I have been knowing Samuele and Jacopo for like 20 more years now. I remember the long chats with them when Hardstyle was a new thing and we discussed about the coolness of reversed bassdrum, or when the early brostep (dubstep) was coming out and we loved the way the bass was used… (“it makes you the shampoos”), and again every time Aphex Twin has a new release.
I promise I will have a focus article on them sooner or later.
I appreciate their dedication to music, their full commitment to producing Danceable stuff, their manical sound engineering and above all their unique ability to stay in balance between commercial, easy stuff and “awesome” stuff.
Let me explain why The Sickest Squad is a success case you should study if you want success
In the “play it again, the psychology of Follow up” article I wrote how difficult is keep your mind sane when, after years of producing stuff with only moderate success, you actually hit the jackpot.
You are at a crossroad.
“What should I do?”
“Should I produce the same stuff again and again and again, till the cash cow is dead
change style again and keep fighting for the air?”
In the above mentioned post (that you should read) I suggested that the strategy of the 90s of doing a follow up and then change song structure to keep innovating is a good way to cash in here and there without losing fans. The article is nowhere near to the final word, and I am still searching for the equilibrium point.
The Sickest Squad has another interesting strategy, let’s call it The Sicke Squad Model (TSS Model)
The Sickest Squad Model to kick asses for 15 years.
Prerequisite of the Model
- Prerequisite 1: Being able to produce top quality sound with constancy. If you are not confident in your ability of going beyond a hit and run success, this Model is not for you.
- Prerequisite 2: Be open to new genres. Listen to other music to appreciate its differences, It does mean two thing basically:
- New good stuff come out every year, realize that the raw power lies in innovation and not stagnation
- Learn to listen to stuff (older and newer) without pre-conception of the “good vs bad” music.
If you have the two above mentioned qualities you must be able to risk a little bit without anxiety to lose your hardly earn fellowship.
8 Things Sickest Squad do, and you don’t.
- Be a little different. A little means enough to sound different from others, but not so much to sound stranger. So, if the world is listening slow hardcore, do something different which will satisfy people left out from the “main” fashion – like… faster stuff.
- Try to brand your style of music with your own name. Sickest Squad don’t produce “frenchcore” or “hardcore” or whatever… they do “sickcore” . Basically they can do whatever they want as long as it s *core and it s good.
This branding thing can be done in other way (name your label with your name, do “concerts”, company name, release “tribution” Ep…)
- Produce a lot, and keep producing over time. Quality stuff obviously. You must always have a “new” track coming up ( or just released).
- Release music in many similar, adjacent genre (hardcore, frenchcore, mainstyle, uptempo, hard hardtekno in their case). This way you will be at least 6-12 months ahead of the early adopter of the style and you will be identified as a pioneer of the genre. Being a first mover is always a good thing.
- Do good tracks, gather enough fans… and only then make a “easy” track (or even a “cheap” one) – old fans will forgive you and you’ll gather a lot of new ones.
- If track do not have success, no problem: you already have ready next one (remember the two prerequisite? )
- If the track become huge (like – The Sickest Squad – Zombie in 2016) fell free to do a follow up (like The Sickest Squad Feat. Vale Blake – Don’t Speak in 2017) to cash in even more. Yes they add nothing to the genre, but people need this stuff here and there…
And it s good to draw new listeners.
- Before music become repetitive and it goes to the shithole, and old fans get pissed:
- release some solid stuff that is 100% your style and
- release other less “cheap” but still accessible, danceable stuff ( like: The Sickest Squad & Lenny Dee – It’s Just A MF 2018). This will satisfy and educate the new audience you earned with easier stuff done earlier.
- When they call you to play give it 120% at the party, even if the location is shitty and there is few people ! The Sickest Squad play like 60+ times a year, and the are always kicking asses. No matter their family issue, their mood, or whatever. The dancefloor is your battle field.
- Here and there try with some new direction before the style became famous.
- Repeat and dominate, Sickest Squad style.
Is it easy? No,
will be it worthy? Yes, absolutely.
Praise to The Sickest Squad
I had this article in the “to do list” for a while, but i decided to write it after hearing their “Blue” track.
It’s a fucking fab – I bet this will be a cornerstone in the core music of 2020’s
and it’s in many ways:
Why The Sickest Squad – Blue will be a cornerstone of the Core music of the 20’s
I am not saying that the track will be a big success and I am not saying it has some unique stuff never heard before. What I am saying is that this track will make school. It will be seminal. In the future people will copy tracks that will be a copy of something which took inspiration for this. I bet it.
Why Blue kick asses?
- Visual impact. Video is very attractive. low fi, but additive never the less. The guy behind the video are talented
- Long, breath-taking music that you can rarely in a *core track.
- Use of the main synth as was done in late 90s dutch trance (now forgotten but still very powerful)
- Track build up easly but it s still enjoyable. It’s not the usual loooooong build up followed by a shitty drop.
- Kick and double bass – psy trance style.
- Kick and single bass to release the tension the above psy trance style didn’t release
- Emotional, in a sweet, deep way.
- Other “secrets” I cannot tell you now (I spoke with Jacopo, Samuele and Cri from Art Of Fighter about that…)
Listen to The Sickest Squad – Blue (2018)