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Bringing Hardstyle to America

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There is something I have given up a long time ago, and that is to predict the future. I mean this in a positive way. If I look back to the start of my career as Headhunterz, I would have never ever been able to predict where I would be today. Actually, I probably wouldn't even have believed it if someone told me back then. That's the simple reason I don't like to try and fulfill a task that is not mine.

Yesterday I was listening to an audio book, where the speaker read out:

"In Zen Buddhism, it is said that there are two ways to wash the dishes. One is to wash the dishes, to get clean dishes. The other is to wash the dishes, to wash the dishes."

This is how I try to look at my career. The dishes will get cleaned, and I don't have to worry about that. I enjoy every opportunity and every bit of growth in my career, like it could be the last. That in short is my personal perspective.

Then there is the buzz in the scene. There's definitely a lot of talking going on, and it's exciting! For the first time, we see American blogs picking up on what we're doing with our hardstyle thingy. I suddenly got booked on big main stages, signed to a huge record label etc. This of course raises the discussion; Will hardstyle be the next big thing? If there is one thing I expect from this, is that the least it will do, is bring about a change in our genre.

For the last couple of years, the hardstyle artists have been doing the same merry-go-round. There's nothing wrong with that, it just tends to keep them fixed on what the people like to hear from them. We were never pulled out of our comfort zone.

A lot of artists get their inspiration from performances. So as long as your crowd is going crazy on the stuff you're used to making, you're not really triggered to make breakthrough changes. And then, suddenly you're closing a huge festival where people have never gone beyond 130bpm. And although the first few rows consist of true fans who have waited for years to see you, the rest is overwhelmed by an explosion of sound, racing at 150bpm. Some are pleasantly surprised, others choose to find their way out before the rush.

Right there is where you're out of your comfort zone, and a new challenge comes in. I don't mean to say everyone has to like this music, but in some ways people are very common. People like to get moved, touched, uplifted, etcetera, and hardstyle does all of this. So where do you meet these people, having to listen to more than an hour of music they have never heard? That is the challenge, and that is what could bring about musical change in our genre. Positive or not, that's a different story, and for everyone to decide for themselves.

Then, there is the core fan base. The devoted listener. They have helped get hardstyle to this point. We should be grateful to them, and they to us. There is one dilemma, and that is that they want change and want stability at the same time. Use the same kick twice and you'll get punished. Slow down the bpm and you'll get called out.

What I have realized is, there is simply no way to keep everybody happy. As an artist, I am up for a new challenge. This counts for everyone who's passionate or ambitious about their career, in any profession. You want to keep moving forward. Trying to keep angry fans happy is an impossible task. It brings along a lot of negative energy, and keeps you away from what YOU want to make.

Even if what you really would like to make would be a more accessible version of the music, they're used to hearing from you, and they will start calling you a sell out, then think about it.A so called sell out is somebody trying to please a crowd, by making what they want to hear, so isn't that a bit paradoxical?

As hardstyle grows, these are the questions we must ask. Let's see what the future will bring. Whatever that is is, you can count on one thing. I will continue to be me, and do my thing.