True Life: Hardstyle Is Growing On Me, And I Like It
Hardstyle has actually been around since the early 2000s, and the genre initially evolved from the underground scene of the Netherlands. In 2002, the genre really took off as Q-dance officially registered hardstyle as their brand after many successful Qlubtempo and Qlimax performances. Moving into 2013, festivals like Defqon, Mysteryland, and The Sound Of Q-dance grew in popularity and each brought about the trend of booking hardstyle talent for more North American festivals. The trend quickly spread into 2014's festival season, where Q-dance has earned their own stages at festivals like Mysteryland USA and TomorrowWorld.
If you're like me, however, hardstyle is still a new and unfamiliar world to you. When first hearing the rambunctious 140-150 BPM, one’s typical reaction may think of it as a bunch of hardcore kids whom love to fist pumping and listen to the same beat over and over again. This idea is actually a familiar judgment, which inspired me to give the genre a chance to begin with. Think about that moment when you first explained electronic dance music to a bystander. You’d usually hear the classic stereotypical response: “Oh, you mean the same techno beat played again and again?” This is something I still hear today. This is why when people denounce a relatively new genre that has developed, I become inspired to experiment and listen to the genre myself. Little did I know that I’d actually become someone who not only grew to respect this new genre, but actually developed a great deal of interest in the high-energy music and culture as well.
I started off my journey into hardstyle by listening to Geck-e and Zatox. Both producers quickly began to ease me into the genre. I found Zatox through his 2013 Mysteryland set, which I’ve seen reposted on various Q-dance playlists. From this, I was introduced to Zatox's interest in rawstyle, which the producer has been working into the hardstyle world since 2009.
While listening to the set, I think it was right when “You Make The Change” dropped that I fell in love. Or maybe it was the incorporation of Showtek’s classic “Fuck The System” record. It might have even been the creative introduction to what exactly a “Wild Motherf*****” is considered to be in the hardstyle nation. Whatever it was, just give it a listen. You won't regret it.
Moving on to Geck-e, who I discovered through his most recent Qult Radio mix. I was relieved to discover that trap and dubstep were being integrated with hardstyle. To be honest, I was shocked to hear some of the records played in these mixes, but I was definitely interested in exploring some of the artists featured on Qult Radio, including Coone, Noisecontrollers, and Wildstylez. I discovered that some of these producers would be playing at the Sound of Q-dance stage at Mysteryland USA. This made me ecstatic, as I will be attending Mysteryland USA, and it will be the first time I've ever witnessed a hardstyle producer spin live.
Let's preview what exactly I'll be seeing among the hardstyle scene this summer....
The hardstyle family is certainly something unique. When thinking about all the sub-genres associated within electronic music, they all have their own unique characteristics. The trance family will always be vastly different from the brostep community, whom live for massive drops. I've come to realize that hardstyle might come off as a bold and intimidating community, which may cause dance fans to stray away from it. In my case, and speaking from someone who's never been to a hardstyle performance, I could definitely see myself enjoying every second of being in that crowd. While I'm not exactly sure why, I think it's just the general excitement of connecting with an entirely different crowd and being passionate about a fantastic genre of electronic music.
Bring on the hardstyle; I’m ready for a summer of Q-dance!
Sources and Cover Photo Credit: Q-dance.com