Interview: Raw hardstyle legend Ran-D!

Ran-D Roughstate Defqon.1

Ran-D definitely needs no introduction within the hardstyle scene. It’s the legend who created the timeless track ‘Living For The Moment’, a regular at Defqon.1 Weekend Festival. We had to honour to chat with him to review Defqon.1, discuss Roughstate, Gunz4Hire and a lot more! Check out the full interview below.

How did it feel to be able to enter the holy grounds of Defqon.1 once again after 2 years?

Defqon.1 Weekend Festival is always one of the highlights of the year and one of my personal favorite festivals, because of its insane vibe. Harder styles lovers from all over the world travel to Defqon, so this shows how dedicated people are, and you can really feel this in the unique Defqon vibe. After three years it was almost emotional to be standing on the holy grounds again filled with people. For a couple of years we were there filming our sets and connecting with all you guys out there in the best way we could, sticking together like one family. To be able to actually play again at a packed mainstage was almost surreal. Man did I enjoy this edition of Defqon! It was truly amazing. 

Defqon.1 consists of 4 full festival days for the first time ever this year. What do you think about the growth of the event, and can you still remember the first time you visited and got to play at Defqon.1?

The first time I visited Defqon was when it was still taking place at Almere strand, which is obviously some time ago, hahaha. Defqon immediately stole my heart and as a beginning DJ and producer back then it was my dream to play there. In 2009, I got the chance to play at the PURPLE talent stage at Defqon and this dream became reality.  I must admit, it took me some time to get used to the new location, but I think we’ve all embraced the holy grounds in Biddinghuizen. The growth of the festival is just natural, again this year all records were broken, and to me this just means that more people were able to enjoy this magical event, so I see it as a good thing. 

How much time in advance do you start preparing for Defqon.1, as you obviously want to showcase something unique?

The preparations for an event like Defqon.1 takes months, it has so much exposure and is such a great platform to showcase new music and make great content. Besides that, hardstyle lovers from all over the planet come over to experience Defqon.1 and attend your set, so you definitely want to make it special. 

Undoubtedly, you’ve premiered many new Ran-D and Gunz4Hire music at Defqon.1, can you tell us something about that?

In my solo set on the RED I played some fresh new tracks like my collab with Sub Zero Project – One Last Time, my brand-new remix of the 90s classic 2 Brothers On The 4th Floor – Come Take My Hand (which got released yesterday and can now be streamed!), another new solo ‘The Raven Of The Night’ which will be released somewhere to coming months and ‘Never Shut Us Down’ which will be the Shutdown anthem of 2022. Besides this, I made some kick edits from ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Suicidal Superstar’. 

We’ve also put a lot of effort into the Gunz For Hire sets with brand new tracks like ‘Death Or Glory’, ‘Lie After Lie’, ‘Mustang’, ‘Firestone’, a fresh new remix of ‘Uprising’, a banging kick edit of ‘No Mercy’ and more. I’m feeling super inspired with all the gigs that are taking place at the moment, so there will be lot of new music rolling out the studio this year

You’ve closed the RED on Saturday as Gunz4Hire, how did you react to that special honour when you heard about it?

This is of course a really big honor and a big challenge! Even for an artist who has been doing this for a lot of years, this is something that is really special and gets you hyped up in a big way. We knew it would be a big challenge because people expect a lot from a closing set, but I can say we’re really blown away with the crowd response, big shoutout to all you guys who attended our set!

Besides the new tracks, we’ve also made some remixes and edits from some of our well known tracks, for some familiarity in the set as well as a surprise effect. There were so many moments in the set that gave us goosebumps, with the whole field of people screaming along at the top of their lungs. 

Also, a big shoutout to Q-dance for giving us this opportunity, and for going all in with the SFX and fireworks during our closing set, this really added to the vibe and made the whole show extra special!

Last month you finally got to premiere the We Rule The Night event, based on your album, in Oberhausen, how was that, and how did the crowd respond to your new concept?

