Exclusive Interview with Mind Hunterz [EN]
Since the month of August, some mysterious teasers have appeared in order to announce the long awaited return of Mind Hunterz, a duo formed by American DJ Joseph "Joe" Ibragimov (Dj N3ck) and Canadian DJ Patrick "Pat" Kassab (Decepticon). It is with the latter that I have conducted this interview.
Let’s begin ! Can you mention to us some of the important steps that you have taken during your Hardstyle career ? (Before you left in 2008).
I started producing music sometime between 2001-2002, well before Joe came into my life. I was a huge fan of "Warp Brothers" and I was constantly trying to emulate their sound.
Every week, I went on their website to check out their "Top 10" tracks and suddenly, I see a track called "Beholder & Balistic - Decibel Anthem". I was curious and I decided to look for it. That’s how I got to know about Hardstyle.
Shortly after that, I started producing it. I was constantly on internet forums to find out more about this style of music and that’s how I became a fan of Mind Hunterz and Hard ’Onez (who at the time where N3ck and Lou Aiese).
Lou Aiese eventually left the group and luckily, I was able to come into contact with Joe. In 2005, I officially became a part of Mind Hunterz and Hard ’Onez. The rest is history. :)
I get the impression that artist names that end with a "Z" have become a thing of the past. Is that Headhunterz’ fault ?
Yeah, there are too many of those. We were, however, one of the first to do that. Well before Headhunterz. :) When we left, the Z’s came back with a force.
What do you think about today’s Hardstyle ?
The structure of the songs has changed. They are much shorter than before. I will be very honest, I enjoy listening to "Raw" Hardstyle quite a bit. It’s the kind of HS that most closely resembles the HS that came out 7 or 8 years ago.
As far as "Euphoric" Hardstyle goes, I like it too, but for me it sounds like Trance mixed with Big Room done at 150 bpm.
It’s nice to listen to, but it’s not really my cup of tea. I’m not taking anything away from the artists. They are very talented, but it’s just not real Hardstyle to me. That’s just my opinion.
I do prefer, however, listening to Euphoric HS instead of Big Room. The originality is much greater.
Besides Hardstyle, what songs can we expect to find on your personal audio player ?
A lot of Drum & Bass. For example, Noisia, Phace & Misanthrop, Black Sun Empire and State Of Mind. I also really like soundtracks from Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL. To be honest with you, I listen to a little bit of everything. It depends on my mood.
As funny as this might sound, I NEVER listen to my own tracks.
I assume that there is more than just music in your life. What else do you do ?
Nothing much. Music is my priority right now. I used to work as a salesman in an electronics/computer store, but now I’m fully concentrated on music. :)
You speak of Hard ’Onez and Mind Hunterz. What distinction do you make between the two, assuming there is one ?
Hard ’Onez is the more energetic, melodic side where as Mind Hunterz is more on the somber, heavier side. For now, we are coming back as Mind Hunterz, so people can expect some pretty aggressive Hardstyle.
What do you mean by aggressive ? Are we talking about "Raw" ?
Speaking of that, what are your thoughts about the name ? After all, Mind Hunterz haven’t been waiting for everyone to talk about "Raw" in order to start making some aggressive Hardstyle.
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t care much for genre names. We see this every day and it brings confusion more than anything.
I understand that HS now has "sub-genres", but for me this has no importance. I’ll let the people judge which genre we belong in.
I must admit, time has erased a lot of tracks from my memory. Apart from "I Run NY" that you have produced with N3ck and Acti and "Ta Reine" with N3ck and Frequencerz, I do not remember much concerning you guys. What else have I missed ?
We’ve remixed for Trilok & Chiren twice ("Devil’s Night" and "Crime Vendetta") and we also released "Midrange" and "Noise" on Straight On Records.
On a personal level, the track that had the most success for us was "Hard ’Onez - World Domination". Some people tell me that occasionally, it is still being played in big events as well as on the radio.
Below "World Domination" played by N3ck at Sphinx in 2008.
Our collaboration with Alpha Twins "No Mercy" was a success too. And of course, the collaboration between Activator, Joe and myself was huge.
Interesting fact, Davide Sonar helped us produce "If The Bitch Can’t Swim". He wasn’t credited, but I feel like it’s an important thing to mention.
Who were some of the artists that have supported you ?
Trilok & Chiren and Alpha2 where pretty great supporters of ours. Activator too, of course. Also, Deepack, A-Lusion, Frequencerz, Thera etc. There are so many that I can’t remember then all, but I definitely want to take this opportunity to thank them all !
You spoke about European artists. What was the process during these intercontinental collaborations ? Would you sometimes need to travel to their studios in Europe ?
When we did the collaboration with Activator, we all ended up meeting in NY (which is why the EP was named "The New York Adventure"), but for the others, it was constantly some back and forth talks / file transfers via internet and telephone. I was complicated, but not impossible.
The perfect example is the collaboration between us and Frequencerz ("Ta Reine" and "Hallucinating"). A lot of audio file transfers. Like I said before, it wasn’t easy, but we ended up with a satisfying result.
By the way, I am so pleased to be speaking to one of the creators of "Ta Reine", because I have a few questions that have been brewing for a long time about this subject.
Go ahead. :)
Now that I know that you speak French, was the idea of using French vocals from you ?
