“Home is Where the Music Plays”
For Willem Rebergen, music always proved itself a friend and tool. At an early age, the Headhunterz artist used choir as a means of distraction from bullying. Although Willem Rebergen enjoyed singing, his interest turned out to be more behind-the-scenes; production called Willem’s name amidst a choir album recording. Yet, it wouldn’t be until his first show that Willem discovered a love for Hardstyle. In 2003, the Utrecht native found himself with free Qlimax tickets – and probably the best musical sign he could have asked for. Afraid drinking would tire him out, Willem spent the night sober and front row, soaking in the surroundings and watching the DJ’s stage presence.
The Headhunterz artist spent the next few months attending shows at the venue. He’d beg to play a few records, and he’d try to get involved in whatever way he could. The venue begrudgingly agreed – they’d let him work lights, and occasionally allowed him to play. Yet, Rebergen didn’t mind – his thoughts were continually in production.
To get into producing tracks, the Headhunterz artist referenced tracks, and then interpreted them as he deemed fit. There were no YouTube tutorials or mentors for Willem – all he had were a few online forums, and a steady process of “hit-and-miss”.
Sacrifice by Headhunterz was his impression of Immeasurable by Donkey Rollers.
In time, hard work paid off for Headhunterz. The Prophet, a leading 90s hardstyle revolutionary, signed Rebergen to his Scantraxx label. Back-and-forth emails and tips proved useful; after his demo finally saw label approval, Headhunterz found himself in The Prophet’s studio. There was no turning back – after that Headhunterz quit his day job and began to solely produce music.
In the time since then, Headhunterz has been credited for getting hardstyle out to the masses. His style, emphasizing a “softer” edge, places weight on trance-influenced melodies and pitched kicks. Additionally, Headhunterz stepped out of his genre by doing collaborations with countless other artists – a move that has been both welcomed and sharply criticized. Collaboration names range from W&W to Krewella, and remixed works include such acts as Flosstradamus. The responses have been all over – Headhunterz’s social media pages definitely mirror musical war zones. Yet, Willem looks past the negativity – he understands that musical growth comes through collaborations and partnerships with different artists. Learning from different artists pushes a genre’s boundaries and allows the music to see a deeper avenue of success in the long run.
Furthermore, Rebergen understands the voice music provides for many. Music provided Headhunterz a safe escape as a child; today’s age proves no different for bullied fans. Inspired by the NOH8 Campaign, Headhunterz teamed up with Krewella to remind listeners that they’re not alone. In an era both blessed and cursed by technological innovation, it’s easy to lose oneself in the endless possibilities of communication. Headhunterz and Krewella decided to show their fans that cyberbullying will only go as far as they’ll allow it. Fans are not alone; family and safety can be found within the beats when all else fails.
While many artists today are humbled by their success, Headhunterz takes it one step further. Willem Rebergen is using music to remind fans of the diverse musical community they are a part of. Genre hate only gets a group so far; in separation, there lies weakness. However, by choosing to accept diverse musical talent, fans instead opt for the survival of a beloved scene and growing musical success: Hardstyle.
Tickets are still available for the Neon Future Tour at Myth, with Steve Aoki, Headhunterz, Caked Up, Dirtyphonics, and Reid Stefan: www.simshows.com
Written by: Annette Lucero