Following an ear-shattering hard mix on EP. 41 of Future Connection, we caught up with DJ Thera to quench our curiosity and ask him a couple of questions!
Wide Future [WF]: First of all, thanks for taking some time to answer a few questions!
Thera [T]: Funny you mention the word “few”! I think I have never ever seen such a big questionnaire hahaha!!
[WF]: Let’s rewind the clock a bit. You’ve been in the music industry for a long time, but not always as DJ Thera. Between the last release from Brennan & Heart and the first Thera release there’s a gap of about 2/3 years. What did you do in that period and what was the spark that made you get back on track as DJ Thera?
[T]: These days I honestly think a lot of people don’t even know I was part of a duo in the past with Brennan Heart! We worked together till late 2005 and I started Theracords in 2008.
When I quit the B&H project, I literally quit with everything hard dance music related because I couldn’t enjoy anything anymore, and just recently, I found out I had a depression during that period. When I realized that, so many things fell into place and I understand everything that happened a lot better now. The people close to me back in 2007 and 2008 supported me greatly and gave me the confidence to start producing music again which eventually resulted in starting my own label Theracords
[WF]: We all know your love for Hard(er) Trance that comes from back then, can we expect such a release from you in the near future?
[T]: Nice timing! I do have some Hard Trance ideas in the works so you can definitely expect that!
[WF]: The previous question brings us to a few other ones – first one is, there seems to have been a bit of a decline in more experimental Hardstyle or Hard Trance focused sounds since Therabyte’s demise. Why did Therabyte end in the first place?
[T]: I disagree here, lately I have been hearing more and more experimental hard dance music. Because of the massive amount of music being released, it can get looked over very easily unfortunately. Check out names like: Kruelty, Hatom, Vyral and labels like Hard Classics Records, Hyper Reality Records and of course Geck-o ‘s label The Funky Cat!
The whole ending of Therabyte was basically a major time issue. Our team was small, there was not enough budget to expand and Theracords was getting more and more popular which resulted in a bigger workload. Besides that, the results we got back from the Therabyte releases were actually very poor. It has just been something from the last few years that people are looking much more into those tracks or we now just hear much more about it!
[WF]: Can we expect the TCC project to release more often and focus on those sounds?
[T]: I actually think there is no need for different project names anymore as artists release more and more diverse tracks these days, and people are (finally!) getting more open minded. So on that note, future classics edged productions from myself I will just release under DJ Thera.
[WF]: There are quite a few remarkable and iconic releases from Theracords/Therabyte. There’s a particular one that fans will never stop talking about: Soul Train. Why do you feel this is such an iconic track?
[T]: When the track got released it actually wasn’t as successful. It took quite some years for people to find the track and enjoy it. When we were releasing the track I honestly hoped (and expected) it to be a huge hit straight away. I am very happy it eventually did get the appreciation it deserves. In my opinion Geck-o managed to put everyone’s favorite Hard Trance ingredients together in 1 track. It’s also a track I can never get enough of! (And I actually made a track about that: T.C.C. – Never Get Enough)
[WF]: Distancing ourselves from harder stuff for a bit: a quick browse on your social media will reveal that you have a dog named Yoshi. How would you convince someone that hates pets to get a dog?
[T]: I would never want to convince pet haters to get a dog. Only dog lovers should get a dog!
[WF]: Why is Hans Zimmer such an inspiration to your more melodic tracks, what makes him so special?
[T]: In my opinion he is the greatest soundtrack composer of all time. He manages to create music that is very emotionally charged which is really difficult to accomplish without the use of vocals. You can just immediately feel it and that is what I love the most about music in general!
[WF]: A tradition with our interviews: quickfire questions:
Favorite headphones ever?
[T]: DJ Headphones: Technics RP-DJ1200 because it doesn’t break easily!
Studio headphones: Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 250 Ohm: wonderful fit and the sound is super clear!
[WF]: If you had a lifetime sponsor, what would that be?
[T]: First thing that comes to mind: a great sushi place!!
[WF]: Would you rather fight one elephant-sized duck or one duck-sized elephant?
[T]: I am a huge animal lover, so I want to cuddle both, not fight!
[WF]: Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi?
[WF]: Summer sun and the beach or rainy winter by the fireplace?
[T]: Definitely sun and beach!
[WF]: Most famous person you’ve met outside the dance music scene?
[T]: That can only be Donald Duck at Disneyland Paris!
[WF]: Time travel or teleportation?
[T]: I am typing this while I still have to wait 4 more hours at Bali Airport for my flight back home, so definitely teleportation, haha!
[WF]: You are a living legend of the game, so we ask: how do you feel about the harder genres becoming more and more mainstream?
[T]: I don’t really have a big opinion on that because the whole dividing into different boxes is not something I like to focus on. There is so much music nowadays and I try to check out as much as possible and support and play the tracks I really like. I don’t really care if those tracks are very popular.
[WF]: A long time ago, you’ve made a Facebook post asking your fans what were their favorite Thera tracks. Now we ask you – looking back at your impressive discography, what tracks of your own production are you most proud of?
[T]: Each time a track is finished it is an accomplishment. Every track is precious but I’m always most proud of the newest track I make because that means I was able to have that accomplishment again.
