To start off our Spotlight series, we have Brennan Heart, who’s a very well known name in Hardstyle and a name that many fans hold really close to their hearts. We can all sing along to his greatest hits… but do we really know this artist and how he continuously contributed to shape the genre he’s in for years?
Fabian Bohn has been connected to Hard Dance for almost 2 decades. He was one of the artists that was here even before Hardstyle was known as such and when the genre didn’t yet have its own distinctive sound, and imported a lot of elements from Hardcore and Hard Trance.
His road to being a legend of the harder styles began back in the early 2000’s where he produced under several aliases, together with Pieter Heijnen, who is now known as DJ Thera. During their studies, Fabian and Pieter met in Tilburg and shared the same student flat, where they worked on their music. These alises focused on what was still considered back then to be Hard House and Hard Trance. They started off with releases as Bass Driver, Misdome Project and Nightflow.
After that, it was not long until the boundaries of Hardstyle have been better defined, and they quickly picked up a sound that we can definitely relate to today’s Hardstyle. Their talents back then earned them releases on legendary labels such as Fusion Records and StraightOn Recordings, now under the Brennan & Heart alias, around 2003.
By then, they both had their own label and even released there under their Meredith alias. Their label even featured an Origin Unknown release (you may now know this artist by his Don Diablo alias, who was and still is Fabian’s friend). In 2004 they released an EP that had two of their biggest hits ever: Speakercheck and Rush To The Floor. By this time, Hardstyle was well defined and already had the roughness we’re accustomed to.
After this, Scantraxx, recently founded by The Prophet, was already well established and releasing quality Hardstyle, and Brennan & Heart were quickly picked up by the label for two releases.
Later that year, they released again on StraightOn Recordings the track they’re probably most well known for, and that you can find every once in a while in Early Hardstyle themed sets: Hardstate Channel. All this success led them to have quite a few bookings as well.
After this, the story of the duo is somewhat unknown. In 2005, the EP containing We Are Possessed was released with the Brennan & Heart name, however in the release notes the production was credited to Fabian only. Back in 2010, Pieter mentioned in an interview that the ever increasing bookings they had led to some pressure and the duo started to focus on making tracks that would be an instant hit, instead of doing their own thing, which according to him, felt terrible at the time. They both started having different views on Hardstyle as well, which eventually led to their separation. There are also rumors flying around online, with some people stating that Fabian took all projects and equipment and left Pieter on his own. On an AMA in 2014 Pieter stated he and Fabian are in good terms and in an interview back in 2015, he said he wouldn’t mind a reunion, which makes us think that maybe the rumors of what happened were somewhat exaggerated.
After this, Pieter followed his way and Fabian carried on, but he still used a few different aliases shortly after.
He kicked things off with for his Blademasterz alias with Masterblade in 2005, and for his short lived Unknown Analoq alias with Blackout in 2006, which despite being short lived, had an important role, as it was the first release coming out on M!D!FY, which was a Scantraxx sub label managed by Fabian. He finally had a place of his own, backed by a really big label, to release his music. M!D!FY stands for “Musical Impressions Define Inspiration For Years”.
After that, It wasn’t long until he had one of the biggest honors you can give to an Hardstyle artist: create the anthem for Defqon.1
In that same year, he did something different and was credited for a release under the Coffeeshock alias with a Jumpstyle track name Zenzeo.
After that, and in 2009, it was time for Fabian to prove his worth by releasing an album named Musical Impressions, which alluded to his sub-label’s name. The album was well received and it is probably one of the most renowned albums in the history of Hardstyle. Hits like Just As Easy and Face The Enemy had a really good impact within the community, and tracks like Muzik Bizz, I Love Haters, Push Play! and Rockstar DJ had really strong messages with which fans connected very easily. We Come And We Go is also a special track, as it has a very deep meaning to it, given that the inspiration to write it came after Fabian met a terminally ill DJ that did his last performance just before him at an event.
Later that year he also had the honor of releasing the Decibel Anthem, and then the Reverze Anthem and the Qlimax Anthem the following year. During that year’s edition of Qlimax, Fabian wanted to go above and beyond what’s been done up do that point, so together with the Q-dance team he planned everything to present the anthem during the event with a live orchestra, which most certainly left a really good impression on partygoers attending the event that year and was a unique moment in Hardstyle history.
