It’s 2012, and the house music scene stands at a crossroads. Gone are the days when each artist’s music was relegated to one specific sub-genre of music, their work strictly defined and catalogued like words in a dictionary. Nowadays, a house producer functions best when he or she is free to intermingle aspects of different styles together into one cohesive whole. Many progressive house artists have taken to featuring in their works the rumbling basslines and distorted leads more commonly found in electro house. Similarly, many electro house producers have sought to add progressive chord progressions and uplifting melodies to their songs in order to give their tracks an added dimension. Still others seek to incorporate the elevating and anthemic sounds of trance music into their works for their exhilarating energy. Truly, the modern house artist has become a master of mixing different sounds and techniques together to create a mosaic of harmony. The most knowledgeable producers today know that having a multifaceted production style makes one’s work more forceful, more artful, and most importantly, more dance floor-friendly. Justin Prime is one of those producers.
A relative newcomer to the scene, Justin Prime hails from the Netherlands, and is a product of the vibrant Dutch house community that has propelled forward such acts as Hardwell, Nicky Romero, Afrojack, and Disfunktion. Justin Prime’s style can be best defined as progressive electro (or electro progressive), a hard-hitting combination that blends the maximal frenzy of electro house with the melodic depth of progressive house—along with a few trance elements mixed in for added energy. Justin Prime’s first release came out back in 2011, and since then, Mr. Prime’s production techniques have developed at an almost alarming rate. Now the whiz kid stands as one of the rising stars of the Dutch house scene. This artist spotlight will take a look at a few of Justin Prime’s more recent releases, as well as analyze the different facets of his unique sound. Without further ado, let’s start it off.
Justin Prime’s first widely-released track, “Secrets,” came out in 2011 courtesy of Trouse Records. Though it is more of a light progressive track than a big-room festival banger, it is here that we begin to see the origins of Justin Prime’s skill with the melodies of progressive house and progressive trance. The track begins with a simple feel: a deep kick drives the action, while clap and tom hits accentuate the groove. Before long, a punching sawtooth lead gets filtered in, along with a deep and rumbling bassline. Mr. Prime lets the groove build before adding in some high-end synth chords to augment the experience. This combination builds up to the first drop, after which a pitched-up, additive lead supplements the texture of the track. Later on, the overall framework of the track begins to come together, as Justin Prime expands on the original progression by hitting additional notes in the scale with the bass and backing synth chords. Additional leads, along harmonic notes interspersed with the synths, only deepen the atmosphere that Justin Prime has achieved with “Secrets.” A lighter, more airy spin on the progressive sound, this track definitely shows off Justin Prime’s melodic side. However, as we shall see, his production style has only grown more maximal and diverse with the passage of time.
Justin Prime – Secrets (Original Mix)
“Freedom,” released on Musical Madness in January of 2012, is a big-room progressive track with trance elements worked in, and it’s here that Justin Prime expands on his progressive resumé. The track begins with a rhythmic intro: a syncopated bass lays the outline of the groove, while shakers and clap hits round out the feel of the prelude. At the first breakdown, one set of low-end chords handles the main feel, while another set of filtered chords slowly seep into the track leading up to the build. At the build-up, a trance lead rears it head and accents the melodic depth of this segment of the track. At the “drop,” Justin Prime ties all the previously-heard elements together and keeps the feel intact for a few measures, before the second, real drop occurs. After this, the picture of the track’s main progression begins to be painted. Mr. Prime keeps the synths, auxiliary percussion, and the forceful trance lead intact while driving the groove ever onward.
At the second breakdown, Justin Prime’s progressive sensibilities are ever-present, as he switches up the rhythm of the chords and additive lead slightly while staying with the main rhythm of the track. He even adds in an arpeggio sequence that only amplifies the power of the melody. After the build-up, and leading into the track’s final segment, Mr. Prime lays all his cards on the table. He ties together the progressions of the synth work with the overarching trance lead, adds in the tom hits from the intro, and even switches up some of the notes of the 16-bar sequence to give the final stanza a different feel. Combining a progressive sound with trance and electro elements, Justin Prime begins to prove himself as a master of genre combinations within his work. This is the first time we’ve gotten to experience such blending in his tracks, but it won’t be the last.
Justin Prime – Freedom (Original Mix)
Kick out the door and crank up the bass, because it’s here we begin to get into the more electro house-influenced realm of Justin Prime’s sound. “Feel It,” released back in May 2012 on Musical Madness, is the best example yet of Justin Prime’s varied production style. A low, slightly-distorted bass opens up the track with a syncopated rhythm as chords filter in, and the feel of the intro leads into the first breakdown. Here, the synth chords are featured by themselves few bars, until a vocal sample and a pulsating, pitched-up lead make their presence known in forceful fashion. This builds to a fever pitch up until the first drop, after which Justin Prime lets his bass drive the groove of the track in all its distorted glory. The bass notes function perfectly along with the kick and hi-hats, giving the first verse a driving feel. A reverbed snare hit signals the next part of the verse: the existing feel is amplified with clap hits, high-end synth work, and later, a distorted lead that hits in tandem with the bass.
