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  • Writer's pictureMartin van Zeelandt / TCD

DJ Casketkrusher Interview (2017)

If you are a regular visitor of TheCrazyDutchmansBlog you already know the name, the name that should be embraced by more and more people. DJ Casketkrusher, a producer who I’ve embraced, because he’s unique in his style and the way he keeps not only the forgotten sound of Happy Hardcore alive, but pushing Early Hardcore in general towards the masses with his own label, Total Destruction Records. It’s time for us to get to know the man behind the name, the label, and the passion he has for the Early Hardcore/Gabber/Happy Hardcore.

Hello mister Casketkrusher, how’s life? “Pretty good actually, thanks for having me here!”

Before we start yapping about the music and everything related to the name, where does the name Casketkrusher come from? “That’s an easy story, as you may know I’m very into Metal music as well, and one of my favorite genres in Metal is Death Metal. So I actually “stole” my name from a song of a Death Metal band. I thought it sounded pretty cool and unique compared to all the other standard names you hear. Many people write it with a ‘C’ but the ‘K’ is intentionally.”

Everyone during the 90s had a cheerful name, and yours sound a bit dark and edgy. Is that the reason why you’ve come up with a whole list of aliases, such as Acid Frequency, E-Core, Happical Movement, Malice, The Manipulator, etc? “Yes, sort of. I started using aliases after I began my label, I had so many ideas and different styles I wanted to use. And to be honest I didn’t wanted to release everything under one name. So each of my aliases have a somewhat different style, some are very small. Sometimes I just use a different alias to make my music library a bit bigger and wider.”

You are 10 years younger than I am, so you must have been too young to witness Happy Hardcore being extremely big in the Netherlands, during the heydays of it (94-96). When you were simply Stefan, what did you listen to when you were younger? “I was never into music when I was a small kid, I actually began listening to music when I was at attending a school. I had a “friend” yeah you call them friends at school, didn’t seen the dude for years! But back to the story, I guess I was around 12 or so and he said “Hey Stefan, check this music”. I was like music hmm whatever, okay let’s take a listen. He let me listen to Korn and I was like boom that’s fucking music, it was very heavy (at the time). So he made me like music. So I went Metal all the way! To add another story to this, the same dude had a brother who was actually into Hardcore. When I was at his place we sneaked into his brothers room and we took a look at his CD collection, he had many Thunderdome CD’s and I  felt in love with the artworks. The music not so much however. The love for the music came much later when I was around 17/18 or so, I was randomly scrolling the internet for some pictures to use as my desktop background, and I stumbled across a Thunderdome CD artwork and the nostalgia hitted me hard at that point. I went to YouTube and listened to those song and bam I was like this is music! Heavy, fast, and yes I also love some happy melodies which was very prominent on the early Thunderdome CD’s.”

When you were a teenager, the whole Early side of Hardcore disappeared slowely to the background due to several reasons. You were sadly born 10 years too late. Do you sometimes wish you were there, when Happy Hardcore and Gabber dominated the Dutch nightlife? “Yes ofcoure, If I watch those Thunderdome videos I wish I was there. Well I say that now but those times we’re different. Life itself has changed a lot in those 20 years. Most importanly to have music on the go in good quality. Back then I used them too as a kid we had cassette players which had shitty audio depending on the quality you bought. Yes, fucking batteries who ran dry and then using a pen to rewind the damn tape. But if I look at he raves today to my feeling Early Hardcore/Happy Hardcore/Early Terror is really making a comeback, there are a lot of parties that are strictly in those styles for the die hard fans of the old sound which is pretty cool. Especially the Ouwe Stijl is Botergeil parties (please book me again guys!!!)…”

Funny bit of information I found: you started as a Goa Trance producer using the alias Xyloblast. Goa Trance, what’s that about? “Yes that’s right. I started using those easy access drag and drop programs like E-Jay, and the styles they had on the version I had was Goa Trance. So I started to experiment with that, I got to say I’m also a huge fan of Hard Trance, Techno and stuff. But, my experience was very limited at that point, I didn’t knew anything about music back then. Now, I know the basic stuff I actually bought a book with mixing techniques and stuff back then which really is a help still to this day. And Xyloblast was just a silly name, again I wanted to be unique but today it sounds lame and I actually want to delete that part of my “music” history behind.”

