After 12 years into his career, Italian hardstyle artist Zatox has finally released his debut album New World Order today (which you can puchase on iTunes and watch the official video of “Be As One,” one of the tracks off his album). And the party continues this weekend, as he will bring his music to the US by playing at The Sound of Q-dance at Los Angeles’ Shrine Expo Hall. I got a moment to catch up with Zatox to ask him about his upcoming set, his new album, and his view on the evolution of hardstyle.
You’ll be playing at The Sound of Q-dance Los Angeles next week! How does it feel to bring your sound to more US listeners?
Feels awesome because my first aim has always been to share my music with as many people as possible around the world, so I’m really happy to have the U.S. be a part of my adventure too.
You’ve performed at major hardstyle festivals such as Qlimax in the Netherlands and Iqon in Australia. How is the hardstyle crowd different from country to country?
I don’t think it changes much; obviously everyone likes different styles – some like the melodies, some like the heavier stuff – but in the end, parties are always occasions to forget the problems and the stress for a couple hours and give the body and soul to music, wherever you are. That’s what I love about hardstyle – crowds are always amazing everywhere I go, each one with its own characteristics.
At The Sound of Q-dance Los Angeles, how do you expect the US crowd to react to your music, compared to the crowd overseas?
I just expect them to be themselves and make as much noise as possible, because together we can make it epic! Really looking forward to seeing the reactions on my new tracks, as my album is nearly out!
Your new album New World Order is coming out November 14. What made you decide to finally release your debut artist album nearly 12 years into your career?
I just think it’s a step you gotta take at one point of your career – an important one. I felt it was the right moment because I had so much to say and I couldn’t stop producing. So I decided that I wanted to finally make a gift for all of my supporters and put everything I am in these two CDs. An album is a unique occasion to explore your style completely, to put every side of yourself as an artist into one product, and that’s what I’ve done. I definitely think you guys will learn a lot more about me by listening to this album.
Could you tell us more about the inspiration behind New World Order? What was the concept for the album, and what kind of message did you want to communicate to your fans through your music?
I decided to give this album a strong name even though I knew it could be misunderstood. I think that in recent years, the media, Internet, television, newspapers sometimes try to manipulate us. It’s like someone wants our brain asleep – unconscious about the situation this world is going through. But music can be our way to remain awake, to think with our own mind everyday, creating for ourselves a great, powerful alternative. Many theories say that someone is trying to control us, building a kind of new world order. Well, I think that music is our greater chance to say ‘No’ and to keep our mind free; our chance to create OUR very personal NEW WORLD ORDER.
New World Order will feature collaborations with hardstyle icons such as Brennan Heart and Tatanka, as well as upcoming talents such as Kronos and Raxtor and vocalist Dave Revan. When deciding to collaborate with new producers and vocalists for your album, what kind of sounds or qualities did you look for?
Some of the artists I worked with in this album have just been with me through my adventure in music for such a long time. You mentioned Brennan Heart and Tatanka – you’ll hear the awesome voice of my mate Max P, and I also had the chance to make a heavy hardcore track with my friend Mad Dog. You’ll also find in the album tracks with TNT, Activator, Hard Driver, the Rebelz, Hit ’n Run, Art of Fighters, and you’ll hear the voices of Ellie, Tawar and Katt Niall – different styles from different eras of this music, and they stick together in a way that I love. Talking about new artists, I decided to collaborate with artists from my label that I find incredibly promising and fresh in their ideas. There will be Kronos and Raxtor, who already had the chance to demonstrate their value on more than one occasion, and Dave Revan, who brought some very cool vocal ideas and is also a very good producer. You will hear talk about these guys, I’m really sure about it.
Your new album is huge, with 2 CDs and a total of 23 tracks! What was the most challenging aspect of creating this album?
Would you believe me if told you that the most challenging thing was to stop producing? I had so many new ideas and material, that at 23 they told me to stop because it was too much for just one album. And I’m not willing to stop yet! I still have a lot to say, so be ready for the future!
What’s your favorite track off your album and why?
I don’t have a real favorite one – I love every single track of these two CDs because each one tells something about me, about who I am, about the styles of music I love and do. Every track represents me in its particular way. By the way, I think that the title track “New World Order” will be something really new for your ears. I wanted to create something fresh and hope you will love it!
Although hardstyle has been around for a while in Europe, the hardstyle scene seems to be finally making its way into the US in the past few years. Why do you think it has taken so long for hardstyle to get more exposure in the US?
It’s a normal thing. Hardstyle was born in Europe so has taken a bit to explode overseas, exactly as a lot of genres that started in the U.S. arrived in Europe a lot later, changed and influenced. I think this is cool and useful, as it gives producers the time to evolve their style into something that takes inspiration from other different types of music. It’s constant research.
With hardstyle coming overseas and reaching more fans, and with old and new fans having a different reception to hardstyle, producers are changing up their style to cater to these different audiences. Some artists are collaborating with other genres in EDM, and others are completely changing their sound. In your perspective, how do you see the sound of hardstyle evolving within the next few years?
Hardstyle is constantly evolving; it’s always been like this. In recent years, I think it sort of split up into three or four subgenres – one definitely influenced by EDM music. Someone just decided to go harder, others wanna explore the melodic side, work with vocals more. I just don’t want to give myself limits in this moment of my career. I have a very raw side and another one which is more melody oriented. I love to work both with MCs and singers – my style is a mixture of all I like and all I saw through this year’s shows, productions and collaborations. I love music, and this what I wanna keep doing for the rest of my life with no restrictions.