The world after COVID 19 is going to face a global recession. Major players in the car business, travel industry or even airlines will be supported with government grants or subsidized loans. But a complete sector, who tremendously contributes to the European economy and to its culture seems to be left behind. An interview series in 3 episodes with people from across the scene shall emphasize how big this radius actually is, and therefore that this sector matters. Welcome to “The Scene speaks Episode 2”
Team Hardtyle Mag
Welcome back to the interview series “The Scene speaks”. In our first episode, we already discussed some really interesting insights with some really interesting people from the scene. [Read Episode 1 here] For the second round we have once more gathered Artists, Designers, Managers and Consultants from and around the scene. So let’s kick off episode 2:
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF WITHIN 15 WORDS
Koen: Hi, Koen Derix – LaserSmash here!!! Passionated and dedicated lasershow creator at (Hard)dance events 😉
Ilja: Ilja, Multigroove first raver, auditor from the back days and my life
Tom: Hi! I’m Tom Pijnappel. I’m a designer and content creator working at Dirty Workz.
Davy: I’m Davy Donkers and I’m an Uptempo artist named Distinction.
Vincent: I am Vincent, owner of Spark where we create content solutions for brands and events.
HaMa: How did you come into the scene and to your current role?
Ilja: As a gabber I started with just managing parties, sometimes legal, mostly not! Just read my book and you know! Creative director, concept creator for all events within my own business, wich is “tijdloos”
Davy: I think about music 24/7. So to have the ability to create music and play it, is one of the best things I have achieved in my life. I came to my current role thanks to a writer’s block/producers block. I got stuck with Hardstyle and started experimenting on a higher BPM. That was the moment Fake Ass Gangstah & They Took Our Jobs were born. I found out that this style was perfect for me. Producing without boundaries is what I stand for.
Koen: Somewhere around 2001 I started visiting hardstyle party’s -Defqon1, Qlimax, Q-dance@mysteryland and Decibel. Later I added many many more… I always really loved the lasershows! I think it was around 2006 or somewhere when I bought my first lasers. Very cheap china build systems with just the colours red and green and a total power of around 0,1W and no capability of controlling them by computer. During the years that followed I bought and sold a lot of systems but the passion for lasers keeps existing. About 5 years ago I decided to go professional. I invested in professional lasersoftware, my first serious power lasers and spend a lot of time to learn how to operate safe and work with the software. Nowadays I own EU build high quality full colour systems powerful enough for doing shows in in/outdoor avenues up to 10.000 people and the same professional software used on about all large scale events.
Tom: When I was young, I was interested in special effects and animation. I started with recording footage in my backyard and post edited it with jumbo jets and fighter jets. Also, I got a huge passion for Hardstyle music. In 2013, E-Force released a track called “Freakz At Night” which became my favorite track. I had this idea in mind to visualize it with my own imagination. Ghosts, graveyards and a lot of distortion were the main key elements of my final product. I sent it to Edward Aandewiel (E-Force) and he was sold immediately. He told me he created a 2014 remix of the track. So, my video became the official clip for the 2014 remix!
In 2016 I had to do my final assignment/internship for my education. At that point, I thought it would be cool to apply at a decent Hardstyle label. So, I came in contact with Theracords, since I already did a few things for them as a freelancer. A few years and many freelance projects later, the label manager of Dirty Workz asked me to work with them in Belgium. I quit the job I had at that moment. That was the start of an amazing new era. Currently I’m still working at Dirty Workz!
Vincent: I started 10 years ago in a club near my hometown (Lunenburg, Loosbroek) where I was allowed to take pictures. I really liked that and from there I started to see how I could photograph more events. That has grown enormously to the point that I am allowed to serve an average of 120 events on an annual basis. In addition, nowadays we actively think along with organisations to improve their marketing and we are allowed to take on the photography production for many events.
HaMa: How do you personally experience the current corona situation in your private life?
