[TMN Resident Artist] Hardwell discusses I AM HARDWELL, his adoration of penguins, and future plans

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Another month means another exciting resident artist. This month I have the pleasure of sitting down with Hardwell and talking to him about his upcoming tour ‘I Am Hardwell’ coming to North American for the first time since it launched back in 2013. The first show is set for Chicago on Halloween night, talk about a little treat for those Midwest kids. But before he arrives we had to chat with him about this once in a lifetime experience and of course get some other information while we had him.

TMN: Hardwell! Hello! We have to start by saying thank you so much for being our resident artist this month, it really is an honor to have you take over The Music Ninja website!

H: Hello to you! Thanks so much for having me.

TMN: So I guess let’s start at the beginning of the whole ‘I Am Hardwell’ concept, can you tell us about your inspiration for this tour and what it was like introducing this amazing musical experience in Amsterdam to a group of over 6,000 present fans and then broadcasted to over 100,000 fans all over the globe?

H: Well before this came about, I was playing a lot of festival gigs and club tours all the time, and it got to the point where it was definitely time to take the next step. For me, that was doing my own concert series that you now know as I AM HARDWELL. Myself and Alda developed the stage design and I’ve been involved with it from the very beginning. This was exactly the way I wanted to bring it to the crowd. Once we developed the whole concept, I started taking it around the world. Amsterdam was the first I AM HARDWELL show that we did, so it was truly an incredible feeling to deliver on what we’ve worked so hard on to my fans from home. Knowing that over 100,000 fans could watch from their home made debuting I AM HARDWELL even more special.

TMN: Now talk to us more about how this is different from any other show you have done before because it is based on your rise in the music scene correct? Talk to us a little bit about your musical background and where you started from, how about even before you were a DJ, were you involved in any musical elements as a young child? Could music be found in your household?

H: Yes, I really wanted this show to be about my music and experiences. For the I AM HARDWELL shows I decided to make my performances 3-hour sets so I can take the crowd on a musical journey. I’m lucky to have my own stage design, sound, and production as well. The one thing I wanted to achieve with my I AM HARDWELL shows was to give my fans the best experience they’ve ever had and unite them with my music.
As for my musical background, I started when I was four years old playing classical and jazz music on the piano. I discovered dance music when I was about 10 years old because the top DJs in the world like Tiesto were from my city. From then I started producing dance music. I was so lucky to start being recognized at such a young age. I started playing more clubs and shows around the world. I can’t remember one day when music wasn’t playing in my family home. My parents were basically into all kinds of music from Abba, to Elvis Presley, and even James Brown.

TMN: And what about the moto for this whole show, ‘if you can dream it, you can do it’, tell us what that personally means for you as an artist and a person, and what you hope your fans take away with them from that message?

H: This entire journey has been a dream for me. It’s been a goal that I’ve set out to achieve ever since I was a child. Every step I’ve made and the hard work I’ve put in throughout my life was for me to become a top DJ and to be able to tour around the world. I want to inspire my fans and be an example for anyone else with a dream. This may sound corny, but if you work hard enough, and put in the time and effort, dreams can come true.

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Get To Know: Modul Kollektiv [TMN Exclusive Interview]

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Modul Kollektiv
Farbenfroh (Original Mix)

German producer Modul Kollektiv released a truly unique piece of deep house this week, in the form of ‘Farbenfroh’. A cleverly intricate piece of music, it was also recently picked up by Holi Festival to use as a promo track, and as a result had a stunning accompanying video. We spoke to the artist behind this release on Dirty Soul Records to learn more about his musical background and taste.

TMN: What is your musical background and how did you get into producing house music?

My first contact with electronic music was back in the 90′s. I got thrilled by Daft Punk & Depeche Mode. Daft Punks ‘Homework’ was one of my first vinyl albums and the beginning of my DJing. Later on I spent a lot of time in music production, which was released under another side project on various different labels like Dim Mak. But I always felt a love of house music and produced house tracks – so new brand Modul Kollektiv was born.

