For all of the readers who don’t quite know me or for those who have heard of me but don’t know what I’m all about, let me introduce myself to you! My name is Thijs Verdegaal and I produce and perform Hardstyle under the alias Aeros. After releasing under Theracords for about one year, I soon made the switch to the newly resurrected AVIO Records which has been a refreshing new venture for myself and others involved with the label.
Musically, I aspire to create hardstyle filled with positive vibes whilst still managing to encompass the “big balls” that Hardstyle is notorious for! I’m not scared of venturing into both sides of the spectrum and creating rough kicks, screeches or cheesy melodies and vocals, however I’m always pushing myself to continuously renew my style, thus attempting to take the genre to the next level! But we’ll get to that later, in this guest article I’m going to be talking about a few issues and my thoughts about them and of course, my journey in Hardstyle! 🙂
Being active in the Hard Dance scene and releasing music for a couple of years, yet not generating as much attention as many people say you deserve is really nothing new for me…
Personally, it feels unfair when artists that either sign contracts or are ghost produced (whilst continuing to deny it) get more bookings and exposure than those who truly ‘deserve’ it. Whilst myself and many other names have spent days and sleepless nights locked in the studio finding a signature sound, perfecting our skills and trying to market ourselves, others simply jump onto the easy route to success. Many producers can vouch that staying positive is very important if you want to achieve any level of success in the Hardstyle scene, however injustice like this makes it difficult to stay positive every now and then.
Becoming ‘relevant’ is quite difficult these days; there’s currently loads of controversy in the scene and fans and organisations keep saying “You need your own signature style,” yet the same names with similar styles pop up on all big line-ups. People complain about “Raw becoming too generic,” yet line-ups are flooded with raw hardstyle names. Another common phrase I hear is that “You need to produce your own quality music,” yet the most ridiculously lame, low quality or ghost-produced tracks rise up to dominate the charts… If you ask me, this all seems a little hypocritical…
Sometimes it feels as if the whole scene is screaming “We need fresh and new hardstyle,” “Hardstyle is getting boring,” “The euphoric sound is fading away” and so forth, however it seems as though everyone is too lazy to even check out the promising new names. Every party that sports the same old headliners for the past 3 years sells out instantly, whilst smaller concepts with fresh, promising newcomers only get a fraction of the audience it deserves. People are complaining about the ‘mainstream’ without realising that they’re all contributing and buying into it.
All these things make me feel sad, angry and even powerless sometimes. My passion for hardstyle has never been about earning money or fame, however I need to earn something from my music in order to have the opportunity to pursue a full-time career in music, right? Seeing other artists that put less time, energy and passion into their music, yet still make it onto stages that I can only ever dream of playing on, sometimes makes it tough to put in as much love into producing as I want to.
As I said, being underrated is nothing new these days and so many artists are struggling with this. When someone says the word ‘underrated,’ there’s a few names that instantly come to mind. There’s no denying that guys like Blackburn, Phrantic, Omegatypez and The Vision are underrated. These guys (and others) try to push the boundaries like me, stay true to their fans and have a life-long passion for music. Heck, I don’t understand why Phuture Noize doesn’t have a flooded agenda; he’s constantly thinking outside of the box, he has his own persona and makes banging tracks! Of course there’s a bit of luck required for some of these guys, however some of them are as active as the big names and still aren’t getting the attention they deserve.
One comparison I can make is that being underrated feels like you’re shoved into the friendzone. “She” (the hardstyle scene) knows you, but you ain’t getting what you want and getting out seems impossible! 😛
At the moment my hopes are that the scene will start to shift towards being a united hardstyle scene again. The whole fight between “rawboyz” and “euphoric fags” is so useless! Everybody is shouting and pleading “We need renewal!” but no one gives a damn shit about checking out new talents…
Renewal is here! Raw AND euphoric renewal! Grab it, listen to it, do whatever you want with it, but don’t ignore it…
The hardstyle scene needs love. I’m not talking about euphoric tracks with cheesy lyrics; I’m talking about love and acceptance for one another. Countless tracks have titles such as “Together,” “Each Other,” and “Be As One” just to name a few, but the battle of raw vs. euphoric is bigger than ever. If everyone leaves taste to being something personal instead of a topic to fight over then things will get better.