We’ve invested a lot into the whole We Rule The Night concept with the whole team in collaboration with Musical Madness, to make it a next level event. During the night, the visitors step into the world of night creatures, and during the night they receive the powers of several night creatures. Their DNA changes and they fully transform into night beings. We’ve invested a lot into the visual show and the entertainment to make it a unique experience. I’m beyond happy with this first edition of We Rule The Night. The idea is to take the concept around the world, to let hardstyle lovers in every country experience this event. In the coming months, we will launch some live sets of We Rule The Night, so the people at home can get a taste of what this night was like! 

In 2015, you had the honor to create the anthem for Defqon.1 ‘No Guts, No Glory’. How much time did it take you to create that iconic anthem and were you nervous about it, knowing that tens of thousands of hardstyle lovers worldwide are always a bit critical about a Defqon.1 anthem?

Ok, let’s say this anthem cost me 10 years of my life, hahahaha. Making an anthem is always a big challenge, and when it’s the Defqon.1 anthem, well you can guess what the pressure is like. But I can only say, it has been one of the anthems in my career that I look back at with a big smile and a lot of great memories. Even when I played it this year at the RED in my set, the whole crowd was screaming along with the melody, that is the biggest reward you can get as a DJ/producer. 

Of course, we have to mention your iconic track ‘Living For The Moment’ that got an update in 2020. Everybody knows the track and it’s a special track for many people. Can you share something about the thought-process when you created it back then? Is it very important for you to truly enjoy every moment in your life?

Living For The Moment is my most precious track. It is a track that is based on my own life experience, and it’s really close to my heart. I think because the message is so real, that a lot of people can relate to the track. I’m still very proud of this track. In 2020 when everyone was missing the precious moments together, I wanted to make a track about this. One of my friends said, mate.. You already made a track that says it all. That’s when I decided it was time to remix the track. The message is still important to me, enjoy the special moments you experience with friends and family and don’t take it for granted.

You are one of the founders of Roughstate. In 2019 the sub-label Roughstate recruits was introduced. Are you enjoying the fact that there’s a platform for talent now, and in what way are you supporting these talented raw hardstyle talents? If you had to name one of them that you truly believe in, which one would it be and why?

I’m not going to name just one of them, we believe in all the guys that are releasing tracks on recruits. We’ve been pretty picky about whom to keep on the label and selected the guys that we all have faith in that they will grow and develop in the future, and I think we have a really great group of guys. We give the guys feedback on their music and of course we support the tracks in our sets (when they fit our personal style), which gives the guys the exposure that they need. And of course some collabs are taking place, of which ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’ with Galactixx is an example. I really think Ralf is a super talented guy, and it was a lot of fun working together. In the future, I will most probably do some collabs with the other guys as well. I think the most important thing that will make the difference is that the guys keep putting in the hard work and dedication to take it to the next level, the potential is definitely there. 

As you’ve played a set at the Magenta, at the RED and as Gunz4Hire at Defqon.1 how do you feel about the evolution that hardstyle has experienced since when you got interested in listening to hardstyle and producing it until today. Do you think it’s going into the right direction?

I think hardstyle is in your blood. When I heard hardstyle for the first time, I fell in love. The heavy kicks, the energy, that heavy bass through your body, the epic melodies. It just spoke to me immediately. Of course, hardstyle evolved a lot over the years, and it has become such a broad genre, ranging from euphoric hardstyle with great melodies to Raw Hardstyle with heavy kick drops. It offers something for everyone, and for me, it’s still the best party music out there. The last couple of years hardstyle has become even more broad, and many new types of kicks were introduced, and even some old elements like gated kicks made their return. For me, this made hardstyle probably even more interesting, cause it seems to have no limitations to what is possible. So it’s hard to say where the genre is going to go, and I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong in its direction. This is something that goes organically, we’ll see what the future will hold. 

 Final question: any big goals or dreams you’d like to achieve by the end of this year?

I would like to take ‘We Rule The Night’ over the world. And I’m going to make a lot of new music this year, since I’m feeling super inspired at the moment. I know that some cool collabs will happen in the future that people will be excited about! And of course, we will smash many stages with the new Gunz For Hire show. So hey.. I’m just getting started ;-D Thanks for the interview guys! And hope to see all you readers at one of my gigs in the near future! Thanks for your support! 

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