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…
Main Concern’s end of days
When you think of artists who are innovative, experimental and undeniably hard, Sweden’s hardstyle duo Main Concern instantly come to mind. After John Söderström and Nick Selman joined forces in the studio in 2008, they developed a unique brand of rough and raw hardstyle which landed them an instant signing to Spoontech Records. Ever since, their DJ career reached awesome heights as they headlined some of the biggest parties in NL such as Loudness, Q-BASE, QAPITAL, Decibel Outdoor and Defqon.1 to name a few. With releases like ‘Dark Universe’, ‘The Rush’ and ‘Survive’, they have truly made their mark on the harder circles in the scene.
So when they announced their upcoming split, it sent shockwaves throughout their fan base and we were all devastated by the news. We took the time to hear about their story.
Hi John and Nick, thank you for meeting with Hard News! First of all, can you tell us about how you guys met and how you came up with the Main Concern sound?
We met in high school back in 2007 where we just randomly started talking because both of us were into the whole ‘jumpstyle’ hype that was going on then. John had been producing just for fun for a year or two and then introduced Nick to Fruity Loops. Nick picked up really quick and we decided to start making music together. We created our first alias called “Nu-Lux”, this was never a name that we felt would do in the long run. So we sat on the school-yard one day and were discussing what to call ourselves. John just randomly said “finding a cool name is really our main concern right now”, Nick stopped and said “what about main concern?”
We messed around with different tracks for a while but the “Main Concern sound” kind of formed when we made the track ‘Pineapple’. We made this in early 2010 and at this time the whole raw scene was barely present. However, we were determined that this was the way we wanted to go, to make something fresh and new, something harder and more energetic.
You have stayed true to your sound and avoided joining the mainstream formula that’s popular at the moment. In your opinion, what direction do you want hardstyle take from 2016 onwards?
Well the direction the Hardstyle scene is headed is both positive and negative. Like every other thing you can choose to see the negative or positive side to a situation. We hear and read a lot of negative comments about the present ‘Raw’ scene. This is kind of the same way things were in 2009/2010 when people were fed up with the ‘Euphoric’ or ‘Nu-style’ scene. But like always there’s artists that branch out and trie new stuff, maybe completely unaware that they’re starting a new trend.
When we first heard Wavolizer’s industrial/crossbreed influenced sound we were completely hooked. We were hit by this wave of inspiration that just made us feel “we gotta do something like this”. He might not have been the first person to use this in Hardstyle but for us he was the one who introduced that distorted snare drum and breakbeat rhythms. Now you can hear these elements in a lot of tracks, especially the distorted snare drums which are present in most ‘raw’ tracks out there at the moment. We don’t want Hardstyle to go in ONE certain direction, we want people to keep experimenting and branch out. If more artists dared to do this, maybe they will be the one starting that new trend!
That’s a great point. It seems that producing is becoming more challenging these days. And there are not many duos in the hardstyle scene left, what do you think makes a duo successful in the studio?
Being a duo is both a curse and blessing. In the beginning it’s really nice to have someone to pitch ideas to and if you lose inspiration in a project you can just let the other person try to take over. Outside of the studio it’s also really nice to have someone to back you up while on stage those first times when you’re really nervous. However there’s also that potential threat of the two wills. When doing a track you might have to compromise and let your idea go because of the other person not liking it. This could create fights but we’ve always managed to compromise really well, realizing that it’s our two wills that’s the winning concept.
The reason why there’s so many duos splitting is most likely because they grow apart. After a couple of years most people are interested in other things than they were when they first started the project together. We started making music together when we were in high school, both so deeply passionate about Hardstyle, but now almost 8 years later of course we’ve changed a lot!
So, can you tell us about why you have decided to split up?
When we signed with Headliner Entertainment in 2014 we sat down and started talking about our future. We asked ourselves if this was the sign that we should really go for this and try making music to our full time job and move to Holland. We came to the conclusion that we didn’t want that. We felt that Main Concern should be something special, we feared that if we tried to make it into something that needed to make money for us, it would lose its charm.
We decided to stay in Sweden where John started studying and Nick kept pushing himself at his job at a studio. After John moved away it became a lot harder for us to put as much time on music as we used to. Before we lived fairly close and we hung out a couple times every week making music. While being home together during Christmas we realized we might have to end the project soon, due to John going away for abroad studies for one semester and then international internship for another. We didn’t wanna pause the project, hoping that after that year we could make it work again. As hard as it was to make this decision, we felt that we’d rather give it one last push and give it as much time as we possibly can and go out with a bang!
