Dip your toes into hardstyle with these producers
In the past few years, hardstyle has been making a fast and aggressive move into United States audiences. More and more American festivals have been booking hardstyle acts to play their main stages, and more clubs are booking harder music as headlining acts. While many may know iconic names like Headhunterz and the former hardstyle producers Showtek, the rest of the scene remains relatively undiscovered. These five producers are some of the rising stars or classic names in the hardstyle scene who have shaped, defined, and revolutionized the genre.
D-Block & S-te-Fan
Perhaps one of the most well known hardstyle duos of all time, D-Block & S-te-Fan have been performing across the world for almost a decade. Their iconic sound is a very progressive style of hardstyle, with longer tracks and euphoric melodies that feature chopped up vocals. Some of their major hits include “Music Made Addict,” “Loopmachine,” and their anthem to the yearly Q-Dance event “Qlimax” in 2009.
Originally one-half of the Australian duo Bioweapon, Audiofreq creates driving productions that have very unique sound design. His style is groovy and melodic, even though it may be raw and heavy as well. He is currently signed to Dirty Workz, which was recently acquired by Dim Mak. In 2013, Audiofreq released his debut album, Audioception, to very high critical acclaim. The album, even though it was primarily a hardstyle album, included some tracks that took large influences from drum & bass & drumstep, as well as tracks that featured samples of gospel choirs and other strange sounds.
The Wasted Penguinz entered the hardstyle scene in 2010 when Scantraxx Records put out their first big release. Their style was picked up very fast, and they have developed it into a very melodic and euphoric sound. Their tracks usually contain very emotional vocals and melodies in addition to a great fusion of light sounds over hardstyle kicks and basslines. Their biggest hit to date was their track “Melancholia,” which was voted the best hardstyle track of 2011 by the FEAR.FM awards. In 2013, they released their first album, Wistfulness, which included some newer hit tracks of theirs alongside collaborations with artists like Toneshifterz, Chris One, and Rebourne.
The Prophet is a name that’s been in hardstyle music since the very beginning. In the 90s, Dov Elkabas was a gabber and hardcore DJ as the hardstyle genre was taking its early steps in forming. He eventually founded one of the biggest labels in the history of hardstyle, Scantraxx Records. This label hosted some of the first releases of massive DJs in the scene like Showtek, Headhunterz, Wildstylez and Frontliner. He developed his own sound, at first very raw and heavy, but lately he’s been taking it to a more melodic side. He is expected to release a new album in 2014 with all new material. His most recent track, "Tracking the Beat," is already making waves in the hardstyle scene. Some of his other major releases include “Recession,” “Just Don’t Care,” and “Ordinary Life.”
Italian producer Zatox has been a significant name in the hardstyle scene for many years. He has produced anthems for massive events like Qlimax, played around the world at events like EDC Vegas and truly shown his style around the world. His style is categorized as very melodic and raw with his signature Zatox kicks. Most of his releases are on his own label, Unite Records, which also features young raw talent from around the world. Some of his more notable productions include his collaboration with Headhunterz, “The Perfect Weapon,” and his solo tracks “You Make The Change” and “My Life.”
Article contributed by Alan Mandel