TMN: How does it feel to have your first ever release out on Dirty Soul (an imprint of Be Yourself Music)?

It’s simply indescribably awesome. Be Yourself Music is a legend in the music biz. Dirty Soul seems to be the perfect imprint for my first release.

TMN: The music video for ‘Farbenfroh’ seems only fitting for the summer tech-house track, did you have much involvement in creating the video?

Yeah, I was involved in doing the music video. I had the idea, found a deal with a festival tour promoter and did the raw editing on the video. The video clips were recorded at different Holi Festival tour stops in Austria.

TMN: If you could describe the track in three words for someone who is yet to listen, what would you pick?

Shimmering, synth, house.

TMN: Where do you draw inspiration from when producing or are there any artists you look up to?

Well I do not try to copy anything. I try to define my own soundscape and to create something new, something unique. I love the shimmering & glimmering synths in my productions which actually give the productions a fresh unconsumed attitude.

‘Farbenfroh’ is available to purchase here.  

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[TMN Interview] Big Gigantic’s Jeremy Salken on Rowdytown, his Muppet drum set, and why live instruments are so badass

Rowdytown

Today we have the pleasure of sitting down with one half of Big Gigantic, the man on the drums, Mr Jeremy Salken. Jeremy! Thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy day to talk with The Music Ninja!

Jeremy: Yeah, thank you

TMN: Let’s get right to it, Rowdytown 3 is going to go down at Red Rocks in Morrison Colorado in three days. The two night event has become quite a staple with Big G (and I hear Friday is sold out, Saturday is quickly approaching the same, congrats!). Talk to us about where the inspiration came for Rowdytown?

Jeremy: Thank you very much, that’s awesome that so many people are coming. In regards to Rowdytown, we kind of had been on tour for a few years, traveling all over the country doing festivals and playing shows and opening up for people like Pretty Lights, Bassnector, and Skrillex. We got the opportunity to play Red Rocks, which they start talking to you about playing there the year before so the summer before the first Rowdytown we began talking about it. We were like, are we really going to play Red Rocks? Yes? Ok, then we need to make it big. We need to name the show something and just try to go all out. We passed around so many different names for months, from the stupidest stuff to great stuff. Then, Dom and I were goofing off with our friends, and one of them said, ‘Why don’t you call it Row-town?’ which, we used to say, we are going to take it to Rowdytown tonight you know when it was a big show and we were going to get crazy. So while we were talking about it, it turned into Rowdytown, and we were like that’s what we should call it.

TMN: An immediate that’s it!

Jeremy: Exactly, and now we are finally getting to a point where Rowdytown is developing into what we wanted it to be, two nights and everything, where it feels more like a festival. There are five artists each night, we are getting all special stuff, we have the little G’s coming out who are the advanced volunteers that are going to be helping out with stuff. There will be a photobooth, all sorts of things. Hopefully everyone has a great time this year.

TMN: Were you and Dominic surprised about the huge success of this event? It’s no surprise to anyone how much Colorado loves you two, being your hometown and everything, but you hear about people traveling from all over the US to see this. Tell us about how Rowdytown has become a staple for the Big G family?

Jeremy: Yeah, I think it is our mecca for Big G (laughs).

TMN: I would definitely say so!

Jeremy: And now that it is two nights, it is even more of an event because you can travel and go for two nights and make a weekend out of it. We are so psyched that it has built up to where it is and we are so appreciative to everyone who comes out to see us. It wasn’t that long ago that we were practicing in our basement and didn’t know what was going to happen and we were playing in tiny rooms all over the country. We started in Boulder and it is really cool that we can come back home and do something really awesome for Colorado.

TMN: Of course you are playing at the greatest outdoor venue in the world (that’s not just me saying, it has been voted on) Red Rocks. Does the experience just keep getting better and better everytime you are at that venue and what do you love most about playing there?

