Richard Koek, or better known as Hardcore titan Drokz, is undoubtedly one of the most perseverant and hardworking producers that the scene possesses. Pumping out releases since the 90’s, Drokz has displayed an undying devotion to both Hardcore and Terror, where he’s piloted the sound in a unique and inspiring way.
Boasting an extensive discography with numerous legendary tracks, it’s no surprise that Drokz has been acclaimed as one of Terror’s biggest assets and with 2016 months from its wrap-up we decided to pull him aside for an exclusive interview! For the first time on Alive At Night, please give Drokz a warm welcome!
– Yo Drokz, thanks so much for this interview and welcome to Alive At Night! First of all, can you give our readers a quick recap of your biggest milestones in 2016?
Sure! In February I went with Akira to Japan and teamed up with Khaoz Engine & TO-WA to play for the Superbad Midi Breaks and NJUP crews. Their hospitality was beyond any expectations (special arigato) and I will never forget that week. It was my 2nd time in Japan and it may sound soft or sentimental, but I sincerely love that country.
Other milestones include the “Still Here, We Ain’t Going Nowhere” EP with Akira & Mr. Courage, my set with Negative A in the huge Black tent at Defqon.1 and of course, standing on stage with my stepson during my crazy set with Partyraiser in Zoetermeer! It’s been such a great year that there’s just too much to mention.
– Let’s take a little trip down memory lane. Can you tell me the story of how you got swept up in the world of Hardcore?
The story with the most impact is when I fell in love with House music in general… It’s still so clear in my mind, even after all of those years. It was around 1991 and I was in Paradiso to watch Quazar’s performance. My Hip-Hop homies and I were stoned as fuck; around us were people on dope, as well as transsexuals and other stuff, so the scenery was pretty awkward for us.
Anyway, Quazar performed a live version of the track “Seven Stars” and made a very long, but intense, break with the synth. However, when the kickdrum dropped the amount of energy that came free was mind-blowing and from that moment on I was hooked! I was also honoured to personally thank Gert van Veen for that moment later on in life. For me it was pretty natural to form an interest in the ‘harder’ stuff later on, seeing as I always liked the harder side of Hip-Hop, Drum & Bass and Metal.
– What were some of the biggest risks you had to make to pursue a serious career in music?
Quitting my day job so I had more time to produce music and later on picking up another day job. I was running the risk of having less time for music, which could subsequently make me less ‘relevant’ in the scene. Strange answer, but it’s true. Another big risk was starting all over again after ID&T left all Hardcore artists when the scene ‘collapsed’ in 1999. Luckily I had some good friends with the same vision who helped build a new scene called Terror.
– You’ve been releasing music since the late 90’s and have watched the Hardcore scene change and grow. What are some comparisons you can make between the industry back then and now?
If you are an asshole to your crowd and promoters, you’re not going to get booked and if you are just like the rest then you’re not going to stand out. Furthermore, every era has its certain sound and people jump right on it. For example, the 90´s was all about the Juno hoover sound, millennium Nordlead rittitieuw sound and over the past 10 years the supersaw sound has been popular.
– If you could press ‘pause’ on one era in Hardcore, which era would it be and why?
2006 – 2008 because Terror was at its peak! All of the hard work put in by those involved from the start began paying off and there were a bunch of wild parties as well as a lot of diverse Terror music. One of our proudest works back then was the “Terrorheads against cancer” project. But to be honest, every era has its charm.
– Compared to the earlier days, being an artist in a modern industry requires a lot of marketing through social media. Do you feel as though artists over-market themselves instead of focusing on creating top-quality productions?
Personally it sometimes drives me nuts to constantly focus on social media as I’d rather focus on music instead, however I can admit that it’s necessary nowadays. The advantage is that you have closer contact with your crowd, although I don’t find a lot of time to answer messages between working, producing music, DJing and trying to have a social life.
So to answer your question, yes, there are some artists who have poor quality tracks but smart marketing tactics and more unknown artists with high quality tracks. But that’s just how reality is – you have to deal with it and step up your game. Back in the days you had to join a big organisation to play at big parties, whereas now you have to get into the picture of a big booking agency to get booked more. However in the end, good tracks will reach a big crowd. I always take Tripped as an example; he worked hard and produced solid tracks in order to get noticed.
– Your sound ranges from slower, more Hardcore-based tracks all the way up to full-blown Terror! In your opinion, what’s the importance of keeping your productions diverse?
It’s so fucking important! Otherwise I get bored and lose interest… Simple.
– What are your thoughts about the fast-growing Uptempo Hardcore movement and its productions?
