Wouter de Vink
By Wouter de Vink

The brand new duo Last of Us has their first release on Art of Creation: Eternity with ‘High’. After months of preparations, secrecy and hard work, we spoke to Mark and Mischa about the start of a promising career: “Having to keep your mouth shut for such a long period of time is quite difficult, haha.”

UPDATE: Last of Us changes name to ‘Break of Dawn’

Since the stream of Defqon.1 at Home last month, there has been a lot of talk about the livesets of the big Art of Creation names – putting a spotlight on the new talent. Label bosses Headhunterz and Wildstylez played music that had never been heard before – unknown to the general public. It turned out to be about Last of Us among others; one of three new acts at the newly founded Art of Creation: Eternity. “The day of the announcement was a day to remember,” the boys start to tell proudly.


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A post shared by HEADHUNTERZ (@headhunterz)

Last of Us: “To really be a part of Art of Creation now is an indescribable feeling and offers the opportunity to learn a lot and work harder on our careers”

Time to learn more about these artists, with Last of Us kicking it off with their very first record. “We looked it up: on February 11, we were added to a hidden chat channel on Discord, along with A-Rize (Carlos), JGSW (Myron) and Sephyx,” Mischa recalls. “Our suspicion became reality, but of course we weren’t allowed to share anything yet because everything would be announced on July 1st. So many positive and sweet reactions. We mostly liked the speculations, people who really put an effort in finding out who the new names of the tracks were in the set by Willem (Headhunterz) and Joram (Wildstylez). To really be a part of Art of Creation now is an indescribable feeling and offers the opportunity to learn a lot and work harder on our career.”

Indeed, there was a lot of speculation and the news about the new Art of Creation label spread like wildfire. “What we certainly didn’t expect is that AOC would approach the launch so big,” explains Mark. “Big video for the announcement, each act has its own AOC profile photos, animated versions even, content for our socials. They made something really beautiful out of it. This all helps to radiate unity, which brings out the AOC family feeling even more.”

With the same vision from completely different environments

So this family has gained a lot of new names. More than enough reasons to highlight them in a new episode of AOC TV, with Last of Us, A-Rize and JGSW appearing in front of the camera. Mischa (an entrepreneur from the west of the Netherlands) and Mark (a musician from the east) are not only the only duo, but also live quite far apart from each other. “We met through Fiverr, a platform where freelancers can offer all kinds of services,” explains Mischa. “I was looking for a simple logo for an assignment, but I pasted the wrong text in the search bar. That was something with hardstyle and that’s how I ended up with all freelancers with hardstyle services. Mark’s profile appealed to me and that’s how I ended up with his music.”

Mark explains that from then on things started rolling: “I received some messages from Mischa and we decided to meet. After only two or three studio sessions, some nice concepts started rolling out and we clicked very well. A beautiful friendship developed and a month or two later we decided to move on together.”

Every artist’s struggle: how do you come up with a name?

Anyone who is going to make a blueprint for coming up with a name for a hardstyle artist, will undoubtedly put a Z, a dash or an abbreviation in it as a requirement. Something that cannot be found in the title of Last of Us. “It’s funny that you look at the name like that,” says Mischa. “This was one of our criteria when coming up with the name. No Q, X, Z, plurals or abbreviations.”

Original, but that does bring some challenges, and initially it was something completely different. “The search for our name was quite difficult,” adds Mark. “You want something that is easy to speak out load. After another day of brainstorming, I was done with it and then said never mind. That stuck and eventually became NVRMIND.” Mischa: “We were very satisfied with NVRMIND, only we found out 3 weeks before the announcement of Art of Creation: Eternity that a Nevrmind already exists – and with quite a few monthly listeners too. We had to go back to the drawing board…”

Imagine: as a starting duo you are about to be announced at a major label, but 3 weeks in advance you still have to come up with a new name. “In the new search – which involved much more pressure – Mark and I both started working with a word list. 50 words written down that showed that we both feel a lot about the word mind. One of the contenders was Mind of Us We, so then we presented the contenders to Willem, on which Willem dropped ‘Last of Us’. That turned out to be the one. We also have – in our opinion – strong plans for the story and branding behind Last of Us, but we’ll keep those for a while for ourselves.”


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A post shared by Last of Us (@lastofusnl)

The tone for Art of Creation: Eternity is set

With ‘High (ft. Meryll)’, Last of Us has their very first release on AOC Eternity today. The origin of this started a while ago, Mark begins to tell. “Somewhere in March we had a video call with Willem. During this call we listened to our concepts. Naturally, we presented our latest concept with great enthusiasm. Willem was enthusiastic, but was curious about more. We mentioned that our first concept ‘High’ usually wins among our friends. Willem stopped the track halfway through the melody – paused for a moment and said: ‘Guys, this might be a hit…’.”

A face speaks volumes, something that Mischa was able to notice at the time in his partner in crime. “I still remember when I saw Mark that he just didn’t know anymore. We were both silent while Willem listened happily. From then on we started to put our full focus on ‘High’.”

‘The next Last of Us release won’t take long’

So the start for Last of Us has been made. Mark and Mischa have now been signed to a booking agency and have already received the first announcement with Defqon.1 2022. What are the plans for the future? Mark: “We’re working hard to work out the story and branding behind Last of Us, there’s a lot involved – but as Mischa said – we’ll keep this to ourselves for a while. In addition, we spend a lot of studio hours and focus on our second release ‘Supernova’ (which will follow soon). We have also finished a great collab with Carlos (A-Rize) and are working on a collab with Myron (JGSW).”

Even though were just a few events in the Netherlands this summer, Last of Us managed to grab their very first moment on stage (when it was still possible). Mischa: “A few weeks ago, Noisecontrollers invited us to play the last 15 minutes of his set at Boulevard Outdoor. This was the very first time we were behind the decks together. This short performance again confirmed to us that the choice to continue as a duo was the right one. It was short but sweet, extremely fun and immediately left us wanting more.”

It remains to be seen when the next steps in the field of action can be taken. But it looks hopeful. “Of course we hope – like everyone else – that the pandemic will end soon so that we can accelerate and do our first own performances. Unfortunately, the re-tightened measures do not help with this. But as bizarre as it sounds, we have a first international booking request in. Independent Artist Agency is working hard to make our first bookings a reality.”

‘High’ by Last of Us is out today on Art of Creation: Eternity. Keep an eye on the Last of Us socials to keep up to date with the act.

Footage taken from Facebook page Last of Us

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