Interview with Sefa: “I want to start a frenchcore revolution”

Wouter de Vink
By Wouter de Vink

Some people say that he’s the biggest hype in the harder styles of dance music at the moment. This young talent has already performed on quite a few big events, such as Defqon.1, BKJN vs. Partyraiser, Vive La Frenchcore and Dominator. We are obviously talking about Sefa, who has already accomplished so many things in this early stage of his career: ‘’I have busy months ahead of me, which means I will be away during the weekends. Recently I had a weekend with two bookings in France and Austria.’’ Oh, remind yourself that this is a quote by a 17-year old boy, that finds himself at the beginning of a great DJ career. We had the honour to speak with the revelation in frenchcore music.

His collab with Dr. Peacock ‘This Life Is Lost’ has reached over 1.1 million views on YouTube and also on Spotify the amount of views skyrocketed: 600.000. Not bad for someone who is only 17 years old.

“Sefa’s tracks are happy, melodic, but still frenchcore”

Children at the age of 9 usually play with marbles or at least play outside. Sefa Vlaarkamp had other interests. ‘’When I was 9, I went to visit someone who had a big TV screen in his living room with FL Studio installed on it’’, remembers Sefa. At that time, he already was keen on making music, so he watched the screen with a close eye. ‘’Then I thought: ‘Yes, that’s fun – I want to do the same thing.’‘’ Sefa thought it was so dope, that he got a laptop from his mom as a present for his 10th birthday and began producing straight away. ‘’I started watching videos on YouTube, that’s how I came in touch with hardstyle and that’s how I learned to produce. While classmates were playing outside, I spent my time messing around with music.’’

Sefa album interviewCoincidentally the young producer came in contact with the pioneer of the frenchcore scene. “I was 11 when my mum met Dr. Peacock at the local bar, without knowing who he was. He was still growing in status, but far away from the artist that he currently he is. They started talking and the mother told that I was producing music for fun. Peacock said: ‘Nice, I would love to see that.’ One week later he came by, but I didn’t have a clue who Dr. Peacock was.’’ Sefa searched for him on SoundCloud and what happened next was that he got blown away by the Peacock sound. ‘’Jesus, this is 10 times better than hardstyle.’’

READ: Frenchcore talent Sefa drops new track: ‘Follow’

Sefa changed his mind in one swoop. ‘’Frenchcore has such a drive, which simply just cannot be found in hardstyle. Frenchcore is wider and has more different kind of directions. If you would like to produce a ‘I want to destroy everything’-track or a ‘I want to hop with Taylor Swift’-track, everything is possible. The frenchcore fans accept more diversity than other genres, in my opinion. That’s what I like. However, I mostly enjoy listening to classical music. Bach, Mozart, Chopin… If you listen carefully to my music, you’ll hear samples of them in my music.’’ We are musically lectured by someone who isn’t even old enough to drink a beer.

“Organisations don’t give me a hard time because of my age at all, although I don’t know if license-holders are that happy as well”

The frenchcore DJ focused on the faster genre and his productions were picked up pretty well after a few years. But then a different aspect of being a DJ came peeking around the corner: spinning records. ‘’Suddenly there was a contract of BKJN Bookings in front of me. They said to me it was time to start deejay-ing, because I was going to have my first performance in less than 3 months, haha. I was asked to play for the first time on the radio at Gabber.FM and I just got myself a few USB-sticks at the HEMA (a Dutch ‘Wallmart’ store). These obviously crashed within minutes. And that was it for my first frenchcore set ever.’’

The young age of Sefa can be a true obstacle in his life. According to the law, 17 year old’s may not perform between 23:00 and 07:00 for example; common times when a DJ is supposed to be playing. Also, Sefa started studying at grammar school (‘’but I was dismissed out of class the Monday after Q-BASE, because I was sleeping’’) and so the teenager decided to take a gap year. ‘’I want to experience as many parties as possible this year.’’

“I do my own thing and find it cool that people like it that much”

Since Sefa started producing music in an early stage, he finds himself more a producer than a DJ. So when he plays at big events like Defqon.1 and Dominator, he prepares his sets properly. “But despite what many people think, I do actually play live and there’s no mixtape or whatever. I do not perform because I want to show how skilled I am in scratching or mixing, but to let my music be heard by the visitors. I do use Rekordbox, which allows me to not use my headphones that much. When I play I want to go loose to the fullest and not pay too much attention to the CD players. I want to give all my energy to the crowd.” Well, that energy certainly gets passed on to the crowd. Whoever has seen Sefa perform, seen his arms, legs and other limbs flying through the air like a mad man behind the wheels of steel. We are suspecting that the DJ has a side job as a musical sign language interpreter. “Yeah, I like to crazy.”

“I find it super dope that my music triggers something in people”, answers Sefa when we ask what he likes best about his job. The producer can even count on support from other (harder) genres of music. “A lot of people tell me that they feel something that they don’t feel in other tracks. Just like the YELLOW stage on the Sunday of Defqon.1 that’s already packed at 13:00 during my set, while the visitors have two full days of partying behind them. That’s just unbelievable.”

Sefa album interviewFrenchcore is actually a small scene, but with quite a few big names. What you see now is that there’s a separation in the genre coming: a sort of generation gap. “You can see that the old guard is sticking to their style and the new generation, with their happy tunes and samples, is creating a new style. I certainly do my best and it would be great if we can achieve this all together. I’ve received a warm welcome at least by the big names like The Sickest Squad and Peacock of course, but I have to admit that I was quite scared for that when I was just 15 years old.” Nevertheless, Sefa is still looking for that confirmation by the establishment. “I definitely would like to play at Thunderdome some day. That’s the party in hardcore music and I would love it if the old establishment would accept me there.”

“Sefa, when will you release your album?!”

Months ago the young Dutchman revealed that he’s about to come with his biggest production so far: his debut album. But to be fair we haven’t heard about this for a while now. “When the release of my album is? That’s a good question… I can’t reveal the album title just yet. But what I can tell is that it contains around 15 tracks that represent my sound from A to Z. The slowest track is 190 BPM and the fastest 220 BPM; everything that I’m able to will be on this production. I’ve played some of those already at Defqon.1, but that’s just 20% of the whole album. The rest is all new material that hasn’t appeared online yet, with lots of solo’s and several collaborations. With who? Eh no, I’m not going to tell.”

“I’m aware of the fact what I do is very unique since just a few months”, Sefa realizes. Because why does he want to release an album already? “What I do is basically a hybrid genre and this album is supposed to be a blue print of which people will say: ‘Hey, that’s the phenomenon in frenchcore music.’ That the fans actually have something to refer to.” He has big plans for the release of his very first album. “Besides the digital release, I want to do a hardcopy too and even a vinyl release as well. It’s awesome to have such an old-fashioned record physically in your hands, that gives something extra. It must be some kind of collectors item which you can put on your wall or something.”

“I have no clue when the exact release date of the album is planned for. Perhaps somewhere around the end of the year”, the frenchcore DJ confesses secretive. And he already knows what he’s going to do the second that his album is out there: “Throw a party. You coming?”

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