Interview with MC Heretick, Arctus & Mrotek
This month we took a little detour to the Wild Wild state of Arizona in the US, where three of the biggest names in US Rawstyle keep pushing further and further the boundaries of monstruous kicks and distorted chaotic atmospheres. They are MC Heretik, Arctus and Mrotek. These bad boys will show you a unique rawstyle, and it’s nothing like you have ever heard. We had the chance to talk about their music and see what they have in mind for the future!
Hello guys, it’s a real pleasure to have you all at the Mag! How do you feel?
[MROTEK] Hey there! Life is great! Thank you for inviting us to interview.
[HERETIK] Thanks for having us! I just returned from playing a show on the east coast this last weekend; so I am full of inspiration and ready to get back to the studio.
[ARCTUS] I’m doing great man! Thanks for having us!
Alright, so you all come from the US, and precisely from the state of Arizona. For us, European citizens, the first thing that comes up to our minds is that you are from the Wild Wild West that we see in the movies. It’s a bit of a cliché, so maybe you can tell us what we can find there? What is Arizona all about?
[MROTEK] In some parts of the state it’s not too far off from the movies; but we all live in the city, so it’s not too different from where you are from, except it’s super hot and dry. Plus, most of my time is inside of a studio, which looks pretty much the same no matter what country you’re in 😀
[HERETIK] It is definitely as hot as they say, but the desert is far more beautiful than you would expect. I’ve really grown to love it. It’s also a strange amalgamation of cultures, which makes for a really interesting music scene.
[ARCTUS] As James said, certain parts are actually a lot like the movies lol! But yeah, we all live in the city and live pretty average suburban lives hahah. There’s certainly a lot to do and a lot of music that comes through here though which is awesome! Not something you can get everywhere in the US.
Since I’m french and a very delicate person when it comes to food, if I was traveling to Arizona and wanted to try something very ‘traditional’, what would be the must-eat meal I should try (provided it’s not fried cactus)?
[MROTEK] You haven’t tasted real Mexican food till you come to this area of the world. Doner meat isn’t supposed to be in a taco lol!
[HERETIK] Definitely Mexican food! We have a lot of amazing food out here because of so many cultures in one place, but Mexican food definitely stands out! Be careful though, it burns on the way in, and even more on the way out!
[ARCTUS] Hmmm, maybe not fried cactus, but certainly baked! Hahah only kidding. Mexican food would definitely be it.
And how did you meet each other? How did you come up and make Hardstyle, as Arizona is not somewhere you can listen to Hardstyle on the radio or at the clubs?
[MROTEK] Heretik and I met through my cousin actually. We were all just ravers in the scene who fell in love with Hardstyle. At first I was a Happy Hardcore fan, until one rave I stumbled into the main stage and a local DJ was playing Samara by Noisecontrollers, and it was the sickest thing I had ever heard in my life. That very same rave was Heretik’s first rave. He heard ‘Front to Back’ by Zany & Tatanka and was sold from there.
A few years later I had started producing Hardstyle, and Heretik came over to get some ‘production lessons’. Needless to say, no lessons ever happened; as soon as we got in the studio together we couldn’t help but write and the rest was history.
After a few months of producing together, we noticed an unfamiliar name rising in the local scene. We had no idea what to expect, but when we showed up to see him (Arctus) perform, he was dropping all of this heavy raw shit, and we were blown away that someone else in the same state was down with ‘The Heavy’!
At the next show he was playing, we introduced ourselves and hit it off immediately. We hung out a few times after that and clicked extremely well. Then he (Arctus) brought me over to his friend Jack (The Wicked)’s house, and the same chemistry was there. Thus, the ‘AZ Krew’ was born.
[ARCTUS] Yup, met these guys at a party! There was a hardstyle group on facebook that I was a part of and the group owner (a now good friend who I didn’t know at the time) posted a Radical Redemption track. I noticed she was from Arizona and I had no idea anybody else here besides one other person was even familiar with the raw stuff so I shamelessly told them about a party I was performing at.
Her and her group of friends, who included James and Paul (Mrotek & Heretik), introduced themselves after the set and we instantly clicked. They showed up to another party, we chatted it up all night, and the rest is history!
I actually found hardstyle online a long time before I started going to parties and didn’t get seriously into it for awhile. Eventually I was a big time raver and happened to hear some raw stuff at a party, played by our now good friend The Wicked. I was instantly hooked.
Now, if we go back to tasty Hardstyle & Rawstyle, what is your little secret that makes each of you MC Heretik, Arctus and Mrotek ? Can you describe your style and the way you see Hardstyle?
