By: Cassi Catsaros
The Producers Bringing the “Style” to Hardstyle – A celebration of the most versatile producers in the scene.
When typing the word “style” into Google to search for a precise definition, I found that this trusty search engine came back in .01 of a second with one definition which evidently stuck itself out to my eyes.
It read: “Style is a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed.”
I sat here scratching my head for a few minutes before I decided to move on in my quest to uncover the deeper truths behind this chosen topic. It only seemed logical to ask Google yet another question for the hell of it.
My next question was “What does it take to have style?”
The first result on the page was a Hairstyle quiz which lured me in by asking “How should I style my hair?” I willingly clicked on the page and two minutes and a few mouse clicks away, this website advised me that “You should flaunt your flirtiness and try a super bouncy ponytail.”
All I had to say to my computer was “fuck your super bouncy ponytail, you cunt!”
I became slightly demotivated by this stage and logged onto Facebook to try and gather some inspiration, yet all I saw were photos from various “friends” who had evidently been active in the Australian festival season. These girls were dressed in quite an eerie manner, compared to last year’s festival season trends (which were those disgusting baseball jerseys, for your information).
Dressed in colourful crop tops, shorts that more appropriately resemble underwear, hair of various hues of light purple and blue and oh, they were wearing “bindis” on their foreheads as if they were highly religious or something.
Suddenly, amongst all of the stupid bindis and short shorts, I encountered a brightening light bulb moment… It was very simple, these new fashion trends sweeping their way through Australia’s festival season were simply trends… Who knows, in one year it may be extremely trendy to wrap yourself in aluminium foil and walk around humming Daft Punk songs… Or maybe the “boob tube” may make its come-back…
All boob-tubes and Daft Punk aside, style demonstrates a “distinctive appearance,” that stands out from the bleak “trends.”
So what does this have to do with hardstyle? Well, if the current scene was a hairstyle, it may or may not be an abundance of side fringes… Not to have a dig at side fringes, I myself used to wear one with pride back in the day, but where are the super bouncy ponytails in this modernised world of hardstyle?
Well, I am here to shed some light on the breath of fresh air that sweeps through the scene. I am indeed going to celebrate those daring producers who refuse to prepare their music amongst the current trends. The producers who listen to their own creative instincts instead and strive to inject a unique “style” into the world of hardstyle…
First on this super-stylish list is none other than token Swiss producer, Alex Diggelmann, better known as Phrantic. This 21 year old production genius has earned his well deserved versatility title over his fruitful musical life, which kicked off around the time Thera decided to release his first two tracks. From the beginning, Alex was creating music beyond its years that has the ability to truly enrapture one’s mind in a journey and a unique experience.
Phrantic’s sound can be described as a combination of peculiar musical elements that somehow work in unison to create a highly unpredictable yet sophisticated and timeless music.
In 2010, Alex teamed up with experimentalist Geck-o, to create “The Hard Way”, which got released on AVIO Records. This track paved the way for the successful future productions of this Swiss mastermind such as “In The Mix,” “Open Your Mind,” and also “On With The Show” with Phuture Noize.
In recent years, Alex released “Beyond Boundaries” (volumes 2 and 3), which featured mind-blowing tracks such as “Yeah” and “Take Control“ which made their mark in the scene. These groovin’ E.P’s paved the way for 2014 when Phrantic tore apart a fuckload of speakers with his remix of Tiga’s “Mind Dimension.” This track was notorious for pushing the mundane boundaries as many other producers praised Alex for his extremely versatile vision of hardstyle.
Listening to Phrantic’s music is an experience that every hardstyle lover should partake in. Produced from outside of the box, I dare you to open your minds and partake on this exploration.
Next up is an adventurous, mysterious and intensely influential musician. Theracords artist, Rik Van Dam, AKA Geck-o has evidently climbed his way to reach great musical heights throughout his career that have seen him gain an abundance of respect from the creative community. From the beginning, Geck-o strove to blend up the right combination of hard dance elements to fructify one’s senses. When listening to Geck-o’s tracks, all I can say is that I am tasting sounds, seeing textures and hearing colours…
With a background of hardstyle music, Rik aimed to cleverly explore and push through the boundaries of the genre when creating music. His tracks such as “Soul Train,” “It’s What We Are,” “AHA” and “Tribal Dance” are a few examples of what it feels like to be taken on a psychedelic trip through space and time with the power of music.
