As of late, many artists within the harder styles sphere have been branching out and using their extensive production experience and talent to their advantage as they experiment with sounds from other musical genres. To say the least, this is an extremely bold and daring move within a career, however it is a move that should be applauded and serve as an inspiration for upcoming producers to not only produce hardstyle but experiment with their production techniques within other genres. A few short weeks ago, one particular act took it to their social media and announced that they would be experimenting with their productions underneath the umbrella of house music. I am indeed talking about hardstyle veterans D-Block & S-te-Fan and we just HAD to catch up with them and grab their version of the full story!
So brace yourselves as I get the down-low on DBSTF’s career as of far, their hectic touring schedule and of course, their vision on both hardstyle and house.
1. Thanks so much for chatting with me today guys! First of all, I want to say wow, you guys have truly achieved so much within the hardstyle scene and you have been an inspiration to so many producers. How does it feel looking back on the past ten years together as D-Block and S-te-Fan?
It has been such an amazing ride so far to be honest! We still talk about when we just started while driving or flying to gigs now. We still reminisce about the early stages of our career when we had to take the train to shows, opening up shows for the DJ in favor of the night and the big breakthrough from an underground duo to a well known face in the Hardstyle scene. We are very happy with the things that we have achieved and the path that led us there. It formed us to who we are now and is the solid base that holds D-Block & S-te-Fan together, even after 10 years.
2. Can you tell me about some of your biggest highlights? (whether it be certain performances, releases, anything!)
This is the most asked question and most definitely the ‘hardest to answer’ question out there. As we said before, Everything that happened to us, whether it was positive or negative, formed us to this solid team that is still standing strong after 10 years. We wouldn’t want to miss anything that we have ever experienced, even the biggest steps back means a giant leap forward in the end. In terms of music: Releasing our “Music Made Addictz” artist album was a really big milestone to us.
3. From starting off ten years ago to now touring all around the world, did you ever think that you would become this successful within hardstyle?
Looking back at it now, we definitely had the potential to do good in the world of Hardstyle. We were (and are) very passionate about this music and we had a clear vision of what we wanted it to sound like. Besides that, the way we envisioned Hardstyle became a major factor in the hard-dance scene. To be one of the first to bring that sound brings you ahead of competition, however when we were doing it, we were not really focused on becoming successful. We were just 2 kids in love with melodies and hard music!
4. Speaking a little more about touring, you have so many bookings abroad in the USA, South America, Australia and even Asia – how do you guys cope with the jet-lag?!
We don’t, haha! When we are in Holland we try to get back into rhythm as much as possible but when we are touring we just sleep whenever we feel tired. Sometimes it is such a hassle to get into a rhythm that it gets the best of you. When finally in the right rhythm we are already leaving the country that we are in at the time. It doesn’t make any sense to us anymore to even bother or try.
5. Do you find that regularly touring can be very exhausting?
It can be of course, but the energy you are receiving back from your fans makes it the best thing in the world. Seeing people all over the world enjoying your music gives you all the right feels. It is really satisfying to be able to do what we do, and this definitely keeps the energy level high!
6. In terms of you guys representing hardstyle in all of these countries, how does it feel to be the forefront pioneers that are spreading the sound all around the world?
To be honest this has always been a massive goal for us. We are from Holland, which is such a progressive country and when you are a big hardstyle lover, you have the chance to see one of your biggest idols in a town or festival near you a couple of times per year. In a lot of countries people had no chance to attend a hardstyle event AT ALL!
Since the last couple of years we have been expanding our shows more worldwide and to see the happiness globally when we are doing shows abroad made us realise that these guys in front of us where the ones we have been doing it for.
7. What do you feel about you guys are touring around the world rather than a ‘raw’ artist who is booked say, 3 times per weekend in The Netherlands?
Like we said before, Holland is a very progressive country. We have been touring through Holland for many years, and have been in every club/festival there is and doing 4/5 shows a weekend. Organisations now book us as headliner, or abroad, which makes it impossible to do that many shows a weekend.
In Holland, people, clubs and organisations are constantly searching for new sounds to keep the progression. Besides that, so do we as artists. When hardstyle took a more commercial turn, there was a gap for the more underground side of hardstyle in Holland, which has been labeled as RAW. As it is relatively new, and a lot of the melodic hardstyle acts are playing abroad, they are doing a lot of shows in Holland, which is fine.
8. Speaking a little bit about the raw sound, what are your opinions on the current scene in The Netherlands and how has this shift in the scene affected D-Block & S-te-fan?
We don’t really have a problem with the current scene, and definitely don’t feel affected by RAW. Although it is labeled as hardstyle, it is the opposite from what we try to express with our music. Of course there will be a group of former D-Block & S-te-Fan fans that went more into RAW music, but so did a group left for EDM, Deephouse, Techno or Trance. We as artists, but most of all as people, have been developing our musical taste through the years as well. It would be strange to not expect that from our fans. Besides that, we create a new fan-base with fans coming from Hardwell, Armin van Buuren or Carnage to name a few.
