This is Matt Lynch with Electric Vibes leading you through an exclusive "Q & A" with one of the greats in Hardstyle music: A-lusion. He has been generous enough to answer these questions, in hope for a better understanding of the artist behind the music and the continued growth of Hardstyle in general. The countless tracks and high-energy performances have left enthusiasts craving for more, since 2003. Let's hear more from him!
How was your experience playing EDC Las Vegas 2015? What differences stood out to you from other festivals this year?
A-lusion: First of all, the temperature! With EDC being in the Las Vegas desert environment, it is clearly a big difference to many other festivals I played at. Especially festivals in The Netherlands can have pretty unsteady weather through the festival season. At EDC people know it's going to be hot, so for instance they can really dress to this. If you look at the video registration, you'll know what I mean. :-) Women dressed very lightly, etc. Not a bad addition to a festival right? Festivals should be a pleasure for both the ears and eyes.
A-lusion: Back to the festival, what makes EDC different from other festivals are of course the carnival rides and attractions. The whole theme is different from what I experience at other festivals. I again had an amazing time playing at EDC Las Vegas. My full video registration is online and the video says it all. I played a nice mixture of old and new tracks, did some MC-ing, etc. Another great memory made!
Matt: Las Vegas is absolutely a "Hot Spot" in those ways and among many others. I feel it's one of USA's most entertaining cities and makes noise throughout the world. I did not have a chance to go this year but I have listened to your entire set several times and saw the video footage, 100% pure positive energy! (Media captured below)
How has your music grown in recent years?
A-lusion: I learned a lot about producing my music in a more musical way. All I knew before I started in the Electronic Music scene back in 1997, was how to play the piano. But I didn't really know about chord progressions and music theory. In the past years I learned a lot about that and this changed my music. My music now often consists of multiple lead layers that work together. It's more advanced now I think.
Mix-down and mastering has also been on my agenda for the past few years. I love the technical part of producing music and I always strive towards to best sound quality possible. And in the recent years, I focused on original complex sound design a lot. So if you listen to my recent tracks, you'll hear sounds that simply cannot be created from a single synth preset. Sometimes I do tend to over-produce stuff so recently I've been focusing on going back to the basics. It's all about the rhythm, energy, strong bass, and catchy melodies!
Getting the same dance-floor effect, with less sounds.
Matt: As Hardstyle and technology have evolved it seems you have always matched the beat.
Do you enjoy America? What are your thoughts on the American Hard Dance scene?
A-lusion: Yes I do very much. First time I visited America, was with a school trip back in 2001. In the past 2 years I was also able to perform in the US since I got my Visa. So far I've been performing in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia and I have to say I loved each performance.
The American Hard Dance scene already consists of a group of dedicated Harder-styles lovers. I do have the feeling it can become much bigger. I would love to play in the US every month! Especially the Melodic Hardstyle has so much potential to reach bigger crowds. The majority of the electronic music scene might be a bit afraid of the higher BPM. But once you understand this you are hooked. Right now there is a lot of diversity in Hardstyle music. This is a good thing as more people can relate to the style now. Some like it more Raw, some like it more Euphoric. The more raw sound can make a big impact in the underground scene. And the Euphoric, positive vibe, Hardstyle has potential to make a more “commercial” breakthrough. Anything that has singing vocals has potential to reach bigger “commercial” crowds. I produce and play both the harder and the Euphoric sound. So I'm ready to bring my sounds to the U.S in the near future again. It will be difficult for Hardstyle to grow, since many people are already hooked to EDM, Trance and Techno. It might take some time but the Hardstyle sound is too awesome not to become more popular. Right? How awesome would it be if we could convert all American EDM lovers to become Hardstyle lovers?
Matt: I agree with you completely and could only imagine how awesome a Hardstyle take-over would be. That is a goal I hope we all can strive for together and only together we will achieve this. I remember when you came to Philadelphia (My Home City) and how excited we all were and how honored we were to have you play for our city. Philly was a hard market to break into at the time, pretty much dominated by many other genres including a very strong, non-EDM, Hip-Hop presence. But times are changing quickly and we can only hope for the best!
People have expressed that you may be slightly underrated, or that people acknowledge your talent but overlook your quality music and performances. Do you feel you’re underrated? Do you ever feel not properly acknowledged for your incredible music production and contributions to Hardstyle?
A-lusion: First of all, thank you for the nice compliment. A good question that no one ever asked me before in an interview.
To be honest, yes I sometimes do feel this way. Some people have been saying my career has been slightly underrated for years. And like I said, I tend to agree with them on some aspects. Many other Djs / Producers have been given chances that weren't given to me in the same way. I really had to earn all my spots on events. Like on the Qlimax line-up for instance. People had been screaming my name on the internet for years, so it seemed the organization couldn't ignore me anymore. But without my fans this probably would never have happened. This has been such an amazing experience.
The same happened with a Scantraxx event in the Amsterdam Heineken Music Hall. They scheduled me in area 2. The Internet HS community made their voice heard and public demand kind of made them relocate me to the Main-stage! Love my fans! I do respect Scantraxx Recordz a lot though. Without them I don't know if I would have ended up in the Hardstyle scene, the way I did so far.
