Renowned for his masked performances and genre-defying soundscapes, GRAVEDGR is pushing the limits of electronic music yet again with his newest album, AFTERLIFE. Formerly known for his hardstyle-trap hybrid, the cutting-edge DJ is now branching out into the techno realm.
“AFTERLIFE is exactly that, the afterlife, it’s what comes after death. It’s an entirely new sound but it’s still GRAVEDGR themed,” GRAVEDGR says. “What I’ve learned over the past year is exactly what the GRAVEDGR sound is. It’s not a genre. It’s a theme. It’s a vibe. It’s a presence.”
GRAVEDGR is far from the only heavy artist who is making a shift toward techno, and in this interview with EDM Maniac, the producer fearlessly delves into some zesty hot takes on electronic music trends and why traditional techno might just be on its way out.
Read on as we navigate the twists and turns of GRAVEDGR’s musical odyssey, discussing fan acceptance, the fluidity of electronic music, and peering into the crystal ball of future trends:
EDM Maniac: So, you got your name, GRAVEDGR, because you literally dug graves with your dad. Did anything crazy happen in the graveyard? I have this picture of you in my mind, like eight years old, digging a grave at 2AM.
GRAVEDGR: *laughs* No, nothing scary happened. Wouldn’t that be crazy?! No, I mainly did that with him when I was in high school and a little bit after to just help out and make some money.
EDM Maniac: How did you get into music?
GRAVEDGR: I actually took a class junior year of high school. It was an after-school introduction to sound and music technology class.
I kinda didn’t like it at first because making music was hard. But we learned [programs] like Reason and Ableton. I actually took the class again senior year and started to get an itch to do it more and more.
EDM Maniac: In your professional career, your style has been a hybrid of dubstep and hardstyle. Most recently, you’ve been dipping your toes in techno. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
GRAVEDGR: I’ve been doing the GRAVEDGR project for about five years now, and it started off as hardstyle-influenced trap music. It’s a little sub-genre I created and my listeners actually named it “raw trap.”
The pandemic hit in 2020 and I had to cancel my tour. 2021 and 2022 passed and I was still making hard trap, but I started losing passion for it. It just got really repetitive, especially when you’re producing it for that long.
So, I started experimenting and tried to make new genres. I started with melodic tech house and experimented with techno. It wasn’t until 2022 when I stayed in Rotterdam for my European tour that I made my first techno track, “AFTERLIFE,” the single of my album.
When I made that song, it opened the rabbit hole for me, and I really enjoyed making that because it’s the perfect medium that’s hardstyle and techno.
Since then my main character trait has become techno. That’s all I listen to, that’s all I want to make. It refueled my passion for music. It made it fun again.
EDM Maniac: Were you nervous at all that your fans weren’t going to accept this new sound?
GRAVEDGR: Honestly, yes and no. My entire sound has always been kind of in the middle. I’ve always had a niche of fans who only like hardstyle or trap, but I’ve always been confident in the way that I package my sound. I can always give them my sound in a way that they will like it.
Once I decided that I wanted my album to be only hard techno and not a hybrid of techno and “raw trap,” that was the leap of faith. I’m blessed that my fans are very open-minded.
EDM Maniac: In the past year or two, there’s been a lot of fluidity in electronic music. Illenium has a few screamo tracks, Kai Wachi and Sullivan King do house sets together as Meal Prep. Do you think this fluidity in the music scene is coming from catering to what fans want to hear or is it DJs just branching out and exploring their sounds?
GRAVEDGR: Speaking for myself, I’ve always loved all types of genres. So, I think when an artist creates something else, they want to expand. And, as a listener, I get bored of listening to the same stuff over and over. You can still love a genre but you want something different.
It’s cool because when you are at a festival or something and you are listening to hardstyle or house and you hear a pause and then a switch, it keeps it refreshing. If you do it correctly, DJ-wise, it keeps your live performance exciting. As a producer, you can spice things up and find a new love for a new genre.
EDM Maniac: There are a lot of DJs moving towards techno. How do you see the future of techno progressing?
GRAVEDGR: Right now it’s very trendy. People want to try it and dabble in it, and it’s fun. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I definitely think that bubble is bursting. I give it another six months to a year when the next trend in EDM is going to come. A lot of DJs will move on to the next thing.
For instance, in LA six months ago at all of the afters, people just wanted to hear tech house. Now, I think, more people want to hear techno.
And, six months from now, I think it’ll be something different. People who want to stay with techno will definitely stay, but I think the fanbase will be smaller than it is right now.
EDM Maniac: Do you have any idea what that next genre is going to be?
GRAVEDGR: Oh, man. I really don’t know. *laughs* I want it to be drum & bass, but I really don’t know. From what I’ve seen, it’s either going to be that or like that Peekaboo or Skrillex sound where they have the UK drill rapper and it sounds kind of dub. Maybe that?