Jeremy: Red Rocks is definitely my favorite venue in the world. I honestly never get tired of that place; I went to shows all summer and saw a lot of my friends play. Every time I go to a show I spend half the show looking up at the audience and half the show looking at the stage. People are always asking me what I am looking at and I just can’t get over the way the moon always comes around that one big rock at the top on any clear night. It is just awesome, I love the vibe there.

TMN: I mean, not a bad thing to claim Red Rocks as a home venue.

Jeremy: (Laughs) Yeah not a bad place to claim at all. That we can even say that is beyond amazing.

TMN: And what a way to start before you head out on your “Touch the Sky” tour which is just twelve short days away. Tour are always fun, invigorating, and a massive commitment. What are a few things your fans can look forward to on this tour?

Jeremy: We are going to have a new light rig so that will be really cool. The set right now is pretty crushing. Dom has been working a lot on the older stuff. He finally found the master files for that stuff so we are making it a little fuller sounding, will be sharing some of it at Red Rocks. This tour coming up is going to be great, it is all over the country and we will be playing at some great venues like Madison Square Garden with Bassnector to kick it off. We have a big Halloween show in Atlanta, other shows in Detroit and Philly, just a lot of great places throughout the fall.

TMN: Sounds like a great tour, I’m sure all of your fans are looking forward to it.

Jeremy: It will be, tell everyone to come out, it will be a rager.

TMN: Just tell them all they will go ‘Row-Town’ every night right?

Jeremy: (Laughs) Yes, it is going to be so ‘Row’.
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Get To Know: LAXX [TMN Exclusive Interview]

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Since being snapped up by dubstep heavyweights Never Say Die last year, DJ and producer LAXX has had a whirlwind few months. Upon releasing his iconic ‘Step One’, which saw heavy support from Flux Pavilion), he subsequently released three EPs, including the recent free download series ‘Step Free.’ With his unique approach to production and eye for a killer hook, his gig schedule is beginning to pick up, as his booking increase. We got speaking to LAXX to discover more about working with the Never Say Die team, future releases and where he sees this future heading.

TMN: Firstly, how did you come up with the name LAXX?

I’m not really sure how I came up with it, but it had a sound to it I instantly loved. Its kind of ironic too, because its slang for being lazy and I’m in the studio basically 7 days a week when I’m not travelling and playing shows.

TMN: Big ups on the hilarious teaser for ‘Step Free’ that you put out with SKisM, is he usually like that?  

Thank you. We were both laughing constantly while putting that together. The original version was like 5 minutes long, so we decided to use the “directors cut”, but it still cracks me up when I see it. SKisM isn’t really like that, it’s a shame, but I think his alter ego will come out at some point! Especially if I tell him I want to do any more free downloads. He’s a top guy in all seriousness, he works ridiculously hard and knows instantly if a track is going to ignite. I think the last thing I sent over his only words were “shut up” and “ridiculous” That’s meant in a good sense, by the way.

TMN: Why did you decide to give away the EP for free and will there be a ‘Step Three’ release any time soon?

‘Step Free’ was a project I had in mind for a while, I love giving something back to the people supporting my music, and this was the best way to do it. Every track on the EP was hand picked and some of them took nearly a year to finish, so this was a project I had planned out for a long time. I think I spent about two months deciding what tracks would go on there and making sure they were as perfect as I wanted them to be. There was a lot of blood sweat and tears that went into it. With regards to my next release, you’ll just have to wait and see… You’ll find out very soon.

TMN: For me the biggest track from the free series is ‘Untouchable’. Can you tell us the creative process for writing the track and how long it took to write this banger?