Vincent: Let me start by saying that my family is healthy and happy. That remains the most important thing. Apart from that, I spend a lot of time at home. Normally I hardly see my house during the festival season, so this takes some getting used to. I also know ups and downs. Unbelievable how our lives have changed in such a short time. But that also offers opportunities and space for new things, which we are developing.
Davy: I don’t try to waste my time and energy worrying about it. My wife works and teaches our children at home. My job is outside the house so I see my colleagues every day. The situation is already as bad as it is, so I/we just try to make the best of it.
Tom: Except for the missing festivals and parties, I don’t experience such a big change. I might be the only one, but to be realistic: I still have drinks with my friends, I still have my job and the roads have never been so empty before! On another note, I worked at home for two months. But for me as a creative guy I can easily work from home since I have multiple computers.
To be fairly honest, it felt a little bit like a holiday at home. During quarantine, we didn’t meet a lot of people, but after six till eight weeks we started to meet friends again. However, we kept a responsible distance of course.
Note: While writing this interview I just got called that both my parents have tested positive on Corona. And since I meet my parents weekly, I have to stay 2 weeks in complete quarantine! No worries though, in our family we all have good resistance. My parents are not really ill and will recover very soon!
Koen : The weekends are quite and a bit boring as there is nothing to do in the event industry anymore so more time with the family. During the week I still have my part-time job to keep me rolling.
Ilja: We are managing it with the family, being involved in some more new concepts, bookmarketing, livestreams, telling stories. More info will follow soon.
HaMa: A lot of people love going to festivals – but as they only see the result on that day they are there to attend – we would like to highlight the big amount of arrangements there are for a festival now. Can you please give us a rough idea how long it takes to prepare, organize and conduct a festival by maybe taking one known festival as an example?
Ilja: It takes 9 months to prepare a festival for us as Multigroove for Ground Zero. The smaller events take like 3 months.
Koen: For me personally the amount of time it takes strongly depends on the avenue, scale and location. Most of our projects are in cooperation with a large lasershow company called Laserdream. For example; Snakepit in Klokgebouw Eindhoven. Beside the planning in front of the event, we spend about 1,5 full day of building up, programming and lining out the equipment with 2 people. During the show 1 of us has to operate until the event ends. Straight after closing the dancefloor it takes about half a day to dismantle everything of our equipment in a proper way and pack it back together. After that we head back to the storage.
Vincent: For us, the festival doesn’t start with the opening and doesn’t stop when the last rocket has popped. For an average festival it takes 6 months to execute a marketing plan. For us this means that in addition to operating on the day itself, we are busy with coming up with new content and preparing for “the big day” by arranging teams and coming up with new strategies and plans. A lot happens in the background.
HaMa: With those big projects and so many companies involved (like catering, crew support, security) who is directing everting and how? Is there something like a council that supervises everything?
Ilja: We got a project manager, director leader stage, producer, marketing etc. And we arrange everything directly with the local council.
Koen: Production managers, show directors, organizers themself.
Let us talk more about the current situation now.
HaMa: How is your business currently affected?
Koen: Except some demo’s / livestream’s it went down by lets say 100%.
Vincent: At the moment we are practically unemployed until 1 September. Of course there are some small jobs coming in, but everything we did on a large scale is out. We are looking for new opportunities to get an income anyway, we are now fully committed to that. And the plans we already had have gained momentum.
Ilja: From 300% procent to 0% overnight.
Tom: I guess this question is mainly based on event organizations, but I work for a music label. So in this particular case I use Dirty Workz instead of ‘my business’. The circle of businesses all across the music industry has a connection with each other. So I think we all slightly notice a difference. Of course, event organizations are the ones facing the hardest time I guess. Long and short term. I don’t have to tell anybody that artists need events to have their usual income. We as a music label release music that’s created by these artists, also during quarantine time. This basically means we still have plenty of work.
Davy: My bookings got canceled, meetings got canceled and several plans around Distinction are postponed to the future. Don’t worry! They are coming as soon as it can!
HaMa: How is your business surrounding affected?
