This is the first, but there is more to come. I welcome you to my world, my vision. My wide vision, with a certain angle, a focus. A focus point towards the scene you and I love the most. Oh yes.. We already have something in common. We share the passion for the same music. A style of music that made us join the same culture. Maybe it was a ‘Strike’ to our subconsciousness mind. One way or another we have become involved in this movement. In (Mitchell’s) HardTalk I want to share my vision, a vision that I, partially, share with more of you. In the end, we can perhaps call it ‘our vision’, the choice is yours. Everybody is free to decide. In HardTalk #001, I will talk about the culture of our Harder styles of dance music. From Hardstyle to Hardcore, from Rawstyle to Terror. There is a lot to talk about so let’s begin!
Many people think that I am in the scene for a long time now. Well, I can tell you something funny. That is totally not the case.. I started listening to EDM music at an early age, that is true. Think about artists like Armin van Buuren and DJ Tiësto, the flagships of the dutch dance culture. Besides that, I did listen to heavy metal as well. So, am I born with the 150+ BPM straight in my veins? I guess not. Or maybe I was, but I just discovered at a later age. Actually, the first hardstyle event I did visit was Qlimax 2014. Are you surprised? Well, I can tell you that I am too.. In this short amount of time, I discovered almost the whole universe of the harder styles, and I fucking love it since day one. But how do people get in touch with the harder styles? Is there an explanation for a movement, are there constructed paths that lead people to the harder styles? Well, let’s have a look at this.
Keep this graphic in mind, because I will refer to it very often. Well, in the grey area on the right we see a big circle with Progressive House / EDM. Progressive House is still one of the biggest scenes in the EDM scene. All the other grey circles with dotted lines are the scenes that are in the EDM scene, or connected to it. They all have sub-genres (the smaller circles) and so on.. I want to focus on the coloured circles in the giant square. For everybody’s sake, I will not call this a part of the EDM. Because I think that we don’t want to be referred to that? Do we? I will just call it HDM (Hard Dance Music) or something like that. Oh, and about the sub-genres, I know some of you don’t like the word sub-genre, but we know there are different styles, which can, of course, be mixed with each other. It’s always good when a musician explores the universe of music and produces or collabs with artists from different styles.
There are actually a few bigger paths that lead us to the HDM scene. I will explain a few of them. Again I want to tell that this is my vision and my opinion, it is not based on facts, well not all of it, it’s my vision which I started crafting two years ago. I will explain it using three paths, connecting with three persons. Let’s start with path one.
Path One: The Explorer
The Explorer is a music lover of the first hour. He did fell in love with music at a young age. He is listening to music every day. But listening to music from the same genre does bore him. So it is time to explore the universe of music. He did start with EDM music, but at a certain point, he want’s to hear some faster music, with more beats or a deeper bass. Because people often go faster than slower right?! To find that excitement, he does start at House, climbs the mountain toward Hardstyle, and if this is not fast enough he will find his way to Rawstyle or even Hardcore. Exploring all the sub-genres of the HDM-scene. There is actually no way back, he can only go forward, he is bound to the HDM scene. At a certain point some of them will leave the scene for a while, but at a certain point, they need that excitement again. Is this the path you did walk? Or at least a bit must be true?
Path Two: The Visitor
The Visitor loved to party at a young age. When he turned 18 he did start visiting events, but after a few events he gets bored, the events are all the same. He wants a show, an experience that gives him an once in a lifetime feeling. Something that gives him the ultimate feeling of a big family and a place where he can lose his mind. Hardstyle and Hardcore events are ahead of the EDM scene, the shows are amazing, the visitors know the songs from the inside out and scream it along, it is one big family. The Visitor is excited, he wants to party every week. Are you visitor? Or maybe an addict? Let’s check path three.
