music that he releases that End Of Line offers quite a lot of musical freedom and allows artists quite a lot of independence when it comes to their creativity. Also onto releasing his second album in such a short amount of time, it makes us think that maybe these smaller, niche labels are the way to go for young artists!
Being around for just over one year, I’m very curious to see where End Of Line Recordings are headed in the next few years and with some very promising names on their agenda who knows that the future holds!
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7. Minus Is More
Representing in the scene since around 2008, frontman Luna founded the label Minus Is More and since then, this team has been notorious for bringing something different to the table. Back when the label was founded, raw hardstyle was quite an underground movement and Minus Is More was a platform where artists such as Crypsis, Chain Reaction, Luna, Kold Konexion and more could thrive and create and showcase their dark and raw sound with no limitations. Minus Is More has been a hub for some of the biggest album releases including Crypsis’ “Statement Of Intent,” and “Cryptology,” Radical Redemption’s stellar “Spell Of Sin” and who could forget “Legion Of Strength” by Minus Militia.
Nowadays, Minus Is More is a force to be reckoned with and Minus Militia have been recognised as the ultimate A-team of front-men. With a loyal team of artists who have been a part of the movement since the very beginning, a new recruit, Act Of Rage was also welcomed in to the Minus family. With some of the most successful concepts and a history of great music being released on this label, we have no doubts when it comes to the future of Minus Is More!
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There’s some of our thoughts about raw hardstyle labels! Keep an eye on our page this following week for more exclusive ‘raw week’ exclusive content and interviews!