You started with Goa Trance, but quickly changed your artist name into Casketkrusher, and started to focus on the Early Hardcore side of things. What made you change your musical path into something completely different to Goa Trance? “I was always into heavier/aggressive music, and Goa Trance was fun to start with, but ofcoure way to soft for my real taste. But around 2010/11 I got myself into Hardcore thanks to Google as I said in the previous question ”

Quick question: if you have to choose, what’s your favourite, Early Hardcore or Goa Trance? “That’s easy, Eary Hardcore, it’s actually a huge part of my life at this point. The sound is so different and diverse compared to the Millenium crap. I mean in Early Harcore you can literally use anything.”

Casketkrusher isn’t a house hold name yet, but you seem to push the Early sounds forward like I’ve never seen before. Why did the Early sound appeal to you so much, you wanted to bring it back to life? “I just like the way it sounds, it’s sometimes happy, it’s sometimes aggressive. I like the melody and the tempo. And to make that sound in your own style is just amazing, it feels like you we’re part of the OG posse. I’m not only interested in Happy Hardcore, I’m also a huge lover of Early Terror, Breakbeat, Hard Trance, Speedcore. Just extreme music overall. But Happy Hardcore appeals to me because of those stabs, I just like stabs, I’m not an edgelord but stablord lol”

Nearly 10 years ago you started, and back in 2012 bookings slowely happened. What was your first party, and how did it make you feel? How was the response to a Casketkrusher set? “My first live performance as a DJ was back in 2014 in Belgium, I still to this day don’t really had much bookings. It was something I always wanted to do, I did not play my own music however because I do that rarely. My biggest passion as a DJ is vinyl, I spin it, I eat them depends on the color which is flavour. I felt in love with DJing and this is pretty a important story in who I am today because of a video I saw on YouTube. It was DJ Dano at Mayday 1994, that video changed my life, to see that whole arena filled with strobe lights and party people screaming and yelling was insane to me. The music however gave me goosebumps, and damn that reverb in the arena! Dano played records by Brothers in Crime, Q-Tex all that good old 1994 Hardcore Gabber. If I never saw that video I probably never started as a DJ at all. My first set I played in Belgium was actually 80% of tunes Dano also played at Mayday that night.”

A year later you created your own label, Total Destruction Records. And if you check it out on Discogs, the list of releases is extremely long! What made you decide to create your own label? Weren’t there other labels you could release your music on? “Well, back in 2014 I made so many tunes. I still can’t believe how much shit I made in one week. And I saved them all on my harddisk and I was like damn, nobody is going to hear them if they stay on my harddisk, so I tried to get my tunes released on labels but always with failure. Well I actually had a contract with Bass Generator Records which really didn’t took off. So I decided why don’t I start with my own label, so I can manage and do EVERYTHING my own way. So I made a bunch of names, which one of them was “Alien Force Records” I thought again because it sounded cool and unique (secret tip from me, if it sounds cool fuckin’ use that name!) the name took also insperation of one of my favorite UK Gabber labels Area 51 Recordings. So I made a logo with my amazing photoshop skills and put an alien on the front. But yeah, I though, if I call it Alien Force Records and there is an alien on the label’s logo and my music is 90’s Gabber everybody will see me as and Area 51 clone or rip off at the time, those first releases I made, damn they are horrible. So then I thought again, and again and suddenly I had a name, few days after I made a new tune called “Total Selfdestruction” so yeah after that “Total Destruction Records” was born. So now I needed a logo. And I thought that logo of Earprotector Records is pretty cool with the warning head. So I took the logo and someone from Gabber.FM I don’t know  who that was anymore but creds to you again dude re-drew it in high quality for me, and because the label only had like 3 releases and is defunct since 1993 I thought yeah I can use this without harm. So I did.”

