The absolute Godfather of Hardcore. An icon from Rotterdam. A legend in the scene. With his distinctive sound Paul Elstak still makes sneakers lift off the ground, even after being in the scene for over 30 years. There was only one thing missing in his glorious career: his own massive show. On April 15th, fans of all generations can enjoy the best of Hardcore in Rotterdam Ahoy. The Godfather of Hardcore doesn’t need a further explanation, but the story of Paul and the artists joining him this night is too good not to share.
It all started with spinning some records he bought from his pocket money, which he earned by picking tomatoes. At the end of the ‘80’s, Paul was asked to perform at the BlueTiek-Inn, a famous club in Rotterdam at that time. With the influences of House, the first Hardcore sounds become noticeable. Gabber was born and soon became more and more popular, as did Paul Elstak. In 1991, he changed everything with the track ‘James Brown Is Still Alive’ which was released under the alias Holy Noise. A series of successful tracks and performances followed. It wasn’t until 1994, when Happy Hardcore gained in popularity, when he started releasing tracks under his own name. Tracks like ‘Rainbow High In The Sky’ and ‘The Promised Land’ are still incredibly famous, also to those that don’t like the genre that much. Paul even earned several awards with ‘Rainbow High In The Sky’. With the fast-rising popularity of Happy Hardcore the sounds of Hardcore and Gabber seemed to disappear. But Paul makes a game changing decision. In 1997 he says goodbye to Happy Hardcore and returns to his roots and passion: Hardcore. In 1996, the first edition of Back2school was organized by Paul and his colleague from Rotterdam: DJ Rob. This became the foundation of one of the most successful event organizations of the Millennium: b2s. Shortly after, the first editions of Pussy lounge took place and the tone was set. Paul was also involved with the birth of the concept Hardcore4life. With his efforts towards these concepts and influence in general he became an important contributor for b2s. Paul started his own label Offensive Records and released many successful tracks. Closing the Decibel outdoor mainstage and hosting his own area at Thrillogy in 2008 prove Paul Elstak is still a true harder styles heavyweight, even after being in it for two decades. Last year, he was listed #1 place for the fifth time in the Top 500 of the 90’s by Q-Music. It’s about time this legend gets the recognition he deserves. A man who is a true icon of Dutch culture.
Paul Elstak is the absolute center of attention during his show. In an unique way, he takes us on a trip down every highlight in his career. Artists that made Hardcore grow to what it is now support him. Each in their own way, these artists have played or still play a role in Paul Elstak’s career. Darkraver is known as an absolute party animal and colleague from the very beginning. “I have known Darkraver from the beginning of Gabber/Hardcore, but in the late 90’s we also became great friends!”, Paul says. We move along down memory lane with Panic, who is still a popular artist today. “I was looking for DJ’s to start my own DJ tem. Right away I wanted Panic to join me! His career kick-started and he then grew out to be a Hardcore hero by himself. Besides being a colleague, Dennis is also a dear personal friend.”. Ruffian, Master of Ceremonies from the day Paul started, will hype up the crowd. “Whoever sees me on stage often, will almost always see Ruffian or Alee. I have been working with them since 1991!”.
Of course Paul’s own label Offensive Records is also represented. The Offensive DJ team that derived from that is famous for both their new and older hits. Paul about the formation, consisting of The BeatKrusher, Radiate and The Unfamous: “The BeatKrusher recently had success with the Dutch tracks ‘Hedde Drugs Op’ and ‘Het Is Tijd’. With him I made the remix of ‘Gabber’ by Jebroer. Radiate is one of the first Offensive artists. With him I created ‘Angels Deserve To Die’ and ‘Dropping It’. The Unfamous is one of the newest artists. This talent from Paris will release his first solo album soon.”
With the musical heroes of Offensive, Paul proves that years of experience and new talents are a golden ticket to success. The Stunned Guys is another act Paul was involved in at the beginning of their career. “They brought me a demo in ’94 that I instantly released on my label Rotterdam Records.”. Their collaborations like ‘Hardcore Taking Over’, ‘Bombing Eardrums’ and ‘Thrillseeka’ are true classics in the Hardcore industry.
Neophyte is another artist that has a massive contribution to this event with his recognizable Hardcore sound. He has been in the industry for years and contributed greatly to the sound in how we know it today. Paul about Neophyte: “During his lunch break Jeroen brought a demo to Midtown, where I worked at the time. He became an absolute hero in the Hardcore scene. We produced multiple tracks together. ’98 To Piano’ is the most well-known one. With the alias Da Tekno Warriors we were frontrunners of the current Freestyle sound.”. Korsakoff, the most famous female Hardcore artist, will be present at this epic night. Also, The Viper will be there: “It’s really cool I was invited for this. As Pussy lounge residents, Paul and I understand each other musically. We will definitely show that!”. The extremely popular Partyraiser is known for cranking up the tempo. Paul: “I saw Wesley become one of the biggest Hardcore artists. I am proud of him! At my party, he will push the last energy out of the crowd with his famous Uptempo sound.”
Freestyle deserves a place of honor during this show as well. Ruthless is one of the pioneers to represent this popular sound: “Back in the days, Paul was one of my big heroes. He is one of the reasons for my harder styles addiction. Today we are both part of the Pussy lounge team and experienced some great moments together.”. Freestyle has been leading in the recent years of Paul’s career. During the evolvement of this sound, Paul has been an inspirator for new talents. Ransom enthusiastically: “This event is a tribute he deserves very much. My track ‘Fistpumping’ is the favorite track of his little son! I expect a massive show, but above all a great deal of raging like only he can!”. Promising talent Dr Phunk will surely make an appearance. “The biggest Freestyle talent of that will become extremely popular! Our last collaboration ‘Kind Van De Duivel’ is currently the biggest Freestyle track!”, Paul says.
Long story short… A night in honor of a glorious career only succeeds with a line-up that played a big part in it. Check out the full line-up below:
DJ Paul Elstak
Mad Dog (IT)
The Stunned Guys (IT)
Destructive Tendencies (UK)
Ruffian, Diesel & Alee
A night like this obviously needs a legendary location. Right at the heart of where it once started for Paul. To him, Rotterdam is the cradle of Hardcore. Besides the in 1999 demolished, illustrious Energiehal, Rotterdam Ahoy was one of the first massive locations for House and Hardcore events. You could say that Rotterdam Ahoy breathes Hardcore. Needless to say that this venue is the perfect place to honor Rotterdam’s (and the Netherland’s) biggest Hardcore legend. On Saturday April 15th, Paul Elstak and his supporting acts take total control over Rotterdam Ahoy for an epic night.