The Crazy Dutchman has interviewed many artists in the past, and asked them the most obvious questions, about their past, present and future. But this time we are talking to the man who’s responsible for one of the most anticipated albums of 2014, the man who made it all possible. A brand new compilation, dedicated to push upcoming talent forward, and also to show what the already established artists have got to offer. And it’s all for free. We will talk to Ken Masters, the mastermind behind this album, and ask him all we need to know.
Ken Masters, can you explain to us what PPF 2014 actually is?
“Certainly, PPF, or The Past, The Present, The Future is a celebration of all things hardcore, paying respects to the sounds of the past, pushing the sounds of the present & offering a taste of the future. Its a completely free album project created by myself & the good people of www.happyhardcore.com giving both emerging & established producers of the site and beyond, the opportunity to come together & be part of this diverse & unique idea. It gives these guys a chance to show what they have to offer while featuring on an album alongside some of the biggest names in the scene.”
This is a FREE Hardcore album project, created by the members of HappyHardcore.com. How did this all come together, who came up with the idea, and why?
“Around 5 or 6 years ago there seemed to be a lot of negativity surrounding the site. Some people liked where hardcore was headed, others not so much. I came up with the idea that instead of wasting time arguing about it we should create our own album and try (what seemed impossible) to cater for everyones tastes. To try and give every listener something they could enjoy & be positive about without focusing solely on what they didn’t like.”
“It was just a bit of fun, a type of experiment that gave the producers (or those keen to try producing) a kick up the arse to get a track completed to the best of their abilities & have it submitted by the deadline. It actually turned out pretty good but wasn’t exactly to the standards that we’re at now. Then early last year I decided to revisit the idea, curious to find out if such a project would still be as well received. I was curious & really looking forward to hearing just how much the producers from the original album had improved, aswell as checking out what emerging talent had arrived at the site over the years since. Simply put, the support was great & we released PPF 2013 this time last year. This was a major step in the right direction & I knew right there and then that this once forgotten idea had some real potential and began planning the next installment with a vision of taking it to a whole new level!”
Not only the members of HappyHardcore.com did help out, you also had help from Jon Doe (CLSM), Elipton, Sc@r and Greg Peaks. The whole album is quality, would you have been able to release such an album without their help?
“The commitment & support shown by these guys among others, has been unreal. Its not my album, I’m merely building the concept from the resources these guys are supplying me, its everyones album, a real joint effort. If I didn’t have such strong support & belief from these guys then I needn’t bother running the project in the first place!
Everyone’s brought something to the table & made it their own, wether it be Olly Elipton’s unique artwork & original album image, to Jon’s professional mastering, the immeasurable input from everyone has created what you see now & I thinks that’s what makes it so unique.”
The message behind this album is to help up and coming artists showcase their talents. Do these up and coming artists have any talent at all?
“Haha! They don’t half! I know for a fact that some of the guys involved in this years album have had other tracks signed to other labels of the back of this album. This is exactly what its all about & it makes all the time & effort worthwhile.
CDJay (one of the owners of Hardcore Underground) mentioned in his PPF interview (which can be found on the album download page) that its projects like this that help make his job easier, guys like me filtering emerging talent from an endless sea of hopeful producers. He listens to these albums & keeps a close eye on the happyhardcore.com forums. This helps him find, sign & develop new producers through his label. If that isn’t inspiration enough to get involved then I don’t know what is!”
But not only up and coming artists are on this album, there are also a lot of well-established artists who submitted their tracks, artists like Kevin Energy, Darwin, Sc@r, Greg Peaks and more. Why did you add tracks by these legends on this album? And why these artists, is there a specific reason you chose them?
“Well, I came to the realisation that the best way to help these guys get their music out there was to recruit the support of some of the more established names & with their help, the album would reach far beyond the reaches of hh.com. I had to be careful to find the right balance of up & comers against established guys, the last things I wanted was to lose sight of what the album stood for & end up overlooking the up & coming guys & losing them amongst the big names. I think the outcome is a nice even blend of the two.
To better explain approaching some of the more established names that I did…
I’ve always been a huge fan of Kevin Energy since his involvement in the early Trancecore days & was then blown away when the sound of Freeform erupted! The guy always looks to raise the bar & push the boundaries wherever/however he can & this has been a major influence on me & how I approach producing my own tracks & DJing. (can find out more about Kev’s current ventures in his exclusive PPF interview on the album download site.)
As for Darwin, well, at present they don’t come much bigger than this man! Its an absolute pleasure to be representing his music, especially with his & Skinny’s track being an absolute album exclusive. I’ve always admired Nick’s approach, he never settles with the norm, always pushing fresh, original, exciting music aswell as being open & supporting new sounds around him.
I actually managed to get Darwin onboard through chatting with CDJay. If you aren’t aware of the unstoppable force that is Hardcore Underground now then you must be living under a rock! The HU set up is special, a group of dedicated individuals dead set of bringing something unique to the table, its admirable & great to see them doing so well now. They seem to be pushing a never ending supply of exciting new albums recently with the concept of their next installment in the Hardcore Underground album series ‘Live at Rehab’ shaping up to be a historic take on the average Hardcore album. Be sure to check these guys out & give them your support.”
PPF stands for ‘Past Present Future’. Where does the name come from?
“Going back to an earlier answer, I wanted the album to pay respects to all sounds, styles, & eras of the scene while giving a taste of what we feel is the future of the scene, not only through the music but to represent this in the names featured in the tracklist. Its all about trying to give everyone something they can enjoy in what’s become a hugely diverse scene!”
The album is divided into two unmixed discs, and one which has three mixes by Sc@r, Greg Peaks and yourself (Ken Masters). Why did you ask these two DJs to put a mix together? And what do you think of the result?
“This year I wanted the mixes to be a real standout part of the album, not only showcasing some of the free tracks involved but also featuring some exciting, forthcoming music from outside of the project. I also wanted to ensure that all the styles we tried to cover in the album were well represented in the mixes. I don’t think I could have picked two more suited DJ’s than Kay (Sc@r) & Greg Peaks. Both are relatively new to the scene considering but both have made an immense impact since arriving and are destined to be major players in the future scene. To have their support, not only in DJing but with track submissions & general promotion has been immeasurable.”
The discs are named ‘The Sun’ & ‘The Moon’. ‘The Sun’ features uplifting, light and generally feel good Hardcore, and ‘The Moon’ more deeper and darker and more serious Hardcore. On the website you said : ‘Music that makes you think’. Think about what?
“Its a bit of a strange one this, but the ideas for the disc names came to me since moving into my new house in the Devon countryside, where me & my girlfriend Emma are now surrounded by nothing but rolling hills, horses, farmland & the endless babble of sheep! Over the months of building the album & being in this new home, you can watch the sun rise, pass overhead & then set, all in a completely undisturbed view, which is then followed by the moon. (Its a little like playing Zelda Ocarina Of Time only without the aggressive chickens!). You can physically watch the day/night go by & I find it inspirational when making music so I thought I’d involve it in the album.
I decided to separate the album into two discs with one being the soundtrack to the movement of the sun & the other would accompany the moon. The tracks on the ‘Sun’ disc are light, uplifting, euphoric ‘make you smile’ music, whereas the ‘Moon’ disc is a little darker, more serious ‘make you think’ music. Music that’s possibly a bit emotional or experimental.
Just to be clear, if you listen to the wrong disc at the wrong time of day you may transform into a deku scrub! You have been warned.”
If you have to pick one track, which one on this album is your favourite, and why?
“Seriously hard question! I must have heard all the tracks atleast a few hundered times while trying to decide what tracks would feature! Despite this, I’d have to say that Greg Peaks ‘Save My Soul’ sounds just as good now as when I first hear it!
To be fair, all the tracks are special to me in one way or another, they all had something about them that I felt would fit into the type of album I was aiming for.”
This is the first of many albums, but this set the tone for future albums. A nicely balanced mix between up and coming talents, and legendary artists. What should people do, if they want a track on this album? Any qualities they should have, or can anyone send music in?
“As I type this we have just reached the 1000 download mark only 2 weeks since release! Its easy to see that this is a very worthwhile project to get involved in which can open up many doors for aspiring producers.
If you have a track you’d like me to consider featuring in up coming projects then be sure to contact me at email@example.com
Unlike other labels, I guarantee I will reply personally & give some detailed feedback on the submission. If for whatever reason the track doesn’t feature i’ll be sure to offer some advice & general help in any way I can.
Anyone can send music in, honestly. I want this, & other projects to inspire people to get together & have a go!”
What are the future plans for PPF? And for Ken Masters?
“For the remainder of 2014 I have two main goals. The first is to launch my new label ‘Future State Music’ this summer, with the first release being a brand new free album project called ‘Future State Hardcore’ which again, will feature both up & coming as well as established artists including some of my own new tracks. Im currently looking for artists/music to sign so if your interested get in touch.
The second goal is to give more time to event djing again. Since moving to Devon from Glasgow it really has been non stop work! I wanted to ensure me & my girlfriend were well settled first & now that we are I feel I have the time again to get back to it & on a larger scale than before. Living down here has opened up more opportunities & I intend to make the most of it!
A HUGE thankyou to everyone who has downloaded & supported this years project! PPF is free and always will be, all I ask is that you please take a second to help us push the album far & wide aswell as supporting the artists involved.
Have a great summer & be sure to keep an eye out for more free quality hardcore coming your way…
Take it easy…
Thank you, Ken Masters, for a very insightful interview. If you are interested in Ken Masters, PPF, or his new label ‘Future State Music’, make sure you bookmark these links!
Here’s a teaser, if you like what you are hearing, make sure you download the album right NOW!