Future Music Festival on Sunday, March 1, 2015, at Arena Joondalup, promises an enormous range of musical styles. Right on the other end of the electronic spectrum from Drake and 2 Chainz are Bassjackers, explicitly big room party starters who promise to “get weird”, move crowds, and, as ZOE KILBOURN discovers, bring the energy.
Marlon Flohr, producer Ralf Van Hilst’s other half, is chatting in his car post-Amsterdam Dance Event. “I was just listening to Tupac’s Greatest Hits,” he says. “What we don’t listen to at all is, like, EDM. That’s for the studio, that’s for the shows.”
Don’t be fooled: there’s been a hell of a lot of shows and studio work. Bassjackers are about to play 30 shows in six weeks before they even get close to Australia’s Future Music Festival – “the rush, the adrenaline – it’s what you feed off even if you’re really, really tired” – and it’s all painstakingly tied in with a string of fortuitous release dates.
“Like That came out just before Tomorrowland – it got played a lot of times. We have a remix for Dannic, Dear Life, which also hit Beatport around then, and within three weeks, we had Savior. Spinnin’ gave us a nice release date for Savior, right before our tour – we can let Savior peak in the tour and at the same time we have a collaboration with Dyro in the works we can release right after the tour. Everything’s changing so fast, so we don’t want to leave stuff on the shelf too long.”
It’s particularly gruelling, given how relentlessly intense Bassjackers work is.
“When we first started, we always made high energy music,” says Marlon. “From the start, it was always Dutch influenced party music, for the clubs, for the big rooms. Over time, it’s evolved, but we always stay true to our sound, which is energy. I think it’s got bigger and bigger and the sound now. It’s so high energy, it’s not even dancing – it’s more like jumping and raging. It’s almost like a rock concert nowadays.
“It’s really exciting when you’re working in a studio, tweaking and tweaking a track, and you feel you have something like, ‘Yep. We really wanna drop this in front of a crowd, right now.’ With the latest release, Savior, it’s all simplistic – a big kick, a few like beat sounds – but it works so well on the dancefloor. Sometimes it sounds easy to make, but it’s actually really hard to come up with something that is simple and effective at the same time. “
While Ralf plays pedantic producer (“I’m like, ‘Yo, that sounds good enough,’ but he’s always up into the equalising – and, actually, he’s never satisfied”), Marlon’s busy sussing out his audience.
“I never fully prepare a set, but I do research for every show,” he says.” Who else is playing there, who else played there before, what kind of club is it, is it a VIP club, is it a younger, raging crowd… Reading the crowd is still a really important part, but if you do your research right, you know it’s gonna be OK.”
Past Australian experiences have been promising, he says. “From the last festival, I’ve learned that Australians are pretty crazy, and they party hard. Like, the energy at those shows was insane. The fun thing is, a lot of them knew our own productions, so you could just basically play whatever you want, whatever you feel, because they just go crazy. It’s a lot of fun to play for a crowd like that – you can experiment a little bit more. You can play new productions, test them out.”
“You see a lot of changes,” he says. “The deeper sounds are winning a lot of territory right now. The future house thing, the Oliver Heldens sound. I always believe there’s room for everything. All the different dance styles taking off right now make the dance scene stronger than ever. We do more big room sounds, of course, but that’s always evolving as well.”