When Noisecontrollers, née Bas Oskam, burst onto the scene in 2005, he did so amid a waning hardstyle movement. At the time, the still-growing genre had been around for a few years and was in need of a fresh, new sound to keep things moving forward. Oskam and his former musical partner, Arjan Terpstra, were the perfect duo for the job. Their melodious approach to hardstyle was a breath of fresh air, and before they knew it, they had become one of the most sought-after names in hard dance. At a time when hardstyle was still getting its footing, Noisecontrollers helped push the movement to new heights, eventually helping usher in the current worldwide surge in hard dance.
The duo split in 2013, leading Oskam to soldier on as the lone Noisecontroller. He’s since remained a relentless artist, ensuring the weight and significance of the name—even as a solo act. Oskam’s clever approach to sound design is lauded by studio pros and fans alike. He also recognizes within himself a need to view his work not as genre-defining, but instead as genre-bending. And while he is considered a pioneer throughout the global hardstyle community, he has never pigeonholed himself. He continues to inject his work with the same forward-thinking approach that made him a don of hard dance in the first place.
Oskam’s best years as Noisecontrollers are clearly ahead of him. His recent collaboration with Sander van Doorn, “Just Won’t Get Enough,” sees him finding new ways to cross-pollinate his sound while creating even more space for the greater dance music world to ingest the hardstyle movement. If you’re lucky enough to catch Noisecontrollers at Basscon: Wasteland 2017 this weekend, you might see the hard-head peppering in never-before-heard material from his sixth studio album, which is set for release this summer.
Ahead of Wasteland, Noisecontrollers dropped off this headbanging playlist of hardstyle favorites and anthems. We caught up with the producer to chat about physics, the hidden Easter eggs in his music, and his collaborations with his idols.
Recently on Twitter, you said you’ve hidden some Easter eggs in some of your tunes. Can you give us some examples and explain why you’ve added this bit of unexpected fun to your music?
At the end of “Feel So Good,” I intentionally screwed up the sounds and did something weird with it. At the end of my remix of Wildstylez‘s “K.Y.H.U,” you hear someone jumping into the water. And at the end of “Here We Go,” you hear something of the original Queen song “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” But there are many more; I probably forgot most of them.
When you first began releasing music, you emulated Donkey Rollers in one of your first releases. Do you feel like you’ve come full circle now that you’re working alongside them?
Absolutely. You must understand: Donkey Rollers were, at that time, so far ahead of the rest. They raised the bar so much. It is amazing to collab with them. I’ve worked with separate members of the group and joined forces with them to make music, but this is the first time as Donkey Rollers. For me, always legendary.
You recently did a hardstyle production master class. Are today’s producers at an advantage, compared to the way you had to learn? What responsibility do older producers have to help mentor the youngsters?
Potentially, they have an advantage on producers [from], let’s say, 10 years back. But that’s only because music production gear is much more accessible nowadays. A whole studio fits in a laptop, where in the past, you needed a bigger studio. But practically, there isn’t much difference, as you cannot download things like experience, creativity, talent or inspiration. Those are much more important than the gear you work with, and they require hard work and persistence.I think that was my biggest tip during the master class: I showed that there are no secrets or golden tips in music production. Everybody saw the projects of several songs and could ask anything they wanted, only to find out there was nothing they couldn’t do themselves if they have the will and time to invest. Everybody was highly motivated by that fact, which was exactly the goal of the master class.As for the more experienced producers, I believe they have no responsibility at all toward the new kids! The only way to get good is to spend as much time in the studio as possible. Only the ones who truly want to become good will get there. First make good songs, and then get played—not the other way around. Talent alone won’t impress me.
You have an interest in physics. What role does the scientific discipline have in dance music, if any?
As a producer and DJ, nothing. I could answer creatively and throw in some words like “the Doppler effect,” or talk about wave frequencies, or estimate the average alcohol percentage in my blood during gigs. The only thing about physics that can be found in my music are the vocals I ripped from documentaries about the subject, like “Faster ‘n Further.”
Hardstyle has been big in Europe for some time. Do you think the recent growth in US audiences will help invigorate the scene and push things forward?
Of course it will. Wherever hardstyle fans in the world are, they motivate me to keep making music. Besides them, I would be nowhere. They make it possible to do what I love most: make hardstyle and play it around the world. Besides that, I love being in the US so much. I love all the places I’ve been so far, and it’s one of my favorite places to play!
What role do you see Basscon taking in this aforementioned department?
A huge one. It is such a big concept for hardstyle music in the US. A scene has to be built, and not only over the internet. There also has to be gatherings of people enjoying hardstyle and partying together, experiences to share. Basscon is the best in the US, and I’m very happy to be a part of that. Let’s do this!
Catch Noisecontrollers at Basscon: Wasteland 2017, taking place Friday, April 28, and Saturday, April 29, at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino, CA. Tickets are available now. For more information, visit the official event page.