Although Geck-o refuses to stand in the crowd of generic kicks and screeches, his music never lacks a unique energy and stylistic techniques that transcend beyond the realms of time. Refusing to stick within the restrictions of one genre, Geck-o has earned his status as a true magician within the scene and not to mention, he also has the most creative artworks to accompany his mysterious sound.
You may have seen Geck-o mesmerising crowds at events such as Defqon.1 (The Netherlands and Australia), Tomorrowland, Hard Bass, Freaqshow and in recent times, you may have seen this prominent face spreading the QULT movement and subground sound around the world.
Are you ready to experience an array of spine shivers and body tingles? Well, let Geck-o seduce your soul and feel the magic!
When we think of original, unusual and infectiously energetic, my mind tends to drift no further than one specific Aussie superstar. I am indeed talking about the super freqy, super fresh producer Audiofreq.
The man behind the ‘freq,’ Sam Gonzales is notorious for his monumental passion and dedication to hardstyle as he has reached incredible heights in quite a short amount of time. Sam’s incredible musical power and not to mention boundless amounts of energy up on stage has allowed him to infect the world with his extremely versatile sound.
When listening to Audiofreq you will be constantly smacked in the face (in a good way) with refreshing splashes of stylistic techniques and an unpredictability that will cause you to crave more! Thriving on musical perfection and high-quality productions, Sam has proved that his music has the ability to set off some degree of a natural disaster without just simply throwing in some distorted kicks and screeches…
Audiofreq’s powerhouse sound is resonate within his entire discography, including tracks such as “Warcry,” “Screwdriver” and most recently, “Riot” which was released on Hard With Style Records. His hard work and true love and dedication to hardstyle has seen him showcasing his sound at some of the most prestigious hardstyle events in the world such as Qlimax (alongside Technoboy), EDC Las Vegas, Defqon.1 (The Netherlands and Australia), Reverze and The Qontinent.
Open up your mind and prepare for your musical perception to be turned upside down with Audiofreq…
Coming from a background of trademark Belgian tek, early rave and the old school sound, in recent times Dr. Rude has been making quite the impression on the world of hardstyle.
With zero fucks given to categorisation, the man behind the act, Rudi Feenstra is one for expressing individuality spoken through the art of music. In the beginning of Rudi’s musical career and sometime around 2005, he surprisingly specialised in hardcore and performed at events such as Pandemonium, Defqon.1 and Masters Of Hardcore. Post 2006, Dr. Rude was infected with the sound of jump and sticking to his guns, he followed his heart to the tek scene which saw his career skyrocket and also saw him signing to Dirty Workz Bounce.
However, most recently, Dr. Rude’s versatile sound has been adopted into the hardstyle scene and his tracks such as “Endorphins” and “Shakedown” have surely been making some waves. Also, who could forget about one of his most renowned hits “Kalavela Shot Me Down” which truly made its mark in terms of hardstyle produced with a twist. Gaining an incredible amount of support by pioneering producers in the hardstyle scene, it is no doubt that Dr. Rude knows a thing or two about producing music with a unique flavour.
The curiosity is rising for the future productions of Dr. Rude, I surely am anticipating what exactly he comes up with next!
This next incredibly talented and versatile producer has evidently climbed his way to the very top of the hardstyle ladder, gaining an incredible worldwide fan base and also a tremendous amount of respect from the musical world. Bas Oskam, also known as Noisecontrollers is undoubtedly a rare breed of pure creativity that thrives on bringing true passion and innovative creativity to his productions.
His production style is based on a combination of highly stylistic techniques which have been gathered from the strengths of many genres of music that inspire Bas, such as hardcore, dubstep and house music. Noisecontrollers has an incredible talent for translating his creativity and musical vision into his own productions which have stood the test of time and phases of trends within hardstyle. This is what truly sets him apart from the majority of producers.
His earlier tracks such as “Crump,” “Shreek” and “Attack Again” are true examples of tracks that have extended beyond their time to mesmerize listeners from all walks of life with their incredibly unique and sophisticated production techniques.
In terms of boundary pushing, it’s no secret that Noisecontrollers loves to form a tantalising concoction of the very best aspects of dance music that truly work to form a distinctively unique, yet powerful sound. Some of his more experimental projects such as “Get Loose” with Showtek and the remix of Hardwell’s “Apollo,” may have tickled a few close-minded hardstyle fans in the wrong place, however, Bas went to where many producers never dared to go and thus resulted in gaining an enormous respect from producers and DJ’s outside of the hardstyle sphere.
It is said that everything Noisecontrollers touches turns to gold, so experience the definition of true magic for yourself…
Raw emotion, invigorating energy, unique musical storylines and timelessly impeccable, high quality productions can be a precise sum up of what the next generation pioneers Phuture Noize bring to the vast world of hardstyle.