[MROTEK] I would have to say what makes me ‘Mrotek’ and different from others, is my musical background. I played guitar since I was 12, and came from a background in heavy metal and classical music. From playing in a deathcore band, to composing orchestral pieces, I was always surrounded by technical, complex music and music theory. That is actually what drew me to hardstyle in the first place; the melodies reminded me a lot of classical melodies.
My style is a fusion between classical, metal, and heavy dance music. It punches you in the face and crams it down your throat like metal, and then lifts you up (in a dark/twisted way) like classical often does. The contrast between those two is the apex of all music for me; I absolutely love it. I see Hardstyle as the sickest possible combination of textures and production value to allow an artist to express a deep inspiration through sound. So ridiculous grateful for this genre.
[HERETIK] The thing that makes me unique is my intention to convey an impactful message through my music. It is a mission of mine in life to help others see the bigger picture of life instead of getting caught up in trivial matters of everyday life. Thus, I aim to make music that transcends the boundaries of normal dance music in order to convey my message.
In order to do that, I aim to create a multidimensional experience through the music I make. I am also passionate about storytelling, film, live performance, and visual art, and I keep all of those elements in mind when I am creating my art. I believe Hardstyle’s “larger than life” sound makes it a perfect vessel for me to create my multidimensional art form.
[ARCTUS] I was initially attracted to hardstyle because of the dark melodies, atmosphere, and the drive and aggression, so that is a staple in my sound to this day. My mind has opened a lot since the initial inspiration, but I still just love to create a sinister atmosphere with that “up-to-no-good” sound hahah.
Your music is indeed Hardstyle-Rawstyle, but you have a very different way to express it compared to what the dutch-german hardstyle is all about nowadays. When I listen to your music, I feel like I’m watching a crossover movie between Tim Burton wicked atmosphere and American Nightmare with a lot of ‘alright boys, we’re out in the street, and it’s the National Purge Day, sirens starting to ring, it’s going to be a hell of a tough night’. Where do you get your inspiration from?
[MROTEK] That is so sick you picked up on that! It’s hard to say where the inspiration comes from every time, because each track is different. For me it has been/may be the idea of witnessing an atomic bomb going off, it may be a piece of artwork that resonated with me, it may be a specific passage from a Star Wars book that made me feel a certain way, it may even be other tracks that I loved the way it made me feel and I wanted to flex on that vibe further. But whatever I work on, I want it to be unique and have my sound in it; I believe if you just make what you want to hear/play and enjoy it the whole time, it will always sound amazing and always sound like you. That is the most important part of creation in my opinion; you must be in love with what you are making.
[HERETIK] Personally I have been extremely inspired by classical music and film scores with very dark atmospheres; especially those of composers Danny Elfman and John Williams, who are notorious for creating massive and otherworldly film scores.
Danny Elfman composes for most of Tim Burton’s films, so that is where the Tim Burton feel comes from! In addition to the scores, It is my mindset that I am creating an immersive experience that causes my music to have that cinematic feel. I try to create an experience much like watching a movie, in which you are sucked into a fictional world and taken on an emotional journey.
[ARCTUS] A lot of my inspiration actually comes from fantasy worlds. I’m extremely inspired by ideas about witchcraft, black magic, etc. I just love that stuff hahah! It’s a world I like to be in, so I like to put the listeners in that world as well. Of course I have lots of other sources of inspiration as well, like random music or ideas. Whatever lights the spark! Though of course, as many say, the best inspiration comes from within.The vocals in your tracks are also really good. The monstruous voices, and all the work that comes around it is really impressive! How do you do that Mr. Heretik?
[HERETIK] Thank you, I’m glad you think so much of my work! Because I have a message to bring and a story to tell, it is not difficult for me to create impactful subject matter for my work. As I am creating a multidimensional experience, I try to tell a story with all of my work;
and since I am primarily a writer and storyteller, that naturally leads me to create characters for the story, and breathe life into these characters with my voice. For many years I have performed many different voices just for kicks, so it was eerily perfect when I started to create music that is already known for using vocal samples for film.
When I look at your tracks & mixes, I always see you making collabs together. It’s either Arctus & Mrotek together, or Mrotek & MC Heretik (and sometimes as for your amazing track ‘Penance’, you are all back together). Should we say that you are forming a duo or a trio?
[MROTEK] Well, we all live so close to each other, and we (and The Wicked) are all best friends. We see each other every weekend, so it’s kind of hard to resist just working with each other a shit load. Heretik and I have plans for a live act down the road, and we as a group (Myself, Heretik, Arctus & The Wicked) have plans for a massive live act together. More will be revealed about that in time 😉
But you guys often work together right?