From albums to mixes to single records, the album released them all! Not focussed on just the Happy Hardcore side of life. What was your goal when you created the label, and did you reach it? “My goal and still is is to re-create the Hardcore sound from the mid 90’s, ranging from 1993 ‘till the sounds of 1997. Another goal is to release a new E.P. every single month by myself or a guest artist. So far I did reach it.”

Two albums have been made, ‘Hardcore Files’ and ‘Rougher & Tougher’. Which one are you the proudest of, and why? “Hardcore Files was released in 2013 in a very, very limited quantity because I had to finance it myself, so I only made 10 physical copies of it. Printing CD’s is fucking expensive. The label on which it is released was a failure, it was a label created by Dietmer Tan (Sonicdriver) and he asked me to run it together with him. It was called “Creativity First Records”, so as the name says creativity. The label was not only focussed on Hardcore, it was open to every single genre. If we thought it sounded good and had potential it was welcome for a release. So Hardcore Files was the first release and the last on the label. The music on it however sucks ass, I didn’t knew much about producing and everything is basically all sampled from other Hardcore tunes. The only tune I still like on it is “Dancing on Your Grave”, I collaborated with an American rapper called Rahat, and he made some sick ass rap lines. So I made a tune with that.”

Let’s talk production stuff: you do use bits and bobs from Early Hardcore records, and you are capable to re-create the old sound that most of us have forgotten about. What’s the secret behind your records, what’s your set-up when it comes to producing records? “Yes, I still sample a lot today. Not that much as I used to do. I also make my own lines, fx stuff and kicks. I have a small studio, nothing special, and I use only plugins, I don’t have any hardware at all. I kinda compare myself to Lenny Dee, I heard in an interview with Mental Theo that Lenny Dee was a God for them because of his amazing tracks he made, and when they finally came to visit him he had like a small ass studio with basically the most basic stuff ever. So, to my knowlegde you don’t need huge ass hi-tech studios and all that crap today. You can make everything as vintage as possible. Just do your thing, learn the basics and let yourself go!”

OK, you love Early, we’ve established that, but if you had to pick 3 records, which ones are your favourite records of all time, and why? “That’s one hard ass question to ask brother. There are like million tunes I like sooo much. But it depends on the mood which records is at my number #1 spot. I can say that Q-Tex – E-Creation (’94 Mix) is one of my favorites and also this tune that fuckin’ nobody knows because it’s never been released on any CD it’s vinyl only. Weird name of a tune but it’s called Hyperact – Technotrance v’s MC XXX (G.T. Sampler Mix) talking about a weird ass title for a right?”

Who have you been influenced by? What makes their style of producing/mixing so appealing to you? “That’s also a hard question. Well hard, I don’t know. Since the Mayday 1994 rave I tracked and traced every single DJ who played on that night and listened to all their mixes. And without a doubt Dano is a huge influence, but also names like Laurent Hô, Marusha, Carl Cox (best DJ outthere!) But ofcoure I have more DJ’s and producers who I’m influenced by like the names of Paul Elstak, DJ Clarkee, ofcoure the legendary Scott Brown, Vibes, Brisk, Vinylgroover, Manu Le Malin, The Darkraver, Gizmo, The Prophet, Buzz Fuzz, Drokz, Seduction. Damn, too many to name I could go on forever, but that’s a few of them. The list would be fuckin’ long.”

The day I became a fan of your music was the day I found your ‘Oude Stijl Is Botergeil’ set. I am an Oldskool lover, and especially Happy Hardcore. I was fascinated about your own records and how they sounded like they were made during the 90s. How would you describe your style? “Well there is a term for oldskool sounding Hardcore called Nu-Rave but that sound’s lame as fuck, like Nu-Metal everybody hates that shit. So I just call it Early Hardcore, Early Terror, depends on the genre ofcourse.”

You are not only on social media to promote your own label and your own music, but you are also on Gabber.FM with your own show. The listeners, how do they responds to your passion and dedication to keep the Early stuff still in the limelight? “Yeah, in 2014 (again) I met a producer and also a DJ online who was also into Early Hardcore what a coincidence. His name is Ferren (Fredrik Redegård) who liked my music and he played on a website called Gabber.FM so he asked me to play a 30 minute mix to broadcast. So the ball was rolling and they actually liked the way I played my records and my fine ass skills (joking). So I eventually got myself a 1 hour broadcast each saturday of the week which was called “100% Early Hardcore”. The response was always positive with some building critique sometimes, but critique is good! We had a chat on the website which was pretty active so I could communicate with the listeners which was very fun. But today the chat is dead and I still play a 1 hour show but only 1 time each month on Thursday (Throwback Thursday). The site and crew had many changes and also of course more talented DJ’s came to get a 1 hour broadcast.”