A lot has to do with speaking up and making your voice heard. I'm often too much focused on the creative part in-stead of the networking & politics part. A lot of current Djs in the scene don't make their own music. They have a lot more time to visit organizations, do marketing and connect with them. I never took the time to do this and therefore I can only let the music speak. And that brought me to great places and events already! But I know for sure, that with proper management, my reach would become much greater. But on the other hand, my music took me to so many great places around the world. Australia, the USA, nearly every country in Europe, etc. So if you look at it this way, my career hasn't been underrated at all so far. I'm fully aware of how many people would like to play at the events I played and play at.
One of the reasons why I might be labelled as underrated, is that my music maybe best categorized as more sophisticated? Maybe not always for the masses? My lyrics often go a bit deeper than 1-2-3, here we go, etc. Thinking simple is still an art I want to learn to master.
I do think some people don't really know the type of party I can build and the kind of sets I play. I'm a real DJ / Producer, unlike some other artists that don't know how to perform and only clap their hands. I interact, dance, MC, fist-pump, clap harder, hand out A-lusion merchandise and change my set on the fly when I see the crowd is drifting off a bit.
Therefore I'm happy that my full EDC Video set is out now, so people can experience my music and performance on a higher level.
Matt: Very interesting and from my seat the future seems bright on account of it all. It also sounds like you just had to fight harder in a sense. You can't shut out talent and your music speaks for you, which is obviously your most powerful weapon. I can empathize with the hardships you explained and overcame. It's really inspiration to all of us out there to keep living strong no matter what crosses our path. It gives your music and performances an even greater meaning that many can respect. Compliments should be given when they are earned regardless of the setting, well (laughs) that's how I feel anyway.
Where does your inspiration come from, in and out of the studio?
A-lusion: In previous interviews I always stated: “Other people's music, parties, movies and everyday life”. And at times all of these are true. When I performed 2 or 3 times every weekend my inspiration really came from performing. When I played on Saturday, I already had an idea for the next track on Sunday. Nowadays I focus more on track’s theme and sound design. So sometimes I just sit around and create cool sounds. And from that I transform them into a full track. The same circumstance happened with last year’s track Are You Ready. The roaring screeches of that track were the foundation of the track. Some of my tracks have lyrics about things I experience in life, like my track Start Living.
Matt: When your favorite artists create music based on some of their own life experiences it's almost like reading a biography through music. It's a gift to help us understand them in a language we all hear. Not a simple task but a great example: Start Living, a track that reminds us all of the amazing things around us in the present and that everything is already perfect as is. At that moment of realization life begins and we must use it, and "Start Living". The track features both classic and future sounds of Hardstyle blended in a perfect harmony with plenty of bass. Hearing that you created this track based on life experience gives it even more meaning. If your looking for inspiration you don't have to look much further than life experience. Respect!
What current projects are you most excited about?
A-lusion: Usually, every track I'm producing gets me more exciting than the previous track. So that's a good thing because this is what keeps me motivated. I've recently been going back to my roots a bit, less complexity and more to the point. Bringing the Reverse Bass back in some of the new tracks, working with shorter vocals, etc. I'm most excited about the fact that I'm only focusing on my A-lusion project now. No more ghost productions for now, no more educating other producers, etc.
What can we expect next from A-lusion?
A-lusion: In the near future, you can mainly expect new single releases. The Out in the Open album series project is done for now. I've set myself a few goals to reach. For instance, producing an anthem for a major festival is one of them.
I'm currently working on a new track that I plan to release in 2 versions. A regular Hardstyle kick version and a Reverse Bass version. I'm still working on getting the right vocal recorded for the track. But it's hard to get in contact with the right vocalists who understand Hardstyle. So if any of you vocalists are reading this and you want to be featured in a Hardstyle track, let me know! I'm down for either female or male vocalists, MC's, rappers, etc.
As a DJ I still have a wishlist of events I want to play at. For instance Mysteryland, Basscon, Tomorrowworld, Tomorrowland, DefQon Australia, and Defqon NL Red (main-stage) are still missing on my list. And regarding cities and countries among others: New York, Miami, Japan, Canada, Chile and Brasil. So my goal is to cross these off the list in the coming years.
Keep an eye and ear on my website and social media, to experience what's next in the A-lusion Hardstyle World.
Matt: In closing, I can honestly feel the positive energy pulsating throughout the atmosphere. You have expressed exciting news and inspirational responses that it seems any path you travel, these "electric vibes" will be there to follow and enjoyed by all. I would like to thank you personally and on behalf of all your fans for taking the time to educate us on your inside story. Also for all your continuous contributions to the Hardstyle community that will live on and continue to inspire wherever they are heard. To everyone reading this interview if you were not inspired, moved, or excited in any way, you may want to check your pulse or follow up by checking out the media provided. Please also make sure to like and follow A-lusion on the links provided. Be on the lookout for A-lusion while he composes his new masterpieces. This is Matt Lynch signing out for Electric Vibes, we are only getting started!