Evil Activties/Max Enforcer discusses the Hard scene in America
Kel van Soest goes by two names. When he steps up on stage with extremely fast and heavy hardcore beats, you get a performance from hardcore legend Evil Activities. When Kel keeps his BPM's around a steady and slower 150 BPM, Max Enforcer is in the house. There's no one quite like Kel in the world of hard music, with two major projects going on at once. He's incredibly focused and hardworking, and beyond dedicated to the music he loves. In addition to consistently touring and producing, he hosts a radioshow on Q-Dance Radio, and has multiple releases on top tier Hardstyle labels. Most recently, his anthem for Rebirth was released on Lose Control Music, the label of Hardstyle pioneer Wildstylez.
Although he has played in the United States before, come May 8th, Kel will take the stage at the Hardstyle Arena as both Evil Activities & Max Enforcer. American Hardstyle & Hardcore fans are extremely excited to see Kel wear both hats during the show. I sat down with Kel on a transatlantic phone call, and he had some very interesting things to say!
(EDM = Alan Mandel ; Kel = Evil Activties & Max Enforcer)
EDM: Hey Kel! Great to meet you man. What’s up, how’s life?
Kel: I’m very good man, good to meet you as well! Life’s been treating me well.
EDM: Great to hear! So first off - the world knows you by two names: Evil Activities, and Max Enforcer. What’s the difference between these two stage names?
Kel: Well, first off, the BPMs. Evil Activities is more rough and fast, while Max Enforcer is slower and more euphoric, although both are in the harder styles. There’s a big difference in the crowds though - both are very dedicated, but I would say that only about 25% listen to both styles. Usually the hardcore people don’t listen to Hardstyle, and the Hardcore people don’t listen to Hardstyle, so there’s a definite difference.
EDM: What were you expecting when you were booked to perform Hardcore music in LA?
Kel: I got exactly what I was expecting. It wasn’t my first time closing a Hardstyle party with Hardcore, and people love for those last hours to be filled with higher BPMs. It’s the change in music style that they like, so what I got from them was what I expected.
EDM: Was the crowd reaction different in America than in Holland?
Kel: Yeah, it was more enthusiastic in America.
EDM: Really? That’s surprising!
Kel: Yeah! The thing is, people don’t get to see me often in LA, while in Holland, I get to play a lot more. I think that’s the big difference - it was a great crowd, and it definitely showed that there is more to be done there.
EDM: So we hear you’ve got a big gig coming up on May 8th as both Evil Activities and Max Enforcer, once again in LA. Tell us a little bit about it!
Kel: It’s the “Hardstyle Arena”, which is also part of the Gunz for Hire American tour. I’m just anxious to get back to LA - last time was awesome. It’s great to be there as Evil Activities, but also as Max Enforcer. It’s Max Enforcer’s first time in LA! It’s a great crowd and I know they will respond well.
EDM: So, America is full of small local hard scenes, all of which are growing very quickly. There are many American artists coming up, and there are many parties springing up around the country. What are your thoughts on this?
Kel: First of all, that’s great! You need a club scene and local stuff, because if you only have big artists, the music will never build a big fanbase. You need the resident DJs to play the music, because that’s how the music will grow organically. I’ve played a couple of small shows across the US, in Minneapolis, Arizona, New York, and a few times in Canada. LA right now is the hub for it, though.
EDM: What do you have planned for both projects in 2015?
Kel: Musicwise, I’m focusing on both. It’s very important to have music out as an artist, so I can’t focus on one or the other - I need to keep my attention on both. Right now, as Evil Activities, I think I am one of the artists that can show America what Hardcore is, alongside guys like Angerfist. We know how to connect with a fresh crowd out here.
EDM: That’s very true - often in America when you show someone Hardcore music, they look at you funny and say “what is this?”
Kel: Exactly, “what is this?” is the first reaction that you get, and it’s so important for them to have it be a positive reaction, instead of a negative reaction. Right now, the plan is to drop a good release that everyone can sing along to. As Max Enforcer I just released an anthem for an event here in Holland called Rebirth. I’m also planning on doing some stuff with Wildstylez, and some other people, so it’s all rolling!
EDM: You’re known for creating very memorable tracks that stick around for years, like “Nobody Said It Was Easy” as Evil Activities, or “Lost In Paradise” as Max Enforcer. What’s your key to making tracks timeless?
Kel: It’s music, so I don’t have an answer for that. It just comes, and as it comes you do it, and that’s it! I think there is a basic thing you need to consider when making a successful track, but thats something every artist has built individually. It’s not an easy question, I love the euphoric stuff, and I’m a person/artist that knows people just want to have a good time. If they do have a good time, they buy the tickets, the DJ gets booked, it’s a circle. I’m an entertainer, and I want to entertain people!
EDM: When you go into the studio, do you go in initially saying, "today I will produce Hardcore," or "today I will produce Hardstyle," or do you just let it come to you?
Kel: When I go in the studio, I go in with the mindset of producing either Hardcore or Hardstyle. It depends on the day, and how I feel, because I don’t want to do too much of one style at a time - I need both to keep the inspiration flowing! It’s like eating a sandwich with cheese every day, it’s good food, but you don’t want to eat it every day. It’s the same for me with Hardstyle & Hardcore.
EDM: Along with the harder styles come bits and pieces of Dutch culture, which are slowly getting picked up by Americans. Things like Hakken are becoming commonplace at American parties, and Dutch tracks are getting picked up by Americans too. What are your thoughts on this?
Kel: Well, I think that’s great, of course! When one culture takes another culture as a positive thing and makes something of it and try to live by it, that’s great. I do think America and Holland already do have a good bond - we’re friends as countries. Just look at New York - that used to be "New Amsterdam", so we're good!
EDM: Do you think this is the biggest wave of hard music to ever hit the States?
Kel: Yeah, definitely!
EDM: What separates hard genres from other EDM?
Kel: The dedication, most definitely. In house music or other styles, there’s regular people who just work, and music is not part of their everyday life. They play it in the car, they like the song, but they don’t actually know which track is playing. In Hardcore and Hardstyle, in the Harder scene, that’s different. The fans, the people there, they really know which track is which, which remix it is, et cetera. It’s a lifestyle thing! I’m not saying that all the people that go to harder styles events know everything, but if you look at the percentage, it will be higher at those parties.
EDM: Thanks, Kel! Great insight from you man - it was great to chat with you. We’ll see you on the 8th of May for the Hardstyle Arena!