9. Has this shift ultimately influenced you guys to experiment in your productions further?
Not at all. We have been experimenting with music since the beginning of our collaboration 10 years ago. D-Block & S-te-Fan is known for hardstyle though as we have been focusing on this genre in particular and have had many successes, both as DJ’s and producers.
But besides being D-Block & S-te-Fan, we are Diederik and Stefan. And we have a wide musical taste. Where D-Block & S-te-Fan is just limited to hardstyle (the core fans are really specific when it comes to music) we have an open mind to almost every kind of music. There is no way experimenting and having sucess don’t go together. One needs each other.
10. Speaking about experimenting, you have evidently been producing all kinds of sounds which we can hear in your new release “Beautiful World.” First of all, congratulations on the release, how has the response been on the track especially from hardstyle fans?
We came up with the idea for this song/collaboration when we met the guys from Blasterjaxx at a festival last year. We found out we were living like 500 metres from each other and the studios were even closer! We started working together on Beautiful World and where we normally just produce bits and pieces we now had to finish the song. We had such a good time producing it, and a lot of fun!
Beautiful World is the first song we have been releasing outside the hardstyle scene. As we know a part of our followers is not a big fan of other genres, we have been thinking about releasing it under an alias. But that just didn’t make any sense to us. We are the ones that produced the song and a lot of our fans do like other genres besides hardstyle.
So we decided to use our abridgement ‘DBSTF’ to release songs other then hardstyle. It gives us the opportunity to do different things and clearly mark to our fans what to expect. D-Block & S-te-Fan for hardstyle, DBSTF for everything else that we will be producing.
In terms of response; 90 to 95% of our fans have understood and supported us, which we are very grateful for. The other 5 to 10% is having a hard time with the feeling they might lose their favourite producers, which we totally understand. That’s why we made a hardstyle remix of “Beautiful World” too, which will also be released on Revealed. However in the end we should have the chance to produce the music we want to produce, whether that is hardstyle or anything else. We think our fans will respect and accept that, just as we respect their choice to listen to pop, indie, rock, rap, rnb, house or whatever genre they feel like listening to.
11. Although you have had a lot of support from fans, does the small amount of negative response demotivate and upset you?
Like we said before, the response hasn’t been that negative. We have been really open to our fans and we feel they appreciate that. Some people have been negative, but so do some when we release hardstyle tracks too… It is impossible to please everyone with the choices you make and that should not be your motivation either.
We feel that what we do now is right, and when you do there is nothing that can demotivate you and let’s be honest, we just decided to expand our musical path, it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal anyway.
12. You also made an announcement across your social media which stated that you were both struggling to reinvent yourselves in the studio with hardstyle, why and how do you think that this has come about?
We think this is a normal process. We have been producing hardstyle for over 10 years, you find yourself working on the same desk doing the same routine everyday for 10 years. When you get more input it shines new lights on the things that you have been doing as well.
13. By telling your fans over social media, it would has come across as a shock to some fans who have jumped to the conclusion that you guys will not be making hardstyle anymore. Can you tell me a little more about what you will be doing now, will you still be producing hardstyle?
Our statement says it all basically. We are going to produce whatever we feel like, and release it as D-Block & S-te-Fan (hardstyle) or DBSTF for our other productions. When people jump to conclusions we will stop producing hardstyle we will prove them wrong! 😛
14. It’s very brave to announce that over the social media, what was going through your minds when you posted the announcement on Facebook?
Haha! We have been thinking about it for a while if we should explain our vision or not. Not because we were afraid of the responses, but more because we genuinely feel it shouldn’t be an issue what we like to produce. But in the end, transparency is key. We have been building our fan-base in the last 10 years and the people following us deserve the clarity.
We were actually really excited to see the response from our followers! We are so happy with ‘Beautiful World’. To have a song at the #1 spot in the Beatport main-chart for over a week is a big achievement, especially when it is your first release outside your comfort zone.
15. How has it been having the freedom to release tracks of other genres? It must feel great to be able to experiment freely and produce what you feel like producing.
We never felt like we didn’t have the freedom to release or produce tracks in other genres, but with ‘Beautiful World’ there was the opportunity to do so, and so we did. We really think it is important to keep an open mind while being in the studio, which we always had, we just never finished anything else we started with like we did with this song.
16. What are the plans for both DBSTF’s (other genres) and D-Block & S-te-Fan in 2015?
Well, for D-Block & S-te-Fan we are not going to do anything different then the last years. A lot of shows, festivals, tours and releases. For DBSTF we are not really sure. So far we have been in the studio with Sick Individuals and we have produced a solo track which will be released in the near future.
We have some options for collaborations in 2015 which we hope will come to life in the next months and are working on new solo material as well. Our first performance as ‘DBSTF’ is already planned for a big festival in Holland, so that is super exciting!
17. Finally, I almost forgot to ask you! What did you guys eat for breakfast?
D-Block: A sandwich with scrambled eggs
S-te-Fan: Cereals, crackers or a fruitshake.
So there you have it guys! The legendary act D-Block & S-te-Fan giving us the dish on their musical journey, their productions within the studio and their huge announcement to their fans! We wish the very best for the guys this year and we hope to hear lots of quality tunes coming out of their studio. We say, bring on the hardstyle, bring on the house and keep doing your thing guys!