It made Hardcore, Hardcore again. At some point it was all about emotional breaks with the whole ‘lighters in the sky’ feeling and that’s okay for the people who love that, however for me it felt too alienated from proper Hardcore. On the other side it was only atmospheric space stuff with some hard kickdrums and a snare on the 8th. I think that the ‘Uptempo’ sound gave Hardcore the stir that was needed. The genre is getting rougher and Industrial is getting more dance-floor oriented again.
And the thing that surprised me the most was that a lot of artists weren’t aware of their surroundings when this all happened. I listen to all Hardcore; whether it’s mainstream, Industrial, Raw or Frenchcore, I like to keep myself updated and know what’s happening. Uptempo is just a label because in the end it’s all Hardcore. I guess you could say that I’ve been involved since the beginning, seeing as I’ve always played at the rougher end of Hardcore and I always say as a joke “I’m Uptempo since 1992.” 😉
– A lot of fans complain that production quality tends to get lost in Uptempo Hardcore – what do you have to say about this?
What I’m missing is a label like PRSPCT & PRSPCT XTRM with a boss like Gareth. I always call Gareth the ‘gatekeeper.’ If you like Hardcore Drum & Bass or Industrial, you can listen to or buy any release from the label knowing that it’ll be of a certain quality. If someone stood up and started a label with a high standard and offered young producers some guidance with the production process, Uptempo would gain a lot more respect than it has now.
I know that producers like F-Noize, System Overload, Repix, Hardbouncer and others work their asses off to raise the quality of their productions. It’s important to not forget that it takes time to learn how to create high quality productions. I feel as though the standard will raise because the new generation is hungry, however at this moment anyone can start a label and release the stuff that they like. This creates a huge jungle if tracks that have poor sound quality and are just based around Top 40 hits, re-fixes and gimmicks. Saying that, I think that Brutale is heading in the right direction.
– One of the most cherished Hardcore concepts is making its triumphant return in 2017! What are your thoughts about the revival of Thunderdome?
I’m going to be open about this. How can you top the ‘real’ closure of 2012? The entire 2012 party was pure magic due to the fact that it was supposed to be the last one. At the moment I’m not involved in the process, however I sincerely hope that it’s going to be a huge production with a great atmosphere that Thunderdome deserves.
– Can you share some of your craziest Thunderdome memories with our readers?
The most memorable edition was Thunderdome 1996 part 2, which was held in Antwerpen… That one with Noizer was magic. Also there’s a classic memory from the last edition where DaY-mar and I played “Our Song” as our final track.
– On your Facebook page you stated that during a performance in Madrid the stage-manager requested for you to not play so “fast.” Can you tell me a little more about this incident and share some of your frustrations?
There’s not too much to the story… I was just angry and the promoter apologised, so case closed. My motto always remains as “No one tells me what to do.”
– In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions that outsiders have about Hardcore/Terror?
That there is an aggressive atmosphere at Terror parties and on the contrary, it’s just really easy (rough, but easy). Because it’s not the biggest scene a lot of people know each other and that creates a great family vibe. Another misconception people make about Terror is that it’s easy to produce and even some respected colleagues think this way. Because of the fast tempo, the sonic spaces to work with are smaller, which makes things a lot harder.
– Last year you worked alongside Radical Redemption to create the killer track “Rhythmic Structure.” What was it like working with Joey?
I’ve got mad respect for Joey – both as a person and as an artist. We hooked up backstage and we just connected. For example, he went wild during a set I did with Mithridate in the Heineken Music Hall, so that says enough! Working with him was awesome, the man is a beast! Joey is the definition of hard work. And the shock value of our collabs… Hahaha, priceless!
– Weirdest place you’ve woken up after a night out partying – go!
When I was a wild young rockarolla animal I didn´t sleep till I got home, hehe. Weirdest place still awake? Reeperbahn Hamburg (with a colleague who I can’t mention, haha) drinking, completely wasted and coffee at McDonald’s.
– Before we wrap this interview up, can you tell me what you’re currently working on in the studio?
First of all, PRSPCT XRTM is coming up with some unusual stuff; bits of monotone funky stuff, darkness and straight-up stuff. I’m also working on DROKZ019 Terror collab with Bodyshock which will be pretty interesting. In 2017 I’m also planning on working with Hellweazle and Angernoizer.
– Finally, it’s time for our signature question – what did you eat for breakfast today?
I ate strawberry yogurt. I prefer the cheap stuff instead of the expensive ones, haha!
A massive thanks to Drokz for this kick-ass interview! We hope to catch him at a party sometime soon! For those wanting to stay up to date on his forthcoming releases and gigs, stay tuned at his social links below!