We’re keen to know what your plans are. Some more releases we hope! You’ve collaborated and remixed tracks for several artists, who has been influential to you guys in the past and present?In the past it’s definitely been producers like Noisecontrollers, Crypsis and B-front. The introduction of darker and harder hardstyle tracks has definitely fuelled our creativity. Delete became a big influence to us, as did Vazard, which led us into the Spoontech community. But besides from hardstyle artists we have found inspiration from diverse genres like industrial hardcore and drum & bass. N-vitral has been a huge inspiration for us too by showing how diverse one can be within a single genre. Elements from other genres has usually lead us to come up with new ideas in our tracks.
The Main Concern project is so young and you’ve headlined some of the biggest festivals in NL – which festival/event has been the greatest highlight of your career?
This is a tough question but one of the greatest highlights we can think of is when we got to close down the Loudness stage at Decibel 2015 together with Vazard & Delete. Since we have worked closely with them for a couple of years, this gig felt like it would really be something special. It was unbelievable to experience all the support and energy from the fans and to see how successful Spoontech was becoming. This was certainly one of the most epic moments in our career.
What is one thing you’ll miss the most once you’ve quit?
The feeling before, during and after a gig. The excitement building up days & weeks beforehand and then getting to the venue or area and meeting friends and fans. Onto the complete and utter chaos of adrenaline sensation when on stage, as well as seeing the crowd go crazy. Then the feeling after the set is done, which is definitely better than sex and drugs combined according to us. So yeah, basically the whole “live” experience, getting out there to the fans and seeing them go crazy while you’re going crazy and some weird synergy are created, there’s nothing better than that.
Can you share one piece of advice to upcoming producers?
To dare to be that person who tries something new, something that speaks closely to your heart. It sounds so extremely cheesy and also easy, but it isn’t. Many people might get the urge to learn to produce by hearing artists they like and trying to mimic their sounds, but that’s not the way to get big. Sure, find inspiration in everything you can, but at the end of the day, the artist that get recognition are the ones who develop their own styles. It takes a lot of courage and belief in yourself to just go for it and not play safe! Be a pioneer!
What is one final goal that you guys would like to achieve?
To be completely honest, the few goals that we’ve ever talked about has already been achieved. We can only remember two which was to play outside of Sweden and the other one was to play on a festival in Holland. Everything after that was achieved has just been a huge bonus!
So, what else is Main Concern going to do in their final year?
Well this last year is going to be as interesting as it is emotional for us. The big plan we have is to create a concept that we’ll work with until the end. This concept is called ‘End of Days’, which are going to include hosting our own parties, to raise a glass for heartfelt music and the genuine passion expressed in the scene. It will include a lot of music of course, with special acts for performances, new solo tracks and a lot of collaborations with friends we’ve made through the years. We’re basically going to squeeze in as much cool things we possibly can in these last months of our careers! We want to celebrate that even though we will be ending in a year, we have had an amazing ride where we’ve met so much inspiring people, made so many friends and experienced things we couldn’t even have dreamt of!
It’s awesome that this journey has given you these friends and passionate fans who love you guys! Your energy and exciting stage presence will be missed! Is there anything you would like to say to your followers?
Our fans have always been our driving force when it comes to performing. We love to jump around on stage and go nuts but if it weren’t for the exchange of energy we experience through our fans then we wouldn’t be half the performers we are. We are so thankful to all the dedicated guys and girls that have travelled across the continent, missed end-shows, partied until dawn and have waited for us just to give us a hug. It’s hard to put words to these feelings, but the point we are trying to make is that the fans have always had a huge place in our hearts. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the amazing support so many beautiful people have had for us. Thank you and we love you guys!
And of course, we need to know where we can see you guys play! Can you tell us about your next upcoming gig?
Our next upcoming gig is definitely one of the most special one’s we’re going to have this year. It will be our first hosting of the year and the launch for our concept. We’re working together with our good friends from the Swedish organisation Club Aqua. We’ve known these guys since the very first days of the Main Concern project. We made the anthem for their party ‘Majestiq 12’, where we also got the chance to work closer with the production behind it.
Sadly, the year after the police in Sweden shut down the second edition with mafia-like methods and put the organization in huge debt. This forced them to take a break and only work with smaller parties with around 100 people. This will be their first ‘major’ party since all that happened 3-4 years ago, for us to be a part of that is just…yeah it’s going to be very emotional! This party will be in our hometown Norrköping and we’re flying over our two good friends Jason Payne and Delete. We can’t think of a better way to begin this year!
Thanks so much for sharing with us Nick and John! All the best for the future.