Zatox returns to the old trusted nest. In collaboration with Scantraxx, the Italian is bringing his infamous Italian Hardstyle label back after more than 10 years. “A…
Exclusive in-depth interview with Bass Modulators
Although Qlimax was a couple of weeks ago it is still fresh in my memory. Personally, one of the best parties you can attend and so it is about time I got up close and personal with one of the titans that got the opportunity to spin at Qlimax. I am talking about the golden duo Bass Modulators (Rick and Roland). They had the honor to kick-off this night and played an amazing euphoric set.
Rick and Roland have been around the block when it comes to devoting their time and dedication to the hardstyle scene, but 2015 has been an extremely good year for the duo. They are producing smasher after smasher (“Solar” together with Noisecontrollers, “Our Dreams”, “Oxygen”) and spin at many Dutch and international parties. Last week I got the chance to speak with them personally and question them about Qlimax, NCBM their musical plans and everything in between. Time for an exclusive “InDeep” with Bass Modulators.
Guys, first of all, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I’m going to start off with that what is most fresh in our memory, Qlimax! It must have been an amazing night for you guys. So I wondered, how do you start such an important day? Do you have any routines?
Roland: We started the day in the studio to finish some “loose ends” and before we leave we always relax for a while so we don’t get too hyped or stressed. When we arrive it’s usually some socializing with everybody who’s already on site and, you know, just drinking some beer! Just before we go on stage we have a final moment of focus and discuss which track will be our opening. When the first track hits the decks than it’s all systems go and party!
You had the honor of creating the opening show and also to kick off the party. How do you prepare for such an epic moment? Are you guys sweating away in the studio until Friday evening?
Rick: In this case we have taken a lot of preparation time. You want to create something unique for the people who take the time to come and see us, so yes, we spent a lot of time in the studio. We even finished some stuff on Saturday! Especially since we were responsible for the opening show. That took a lot of time and work. It had to be finished a couple of weeks before Qlimax because the whole light and pyrotechnical show had to be programmed around it. But hard work pays off and we are really pleased with the results.
Qlimax is also a little bit a showcase of your producer/DJ qualities. You guys did a couple of nice remixes, I mean “Adele – Hello” and “Zany – Science & Religion” those are some awesome tracks to get your hands on. When do you start making these remixes and where do you get the inspiration to mix such iconic tracks?
Rick: From the first time we heard Adele’s Hello we knew that we had to make a hardstyle remix of it. The vocal is so strong and beautiful; it just had remix written all over it. We were very lucky that the key and the pace of the track fitted a hardstyle redo perfectly! The track was actually finished within a couple of hours.
Wow, that’s really fast. And what about “Science & Religion”?
Roland: Science and Religion is the ultimate Qlimax track. We wanted to give it a new touch (or as we would say in Dutch: “a new jacket”). I think that “Science & Religion” could possibly be the most iconic and most amazing Qlimax anthem ever, so in that respect the choice was easily made. We started to work with the track on the Friday before Qlimax but again, the process of doing the remix went pretty fast.
Speedy Gonzales you guys are! So, Qlimax must have been one of the highlights of your career. What’s next?
Roland: We want to put our focus on spinning and getting more fans abroad. Also, develop our sound and spread it to the far corners of the world! Also, we’re pretty busy with our NCBM project with Noisecontrollers and putting a lot of effort in the first live act together on Hard Bass.
Good to know! I want to continue with NCBM in a few minutes. But first, you guys are pretty active making an international name for BM. 12th of December, first stop, Defqon Chile. What is the most epic party/festival or location that you had the opportunity to spin and why?
Rick: When it comes to the vibe and audience “The Sound of Q-dance” in Chile was pretty amazing. The crowd, my god, they go ballistic. To witness that as an artist that is really energizing! Also the fans are really appreciative of what we do and that was also real nice to experience. Location wise I would have to say that Roland and myself both loved Mysteryland USA. To us this was very special because the famous Woodstock terrain is also in the Bethel Woods.
The next week you guys have a gig in India. Do you have any idea what to expect?
Roland: To be honest, we have no clue what to expect! Haha! It is cool that, together with Noisecontrollers, we will be the first ever hardstyle acts who will make an appearance in India, as far as we know. The reactions we get on social media are very positive and it seems we have quite a fan base. We are the closing act on the main stage of EVC festival, which is one of the most well-known parties, so we are super exited.
And, are there any obscene and obscure demands on your artist rider?
Rick: Haha nah, we are pretty easy going non-demanding artists. No all blue M&M collection for us, just beer, soda’s and a bottle of Bacardi Oakheart. On real special occasions we might request a bottle of champagne though.
Ok, let’s get back to the basics. How did you first get into contact with hardstyle?
Roland: It started actually at the very beginning of Hardstyle becoming a genre. We are both from Haarlem where at the beginning of 2000 the ‘Oxygene’ raves were organized. At the time DJ Pavo and Lady Dana regularly spun their tracks but it was not yet called Hardstyle, it was more a cross over between Techno and Hardtrance. We also started visiting the Qlub Tempo raves and Qlimax. You could say we started early! Our love for Hardstyle really started in the underground scene that picked up more momentum and eventually grew to the genre we now call Hardstyle. Since we were able to grow with and within this genre I think it really contributed to our career.
And then there was your very first BM booking. What was it like?
