Being a native of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area has presented many obstacles for a genre newcomer. Hardstyle hasn’t reached the shores of the United States en masse yet, but Markove welcomes the challenge of helping hardstyle to spread amongst his fellow Americans.
Only The Beat takes a time out with the hardworking producer.
OTB: Let's talk about your DJ and production beginnings. Can you walk me through that story all the way up until you finally got paid?
MARKOVE: I started out thinking music production and DJing were very simple tasks. You just turn some knobs on your $50 DJ controller, blend a bunch of different sounds together in a DAW, and boom! Music professional. I learned hard and fast that music and everything related to it is a very difficult (and expensive) journey.
During my college years, I played around in Fruity Loops off and on, but I never took anything I did seriously. I was, more or less, your typical college kid who went to class and hung out with friends while trying to become the next deadmau5 in the hour or so (if that) I spent producing each weekend. Nothing exactly unique or promising. In early 2012, I decided to change that. I finally sat down and started learning the trade.
Hardstyle's a lot more complex than typical EDM, so there's a lot of characteristics I had to nail down before my first "real" track. The amount of hours I've spent listening to DONG... DONG... DONG... BOING to achieve a decent sounding kick is cruel and unusual punishment. It's also possible I've suffered brain damage when I rammed my head into my desk when the dozens of melodies I worked on wouldn't come together.
My first "real" track for release didn't come together until March 2013, more than a year after I started seriously producing. What came before "Advanced" on April 8, 2013 were a lot of failed attempts. A lot of sleepless nights and frustration culminating. A lot of demos I should have never sent out.
Seeing my first ever sales certainly was an exhilarating experience, even though I didn't exactly go out and buy a Telsa after. Two years later, I still sometimes have the same frustrations, but the results coming through are making the rough patches worthwhile. My past two EPs, Dreamscape and Reawaken, have been my most successful to date and it's been humlbing to see all the positive reaction.
OTB: Prior to DJing & music production, what kind of crappy jobs did you have?
MARKOVE: Retail. Retail. Retail. Did I mention, I worked retail? Oh, some fast-food before retail. Fortunately, I've been able to use my English degree to work in a more comfortable setting. I'm your typical 9-to-5 worker right now. At the end of the day, everything's been a way to keep the music flowing
OTB: What gave you that final leap of faith to taking music head-on?
MARKOVE: I've always felt hardstyle's been missing something. There hasn't been a real bridge between the genre and trance. I wanted that bridge badly, so I decided to create the link myself.
I've always been a person of action over words. It's great to debate how hardstyle could be better or how the genre can evolve, but what does talking about the change accomplish? Not much, unfortunately. I want to make the genre evolve. I want to be a key player in hardstyle's future.
My own ambitions and a personal vision of hardstyle made the jump happen.
OTB: I noticed you work with music networks. Can you talk us through working with them.
MARKOVE: Starting out as a producer can be incredibly difficult if you don't know where to start or how to find support. The team over at LegendaryUploadz has been phenomenal in helping me make that start. They've uploaded every single track I've ever released for promotion. That show of support has meant a lot to me as a newcomer. I don't know how else I would've gained the following I have now.
EuphoricHardstylez is another major hardstyle network I've had the pleasure to work with. Both do remarkable jobs and are so helpful in making both the genre and new producers become more widely known. I wouldn't be where I am and where I will be if it weren't for their passion for the music and its message.
OTB: Can you tell me about the inspiration you have for hardstyle. What sort of direction do you want to take the music to?
MARKOVE: Trance was my gateway drug to EDM. I spent my teenage years listening to trance and only trance. Oceanlab, Armin, Ferry, you name it. I was an absolute fanatic from 2008 through 2012. Those were amazing years for trance and I have a lot of fond memories. Don't get me wrong, these were certainly great years for hardstyle as well. Trance was my main jam then though.
I love hardstyle for the crunchy, distorted kick drum, but the leads don't always match up to those epic trance anthems I grew up with. Some in the genre want hardstyle to remain true to its roots, while others want something more unique. I want more trance inspiration! Let's get uplifting melodies and trance-inspired leads into the game.
This has been my goal since day one and I'll continue on the path to making "trancestyle" (if that can even be called a thing) happen. Maybe my music is just me trying to relive a past that's gone, but that's what I want people to feel when they listen to my music.
Let the past influence the future is a motto I will continue to live by with my music. My evolution is a direct result of my history.
As you head forward in the music industry what are you really intrigued by and where do you see yourself evolving?
MARKOVE: Music production is a field where you continue to learn and improve with each project. If one doesn't grow, the music becomes stagnant. With each production, I try my best to improve as both an advocate of the genre and a sound design fanatic. Ultimately, I hope to continue evolving as an ambassador of the genre for the United States. There aren't many of us who produce from the States, but we have to keep pushing.
I've read comments posted on various hardstyle forums regarding how those from across the pond have limited knowledge about what's going on with hardstyle here. I want to keep evolving as a producer to help make the dedicated American hardstyle following known. We know and love the music just as much as everyone else.
The entire topic of hardstyle growing in the United States is an interesting subject. It's one I have an obvious personal interest in, but it's also an amazing case study for how music can grow. I remember when trance and house were taboo in the States many years ago. I remember when dubstep was just another underground genre. Look at these three genres now! Will hardstyle reach the same height in the States? I think so, but everything takes time.
OTB: Thank you, MARKOVE!
CONNECT WITH MARKOVE