Wouter de Vink
By Wouter de Vink

A special style with an equally special video clip: with his first feat on Theracords called ‘Drowning’, Criminal Mayhem immediately brings his power to the table. The young producer is showing more and more of his unique talent and is partly because of this the latest addition to the main label: “Unique raw hardstyle music of high artistic and musical qualities.”

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The number of bookings from Criminal Mayhem (partly made possible by the coronavirus) does not say much about the promising status of this German DJ just yet, but his music does. With a hard and varied style that can also be heard in the massively streamed track ‘Chaos’, Riccardo started his career at sub-label TC LABS. “The idea of the label – to give artists a chance to experiment with creating music – appealed to me a lot, since I did not have a very clear idea at that moment of what Criminal Mayhem is all about musically”, Riccardo explains. Over the years he was able to gain experience in the scene and build his name as an artist. “Now I do have a clear artistic vision and my music has gained a lot in quality, both technically and musically. Which is why now it is the time to proceed along my journey together with the main label. The timing is just right.”

‘Music is more central than social media because of corona’

Without parties and gigs, it’s actually possible to stand out as a talent (even in a time like this) – something Criminal Mayhem has been doing for the past year. “Well, the whole pandemic also has had one positive effect on the music business (if you look at it optimistically): it got a lot fairer regarding the competitive aspects of self promotion and social media. I have the feeling that some artists, that usually have great gigs and thus great content to show almost every weekend, now suddenly lost some of their main means of promotion. This has lead to a lot more space for smaller artists, like me, to actually be seen and not to be spammed away by a continuous flood of high end content.” For the first time in years, the music is more central than ever.

But of course that was not the only reason. Even though he hates the word (‘it sounds too corporate’), Criminal Mayhem has managed to build a unique branding. “I look at hardstyle music differently because of my academic background in music and I have certain artistic values that I try to contribute to it. Always striving to do things differently than others, I am inspired by the textures of sounds as well as by the clash of minimalism, purity and chaos and the emerging contrasts. Having developed a branding around these ideas and coherently using it on everything I do helps me a lot to set myself apart from others and thus stand out more. Of course setting up a detailed branding around your name requires time and research but in my view, it is vital to have in a day and age like ours where the arts are oversaturated and ever changing.”

The first track ‘Drowning’ from Criminal Mayhem as Theracords artist: “Not just any hardstyle video clip”

The story behind ‘Drowning’ is one that took a lot of time and effort. A whole lot has been done for the very first video clip of Criminal Mayhem. “With ‘Drowning’ I wanted to focus also on a more complex and important theme. The track is about how everyone has their own methods of dealing with their fate and how often times one is left in solitude with it. You might feel like you know a person, but you do not always know what they might have been through. It’s hard to talk about feelings like these and somehow we’re all drowning, as there’s always something dragging us down, even if it’s only transiency itself.”

criminal mayhem drowning theracords

“Musically, I took inspiration from choral music, merging it with drum & bass elements and textured sounds. We (the TC team and me) aimed for a special atmosphere and look, creating a fitting videoclip that is of artistic value. It’s really not your average hardstyle videoclip.” Because the story on screen is quite different from what you might think at first glance.

“The concept was to add to the meaning of the track by taking it’s topic and story and interpreting it differently than I did in the music. This resulted in me creating a storyboard telling the story of a sea man whose ship sank in high seas with him being the only survivor losing all his mates and crew. This messes with his mind and he cannot live with the thought why he should be the only survivor. So he turns to drinking, basically drowning his thoughts. Yet, he doesn’t really manage to overcome his depressive symptoms which results in him trying to drown himself. But since it’s not that easy to do that yourself, he fails and falls to the floor. So he takes a radical approach and the last scene shows him walking straight into the sea, vanishing in the waters as the music video ends. The videoclip thus shows three ways of drowning. We want to leave the rest to the viewers to interpret. A huge shoutout to Bram Gussenhoven and Floris van Oers (Voersfilms) for the great inspiring teamwork on this videoclip.”

‘Criminal Mayhem: unique raw hardstyle music of high artistic and musical qualities’

Criminal Mayhem is visibly happy with his switch to the main label. “I worked a lot towards reaching this goal and it just feels great to have achieved it. When I started to explore the raw side of hardstyle music some years ago, I would listen alot to music released on Theracords and I am proud to now be part of the label that was somehow there with me all along. Nevertheless, I am not relaxing on this achievement now, I am rather much more motivated to really push things forward together with the TC team, as a lot of doors and possibilities are now opened.”

Riccardo’s goal for the coming years? Keep working hard. “Showcasing my work and my artistic vision and sharing it with all of you is all that I wanted, and now it is time to do so! That’s why for this year, I will mainly focus on refining and shaping Criminal Mayhem into what I have in mind and hopefully succeed in portraying this, making the name Criminal Mayhem stand for both unique raw hardstyle music of high artistic and musical qualities and meaning as well as for distinct performances, full of contrast, that take the audience on a journey through my sonic world.”

In terms of parties, it is difficult to plan at the moment: “As the pandemic has rattled the music business and also our scene a lot, it is hard to tell what things will be like afterwards. Nevertheless I will continue with my plans and goals, which of course also include (international) performances at the big events and festivals and giving something special to all the listeners of my music. Apart from that, I aim to set myself apart even more from other artists in the scene.

The first Criminal Mayhem record called ‘Drowning’ is now available through all major portals. Follow the brand new Theracords artist on his socials for more information.

Footage taken from Facebook page Criminal Mayhem

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