[WF]: Obviously, Theracords is a big part of your career and what you do. At what point did you realize your label was indeed making a difference in Hardstyle?
[T]: The goal has always been and still is to simply release music the artist truly believes in and is passionate for. That’s why the label is created and maintains to be that place where an artist can fully express his/her creativity. The realization mostly came when we start getting more and more messages how they could book me or any of our other artists.
[WF]: Today we have many “boxes” for all sorts of Hardstyle, be it “Euphoric” or “Raw”. While back in the days everything was just Hardstyle, we cannot deny that labels like Theracords focused on and developed a sound that we now associate to “Raw”. Within this heavier and darker side of Hardstyle, what do you think were the most positive and negative changes as time went by?
[T]: Like I said before, I don’t like to think in boxes and I still think it’s strange we always have that “raw” label stuck on us because to me, we have always been releasing diverse hardstyle but with the emphasis on the word “hard”. Nowadays, I see ourselves even more diverse, we give our artists complete freedom so they actually have the possibility to release everything they want, regardless bpm, roughness whatsoever.
[WF]: This brings us to another question – do you feel there are too many producers focusing too much on the kicks and the roughness, and too little on the atmosphere and the track as a whole?
[T]: I think I have quite often voiced my opinion that I find musicality and atmosphere in a track very important but, that’s indeed just my opinion and personal taste, so also something I always try to replicate in my tracks. Producers should always create something they really love, and now there are more producers creating “rough kick tracks only” so be it!
[WF]: You have at least two major highlights at Defqon: your 10 Years of Thera show and your Training Sessions set. Does any of these stand out more for you, or they’re both equally great, each in its own time?
[T]: Both sets have two things in common: both were at Defqon and both sets contained my music only! Being booked for the biggest harder styles festival in the world is already amazing but to do such special sets with only my music that makes it even more special. I am very grateful I got the chance to do this!
[WF]: Despite Theracords not being a really huge label, we can see a pattern with a few artists that have gone through its roster… Names like Deetox, Delete, Geck-o and Degos & Re-Done, for example, are all quite successful in their own careers, some playing rather big stages, how do you feel about that?
[T]: I am very proud that we have been able to help and support these amazing artists in their careers. They all deserve to have long and successful careers!
[WF]: There are also new and interesting names at Theracords and Theracords Labs – Aversion, Riot Shift, Kruelty and Valido are some that come to mind. When you listened to demos from some of these guys, what’s the thing that made you say “wow, I’ve got to sign them”?
[T]: That actual sentence is exactly what I want to think when I hear a demo track. With all these guys it actually happened like that!
[WF]: Speaking of the label, we’ve seen it mentioned as TC Records instead of Theracords lately. This may seem like a small detail but it still got us curious, is this a precursor to a bigger change at Theracords?
[T]: Well spotted! We didn’t really give it that much attention honestly! The music scene is becoming a much more individual game whereas years ago people were more fan of a label as a whole. With this minor change we basically going all in for the artist approach and give less focus on our label name. We strongly believe every artist that is signed with us has his own fanbase and unique music style. That also makes it quite difficult to have label fans. So, it doesn’t really make much sense to invest that strongly in our label name but to invest more in the artists individually.
[WF]: Hardstyle has been around for about 20 years. Do you think it is still a sustainable genre that can last another 20 years?
[T]: I also had my first release 20 years ago and I still am very motivated and inspired to create a shitload of new music. So, in my opinion: we are just getting started! Here is on to 20 years more, haha!
[WF]: We all know that “diversity is key” … Are there any producers from other labels that caught your attention for being diverse?
[T]: Yes definitely! I am really digging tracks and the diversity of it from artists like Adrenalize, Clockartz, Rooler, Restrained, Dither and The Prophet.
[WF]: What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything in particular planned to continue making Hardstyle such an amazing genre?
[T]: Currently, things are going amazing in the studio so people can definitely expect a lot of new diverse music this year!
[WF]: What sort of bookings are you enjoying the most these days? Would performing, for example, at the Magenta in Defqon get you more excited than at the Blue?
[T]: Every booking has something special! Even performing at a small club for only 100 people can be very amazing because of the intimate setting. Therefore, I always try to enjoy every single booking as much as possible! My advice to DJ’s has always been: play each set as if it would be your last ever.
[WF]: There’s been a crazy hype around GPF as of lately due to them bringing something new and different to the table. You always seem quite present and up for all the crazy stuff they do! Were all these shenanigans the thing that inspired you to make more Hardcore?
[T]: GPF for me is the perfect example of comic relief and sheer entertainment and that’s why I love it! And yes, they definitely motivated me in producing more hardcore which is something I didn’t think I was able to even though I have always been a huge hardcore fan.
[WF]: Can we expect more stuff like Lose Control and Counting Sheep?
[T]: Definitely! I love the big contrasting combination of hardcore violence and soothing melodies!
[WF]: Have you heard anything about the Portuguese scene? And what do you know about Portuguese producers? We’ve got a couple of up and coming artists…
[T]: Yes, that it is not very big but very dedicated! As far as Portuguese artists I actually only know Kaiser-T!
[WF]: And finally…when will you start doing some klaplong lessons?!
[T]: I have actually already done a very informative and serious How to Klaplong video with Alennah last year! Check it out: https://youtu.be/Dmd7knyXZmw