[MROTEK] I respect the fuck out of each of these guys. It blows my mind that we all happen to live in the same place. Also, we all produce with similar techniques and use the same DAW (Cubase), we know one another and each of our musical tastes/sources of inspiration so well that it is super easy to work together and get a great result every time. I think we all plan on working closely together for a very long time.
[HERETIK] We do more than work together; we are all kind of evolving together. We work so closely that our styles, although different, are kind of taking similar paths. We all push each other and encourage each other to be better artists and producers. Each of us gives feedback to each of our tracks as they are being finished; each ear may hear something different than the other. That’s what happens when you get 4 totally different people who share a similar burning passion; you get the exact same motivational foundation with 4 totally different creative outcomes.
[ARCTUS] Of course! We’re all really good friends who have similar interests and taste so it just works. I’ve learned and grown a lot with these guys and it’s only the beginning!
Alright, now I heard that some of you wanted to move to the mighty Netherlands and maybe push things a little to the next level. Is that right?
[MROTEK] Most definitely! After visiting The NL for Defqon the last 2 years, the inner call is so strong to move there. It is undoubtedly the place to be for hardstyle; plus the culture and landscape is too beautiful not to want to move there. My ideal plan would be 6 months (during festival season) in The NL, then the other 6 months back in Arizona (for club season). Either way, I think I speak for all of us in saying that it’s something way more than a wish, or even a business move; it’s a gut feeling pulling us there. It must happen.
[HERETIK] Yes, for me the inner call is extremely strong as well. Every sign I’ve ever received in my life is directing me to move there, so my intention is to move there by next year. I can’t wait to be amongst my people (both by blood and by music). Also, this would make it extremely easy for me to play shows, and to collaborate with artists when the offers arise!
[ARCTUS] The Netherlands (and some other parts of Europe) is just the place to be when it comes to this music. I have an immense amount of respect for the Dutch and their culture. There’s nothing else like what they have out there, it’s special haha. It’d be awesome to spend some time there and work with some of those guys.
What pushes you to do so?
[MROTEK] The obvious answer here is the music; the colabs, the festivals, the atmosphere of the parties, It’s truly magical compared to anywhere else on the planet. The next reason is that it is the obvious business decision as a Hardstyle artist to be there. But other huge reasons in the decision to move there are the people, the landscape, the weather (being from the desert, we REALLY love the rain), and just the overall culture. It’s hard to describe how good it feels being in The Netherlands when you were born and raised in the deserts of the United States.
[HERETIK] You know how sometimes you have a gut feeling that you just can’t ignore? That’s how my desire is to move to the Netherlands. I feel very strongly called there partially because of my heritage and partially because of the music. My ancestors are Dutch; thus there is a sense of home that The Netherlands has for me even though I have never lived there.
Thus, I feel a special kinship with the Dutch people. I am currently learning Dutch and it feels like a language that I was always meant to learn, as if I used to know it and forgot it somewhere along the way. Also my relatives also live in the state of Wisconsin, which looks very similar to the Netherlands. In a lot of ways visiting the Netherlands is like returning home.
It has nothing to do with politics right? You don’t want to go because Donald Trump might be the next president of the USA ?
[MROTEK] I care nothing about Politics. Both candidates are total shit and I am embarrassed that they represent our country in any way. I may just write in ‘Zany’ for president 😀
[HERETIK] For me, that’s just another sign that it’s time to relocate. Personally, I am team Dov for president.
[ARCTUS] lmao!! Oh man. I try not to think of the politics, but at times it’s hard to ignore.
Last question but not least; what can we expect from each one of you in the future? More Rawstyle? More crazy vocals? More visa for Europe ?
[MROTEK] Definitely more Rawstyle. I plan on pushing the boundaries of what can be done with Hardstyle in terms of fusing metal and classical influences into the genre. I have plans to play parties in as many countries around the world as possible, and bring as much quality, unique music into this world as possible.
[HERETIK] I have a massive vision for my art that I will slowly begin putting into effect over the next few years. Keep an eye on how my vision progresses…when it comes full circle it will be something to behold!
[ARCTUS] There will definitely be more hardstyle, but as of right now I’m spending quite a bit of time on a new project that I’m really excited to reveal. It’ll still be nice and hard, don’t worry! 🙂
Thank you for your time guys, it was a real pleasure and we hope that you will keep going in this direction! Stay Wild and Raw! The whole team wishes you the best in your careers!
[MROTEK] Thanks again so much for having us! We will keep the momentum moving forward! Hope to see you at a party soon!
[HERETIK] Thank you for having me! Dank je wel! Tot ziens!
[ARCTUS] Thank you man, it definitely means a lot! 🙂