‘Untouchable’ was one of the tracks which took nearly a year to finish. I’d written part of the idea, and kept coming back to it, and then had a mad studio bender of about 3 weeks and worked on it nearly every day. I had an idea in my head and just started piecing it together, I think put down some drums, and then made a basic version of the lead and resampled it an insane amount of times. Its strange, when you get a vibe off a track, its kind of like you lose yourself and focus so intently on the track that nothing else matters, then you kind of take a step back and think fuck, what happened?

TMN: Who has been your biggest inspiration for your career and your most recently releases on Never Say Die?

I really like every artist on the label. Zomboy is smashing it, I like the direction he’s gone in, where he’s kind of tried out every genre and put his stamp on it. Eptic is a monster too, I get sent a lot of versions of tracks he’s working on, some deeper stuff recently and it keeps me inspired. MUST DIE! is insane also – the remix he did for me has been crushing it worldwide. So yeah, everyone on NSD is doing things I like.

TMN: Do you have any plans to play state side soon? And what are your top 3 tracks to play out live at the moment? 

I’m coming for you baby! America is one of my favourite places in the world, and you guys have always been some of the most dedicated fans. Long story short, I’m coming to take over! I’ve been playing out a lot of my new sounds and its been crazy seeing the reaction, but aside from that I love double dropping Flosstradamus – ‘Mosh Pit’, Yellow Claw – ‘Lick Dat’ and Gent and Jawns – ‘Turnup’ – (Kill The Noise Remix). Biggup!

Be sure to nab LAXX’s ‘Step Free’ here. 

LAXX
Untouchable
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Get To Know: Habstrakt & Megalodon [TMN Exclusive Interview]

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Habstrakt & Megalodon
The Storm

Seeing as they had a brand new, four-track dubstep extravaganza out this week via Never Say Die Records, we decided to get the lowdown on how Habstrakt and Megalodon created “The Storm”. The pair, who usually work as solo producers and DJs last worked together for a track on Megalodon’s “Boom” EP, and clearly something sounded right. This time around, it’s a collection of heavy impact, sample-filled pieces of 140 bpm madness. Check out what the duo had to say about their creative processes.

TMN: What have you both been up to as of recent? 

Habstrakt: Touring Australia and New Zealand at the moment, it’s absolutely amazing so far. I had to wake up in the middle of the night to witness the release going live and see the fans react to it! Before that, I spent the summer in studio working on loads of new tunes, and already wrapping up the next EP as we speak.

Megalodon: I’ve just got back from a tour in the States and now catching some of the festival season here in Europe. It’s always fun to enjoy Europe before it gets back to being cold and dreary! As for studio work, I’m constantly working on sound design and concepts, which for a picky person like me may take a good amount of time sometimes.

TMN: You joined forces back in 2013 with “40 Cows”. How did you originally hook up for that track?

H: Sinjin (Megalodon) was touring France and had a few days off, so I offered him to come over to my place so we could finally meet after years and years of talking on the internet. We made “40 Cows” in one session; it only took an afternoon to write it down, which was probably the fastest studio session I’ve ever had!

TMN: What has the writing process been like for “The Storm” EP, any funny studio stories? 

H: Well, “Yabba Dabs” was written on Sinjin’s sofa in The Netherlands, we didn’t have speakers and did most of it on laptop speakers or with crappy headphones – coming back home to mix it down was painful, aha! Once again, we wrote all the tracks within a few days, but then obviously mixing it down took us a bit longer! The recipe for the album was pretty simple:  funny samples, 8 bit melodies, aggressive drops and a good dose of that sofa laziness we all crave.

TMN: You both work with Never Say Die on the regular, what is it like to work with SKisM and the crew?

M: Well I gotta say, from the moment I started working with them I noticed a big difference in drive and overall work ethic from them – more than anything I had experienced before. Put aside the fact that SKisM and the crew run an immensely tight ship, they also have always been on point when it comes to delivering quality and ground breaking dubstep to a bigger audience. I know Habby feels the same when I say SKisM is a huge influence as a producer and a pioneer in the game… it’s an honour to be apart of the team!