Signed with Dirty Workz Anarchy, Marco Spronk and Antoine Kraaij are the masterminds behind the Dutch act, who are renowned for using their creative and freshly innovative approach to broaden the boundaries of the conventional ‘rawstyle’ sound. Heavily inspired by an array of unusual musical genres such as drum and bass, glitch to tropical electronica, this duo is known to generate a powerful and undying atmosphere with every track that reaches their perfectionist standard.
Since their origination in 2009, Phuture Noize have gone from strength to strength in terms of their creative and technical progression in the studio. With their sophisticated and versatile approach to hardstyle and undying energy that they bring to every single performance, it is no wander that this powerhouse duo has generated a worldwide fan-base that has seen them standing upon crowds in Australia, Switzerland, Germany and Scotland.
The guys have become renowned for creating hardstyle that connects the gap between euphoric and raw sounds on the hardstyle spectrum. Their eerie sound design and sophisticated approach to creating a harmonious balance between hard kicks and melodies has created some fresh waves within the hardstyle scene as the guys firmly believe in making their music more interesting, rather than more “raw”. Their musical vision has been praised by many pioneering artists which has seen them recently collaborating with Endymion, Hard Driver and also melodic genius Omegatypez (for something a little different)…
So what else can we say other than, prepare yourselves for the phuture…
Nothing less than exceptional and sophisticated productions that provide listeners with a boundless energy and power is expected from Dutch act Endymion.
This powerhouse trio have been notorious players in the scene since 1998 in which they started their musical journey with productions that fell beneath the hardcore umbrella. Endymion have been responsible for dance-floor smashers such as “Abduction,” “A New Today” and of course, “Broken.” Their hardcore sound can be described as extremely complex and diverse, yet remains effective in capturing listeners for hours on end.
From their stage presence to signature sound, these guys never lack their vital energy that has the ability to charge up even the most unenthusiastic crowds. Endymion have deservingly climbed to stand amongst crowds at Qlimax, EDC Las Vegas, Defqon.1, Dominator and Decibel Outdoor Festival.
Their versatile approach to hardcore has recently evolved into their current sound which appears to be a sophisticated platform between “raw” hardstyle and hardcore. The hard and powerful kicks are evident, yet are not too overwhelming and the storylines conveyed within their music are deep with the ability to take listeners on a journey. Endymion’s fresh and versatile approach on incorporating elements of raw hardstyle and hardcore to create a genre on its own has truly created something inspiring and original and has also seen them collaborating their vision with hardstyle producers such as Frequencerz, Phuture Noize and Ran-D.
Endymion is leading the way for the future of well-produced and sophisticated rawstyle. A powerful atmosphere accompanied by perfectly crafted kicks and a melodic storyline that will truly take you on a unique journey…
Something a little harder – Ophidian:
Conrad Hoyer, or better known as the musical genius Ophidian is the definition of a gifted musician. From the early age of five years old, he had an intense passion for music as he gained a well rounded musical knowledge from learning the piano. By the time Conrad was 13, he became highly interested and inspired by hardcore as he soon began using computer software to compose hardcore tracks. At the age of 16, he became the youngest artist to join DJ Ruffneck’s labels Gangsta and Supreme Intelligence which saw Conrad exploring his musical options within the world of hardcore as he began experimenting with his sound in order to find his place.
2003 marked a memorable year for Ophidian as he released his first album “Blackbox,” which truly paved the way for his individual hardcore sound and has transcended time to remain as a legendary album today.
However, this album was only the beginning. Another huge break came for Conrad in 2004 when he released “Butterfly VIP” which is truly a remarkably original track that progressively incorporates many unusual elements of hard dance. Another track from Ophidians versatile collection that demonstrates an extremely unique approach to hardcore is his remix of Lenny Dee’s “Forgotten Moments.” Truly grasping the hearts of listeners and allowing them to fall into an imaginative journey is something that is difficult to do with hardcore music, however Ophidians flexible approach to the genre allows him to produce timelessly experimental music that is too prestigious to fall into just one category.
So for my readers out there who are falling into a rut of jumping on the bandwagon and following the sheep to watch the ‘standardised’ acts at festivals as a safe option or basing your musical preferences around the mass trends, take this as an inspiration. Take this as an inspiration to explore beyond the boundaries and listen to artists who are true to a unique and stylistic sound… Producers as well, it is easy to blend in, but why not break the chain and follow a musical path of diversity…?