Vincent: We see colleagues and customers struggling with the same problems as us. It does create a kind of solidarity; putting our shoulder to the wheel together has never been as relevant as it is now.
Koen: Everything went quite.
Davy: Well, I see my studio more often hahaha! Is that legit? Besides that I miss the stage and the people, so yeah that’s really different now.
HaMa: Are there any measures which help you to minimize the negative impact on your business?
Davy: As I mentioned before. The plans I had are not off the table, so behind the scenes I’m busy arranging a lot of stuff. Some new cool things are around the corner, so you have to follow me to witness. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you more at this point.
Vincent: None. In my experience, the festivals as we knew them will not be able to continue in a one and a half meter society.
Tom: I really can imagine that being creative is a key to minimize the negative impact. This is quite general I suppose, and mainly based on digital content. Especially for the event industry with all their creative (virtual) live streams for example.
HaMa: Do you get any help from the government?
Vincent: Yes, but from next term (from June) unfortunately not anymore.
Davy: Nope. Not every business meets the requirements of the government. So too bad I am one of them. Therefore I am happy with my daily job, so I don’t have to worry about financial issues.
Ilja: We got compensation 5000 euro, for losing more then 2 million.
HaMa: Do you honestly think that the EU has acted in a proper way?
Davy: I probably wouldn’t have done it better.. It’s tough to be in their position I guess. You never do the right thing for everyone. I believe that they act in our best interest.
Tom: Yea definitely. I might be the only one who thinks Europe has acted in a proper way. Why? Because you can never ever predict situations like this. Every situation or disaster is unique and people can never be 100% prepared for such things.
So, Europe had to make important decisions in quite a short amount of time. Of course, different countries took different measures. For example, in the very beginning Belgium had a huge negative opinion on our (The Netherlands) ‘smart’ solution to balance the amount of infected people. After two months, results showed that it actually worked quite well.
In general, every country did their own thing. People will always complain about how governments did everything to decrease infected people. It’s easy to complain, but in the end it’s all about how we learn from it and what we can do better next time.
Ilja: Yes and NO
Vincent: I think it was a good idea to take certain measures so that the care was not (further) overburdened. But I would now like to see measures where care can cope with the new pressure, while the rest of the economy is back to normal consumption.
Koen: Not for the event industry so far. I am in the luxurious situation that I can survive with my daily income, bot most freelancers who are fulltime into the event industry are in a way different situation as their income went down to about zero.
HaMa: If you could name 3 realistic measures the EU and the government could do to really help the event scene what should they do?
Koen: They should compensate rental company’s and freelancers for their lost income.
Ilja: Working with creative solutions and better financial support
Davy: I’m realistic and as bad as I want the festivals to start, it couldn’t despite everyone’s health. There are measurements that are killing for the scene, like the 1.5 meter society. I don’t think the government can do better at this point for the event scene. They have a lot to consider and as I said before, there will always be the disappointment when our scene gets postponed again. I cannot name 3 realistic measures that could help us at the short term.
Tom: One measure could be definitely allowing events to have a speed Corona test at the entrance. This has been tested in several countries where they check their temperature. Another measure is allowing event organizations to have (for example) 2000 people at one stage. Of course, this depends on how big the area and stage is. Every situation has to be professionally checked by a certified person. Since there are so many organizations out there, there is a chance this could not be realistic.
The third measure is not to have events this year, but instead make 100% sure every project, hour and canceled event is entirely covered by the government. This means event organizations can already start making plans for next year. Allowing only national people could be the fourth measure. So it can be controlled more easily.
For Tomorrowland, I understand this could be a problem. For a festival like Tomorrowland, it would be more fair to allow people from Germany, The Netherlands, and Belgium.
HaMa: If we take a look to Sweden, where no shutdown took place – but the infection rate decreases – do you think that was the better decision?
Davy: At first I thought a total lockdown would be the best, so no shutdown is not what I can support. But I’m no pandemic specialist of course! As I see what we can accomplish in The Netherlands I think we don’t do it that bad.