At this point, Brennan Heart was an easily recognizable name in the Hardstyle scene. Fabian had by then the chance to perform at all the major festivals: Defqon.1, Q-Base, Xxlerator, Qlubtempo, Qlimax, The Qontinent, Qrimetime, Hard Bass, Thrillogy and Decibel, to name a few.
In 2012, he created his own label, Brennan Heart Music, and the first release was Lose My Mind with Wildstylez. Counting with 12 million views on YouTube and 25 million plays on Spotify, Lose My Mind went mainstream with its relatable lyrics and catchy melody and reinforced Fabian’s status as a Hardstyle legend. It is a track that can please crowds that are not used to Hard Dance music, but that still, in its essence, is a true Hardstyle track. In the same year he released Running Late, something everyone knows Fabian for, the Intents Festival and Freaqshow anthems and he even featured Australian talents S-Dee and Toneshifterz on his label. During 2011 and 2012 he did a world tour, named City 2 City, and also released the theme song for it on his label.
According to Fabian, 2012 was one of the most remarkable years of his career. The passing away of his mother made him realize exactly what he was doing, the role he played in the Hardstyle scene and how important his fans were to him.
Shortly after, the Brennan Heart Music label ended, with Never Break Me being the last release. But at this time Fabian had his mind on something even bigger, and founded WE R in 2013, which has since grown to be one of the strongest Hardstyle labels, showcasing not only Brennan Heart’s music, but music from several other Hardstyle artists, such as Code Black, Outbreak, Crisis Era, Rebourne and Audiotricz, to name a few. Notable releases are FIFO (Fit In or Fuck Off, which has somewhat become a motto for the Hardstyle community), Imaginary (which was another hit that pushed Fabian further into the mainstream) and It’s My Style (an absolute dancefloor killer, made in collaboration with the Italian duo TNT).
In 2014 it was time for a new album, called Evolution Of Style (alluding to his early days on M!D!FY, where he released a track with that name) and a documentary about Fabian’s life with the same name as the album. Evolution Of Style was a celebration of Brennan’s career, with older tracks like We Come & We Go, but with a modern twist, and newer tracks such as Imaginary and Fight The Resistance. In that same year, he received another huge honor, attributed only to artists who have an outstanding career – his own X-Qlusive event, a celebration that honors an artist for the whole night. Later that year he was also on the lineup of the X-Qlusive Legends event, where they gathered artists that already had their own X-Qlusive.
From then on, Brennan Heart scored hits in a row and his popularity went beyond the moon. Lies or Truth and Follow The Light are two big examples. But to stay relevant, you have to constantly innovate, so Fabian created the I Am Hardstyle concept. The message is simple, but touches the Hardstyle crowd deeply, as it is a type of crowd that truly lives for the music. With this concept came themed parties and an album, which was then released in 2016. Once again, something usual on Fabian’s work with this album: the track MMVIII (Redefine Perfection) carries his old Blademasterz alias, and alludes to his earlier work, back when he made a collaboration with Headhunterz named The MF Point of Perfection. The I Am Hardstyle events continue to this day and are one of Brennan Heart’s trademarks, and a “catch-phrase” that Hardstyle fans use to show their dedication to the genre.
In more recent times, Fabian went back to explore his Blademasterz alias, both in bookings (he did a few select ones as his alias) and in his last album, On Demand, with tracks like Melody Of The Blade.
More recently he had three other big milestones, with his Decibel anthem for 2018, his latest album – Show Your True Colors – and elevating the I Am Hardstyle brand to a label that, just like the previous ones mentioned in this article, highlights true talent within the harder styles.
In the end, we can conclude that Brennan Heart definitely helped shape Hardstyle and is still an immense player on this genre. Fabian managed to stay relevant throughout the years, renewing his sound without losing the characteristics that make everyone immediately identify a track as being his. He’s managed to be a true ambassador of the harder styles on the mainstream community as well, with performances at Tomorrowland and EDC, without leaving his roots on the side at any time. He’s also very acclaimed by his peers in the genre, and is known as someone who has a great work ethic in the studio, knows what he wants to do even before he turns his computer on, and can even make hits on the go between shows.