Path Three: The Addict
The Addict can be an evolved Visitor or Explorer, but can also be someone who did walk a different path. Sometimes these are the musicians, the producers that create music at home or in a small studio. They want to feel the power of a dedicated crowd, the HDM-crowd. Visitors or Explorers can be these addicts after a few events. I think we all know the feeling that we must go to an event every month? Do you?
In the end of all paths, we can conclude that there is no way back, we stick to the HDM scene or we spit it out. There are people who fit in, and people who fuck off. You did want to start singing the Brennan Heart track right? Well, that’s a good thing, then I also know that you love this music.
Anyway, let’s go back to the square of the HDM scene. Within the HDM scene, we see some patterns as well. Some people start at Hardstyle, then move to Rawstyle, because they love their sound medium rare, like Frequencerz or Hard Driver. At a certain point, this group of people is getting to big and it pops out of its seams. Some people think at this moment that the scene is getting to mainstream, and they switch to something rougher.
I will call that ‘Underground’ Rawstyle, think about labels such as Gearbox, X-Raw and Theracords. One way or another we get used to these rough sounds and this sub-genre does blend with the Rawstyle scene and does even search for euphoric cross-overs. It all blends into a bigger circle. Of course some artists still, create music that is more on the extreme side. Some people love to live in extremes and listen to extreme music, which is not extreme enough for them at all. Can you still follow me? Fine, let’s have a look at another pattern.
First, some people did start at Hardstyle, then they like the sound of it but they want it a bit rougher. They love the final hours of an event, the hours when it goes rougher. The sound of Raw style. Oh and that final hour, when the beat is rising to 175-200 BPM. Hell yeah, that’s how they like it. They search for these artists, think about Tha Playah and Nosferatu, and suddenly they find themselves at an Angerfist set. They enjoy it to the max.
Go to events like Dominator and find there way into the Hardcore sound. This is a typical example of an explorer which I mentioned before. In the meantime he get’s so addicted to the events, that he wants to visit more and more. He like’s it Up-Tempo sometimes, some people stick over there. Some of them go to Industrial or Frenchcore and some of them just like to have fun and still like the uplifting sounds of Hardstyle and Hard drop and they visit events with the Freestyle sound.
Of course, these are all examples and I know that some of you did join the scene in another way. But yeah, I can write a book about it. But since this is a column I will write less than 2000 words, sorry for those who liked it so far. In the end, the whole square and the so-called HDM is one big culture. Within this culture, we can find some sub-cultures, the so-called sub-genres of music. But in the end, we are one big family.
There are people who think differently or agree on this. Let’s take Angerfist as an example. A few years ago he wrote the following:
‘I totally understand that many people don’t like this kind of stuff. It’s just not for everybody and that’s how it’s always been. It’s just something that’s ours and doesn’t need to be globally accepted like mainstream EDM. No Need to attack people who don’t understand why we like this music. I think it’s generally not a matter of ‘hate’ on their part, but more a matter of different cultures’. – Angerfist
I totally agree on Angerfist his opinion here. Of course he is talking about the Hardcore scene. And I don’t know his opinion about my HDM square, or maybe he does see it as separate cultures as well. But I think that all the people that can find themselves in this HDM scene can understand each other. Maybe you don’t like Hardcore, but you can understand why other people like it. Maybe you don’t like Hardstyle because you think it’s too soft, but in the end, you know why people go to events with HDM music. It’s just something where we believe in.
We like to escape from reality, live our own lives. Don’t be led by the media, the government or other people who try to tell you what to do. We like to be set free from the authorities, live our own life, listen to our kind of music. Cause we like it rough and loud, the beats fast and the bass down low. We love the melodies of dreamy pianos, the atmosphere with the dedicated crowd, the shows at the events, we love the whole experience.
In the end, we need each other. We need to cross the sub-genres. We need to merge and work on our music together. Every piece can lead to inspiration. All of it can lead to new seeds, seeds that can grow into something big. Together as one we can keep the scene alive. We must not hate each other, we have to respect everyone in our culture to stay alive.