Koen: Hard to say.. Sweden isn’t that extreme overcrowded like the Netherlands.
Ilja: No, our common welfare needs too come first
HaMa: Once events can take place again, are you already thinking of measures in particular to minimize the infection risk?
Ilja: Of course.
Koen: Staying healthy, having disinfection liquid with me and wearing facemasks if needed.
Davy: Well, now you are mentioning it… I would keep a proper distance, wear rubber gloves during my set and I will wash my hands often as I do now. It also depends on which measures we have to follow at that time.
HaMa: Some say that this crisis is a good way to clean the market as there were lately just too many festivals and events. Do you honestly agree with that? Were there really too many events in NL ?
Tom: The event scene in The Netherlands is definitely the biggest one out there. And we should be proud of that. Since there are so many different music genres, I completely disagree with the opinion that there are too many festivals. Let’s be real here, if we talk about the genre ‘Hardstyle’ people think about festivals and parties. Event organizations made Hardstyle festivals so much more commercial, so the music genre itself has never been more accessible. Also, big Hardstyle artists have changed the industry in such a good direction by creating a different kind of music with more vocals and melodies. What I’m trying to say here is that we basically can still develop new festivals. There are many places in the Netherlands to build a festival and we have plenty of resources. It’s part of our culture.
Koen: Totally not. When events are not loaning the organizers simply quit their concepts. Most of the events we work on are complete sold out.
Ilja: I think there must to be as many events as asked for by the scene
Davy: The event business was booming before the crisis that’s for sure. I really loved that fact! I don’t agree with cleaning it, but it’s happening anyway (I say this with great pain in my heart). There always will be people that complain like your old grumpy neighbor about every sound or fart you make.
HaMa: If the event shutdown endures what are your measures to overcome this crisis?
Vincent: At the moment we are still investigating these steps. We have several strategies, one of the most obvious of which is to look for work outside this field of work (outside of events). But we see this as a plan B.
Koen: Staying healthy, keep listening to my favorite harderstyles streams / podcasts.
Davy: I will keep doing the things I do, Share positive energy and Fear Less!
HaMa: What could the people out there do to help or support you?
Koeon: If anyone organizes drive in festivals, professional livestreams with show and so on, feel free to contact me! 😊
Vincent: Strange as it sounds, it helps enormously when people follow our social media channels. It doesn’t cost anything and it ensures that the projects we’re currently doing and the stories we want to tell now are disseminated further. For example, we are working on a story about empty festival grounds!
Davy: My fans give me lots of love so I’m doing good! I just want people to show their best way and keep doing the things they love to do. I would like to take this opportunity to reach out to the people that could use my support music wise. I’m here for you! Just hit me a PM.
HaMa: Many of you are currently seeking alternative concepts to get in contact with the scene. What are your current projects you would like to highlight now?
Koen: Providing show’s for any livestream/drive in events for reduced price.
Davy: I started a live stream so the music keeps rolling. Besides that I’m working on my very first artist album (which is almost finished) Spoiler alert :P.
Ilja: Check our interview out about wich is posted on our website
Tom: One of the biggest projects I want to highlight is our “Dimension2” live stream project. During the first month of staying in quarantine, we witnessed many live streams provided by event organizations and even artists themself. With Dirty Workz we wanted to do something too. Not just because ‘we had to’, but more because we want to do something nobody has ever done before. Our main goal was to create a ‘wow’ effect.
We came into contact with a production company that generally realize concepts and stages for large events. Together with them and a specialized video team, we asked them to create a realistic and famous location of the world within a 3D environment. Their initial idea was to import an actual festival stage, but we thought it would be fun to create something totally different, seeing we’re working with digital content – anything became possible. So, we decided on Times Square, in New York. With all the impressive lights, customized advertisements, billboards and multiple camera angles it definitely became a unique experiment. Check out our Dimension2 – Dirty Workz on our YouTube channel!
Vincent: At the moment we are working on some livestreams, of which a big project will be launched in June! We’re not allowed to tell you anything about this yet, but we definitely advise people to keep following us!