Luckily, more and more people are starting to wake up to this fact and I hope that it’s only a matter of time until the scene will undergo a metamorphosis to reveal a scene where underrated artists start to have the opportunity to showcase themselves on great stages. Hopefully I’m part of that group of artists!
Five years ago, music was the centerpiece of being a successful DJ or producer, however nowadays social media is now almost as important as the music you make. People build personalities on social media, post dank memes and get incredibly popular for no apparent reason. Personally, I set a goal for myself to post on Facebook once a day and a minimum of once on Instagram per day.
The definition of an ‘artist’ changed from being a good musician to being an all-round entertainer. I’m happy that I’m an easy talker and like to be active on social media, because many artists struggle with this and have a seemingly smaller fanbase due to this ‘lack’ of social interaction. Even though I don’t mind being active on social media, I sometimes wish it wasn’t such a big part of being an artist and that I could focus more on making Aeros tracks.
As I stated earlier, the whole fight between raw and euphoric is useless and it feels like the whole “hardstyle vs. nustyle” ordeal is repeating itself. On the euphoric side tracks are evidently more and more ‘pop-inspired,’ whilst on the other side, tracks are pushing into the boundary of Hardcore. To me, it feels as if almost every big name in the scene is covering one of these extremes and the sound in the ‘middle’ remains fairly untouched.
What I’m trying to do is produce Hardstyle to my taste that has a fresh twist and also stays true to what the genre means to me. I want to be part of that middle-ground and unite both of those sides. I’m currently trying out some new sound design techniques consisting of fresh melody lines and different methods of using vocals and FX. My aim is to not make my music to poppy and not too hardcore-ish. I’m making it hardstyle-ish and Aeros-ish! 😀
I believe that if I keep up this vision of not thinking inside boxes but instead combining them, there might be a place for me on bigger stages in the future. The comments I read regarding my music on forums and social media gives me so much energy and reminds me of why I began producing music in the first place; to enjoy myself, to feed my passion and see others enjoying my music! When people can literally feel the emotion and energy that I put into my tracks when listening to my melodies, it’s the biggest compliment! After all, isn’t that what music is all about? 🙂
Collaborations are very important to me. Instead of producing solo like I usually do, working with others helps me learn and experience what others do in the studio. Merging styles is also super interesting!
Geck-o is kind of my all-time hero in the overall music scene. This guy makes music in so many ways, pushes boundaries till they break and he is also such a great guy! When he asked me to collaborate with him after he heard my track “Move” I was shaking of happiness and I’m so happy with the resulting track “Give It To Me!”
Blackburn is also someone I got to know when I was part of Theracords and we are now both at AVIO Records. This guy knows how to do stuff, he has his own style and we are great buddies too! After our collab “Infinite,” which was released around one year ago it might be time to cook up something new, right? 😉
Ecstatic are a new duo that’s part of AVIO Records as well. We got to play together at Q-BASE last year and that inspired us to work together and make “Time To Dance.” The track itself got quite a lot of support already and we soon got asked to make the anthem for this years’ edition of Promised Land Festival! These guys really know how to compose beautiful atmospheres and tones – I love their work!
In 2015, together with Alphaverb, Blackburn, Ecstatic and Intractable One, we’ve relaunched AVIO Records. Being part of a label that consists of talents and also two pioneers is very inspiring for me and we’re all very supportive of each other’s music. We have so much creative freedom to produce whatever we want and we also help each other to achieve the best results. Whilst AVIO Records is only getting a fraction the attention it deserves, I’m very happy with my position at this label.
For those who want to hear fresh hardstyle, I suggest that you check out my music and also the other stuff on AVIO Records! Eventually, I feel as though we can be the “fresh hardstyle” beacon that everyone is longing for. My hopes are that and more people will start to realize that there are loads of fresh names and tracks – you just have to look for it! By showing your love and support to underrated artists like me, events will start to program us and ta-da, RENEWAL! 😀
I’d like to thank you all for reading my guest article and a big thanks to Alive At Night for asking me to write this! I’m super busy in the studio working on a lot of new material and I can’t wait for you guys to hear it!