Rick: One of our first paid bookings was not long after our first release in 2007 and it was in the Matrixx in Nijmegen. We only had one problem; only Roland knew how to spin! That meant that I had to learn to spin in one week (we had the booking on the following Saturday). Roland had a simple DJ set and that’s where I started my crash course. So, then we arrived in the Matrixx and discovered that there was a CD player set and I learned on vinyl! Praise the lord we brought some CD’s just in case, but we had to do it. So we performed in a packed Matrixx with equipment we never used before and with only one experienced DJ. The nerves were killing us but above all expectations it went surprisingly well.
I’m glad everything worked out! It must have been a real nerve wrecker. Let’s continue with the start of a DJ/producer career. I mean, everybody has got to start somewhere and I bet you guys get tons of technical music related questions from young producers. Who has been your mentor in the start-up phase of BM?
Rick: When we started BM we got a lot of support from Tatanka. He gave a lot of feedback on our tracks since we were also signed at his label DJU. When we made the switch to Scantraxx it was mainly The Prophet who supported us and gave us a lot of tips.
So now you guys are the mentors! Do you have any advice, besides the never give up and develop your own sound-cliché, for aspiring DJs?
Roland: Don’t be afraid to experiment. Tracks that are refreshing will always stand out more than the copycats. A label or artist will always search for these kinds of tracks. You must see it in this perspective: why would a DJ spin my record instead of the track made by the well-known guys who will get everyone dancing anyway? This is also very important when you are performing. Make sure that you are an addition to the scene and not a copycat.
All right, all right. Originality is key! So where do you guys get you musical inspiration from and how do you put this into a track?
Roland: Most of the time we get really inspired when we attend a rave or festival. From our own sets as well as the sets of other DJs. We instantly see what’s working on the dance floor and what’s not. That’s a very important parameter for a track. Also, at a festival or rave the music will be at its best. Besides that, we also listen to a lot of music, from Dub step to House and even 70’s music.
70’s music, interesting! I wonder if we will hear a little boogey night influence in a BM track one day. On to something totally different. What if, you’re trapped on a deserted island and you could only listen to 3 (hardstyle) tracks for the rest of your life, which tracks would you chose?
To stay in the Hardstyle theme we have agreed upon :
1. The Pitcher – Serenity
2. Project one – Art of Creation
3. Atmozfears – Release
Nice! So, I want to talk a little bit about the development of your career. There must have been highs and lows. Was there ever a time when you thought, that’s it, we quit?
Rick: We never thought about quitting but there have been times that we questioned the meaning of our endeavors. We had a lot of struggles when we started out on this journey and we simply couldn’t rise above the noise so to speak. When we consciously made the decision to fully focus on music and quitted our daytime jobs then we really had a lift off! In hindsight, this was the best decision we have made for our career.
Luckily you guys made the right decision, what if you decided to quit! Our lives would not known Oxygen or Solar! Terrible thoughts ;-) Anyway, hardstyle as a genre is becoming more and more prominent in the EDM scene. How do you guys see its role now and in the future?
Rick: Hardstyle is a very unique style that, at least that’s what we think, will always remain. It is a style that has been around the block and that is becoming more and more popular. There is also a big dedicated community of fans around the world! Other EDM styles are picking up Hardstyle too now. A lot of EDM sets close of with some hardstyle tracks. Personally we think this cross over is amazing because we are not really fond of limits. I mean, awesome music is limitless. It’s hard to say if Hardstyle will play a bigger role but that the boundaries will fade that’s for sure.
Are there any talents in the scene that we should keep our eye on?
Rick: At this moment we are fan of Jinxed. These guys have a real cool sound that matches our sets really well. We always manage to play some of their tracks in our set and think these guys can go real big.
If you could pick any producer/artist/vocalist to work with in the future, who would you pick and why?
Roland: Wow, there are an awful lot of great artists out there but if we’d had to choose a producer than we would go for Skrillex and Liam Howlett (Prodigy). These are legends that make productions at the highest level. If we could pick a vocalist we would go for Adele, that woman has an amazing voice!
You guys are also working together with, in my opinion the best producer in our genre, Noisecontrollers. Hardbass you will perform a liveset with him. How did this partnership came into existence?
Rick: It started when Roland was still working for Scantraxx. He had a conversation with Bas (NC) about his new album and he boldly proposed if we could do a remix of one of his tracks. We had the honor to remix “Faster ‘N Further”. Luckily Bas was really pleased with the result and asked us to do a collab. The result of this collab was “Rocked Up” and we realized that we had great chemistry in the studio and also when we were not working on our music, we just had an awesome time together. So, eventually we decided to take it to the next level and NCBM was born!
I understood from another interview you guys did he is someone you really looked up to. What’s it like to work with him professionally?
Rick: It is amazing to work with him; he is and will remain an inspiration to us! We love to play his music in our sets and it makes it even more amazing since we have a great personal connection. Also our musical styles match really well! And of course we learn a lot from the way he works and his experience in the scene.
Could we expect an NCBM album coming out in the future? Or is there anything you could tell us about your plans together?
Roland: For the time being we want to focus on our live act for Hard Bass. It’s going to be our first live act together and this will be our showpiece so to say. Probably, we will have a lot of fresh music and edits ready and what will happen with this new music publishing wise we don’t know yet. We could make a special release or something but, we’re not sure yet!
To finish up! Complete this sentence:
Music is… our life!
All right guys, thanks so much for taking the time to come over and give us some insights in the life of Bass Modulators. We are curious what the future will bring and can’t wait to hear more music.