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From inspiration to innovation: The musical journey of DYEN

Born and raised in Rotterdam, DYEN made a splash in the techno scene in 2017, quickly establishing his own unique style.

Photo credit: DYEN – Official

Drawing heavily from the 90s gabber and hardcore scenes, which had a lasting impact on him, DYEN incorporates powerful kicks, vocals, and catchy synth lines into his music. He puts his own modern and raw spin on these elements.

Describing his sound as a blend of neo-rave and old-school hard techno, DYEN’s music is characterized by pounding kicks, aggressive synths, and distinctive elements that captivate the crowd. With a growing discography on labels like EXHALE, Filth On Acid, and Possession, DYEN is solidifying his presence in the harder side of techno.

EG had the opportunity to interview DYEN, where he shared insights into his musical journey, the influence of his hometown Rotterdam, and the creative process behind his signature edits.

EG: Hi, DYEN! Welcome to EG. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us. How have you been? Where are you right now?

DYEN: Hello! I’m doing well. Thank you so much for having me! I’m currently at home in Rotterdam, packing my bags for another weekend.

EG: You burst onto the techno scene in 2017, carving out a niche for yourself. How has your sound evolved since then, and what key elements do you believe have contributed to your distinctive style?

DYEN: The sound has evolved a lot. I still remember my first shows in 2017, which were different from what I do now. The tempo and style of hard techno back then were about 20 bpm slower than it is now. I played my sets around 140 bpm, which was already considered hard at the time. Starting with a hard sound can be challenging when playing an opening set at a festival. However, over time, more people have come to appreciate the harder sound and want it even harder. Nowadays, I play my sets at 158 bpm, quite a difference! I’m not sure why it has grown so much, but I think the “I play what I want” mentality has helped bring more styles to the scene that ravers can appreciate. Being a hard-hard techno and early/gabber lover, I can introduce new genres to the audience.

EG: Growing up in Rotterdam, known as Holland’s premier rave city, has undoubtedly influenced your musical journey. How do you think the city’s unique atmosphere and history have shaped your approach to techno and electronic music?

DYEN: Rotterdam being Holland’s premier rave city sounds amazing. I grew up here, so from a young age, I got in touch with old-school Rotterdam music by artists like Paul Elstak and Neophyte. The screeches and sounds from back then are familiar to everyone and are still used a lot in music today. When I was 16, I liked techno and went to many parties just before the hard techno era. At these parties, I listened to all kinds of music but felt that something was missing, like some extra tempo or a harder drop. With a music background and knowledge of production, I tried to create my style by combining old-school sounds with modern techno. I released my first tracks in the style I wanted, based on my experiences at Rotterdam parties. It’s a rough city that needs rough music.

EG: Your early influences include the old-school 90s gabber and primary hardcore scenes. How did you first come across them?

DYEN: Well, I wasn’t even born yet during the hype of 90s music haha. We grew up with it. Happy hardcore music was and still is on the radio in the Netherlands. Many parents of my friends were gabbers themselves and told me stories of how it was back then, and I loved hearing that. I consider myself a music nerd, and I enjoy delving into stuff and learning about the culture of that time. So when I started producing and trying to find my style, I delved deep into the old-school scene, watched documentaries, and bought old-school vinyl collections for inspiration.

EG: How do you balance paying homage to the past while pushing the boundaries to create something new and distinctive on the dance floor?

DYEN: I think it’s more about using music from the past as inspiration. I love the music from now and the modern technology we have to create better quality tracks and different sounds. But there’s still a part of our brain that craves familiar sounds or tracks we recognize. Playing an old hit in the club and having everybody sing along, and later saying, “Oh, he only played old tracks.” I always try to read the room and feel if it’s the right moment for something different. When the crowd is really into it and I have them where I want them, it’s the best time to try something new like an unreleased track or an unexpected hard gabber closing. Once the sweat starts dripping from the ceiling, you know you’ve succeeded.

“More people have come to appreciate the harder sound and want it even harder.”

EG: You describe your music as neo-rave or old-school hard techno. Can you elaborate on what these terms mean to you, and how do they encapsulate the essence of your artistic vision?

DYEN: It’s funny that there still isn’t a name for this genre. I think this music still falls under hard techno, but it’s more of a harder subgenre that allows for playing different styles in a set. People can play some psytrance tracks or gabber as a closing. It’s all okay, as it’s all about the vibe at a rave, right?

EG: When DJing at major festivals and clubs globally, neo-rave and gabber are prominent in your sets. How do you use these genres to engage and play with the audience, especially when mixing in old hardcore and industrial records?

DYEN: I play music that people expect, which is a hard set. Whether it’s tracks from now or back in the day, it doesn’t matter as long as I can read the room and feel that people want it. I like to remake some old-school tracks and give them a modern touch to fit them more into my sets, like a harder kick or a fatter drop. These are the secret weapons that I’ll probably never release, haha.

“As soon as I hear a vocal or even a note that I think is usable, my ADHD head turns on and I make it with a fat beat over it.”

EG: Your ‘DYEN Edits’ have become somewhat of a trademark, where you update and modernize personal treasures. Can you share your creative process behind these edits and how they contribute to your live performances? What do you look for in a track to “update”?

DYEN: All the edits I’ve made have had a similar process. I hear them in the most random places, like in the car or at work. As soon as I hear a vocal or even a note that I think is usable, my ADHD head turns on and I make it with a fat beat over it. I usually beatbox and voice record it on my phone, and later try to recreate it in the studio. It’s weird but effective. I’ve played these tracks so many times already, and it’s great to see the crowd respond to a track they know but don’t expect in the rave genre they’re in.

EG: Finally, can you provide some insights into what’s next for DYEN? What’s in store for 2024? Where can your fans catch you next?

DYEN: A lot! I am currently working on a new album with lots of new bangers. I’m going to do my biggest all-nighter ever, and in January, I’ll be doing a 6-city USA tour, which I will announce soon. Can’t wait to see you all!

EG: Thank you so much for your time, DYEN! We wish you all the best for the future. Take care!

DYEN: Thank you for your interest. Take care and see you soon.

Follow DYEN: Facebook | Instagram | Soundcloud

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