H: The Never Say Die crew is a very strong team with loads of people involved full-time with running the label, it’s very encouraging to work with such a team. SKisM has always been a mentor to me, even getting me back on the road when I was drifting away. The man is driven by a strong vision of both his label and the bass music scene in general, and it’s a real pleasure to work with someone who’s entirely devoted into pushing his artists as far as possible. Plus he calls me every night to sing me lullabies so I can sleep and he owns a suit made of £ notes, what else can I say!

TMN: What do you both have planned for the future? Any chance of more tracks from the pair of you?

M: Basically the same thing I’ve been doing since the start really. Making music and performing it is my passion and I hope to continue doing so for as long as I can. As for working again with Habstrakt, I think it would be foolish not to. I guess we will see what happens next!

H: It looks like I’m gonna be on the road a lot over the next few months, gigs are piling up and upcoming tours looks really exciting! Lucky for me, I’ve learned how to work far away from my studio and I can keep up with the production while playing shows all over the world.  And yes, you will definitely hear more Habstrakt & Megalodon collabs in the future, we’ve got such a nice thing rolling, I don’t see any reason why we would stop!

Pick up a copy of “The Storm” EP here. 

 

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Young Rising Sons talk Zooey Deschanel, The Jersey Shore, and Fat Sandwiches [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

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Young Rising Sons
High

A few weeks back, we had the pleasure of catching Young Rising Sons‘ first show in the Mile High City. Playing the mid spot in support of Little Daylight, they captivated the entire crowd at Larimer Lounge with just five songs. After the show, we sat down with them to get a little more story behind how this fast-rising Jersey act came to be.

TMN: Hey guys, welcome to Denver. Is this your first time in the Mile High City?

Andy: It is. It’s been amazing. We’ve felt so welcomed here.

Dylan: Denver was the first place to play our song on the radio, and also you guys premiered our song on The Music Ninja, which was amazing.

TMN: Did you guys make the same stop that everyone does, hitting up a dispensary for some legal goods?

Dylan: We tried to! To be honest, none of us smoke weed regularly, but it’s legal here. We were like “fuck it.” We went to a spot down the street and it looked like a doctors office. There was a waiting room and you had to sign in.

Julian: It was too much. We were like, it’s a no go.

TMN: Alright, let’s talk about your guys’ roots. How did Young Rising Sons come to be, and where did you come up with the name?

Andy: We’ve been playing for a while now. It’s been about four and half years. These three guys have been playing forever. I was going to school in NY and playing acoustic in some bar in NYC. They happened to be there and came up to me and asked to jam sometime. It was instant chemistry. We became best friends and band mates, and it’s been the best thing ever since.

TMN: And where did the band name come from?

Andy: The name came from one of our songs, “Red and Gold” which is from our EP. The second verse has the words “Young,” “Rising,” and “sons”.

Steve: But they’re flipped around in different ways. If you listen close though, in the second verse of “Red and Gold,” you’ll hear it different order.

Julian: If you want a fun fact about that, Dylan actually thought of those while he was at Disneyland.

Dylan: Yep. Walking into the Magic Kingdom in Orlando.
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Solidisco talks Disco, festivals vs pool parties, and their love for S’mores [TMN Exclusive Interview]

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Chromeo
Jealous (Solidisco Remix)

With Disco making it’s way back to the forefront of dance music, we here at TMN have become fascinated with the global groovement that is currently in action. Who better to talk to about this epidemic than Disco’s own Matt McGurn and Don Skotnicki from Solidisco? Well we had a chance to talk with these guys last week about how these two joined forces and helped revive the era of Disco in today’s modern dance music culture. Through all of their endeavors, Solidisco is giving our ears a much needed break from those all too familiar festival bangers and instead are pumping some life back into our souls. See what these guys have to say about their sound, dance music, and who would most likely be Paris Hilton’s dog.

