Mekanikal is one of the fastest rising talents in the North American Hard Dance scene. He began producing music when he was 14 and gravitated towards hardstyle after watching Coone’s video series of the making of his album “The Challenge.” After spending time developing his sound, Mekanikal got his first major break in 2013 with his remix of T.A.T.A.N.K.A Project’s track “DJ’s Life” was released on Zanzalabs. Because of that, in 2013 he had the opportunity to play at Defqon 1 NL, and the first edition of TomorrowWorld in Atlanta, GA. In 2014 he saw even more success as his original track “Questions” was released on Q-Dance Records. Due to that he was invited to play at The Qontinent: Wild Wild Weekend, Decibel Outdoor Festival, and the first edition of Mysteryland USA. We had the chance to catch up with him in preparation for his appearance at Basscon: Wasteland, April 28-29.
Thank you for taking the time to sit down and interview with us! How did you decide on you DJ alias Mekanikal?
Originally I was playing at shows like Defqon and TomorrowWorld under an old alias, which people had a lot of trouble pronouncing—especially in Europe. So I, Q-Dance, and Headliner Entertainment—(who I was signed with at the time) had a sit-down and came up with the name “Mekanikal,” which ultimately became my new alias.
Are you influenced by other artists or genres? If so, which ones? How did you eventually get interested in the harderstyle? When do you first remember being hooked by the sound?
I’m influenced by many genres other than hardstyle, especially trap and bass music. Some of the sound design elements in those tracks and the high energy inspire me, and I strive to inject that into my own productions. I got interested in hardstyle back in 2006-2007 after previewing a bunch of compilation albums on iTunes (the modern-day equivalent to crate-digging through records). I came across Headhunterz’ track “The Sacrifice” and I moved into jumpstyle and hard trance after hearing that track, Once I found D-Block and S-te-fan’s Qlimax anthem that’s when I knew I was hooked on hardstyle!
What are you trying to convey through your music? Are there any themes or ideas that are important to you? Is there anything in particular you find yourself wanting to communicate to the audience?
In my music, I try to convey all the elements that I like in hardstyle. From the melodies, to the basslines, to the atmosphere and energy, I want people to have a good time while listening to my music. In terms of ideas or themes, I like to incorporate a non-hardstyle element into each track I make. For example, one track you’ll hear at Wasteland has a two-step moombah section, and in another track I might throw in an acoustic guitar or create a trance-esque atmosphere for the breakdown. I want to show the audience that the binary of euphoric vs. raw that currently plagues the hardstyle scene is counterproductive, and looking to other styles of dance music is okay in hardstyle. It will grow on you if you just give it a chance.
How do you prepare for a big show? Do you have any pre-show rituals that you follow? Do you ever still get nervous before a performance or show?
To put it simply, I down two or three Red Bulls and get on stage haha. In terms of pre-show “rituals” I usually like to go over my SD cards one last time to make sure I have all the songs I want to play, and I like to get to the stage early. I think if you don’t get a little nervous before you go onstage that is a sign of cockiness and it will screw up somehow. Having pre-show nerves keeps you focused and ensures that you will deliver to the best of your abilities. Personally, I don’t get as nervous as I used to before a show, but I am definitely not calm either… just ask anyone who’s tried to talk to me onstage!
You recently released your track Psycedelica, a Hardstyle and Psytrance crossover track, as well as Hardstyle Made me Do It with Reactor and MC Sik-Wit-It. Are there any other interesting tracks or potential collabs in the future we should look out for?
I just wrapped on three tracks that will be debuted at Wasteland: a remix to an Ummet Ozcan track as well as a Markus Schulz bootleg, and a new original that will be the first track of my set, so get there for that ☺. For future collabs, I have a couple that I’m nailing down final details for, so look for those in the second half of 2017.
Of all your music, what song did you enjoy creating the most and why?
I really enjoyed creating Psychedelic. It was my first attempt at making a psytrance-influenced track and I really had no idea how it would turn out. It was a lot of trial and error and mangling sounds in ways that I hadn’t thought of before.
You’ve played several other Basscon parties, and even at the Basscon: Wasteland stage at EDC Las Vegas, are you excited to be back in the CA for Basscon: Wastelend? What is different about this time?
I’m always excited to play in California. The sheer energy and volume of people that turn out for these shows is staggering and rivals the size of European crowds in many cases. What will be different, though, is you can expect a lot more variety in this upcoming performance. Don’t expect there to be just one BPM or style played.
Do you have anything special planned for the party? Unreleased tracks? Oldschool throwbacks?
Expect to hear a lot of energetic tracks, and some unreleased material from both myself and other up and coming east-coast producers. Also, I might throw in some classic hardstyle if the crowd seems hype to that. I don’t plan my sets too much in advance so it’s hard to definitively say what will be in it.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers of The Hard Data?
Thank you all for helping grow the community to the size it is now, and let’s work to build it up even more! If you see me at Wasteland walking through the crowd, feel free to come up and say hi. I love talking with fans of the harder styles. Finally, California, I’ll be back later this year if you miss my performance at Wasteland. Stay tuned to my socials for that announcement ☺.
Catch DJ Mekanikal at Basscon: Wasteland on Saturday April 29.