The second breakdown contains a similar-sounding build as the first breakdown, only this time there are keyboard stabs in place along with the synth chords. A quick sequence of arpeggiated notes leads into the most gargantuan build-up of the entire track: the kick drum comes back into focus as uplifting trance chord stabs propel the energy of the track into the stratosphere. The final drop re-inserts the vocal sample and quickly leads back into the final verse of the track—a maddening groove accentuated by a gated, pitched-up lead that brings the entire atmosphere up a few notches. All the while, the pounding bass is ever-present, while a distorted backing lead contributes to the medley. “Feel It” is one of Justin Prime’s most massive tracks yet, and shows his ability to deftly juggle progressive, electro, and trance elements within his productions.
Justin Prime – Feel It (Original Mix)
Here we come to Justin Prime’s most recent work: a two-sided release off of Musical Madness that launched back in June of 2012. The first track of the release, “R!se,” makes good on its title—it is an anthemic progressive house track that takes a relatively simple groove and steadily builds on it throughout the song until it reaches towering heights. The song begins with clap hits on the fours, before the kick drum and a set of filtered, low-end chords also come into the fold. Alongside the chords, Justin Prime uses a distorted sawtooth lead to drive up the energy leading into the first breakdown. Here, the low-end chords continue their sequence, while Mr. Prime also doubles in some high-end synth stabs to complement the arrangement. This, along with a series of aggressive, pitched-up leads, takes us into the first verse. It’s here that Justin Prime continues the original feel of the track by reintroducing the bass, however the artist also tacks on a line of piano chords that deepen the already-extensive progression of the track.
This groove continues for a series of bars until a second breakdown, in which Justin Prime turns up the frequency of his chord stabs and, with his group of pitched-up leads, builds the track up to a frenzy. The second verse functions in two different parts: the first part features an augmented feel of the first verse thanks to newly-added trance chords working the high end, while the second part removes the trance chords temporarily in favor of a sequence of individual harmonic notes that compounds the atmosphere. This all leads into a final drop where the true majesty of Justin Prime’s style shows: every element of the track previously alluded to is now showcased in a spectacle of sound. The high-end trance chords bring their energy back into the fold, while additive synth chords and the ever-present bassline continue the groove of the track. The outro sees Justin Prime reincorporate the piano chords, as the track softly descends into a fade out.
Justin Prime – R!se (Original Mix)
While “R!se” certainly contains plenty of energy, “Revolt”–the second track off the release–is unquestionably the more massive of the two tracks. It is in this track that Justin Prime’s electro house sensibilities come into view. The intro of the track starts off simply enough, with a kick, clap hits, and hi hats. Then, a reverbed crash cymbal signals the beginning of the track’s ascent, as a soft lead paints the outline of the progression to come, while a filtered sawtooth bassline slowly weaves its way into the feel of the track. The first breakdown keeps the soft lead going while a harder-edged, rhythmic lead—the same rhythm as the bassline—gets filtered in over the top. This transitions into an electrifying build-up, where the two leads, along with punchy snare hits and drawn-out synth chords, send the track to soaring heights before drop quickly descends into the first verse. Here again, Justin Prime displays a signature element of his sound in differentiating the feel of the first verse into two distinct parts. The first segment sees the pulsating bassline, coupled with the distorted lead, work in tandem with the kick and drives the feel of the track, which has now become a full-on electro banger.
After a brief break in the action, Justin Prime intersperses clap hits and a high-end rhythmic lead that expand on the track’s atmosphere. The second part of the verse returns to the main feel of the track, with the bassline driving the groove while the simultaneous sawtooth lead gets lowered an octave in order to give the sequence a little added punch. Leading to the second breakdown, with the drawn-out synth chords and dual leads on full display. Added to the fervor of the breakdown is a high-end trance lead with the same rhythm as the softer lead displayed in the intro. These elements increasingly build up to the final drop, after which the peaktime energy continues as Justin Prime ties the different components of his production together into one last go-around. All the while, the bassline and impactful sawtooth lead behind it drive the action, while the overarching high-end leads contribute to the atmosphere, and intermittent reverbed snares and vocal samples add stark accents to the arrangement. The track ends just as it began, with the same kick-clap-hi hat sequence that guided us in, seemingly weary from all the excitement that has preceded it.
Justin Prime – Revolt (Original Mix)
The work of this ambitious artist from the Netherlands is truly an example of how picking elements and techniques from different sub-genres and incorporating them into your production can result in a more layered and versatile track. At the end of the day, EDM is nothing if not music designed for public consumption, be it at a basement live set, or at a three-day festival on a tropical island. When the average, modern-day crowd craves big-room house music in an energetic environment, they want to hear it all: the intricate melodies of progressive, the dominating forcefulness of electro, and sometimes the elevating heights of trance–even if they can’t hear all the elements separately at work. It makes sense that having a multifaceted style makes your tracks not only more sophisticated, but also more floor-friendly and accessible. In a relatively short period of time, Justin Prime‘s production technique has progressed to the point where it exhibits a depth and a well-roundedness more commonly found in veterans rather than rising stars. With intricate production techniques, a keen knowledge of multiple musical styles, and a highly original sound, Justin Prime is–without a doubt–primed for further success in the global house arena.
Buy Justin Prime’s tracks at Beatport