Artist, dj,and label owner Sebastian Hoff a.k.a. DJ Promo has become an important ambassador of the hard techno scene with his innovative work. Each time hardcore threatens to bite itself in its tail, he shakes up the genre and moves it beyond its borders.
With Forward Observer, the first full album as his alter ego Rude Awakening, Hoff looks ahead by looking back and thereby takes an important step in the development of experimental hard techno. Sebastian Hoff (29) was born in Purmerend, Noord Holland in 1976. He first came in touch with hardcore in 1992 and then started his dj ing career. In his early years he had listened to house and hiphouse, as well as the dark, harder side of hip-hop, like Public Enemy and N.W.A. Not a big step for him, then, towards hardcore. After some smaller parties, his first big dj gig followed at DJ Erick E's Birthday party in Zaandam, where he played with his heroes at that time: Buzz Fuzz, The Prophet and The Chosen Few. Thirteen years later DJ Promo has twisted heads all over the world, from the Rex Club in Paris to the Sports Arena in Los Angeles, and at festivals like Defqon and Mysteryland. He calls his headlining gig as the closing act of Sensation Black in 2004 at the Amsterdam Arena a true milestone in his career. Hoff started producing his own tracks in 1995, thinking: I can do this, but better . In the following years he produced a large number of tracks for ID&T. Then in 2000, he decided it was time to take fate more completely into his own hands. He started his label The Third Movement, which, together with it s sublabels, has released more than 100 records so far by artists including Dana, Peaky Pounder, N-Vitral and Promo. After a career of almost ten years the time had come to face a new challenge. In 2001 he divided his releases into DJ Promo and Rude Awakening. "Up until that time I thought I could release all the stuff I did under the same name, but when I played somewhat more experimental music more people came up to me to ask, Is this still hardcore ?" Hence the new project Rude Awakening, a name which originates from Hoff s experiences at the legendary Awakenings parties in the former Gashouder in Amsterdam. "I learned a lot about techno at the Gashouder. And each time I was there I had the feeling something was missing. Right at the point when the roof was about to be torn off, there was no record to do exactly that. And that was the record I wanted to make, but I didn t have enough experience to do it. I do now." The Rude Awakening project has risen from a personal longing in Hoff, but also from a lack of curiosity from the fans. "If you have done eighteen Thunderdomes, that s fantastic of course, but the real challenge is not there anymore. I want to prove myself once again and I want people to listen to my music objectively instead of buying the new Promo which they think is always great, because it s Promo. I needed new input and critique of the fans and of the outside world." The concept has until now not only been released on five singles on the new sublabel Rude Awakening, but also came into life by a number of big parties under the same name. Rude Awakening even hosted its own area at Mysteryland 2003 and 2004. But it became quite clear pretty soon that the hardcore audience had trouble adapting to the new sound. "We had developed it rather rapidly towards some big parties. But you see that you have to give people some time to absorb and adjust to what you are doing." Hoff took Rude Awakening underground and baptised it Club r_AW. Since the end of 2004 Club r_AW has had four very successful nights at the P60 in Amstelveen, and recently Rude Awakening was one of the headliners at the Defqon.1 festival. About the difference with his work as Promo: "With Rude Awakening I work on my gut feeling, it is entirely freestyle. I enter the studio totally blank, and press all the buttons and see what comes out. There s no rules, no boundaries. With Promo I tend to work from the fixed hardcore idea, which is a lot more defined. With Rude Awakening I really try to cross the border between techno and hardcore without producing pure hardcore." The album contains a cd with fourteen tracks and a DVD with a 47 minute in-depth interview with Hoff, live footage from club r_AW, and from the January 2005 edition of Awakenings. With that performance, Hoff s career has come full circle. "It was my dream to play Awakenings. I partied there as a 17 year old boy and learned what techno was really about. The people there, the environment and the music, have been the inspiration for Rude Awakening." Forward Observer contains quite a mixed bag of sounds. "This work is based on things with which I have grown up: electro, hip-hop, Aphex Twin. The biggest influence comes out of the breakbeat rave period. That is the feeling that predominated in the studio. Altern 8, that type of stuff. But with a techno industrial feel of course." The result of almost fifteen years experience and development in the music world, it seeks to look ahead by looking back. "It is a record that I have been wanting to make for a very long time and I am very proud of it. This is my vision of the hard, extreme techno genre. Hard techno has become very insipid, I think. Nobody has tried developing that side of the spectrum. It is also a call to arms to others: People, we can still take this music into many new directions." Rude Awakening: Forward Observer CD+DVD is out now on the r_AW label. More information on Rude Awakening and Club r_AW on www.thirdmovement.nl