I’ve recently bought your second album (wicked album, see the review) and I wasn’t fussed about paying a few euros (and everyone should do so), but online I read somewhere that you don’t want to make money when it comes to your label. It’s a nice bonus, I reckon, but how else could you stay afloat between those other big labels? “I don’t know, there is not a huge market for Early Hardcore anymore, the only people I think of who could make a buck out of it are Painbringer and Frantic Freak (Both very good producers and DJ’s, well Frantic Freak is technically only a DJ). But, I never wanted to make money out of it, yeah a donation is nice but forcing to pay, nope not my style. My music is and will always be free, okay, my second album “Rougher & Tougher” is only available for a few bucks but that’s normal if it’s a physical CD. I mean you need to invest in those kind of things, but still pretty cheap if you ask me. There is more than 1 hour of rave on that fucking plastic piece of shit! And the digital release is only 6 bucks. So free is the answer, I get a decent amount of downloads each week, around 30/40 tops. But, also spamming your label’s BandCamp page in various Facebook groups helps a lot too ”

You’ve made many records under varias aliases, but if you could ever work with anyone you fancy, who would that be and why? “If you mean like big names? I would love to work together with Scott Brown someday. Same taste in Hardcore!”

Ok, the ultimate question, and it might be a difficult one to answer, but if you could organise your own party, and you had unlimited funding, who would you book and why? You can pick any artist you like, unless it’s Justin Bieber, and if so, your funding has been cancelled. “Oh wow, that’s actually an awesome question I’d be happy to answers. If I could I would have a mixed party, not only with Hardcore but also with some of my favorite bands. I would love to have a stage with Napalm Death playing and in the other room a DJ in the likes of Delta 9 with his blasting terror. That would be fucking awesome at least for me. But not a huge venue just a small venue with like 300 people, just having fun and enjoying heavier music! Or if I could be part of the Strentgh of Unity crew I would keep organizing more Ouwe Stijl’s! I mean that concept and atmosphere is so unique and for the real lovers only!”

What’s your future perspective, as a DJ/producer and as a label owner? “As a producer I would like to keep going and going, making Hardcore in all different forms which was booming back then. As a DJ I hope I get more bookings on real raves, which has the true dedictation for the music.”

Are there any new releases coming up? Any raves coming up you want us all to know about? “There are always new tunes in the works, so I can’t tell. I release it when it’s finished. As a DJ sadly I don’t have any bookings for the upcoming months ”

If you could only use one word to describe yourself, which word would it be, and why? “CASKETKRUSHER!”

One final question, and it’s a daunting one: Happy Hardcore was once extremely big and exciting, and it created an atmosphere not seen since. It was sadly destroyed by money-grabbing producers who only did it because it made a few quid, and the tunes were focussed on quantity and not on quality. Also the media destroyed it, with mind numbing TV shows focussed on it. What’s your perspective on the whole disappearance of it around 97-98? Or were you too young to remember? “I guess I really can’t say much about that, Too young, fuck! Otherwise I could have been on a crusade against false HARDCORE!”

Final word by DJ Casketkrusher: “I would like to thank you for having me on your blog! And everybody who has something to do with me, music wise or in personal (no I don’t owe you money!), you know who you are!!!  <3                         Peace!!!”

I would like to say thank you to Casketkrusher for this very interesting interview. A truly underrated producer and DJ, and worth checking out (and booking him too!). Make sure you check out the following pages, they will amaze you. Bookmark them, spread them amongst your friends, whatever you do, spread the love!

And whilst you are browsing through his pages, check out this awesome New Years Mix, so you can get a glimpse of his passion and dedication for Hardcore, especially the earlier stuff!

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