HaMa: Do you think its necessary to wait for a vaccine until large events should be allowed to take place again?
Koen: I don’t. Maybe it could be enough to let everyone wear facemasks, disinfect their hands when showing up at the party and keep a healthy mindset with it – Just visit when your healthy, not when you are ill.
Vincent: Sounds logical to do so, but we would like an independent party to determine this. At the moment everyone has (logically) their own opinion about this, but often everyone forgets that all these people/parties also have a different interest than our common health.
Tom: No. Just wait for a fast testing mechanism or whatsoever. And minimize the number of people allowed at an event. I’m just not sure if it’s realistic to have a vaccine for everyone out there. How can this be checked?
I’m not the one that can make decisions like that. These situations need proper investigation and certified people so no wrong decisions will be made.
Davy: I think that we first need to get the situation 100% under control. If that means that we need to wait for a vaccine for large events to take place, then yes. I’m not they guy that’s calling the shots.
HaMa: What do you think will the scene look like after corona?
Koen: That’s a pretty hard question.. but if it takes long enough, it will be a survival of the fittest company’s…
Tom: It definitely needs time to recreate the scene to be on the same level as before the whole Corona era.
Like I’ve said before, there are many aspects, people and organizations involved. They all affected each other. To be realistic, the scene is really strong. I’ve never seen so much Hardstyle content on my socials. It honestly doesn’t feel that the scene has been put in a critical situation. Actually I think the biggest ones affected are the event organizations. And as far as I know, many will get covered by the government.
Conclusion: The scene will look mostly the same. Most people really love the music and are not dependent on festivals. There will be less organizations, but within four to five years I think we’re on the same level or even higher. And as an extra note: I think in the future we will do more with live streams. Before this situation, live streaming was not really ‘a thing’. Now it definitely is and I think it will be used more often.
Ilja: I hope I love there is a lot of new producties are, creative plans, I really like to see how this all gets involved
Davy: I think that music became even more important during the Covid-19 crisis, so the scene will be more dedicated than ever!
Vincent: As much as we would like to know, it is impossible to answer this question. This has happened before, and all we can do is speculate now. It is and remains wise to prepare for multiple scenarios instead of staring blindly at one, with the risk that this scenario will not take place and that your problems will only get worse when we get back to work after corona.
HaMa: We currently see a concept called car events. Like a drive in cinema. Where people look at a DJ from their car. What do you think of this concept?
Vincent: I think it’s fantastic that other possibilities are being looked into to provide entertainment after all!
Koen: Well, if that’s the only possible way of partying together live, it definitely has my vote!
Davy: It’s a great concept! I love it when organizations get creative and find a way to reunite the people in a safe environment. As an artist you want to share your music with your fans and this possibility brings you as close as it’s allowed to them. No people on the dance floor getting crazy, but happy people in their cars enjoying what you love to do.
Ilja: Nice imitative but for only for a short time
Tom: Absolutely fantastic. I can’t say much more. Really creative and innovative. The first car show I witnessed on social media was the so-called “AutoDisco” at Index in Germany. I saw this on the Facebook page of Devin Wild. It felt completely right and satisfying. I’m very happy to see many organizations now trying this. That’s what I mean with staying creative. We truly have a strong music scene.
HaMa: Even though it’s hard to imagine, do you see anything positive Corona brought?
Koen: Maybe more quality time with my wife and little son but that’s all..
Davy: Creativity & togetherness & dedication summarize positivity during Covid-19.
Tom: For the scene or for the world? Many employers are starting to realise it’s easy to work from home. It’s definitely a double win since the employer has less fuel and travel costs. For working people, they have more time left when they work at home. Point is, if you let someone work at home 1 day in a year, he/she will probably do something else instead of doing their job. But if you let someone work 1 day a week at home, they are probably very consistent in doing their actual job.
Vincent: It has given us room to reflect on our work, and how great it really is.
HaMa: We are living in a world that is completely globalized – and there are 7.6 billion humans living on this planet. Do you think that there will be more global pandemics in the future?
