Gunz For Hire is an alliance between two of the biggest names in hardstyle, Adaro and Ran-D. This Holland duo has been taking over some of the biggest stages that hardstyle has to offer including this year's massive Qlimax event which attracted tens of thousands of fans in an audio/visual experience almost unmatched in the rest of the electronic dance music world. In this year's DJ Mag top 100 poll, Gunz For Hire managed to snag the 63rd spot while Adaro occupies the 75th spot, and Ran-D is at #100. Known for their more raw tracks, listening to a Gunz For Hire set will almost certainly feel like a trip to the harder style of this popular genre. But to understand what Gunz For Hire is all about, you have to see them live because that's where the magic happens. Their masks combined with their personas and original productions on stage is electrifying. Once you've seen them on stage, you'll understand why Gunz For Hire is so popular.
Without further delay, please enjoy the full interview with one of the biggest hardstyle duo's on the planet, Gunz For Hire:
EDM Canada: Who is Gunz For Hire?
Ran-D: Gunz For Hire are two really hardstyle addicted, bad-ass, raw motherf*****s. (laughs) We make the more raw side of hardstyle and that's the type of hardstyle we like the most. That's us in a nutshell.
Adaro: It's a live act.
EDM Canada: How would you describe “raw hardstyle”?
Ran-D: Raw hardstyle has more screechy sounds, more dark melodies, more raw kicks. It just sounds more raw than the melodic type of hardstyle.
EDM Canada: Is the Gunz for Hire type of “raw hardstyle” different than your individual production styles?
Ran-D: No, we both have a taste for hardstyle that is a bit on the raw side. I produce a little more on the varied side as opposed to Adaro. I do a euphoric track once in a while, but I do make raw hardstyle. That is just our taste in hardstyle. We have a good vibe in the studio and just decided to make a live act out of it.
EDM Canada: How did you come up with the Gunz for Hire imagery? Because it reminds me a lot of the horror movies that I used to watch as a child and they freaked me out.
Adaro: It was more like a step-by-step procedure that involved a lot of brainstorming sessions starting with the type of name we wanted, what image we search for, and it developed step-by-step. We didn't want an act with our own face because it needed to be separate than our solo-careers. At that point we asked ourselves whether we wanted to do a mask or not. We based it off of what we liked, which were mafia and futuristic hitman type of movies, and Gunz For Hire is a synonym for hitman so that's how it developed.
Ran-D: Yeah, true. We wanted a live act a little bit more than a guy behind a laptop.
Adaro: We wanted some entertainment.
Ran-D: We wanted some entertainment and something to see for the people, something a little bit creepy and scary.
EDM Canada: A little unsettling.
Ran-D: Yeah. (laughs)
EDM Canada: I was listening to that “911 Emergency Call” on your Soundcloud, and that situation is a horror movie for some people for sure.
Adaro: I'm a big fan of horror movies. (laughs)
EDM Canada: How was your North American debut at TomorrowWorld in September, and in October for the Q-Dance event in L.A? What do you think of the North American scene?
Ran-D: I think it's pretty cool. It seems to me that the people like all the different type of hardstyle, from the euphoric to the raw stuff. They dance to every kind of style and the vibe is really good. They are really open minded and that's really good to see. It was insane.
EDM Canada: You each have a successful hardstyle career under your Ran-D and Adaro names, with each a growing discography – how do you balance Gunz For Hire with your individual careers?
Adaro: It's time management. Once in a while we come together and make a new Gunz track.
Ran-D: For example, we did the Qlimax anthem, which is something you have to focus on and that means we're going to have to focus on this Gunz track rather than your own work for a while. An anthem for Qlimax takes a lot of time and that means you can't work on your tracks as much as you want to. But now that's done and we have a little bit more time for our own careers.
EDM Canada: How much does that mean for a hardstyle act to be selected to do the Qlimax anthem?
Ran-D: I think that's probably one of the biggest anthems there is in hardstyle. To us that was a big deal. It's an honour to make the anthem for Qlimax. It's a really big event with about 30,000 people there. You want to show your best, and it's exciting.
Adaro: It's not a competition as you get asked to do it from Q-Dance.
EDM Canada: Does the organization ask a bunch of producers for an anthem, and they choose from that selection?
