With just a few days left, Defqon.1 is about to receive more than a hundred thousand Weekend Warriors at The Holy Grounds. We spoke to Sander Bijlstra…
Digital Punk about his Unleashed CD
Digital Punk, the man behind the famous Unleashed podcast’ has many big releases on his name. He is signed to A² Records and listed at the top of the Hardstyle scene. You can watch him perform at almost every big festival this summer and recently he released the ‘Unleashed CD’ filled with all the best and latest Hardstyle has to offer. We had the chance to ask him some questions.
Let’s start with the Unleashed 2014 CD that came out recently, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Unleashed as a podcast gets released every month and contains the best tracks of the moment. This CD on the other hand contains all the best tracks from the podcast, now and in the past. It also contains some exclusive stuff that I’ve held back for a while. It’s a physical thing, which is different from a podcast that you can only download. Check out the Unleashed CD here.
Your career is currently sky-rocketing. Did you have to sacrifice a lot to get here?
Yes and no. Now I’m doing so well it really controls your life throughout the entire day. People who own their own business can relate to that. You never have a day off. I perform on the weekends and during the week I sit in the studio all day. Besides that I also need to do my accounting in the evenings, so it just keeps on going.
Four years ago I made a transition which allowed me to quit working besides being Digital Punk. It’s not a regular job. At one point you’re working 40 hours and one week later it’s 120. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!
Can you name something that you do in order to relax?
A big hobby of mine is gaming just like many other music nerds, if you may call it that haha. So my Playstation 4 is a good way to relax. Besides that I practice a lot of sports. I like to row and go cycling with my dad and my brother. It’s things you just have to do, because stuff like going out/going to a club is not something I do, because most of the times I have to perform. Going out for me means going to the movies or a concert. If you don’t do those things, being a DJ consumes you and you need to look out for that.
As a producer you need to keep on working, because when you haven’t finished a new track in a while you got a problem. When I sit in the studio and have to finish a track, it will most definitely fail. However, when I go home to relax and return to the studio the next day, the track will just roll out naturally. Relaxing always goes hand in hand with hard work, otherwise it just doesn’t work.
It’s funny that you mentioned the Playstation 4, because on Facebook you were very annoyed that you still didn’t have one. What games do you play
Haha, on the Playstation 4 I have Watch_Dogs and FIFA. My cabinet with PS3 games is completely stuffed. I’m somewhat of an all-type gamer.
Do you get inspiration out of games for your tracks?
Yes absolutely! One big example is the track with Radical Redemption ‘River of Souls’, because it comes straight from the game God of War. The guy who records the vocals is also the guy that makes all the artwork for me. He is located in the same building as me and is also a big game-fan. Back then he also playing the new God of War and he was about to record ‘The Revelation’ for me when he grabbed the microphone and said “The god of war…”.
I quickly looked up the lines and one thing led to another, that’s how those vocals came to be. ‘Purify’ the track that I made with B-Front, comes from League of Legends. ‘Oblivion’ comes from the game Starcraft II.
You’re the first artist to make a remix of Radical Redemption, how did this happen?
I’ve always thought that ‘The Black Demon’ was an awesome track. We were together in Australia back in February. I said to him “If I would remix one of your tracks, it would definitely be that one”. And then he said “Well why don’t you do it?” I really like the track and was convinced that I could make it sound really good with the Digital Punk sound. I could immediately picture it and had so many ideas that the track was finished in 4 days. I’m very happy with the result and even more important, Joey is too! I have only received compliments from my fans.
Speaking of compliments, Megabase took place a few weeks ago, how was that for you?
Well stuff like that doesn’t grow on you. Especially at the end when I was performing with Radical Redemption and Crypsis, that’s when I could really enjoy myself. Everything else was already done and nothing could go wrong anymore. And the feeling I got when MC Da Syndrome gave me a shout-out at the end of the day and 6.000 people raised their hands and started screaming, that never gets old haha!
Where would you like to perform someday?
Well it’s an honor to be requested somewhere, it doesn’t matter if it’s a big or a small event. Because people think about you and they go to the performance especially for you. But the bigger it gets, the more awesome it is. But I have to say that something like a Qlimax or a Mysteryland is still high on my list.
What is your favorite Digital Punk track?
The track that did the most for me, on a technical producer level, is ‘Oblivion’. It was so different that I received a lot of compliments. When I released it I wasn’t really sure how the track would be received. But everyone thought it was awesome!
Besides that I think ‘Rebel to the Grave’ is very special. I made it together with Ran-D and it’s not often that you make a track which feels completely ‘right’. During the time we were in the studio together we had a non-stop positive feeling. And you can certainly hear it, because everything fell into place.
My third and last favorite would be ‘Firestorm’, without any doubt. It’s ridiculous how much time I’ve spent on that track. I think it could easily be 4 weeks that I’ve worked on it. Every time I wasn’t fully satisfied about it and I would change something again. But the compliments I got from it afterwards, that’s why you do it. I got calls from my colleagues saying “Hey, what the fuck man” haha!
You get to make a track with an artist from a different genre, who would you pick?
I think if it doesn’t matter, I would choose Metallica. That would be an awesome combination. A break with those guitars and my massive drums on top of that. I think I’ll call them straight away haha!
How do you deal with criticism on your work?
Fortunately I’ve been in a good flow for the past year and a half with the critical audience. There isn’t much that I can do wrong currently, so I try to hold on to that. I barely read anything from the internet, because (with all due respect) I’m just not looking for any of that. I’d rather have people say something to me at parties, because then I know they show up there. Of course you always receive some criticism, but the only criticism that I can work with is that from colleagues.
But I haven’t gotten any lately, which is awesome of course. But whenever I do, I don’t turn my head for it. After all, I’m still a producer willing to better myself every time.
What do you think about the fact that Hardstyle is getting more and more commercial?
Music is evolving and the harder you try to stop that, the harder you will start to be annoyed. That doesn’t take away the fact that Hardstyle is indeed getting more commercial. But that only means that the border keeps on expanding. Just like Raw keeps getting harder. If you wouldn’t have that, I’m not saying that it’s a good thing per se, it would eventually become boring. So the music keeps evolving.
If, for instance, ‘Firestorm’ would be played on the radio, I wouldn’t say that I don’t want it. But people should not start to produce that way. To make music in a way that it will be played on the radio. They shouldn’t make the commercial sound to earn more money, because that would be because of the wrong reasons (in my opinion).
I think Hardstyle is too big to break, so I’m not really seeing Hardstyle getting more commercial making it worse. The ‘box’ Hardstyle is very broad and inside there is something for everyone.
Can you end this interview with a sneak-preview of your future Digital Punk projects?
Well they’re coming and you’d like to know it haha! I’m very busy and I will continue to be. But I can say that I’m working on a track with E-Force and besides that I’m also working on something with Hard Driver.