Davy: Wait, let’s grab my crystal ball! Hahaha… I believe there will be more pandemics in the future just like they happened in the past. Maybe not in our time, who would know?
Tom: Yea, I think this Corona was just a test of an ‘Elitist’ mastermind. Maybe it’s a little taste for something huge. The larger the population, the bigger these global catastrophes become. I’m not just talking about five or ten years, but also much further down the line in about one hundred to two hundred years.Honestly, I’m not too scared for that, but it will definitely happen. I’m more scared of a meteor or asteroid smashing our blue planet, which is statistically very viable to happen on a large scale.
Koen: There will always be a chance for that. The more overcrowded the planet is, the chance for pandemics increases. That’s no rocketscience.
Vincent: No doubt, just as there are other risks. However, I hope that enough will be learned during these crises so that we can act on them better later.
HaMa: Many Artists and Organizations are streaming mixing sessions over the socials (for example Q-dance “Connect”). Do you think this kind of promotion will even persist after Corona or will it vanish once the events are open again?
Vincent: Artists and organizations are always looking for opportunities to get and stay in touch with their fans. That feeling of contact has only been strengthened by this crisis. Stronger together, that’s what makes this scene so beautiful. When all gatherings are allowed again, it’s another moment of contact and the livestreams will probably weaken.
Koen: Maybe there will be some persisting sometimes but most will vanish for sure as the artists are back busy at the festivals worldwide.
Davy: I think there will be less live streams when the party scene starts again. For the people who cannot visit events it would be awesome if not all live streams disappear. I’m in favor of giving those who are left home the chance to feel as much involved as they are now!
Tom: That’s a fun question. I actually mentioned this in one of the questions before. Yea, I think it will persist when everything is like before. People finally realize that it’s so easy to livestream nowadays. Alright, you still have to be some sort of nerd with all the technical information and gear but in general, it isn’t that difficult. Live streams allow organizations and artists to find new ways to be creative during their sets and events. It brings artists and fans together. Especially the inclusion of things like Zoom, where you see actual viewers on screens in the live stream.
HaMa: What do you think can the people out there do now to help you and to help the whole scene to bring it back to where it came from?
Koen: Visit party’s when they are back allowed.
Tom: Listen Hardstyle. Stream, view and let the ‘first’ big event be the best event ever!
Davy: Let’s hope it can be the way it was before Covid-19, but we don’t know how it will turn out. Till then, follow the rules and stay safe! We have to do it all together.
HaMa: As there are no events taking place how do you as an Artist/Producer use the time?
Davy: As the Covid-19 crisis started I had a lot of time to work on my album. Finishing up our house that we bought a year ago and when there’s time left I try to relax by gaming with my fans and watch Netflix. I love good series. Do you have any recommendations?
Koen: Family time and time to focus on producing new material in their studio’s for when the world opens again.
HaMa: We currently see a lot of Artists broadcasting video mixing sessions. Have you already done it and if yes how did it feel without any crowd?
Koen: I did one streaming session. It’s a completely different vibe without crowd and the music not that loud.
Davy: Yes I have done it with the ‘Unite The Fearless’ live stream. Without any crowd it’s definitely not the same, but I’m happy that I can reach my fans this way. I receive a lot of support from the dedicated people and that keeps me going. They show me how important even my music can be in these bizarre times.
HaMa: If you would describe yourself as an animal. What would it be and why?
Vincent: Any animal that moves in a pact to one goal would suit us well. Add a touch of stubbornness and a lot of creativity and you have Spark!
Ilja: As a dog, dolpin or bird, because of the freedom and loyalty friendschip creativity and go with the wind
Davy: I would describe myself as a Lion, because I’m straightforward, loyal, social and like to connect with others (I had to learn that last part :P), a fighter (never giving up) and you can always count on me.
This was Episode 2 with some really unique and interesting views and infos. Next Thursday its time for the 3rd Episode the Scene Speaks. A new episode with really interesting participants. Stay Tuned !!