Hailing from the Netherlands, a dance-music mecca continually producing world-class deejay’s, Frontliner, real name Barry Drooger, has been dominating the hardstyle scene since the mid 2000’s. Since then, he has preformed on some of the biggest stages in the world such as Defcon.1, Reverze and dozens more. In 2012, Frontliner left Scantraxx records and founded his Keep It Up media company where he has produced award winning tracks. Have a listen to his latest release, “Oh”, which dropped this past February embedded below.
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Chris Remmers:The Netherlands is often a country overlooked when talking about beauty, but within its borders holds some of the most diverse landscapes and an array of stunning landscapes. How did you like growing up in this region of the world? Where would you send a first-time visitor to get a real sense of the county?
Barry Drooger: I grew up somewhere in a town called Emmeloord. It was a small town, not really a farmer’s town, but a place where everyone knows everyone. There was not really all that much to do. A lot of the time you had to travel to find a train. We had a bus station, but that’s about it. So, you could say growing up was kind of a simple life. I actually have lived in Amsterdam now for about the past four years.
BD: Amsterdam has been great to me! It’s convenient to have pretty much everything you need in one city. The past few years it has become a little cluttered with tourists, so the center is always busy. It is hard to get around there by car, but it still has its charm nevertheless. It is a cultural city. I personally love the old-style buildings left from before the war.
CR: Where would you send a first-time visitor if they wanted to go to a low-key spot that locals and people in the area may frequent? Something less touristy?
BD: Wow, this is a very good question! I will have to think about this one. It’s hard to say, because if you drive two hours north of Amsterdam you will be out of the country, that’s how small it is. Nevertheless, there are still a bunch of cool spots to hit down south, which is completely different from the north. In the north, you have a lot of flat land, farmers and everything is really spread out. In the south, it’s older, cozier towns, that are culturally different and it just has a different vibe and feel to it.
CR: When did you first decide you wanted to peruse life as a DJ? Did the culture of the area you grew up in have any sort of significant impact on your career?
BD: Growing up I always had a passion for creating music. I was a producer and was always behind my computer making music. At the time, I wasn’t thinking like, “Hey, I could be on stage rocking big parties.” So, it’s awesome to end up where I am, because I really always have had fun in the studio. At some point my music got picked up and I had my first couple gigs in Holland. I got my first international booking in Italy. It was the first time I had to go in a plane. From there on it went so fast with the amount of bookings I got each year and the places I got to go. The past three or four years things have been blowing up, and I’ve been traveling around the world.
CR: Can you recall your first time stepping out on stage seeing a huge crowd of people and thinking you made it?
BD: I can actually! The year I think was about 2008. I was at a large indoor event called “In Control”. I would say that 2010 was the year I really got the opportunity to play on some pretty huge main stages with crowds of like 10,000 people or more. It’s just this crazy feeling you get looking out into the crowd. I even remember the first time I played in front of a crowd that big. I was really nervous beforehand, but once I got on stage I almost felt at home. I felt in control and that made me secure about what I was doing. That allowed me to really enjoy the moment with the crowd as I was playing all this music I had created and they loved it. It was an amazing feeling to get such positive feedback on something I worked so hard for.
CR: I can only imagine what it would feel like to perform in front of 10,00-plus people. It must be incredible. Over the years genres like house, techno, EDM have all been exponentially growing globally over the years. Where are some of your favorite venues to preform, and how do some of your favorite venues differ internationally?
BD: To answer the second question first, outside of Holland it is an entirely different world for me and hardstyle. If I think back, my first three or four years I only played in Holland, then eventually to places across Europe like Italy, France, Belgium and Germany, then sometimes farther away to Australia. [The United States] and Asia came later. I love going to these spots, because the music is kind of new to them; they are very excited about it. I still meet a lot of new people who don’t even know the music I make.
It is satisfying to bring a feeling and sound no one knows, and have such positive feedback. It’s that satisfaction we all do it for. It’s such a hard feeling to describe. It brings together all the hard time you put in the studio, developing your performance. In the end, you don’t know what’s going to happen when there is 30,000 people in front of you. You hope for the best, and when you get that positive feedback and vibes it’s an indescribable feeling.
CR: Diving deeper into travel, when you have some down time and your looking to get away, are you trying to go for a hike in the mountains, trip to the beach or something different all together?
BD: I would say that I’m a real nature freak to put it lightly. Before I go somewhere, or if I go somewhere new, I always look at my National Geographic to see what cool nature the place I’m going to has to offer. I love all the animals and nature. I’m not really a beach person. I can’t stand heat. If there is too much heat I’m just uncomfortable. So, nature and anything outdoors is my go to.
CR: How do you feel music and travel fit best in your life?
BD: For me, there are just so many satisfactions. If I go somewhere, I go with the goal to make people happy with my music and my performance. I enjoy it when people enjoy themselves, and in return I get to see all these nice places, experiencing all of these amazing cultures and people. It is truly amazing when you stop and think about it. This is the beauty of what I’m doing for a living. I could not even call this a job.
CR: Everyone has a list of places they would like to go to in the near future. Are there any places that come to mind for you?
BD: Yeah, there are a few places I still want to go. One high on my list would be to perform in Africa. I really want to go to South Africa. It’s just something you can’t find anywhere. I’m drawn there by the cultures, places and national parks that you can visit around there. I have been to Australia many times, but I have never been to New Zealand, so this year my plan is to end up there. I’ve only seen pictures and videos, so I’m excited to experience it in person.
CR: That should be so much fun! Obviously in your realm of work traveling comes with the territory. What effect has seeing and experiencing these different cultures had on you over the years? How has it broadened your perspective on the world?
BD: I’m a really down-to-earth person by nature. I have always been really accepting of other cultures, and different kinds of people. That is just the way I grew up. I think it makes you a stronger person. I meet more people and experience more cultures now. That is the one thing I really love about my job. To be able to meet all these people and experience different walks of life is just an incredible feeling. I’m vegan for example, so for me it’s different in Holland versus being in Los Angeles where I can choose from 50 restaurants. Luckily, over the years it’s become easier to find vegan food pretty much everywhere I go around the world.