Adaro and Ran-D: No.
Ran-D: They just ask the one that want to make it. They want to pick the producer(s) that they think suits the Qlimax event that year the best. At the moment it was us as they searched for an anthem that was a bit more raw.
Adaro: We're really happy with the result.
EDM Canada: Do you think harstyle overall is headed more towards the raw, Gunz for Hire style? Is that the sound that is becoming more popular right now?
Ran-D: I don't know. In Holland maybe? In Holland we're seeing smaller parties with separate raw stages at these events. So over here you do notice that it is getting a little bit more raw. On a global level it is the euphoric stuff that is still the biggest. It's a different situation what is happening inside of Holland rather than outside of Holland.
EDM Canada: How do you know when a track is right for Gunz For Hire vs. using it as one of your own tracks? What is your workflow like for Gunz for Hire?
Adaro: There is no real formula. With us it's simply when we sit down together to make a track, it's for Gunz For Hire.
Ran-D: Sometimes one of us has a good idea for a track and we sit together to work it out. Sometimes one of us starts with a cool melody, a good kick, a good sound, and then come together in the studio to make something cool.
EDM Canada: Whenever I see any hardstyle aftermovies, I notice the incredible amount of pyrotechnics and the beautiful stages. How did hardstyle movement become such a visual experience?
Ran-D: Back in the day it started with parties like Qlimax, where they started pretty small. Then it just starting getting bigger and I think it has to do with the type of music that hardstyle is. It's big music with big melodies and it just sounds really cool on a big stage. I think that's where the big stadium parties came from and then the shows just started to get more crazy and Q-Dance/Qlimax set a standard.
Adaro: The big events all started in Holland I think. It's our culture. Hard dance music is also in our culture.
Ran-D: Now people are used to having big shows --
Adaro: -- And you cannot go back.
Ran-D: (laughs). Yeah, and so the standard is really high. The expectation for the event and the stages are at a high level.
EDM Canada: It just seems so big. Is there any room for hardstyle to get even bigger in Europe or is everyone happy where they're at?
Ran-D: In Europe there can be a lot more growth but in Holland I just think it's a healthy scene that's at its peak. It's been there for a few years now and it's still healthy. We're seeing a lot of new people and kids getting into hardstyle as well so I think the future is going to be bright. But with the rest of Europe, I think there are a lot of countries where hardstyle can grow.
EDM Canada: Hardstyle is so massive in Holland and Europe yet it's in its infancy here in North America – why is that?
Adaro: People just don't know it yet.
Ran-D: I think even electronic dance music is still fairly new to America as compared to Europe in terms of attracting a big crowd. Of course there has always been dance music in America, but mainstream EDM is a little more easy to adapt to than hardstyle. I think it's always going to be a little bit more underground and I think that's where it belongs.
EDM Canada: In Holland, is hardstyle the mainstream sound or is still considered underground?
Adaro: I don't think it's mainstream but it's the biggest undergound scene.
Ran-D: Yeah true.
EDM Canada: Yeah that makes sense. The stages over in Holland seem to rival the stages that we currently see at TomorrowWorld or even at EDC Las Vegas.
Ran-D: There are a lot of people that go to an event like Qlimax because they've heard of it, and events like Defqon and Decibel – they have a lot of visitors that go there for only day with friends and check out the event. There are a lot of smaller parties for the real hardstyle lovers.
Adaro: The die-hards.
EDM Canada: Besides the Swedish House Mafia, Gunz For Hire is the only other group entry that has all members within the DJ Mag top 100 – that's impressive. How did you manage to cultivate such a strong fan base?
Adaro: We pay a lot of attention to the fans.
Ran-D: Yeah that's true. We always take photos afterwards as we always take time for fans. It's really important for us.
Adaro: At gigs and in social media, we pay a lot of attention to the fans. Without the fans we are nothing.
My thanks to Ran-D and Adaro for taking the time to talk with me about Gunz For Hire. They have just announced that their "The Resistance" tour will be going international in 2014, so be out on the look out for possible North American dates. I believe hardstyle is an EDM genre on the rise in North America so I expect that we'll be seeing them both on the big stage in the future.
As a final send off, here's a short clip of their Qlimax 2011 live set: