The man, the myth, the legend. Darren James Mew, better known as the hardcore icon Darren Styles, first began producing music in 1993. Today, Styles is armed with more than 20 years of experience and musical expertise. Attending his first-ever rave in 1992, dressed in his school trousers and a white shirt, he had no idea what he was in for.
From the moment he set foot on the dancefloor and felt the bass encompass his body, Styles knew he had found a new home in dance music. To feed his newfound appetite for the beats, he frequented clubs every Saturday thereafter and would visit record shops to buy music on vinyl. With no decks of his own or any intentions of becoming a DJ himself, Styles, at the time, had no clue of the lasting impact he would soon leave on the scene he had fallen in love with.
Styles garnered major success and recognition during the ‘90s when he joined forces with DJ Force as the powerhouse breakbeat hardcore duo Force & Styles. Combining elements of trance, breakbeats, and vocal samples around 170 BPM, they pioneered the breakneck, upbeat happy hardcore genre. The duo was responsible for several of the biggest happy hardcore hits in the ‘90s, including “Heart of Gold,” “Pretty Green Eyes” and “Paradise & Dreams.”
Following three album releases as Force & Styles, Darren Styles went solo in 2002, launching a longstanding, fruitful career as one of the top artists in hard dance today. In 2013, Styles became the first UK hardcore artist to play EDC Las Vegas on the Basscon stage, one of his most momentous DJ sets to date.
With a career spanning over two decades, Styles has seen numerous evolutions within the dance world and across the hard dance community. “I’m always trying to improve my sound and love taking influence from other styles of music,” he says. “More recently, people are becoming more open-minded, and with that comes more opportunities. It’s also been greatly helped by artists like Kayzo playing such a broad range of music in his sets and making people aware of the harder styles of dance music.”
Nowadays, Styles continues to spread the good message of hard dance to new, younger audiences. Most recently, he’s teamed up with progressive-thinking imprint Monstercat for some of his latest releases, including “Us Against the World,” “Feel Like This” with Gammer, and his newest track, “Party Don’t Stop” with Dougal and Gammer.
“Monstercat is such a unique family and has a huge following of very open-minded music fans,” says Styles. “Having the chance to reach out to these people—with music they may not have been aware of—has been so important.”
Next month, Styles takes over PROJECT:Z, the ultimate experience for bass-heads of any and all flavors. Presented by two of our toughest and heaviest brands, Bassrush and Basscon, PROJECT:Z joins together the intense worlds of hard dance/hardstyle and dubstep/bass music. And to Styles, this loud musical mess all makes sense.
“On paper, they’re two separate worlds,” he says, “but these days, they’re crossing paths all the time. You have producers from bass music making hardstyle drops and hardstyle producers adding bass drops into their songs. Personally, I think it’s super exciting and another reason [for] music fans to be open-minded. That’s the beauty of a multi-genre lineup.”
As for which genre goes harder in the paint, well, we’ll just let Darren Styles tell you.
“That’s a tough question, although I reckon you could judge it on the amount of people with neck injuries (Bassrush) versus leg injuries (Basscon) at the end of the night.”
Ahead of his highly anticipated performance at PROJECT:Z, Darren Styles is breaking necks with this exclusive DJ mix, which will send shudders through your entire body.
Darren Styles – PROJECT:Z Mix Track List:
Darren Styles, Dougal & Gammer “Party Don’t Stop”
Styles & Breeze “You’re My Angel” / Coldplay “Viva La Vida”
Stoneback ft. Whizkid “Flip This Rave”
Darren Styles “The Dragon”
Tweekacore x Darren Styles “Party Starter”
Carnage x Breaux “The End” (Festival Trap Mix) (Gammer Flip)
Gareth Emery & Standerwick ft. Haliene “Saving Light” (Hixxy Mix)
Audiotricz “United as One” (Zero Hero Mix)
Skrillex & Habstrakt “Chicken Soup” (Callum Higby & WILSXN Flip)
Gammer “Beam of Light”
Callum Higby “Get Loud”
Crisis Era “Jump Up”
Gammer – ID
Darren Styles “Us Against the World”
Tickets for PROJECT:Z are available now.