No that came from Frequencerz. I must say that I was quite surprised ! It was an interesting choice nonetheless !
It was indeed surprising !
Yeah, considering that the majority of people didn’t understand a single word ! lol
Was it Niels’ idea ? ^^
I can’t say. I was talking more to Pepjin than Niels, but I suppose that it was.
When I head the track’s lyrics in French, it made me think of "Fade To Grey" by Visage during the 80’s, with its famous vocal saying "Devenir Gris". Not sure if you know this song.
Visage. Yes I know.
Still, it’s crazy ! I recently saw Frequencerz in France (at Sphinx in Charmes). I shared "Ta Reine" less than a month ago and here I am interviewing one of the collaborators less than a week later !
It needs to be said that I am VERY happy for them. The success that they have had is incredible. That fact that I might have had a role in that makes me happy. A small role, but still.
What happened since 2008 ?
From 2008 to 2010, there was absolutely no music production from either of us. We gave ourselves a 2 year hiatus, in which we concentrated on our personal lives.
Of course, Joe (N3ck) is my best friend, so we still talked to each other every day, but we did no music at all for 2 years.
In 2010, I personally started producing some Trance, House, Electro House... pretty much everything that was commercial. I wanted to try myself out within that market.
So for about a year, I concentrated on that and finally, around the end of 2011, beginning of 2012, we signed a contract with Perfecto Records (Paul Oakenfold’s label) as well as Armada Music (Armin Van Buuren’s label).
It was at that moment that the Swab & Joey Mova moniker was born. For about 2 years, we have released some Trance, House, Electro House and even a track that sort of reminded us of our early Hardstyle days, under this name. (The track is called "Signal Strength").
Of course, it was incredible to see that our tracks were being supported by legends like Oakenfold, Armin Van Buuren and at one point, Scot Project !
Being part of Armada and Perfecto was a dream come true, but we felt alone. Of course, we had our fans, but the interaction wasn’t there. Not like it was with HS. Nonetheless, we still had some fun ! :)
I can only imagine ! What has that whole brought to you ? Did you get to hang out / speak with these artists ?
Yes, especially Oakenfold, John Askew, Michael S.. Pretty much everyone at Perfecto, and I would like to thank our manager Sanchal who has helped us greatly during our adventure.
In terms of success it wasn’t bad. We had a few "gigs" here and there, but nothing big. During all that time, I still had HS in my mind and I missed it.
Finally, similar to 2008, we stopped in 2013. "Big Room" house was quickly becoming the norm and I hated it. :P
We did try to come back on a few occasions, but without success (the motivation for this kind of music wasn’t there anymore). So, once again, we took some time off.
Why come back to Hardstyle ? What motivated you to return ?
About a month ago, I went to visit Joe (N3ck) in New York. It was only for a visit, but I had the chance to meet a very close friend of mine (I will not name her for privacy reasons), with whom I had a very long conversation.
She’s very active in the New York rave scene and she has also been a big fan of Mind Hunterz / Hard ’Onez for a few years.
She made me realize how important we were, not only in the Eastern America, but also in certain parts around the world. This conversation got stuck in my head and it is what convinced me that I had to come back.
I’d like to thank this person for that important conversation. It means so much to me and I will never forget it.
So, Joe and I, we decided to finally come back, but without immediately announcing our return. That’s why we made all these trailers for the past two weeks ; to see if it would generate some interest and it ended up working.
We also came back because we wanted to show all of our fans that we haven’t forgotten them.
What is your objective as well as your fears concerning your return ?
As far as the objective goes, it’s to rebuild the Mind Hunterz name and to bring it back to where it was right before we left.
On top of that, we also want to attract the younger fans that don’t necessarily know what the last generation of Hardstyle sounded like. To do this, we have to modernize our sound a little bit.
As for fears, I don’t have any at the moment. If people love our music, perfect. Otherwise, we will work harder.
It takes time to get back in shape considering that we have been away for 6 years, but I’m confident that we will once again be like we used to be in the good old days.
Well I certainly wish that happens for you.
My ultimate personal goal is to play at either Defqon 1, Q-Base or any other Q-Dance event. :)
Speaking of that, there are more and more Q-Dance events in the United States and if the rumors are true, there might be a Defqon 1 in that country soon. Artists like Davide Sonar for example, who are rarely seen in the Dutch version of these events, now have doors being opened for them. Why not you ?
Yeah, the does are opening and I find that we are coming back at a great moment. Hardstyle is winning in popularity in the United States and even in Canada, so it certainly is a possibility.
What can we expect from Mind Hunterz soon ?
Well, all I can say is that we are currently working on a collaboration with an extremely talented artist. I can’t say who and on what label, for obvious reasons, but I can assure you that it will be "Raw" and quite hard.
In terms of our style, we won’t change compared to what we used to make years ago. Maybe a few modern touches here and there, but the Mind Hunterz sounds will remain the same. That’s a guarantee.
Personally, you can expect some stuff that will be similar to our remix of "Crime Vendetta" or our 2008 remix of "Hard ’Onez - Got To Be Strong".
What would you like to say to cap off this interview ?
I want to thank everyone that has wished us a happy return since we announced it on September 1st. I have gotten tons of messages in my "inbox" and it profoundly touched me. It very much appreciated ! :)
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