TMN: So, before we jump into how Solidisco developed into what it is today, let’s go back a bit and learn more about you guys. I’m sure you hear this question all the time, but it’s always great to ask, especially for new people tuning in, but how did you guys get involved with music? How did you two come together to form Solidisco?

SD: Music has always been a big part of our lives and we like all kinds of music, so it was only natural for us to become DJs. We both grew up DJing in Buffalo, NY. There wasn’t a lot of people doing what we do there, so it was natural for us to start working together.

TMN: Who have been some key influential artists that inspired you to make music; this goes for all genres, too. How would you say that those artists have helped mold your sound and guide you in the direction of where you are right now?

SD: Armand Van Helden and Dimitri From Paris got us into house music, so they kinda both pushed us towards our love for disco. We were always both big hip-hop guys and 90s/00s hip-hop was heavily sample based, so that got us into the art of sampling too. Just Blaze is definitely an influence with how hard he went with the horn section samples. We definitely have tried to apply that to house music in several of our songs.

Kanye West
Bound 2 (Solidisco Remix)

TMN: It appears that Disco/Funk/Nu-Disco/etc. have been steadily inching towards the limelight of dance music – How would you define the role that Disco has played in the current groovement and what do you guys think might be some reasons as to why people are finally introducing these type of genres in their sets?

SD: We think it’s an over saturation thing. The Nu Disco/Funk groove is getting popular just because it actually has groove. Same with Deep House. I wouldn’t say Deep House is ‘funky’ but just the fact that it has a groove makes it popular right now. Since EDM exploded in America, it’s just been “4-on-the-floor” banger after banger. There’s really no groove to those songs for the most part. It’s just about being so hard that it makes people go crazy. I think now it’s going back to actually listening to dance music to actually dance, not to start mosh pits at festivals. So because of that, I think DJs are checking out other sub-genres of EDM to try and find some new material to play in their sets because they are getting sick of the typical house bangers.

TMN: We got to catch your sensational main stage set at Hard Day of the Dead last year and you sold us from start to finish. With that almost being a year ago, how would you say that definitive moment helped bring in audiences from all over? (Personally, that was one of my favorite sets of the weekend – some girl put gum in my hair because I was grooving too hard – totally worth it.

SD: (Hahaha) Sorry about your hair, but we’re glad you enjoyed our set! Yeah that was big for us, and we posted the set on our Soundcloud so everyone could check it out. We always say that we make disco tracks made for big rooms, and you can’t get much bigger than the main stage at a HARD event. It just felt good to finally play our music where it was meant to be played and getting the reaction we were looking for. It was very inspiring to go back to the studio after that and make new music.

The S.O.S Band
Take Your Time (Do It Right) (Solidisco Remix)

TMN: What are your favorite type of gigs to play and how do you prepare for them? This includes festivals, pool parties, etc.

SD: Each has it’s advantages and disadvantages. We like pool parties because we get to play some stuff we wouldn’t necessarily play otherwise and the vibe is cool, I mean, who doesn’t like being around a pool in beautiful locations? Overall it’s pretty chill and we like really energetic sets. Festivals are awesome, too, just because of the sheer amount of people. You get a crazy rush you don’t get anywhere else, but there are so many people there and so many potential new fans that we tend to be very careful about our song selections. We usually take less chances as DJs at festivals, so we would say club shows are our favorite because it’s enough people where the energy level is always high, but there’s not as much pressure as a festival so we feel more comfortable getting creative during our sets and always have the most fun when we get to do that.

TMN: We can see how festivals might pose a higher risk for putting people off as far as song choice goes. But, speaking of preparation, do you guys have any “pre-show” rituals of some sort? Anything weird is totally acceptable.

SD: Unfortunately we don’t do anything too weird. Mandatory bathroom stops and Red Bull consumption is about it.

Icona Pop
Just Another Night (Solidisco Remix)

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