Adam Lewis, better known as hair-colour aficianado and general Freeform nutter Ares, has been stomping his way around Kiwi dance floors for well over a decade. Winding up the crowds with his rapid-fire acid lines and contagious enthusiasm, he is a rave scene staple and somehow managed to find 5 minutes to sit down and have a nice little chat over tea and crumpets.
You’ve been a DJ for quite some time now. How exactly did you end up playing Hardcore?
I started listening to Dance music in about 1992, checking out Grid and other stuff on the deconstruction label. Around 1995 I got into the faster stuff, like the old 140bpm+ cds, N-Joi etc.
It was Mid ’97 when Kam and I decided we were keen to maybe have a go at this whole DJ thing. Since most of the music we had was on CD, we went in together and got ourselves some CDJs and a mixer. We made our first mixes, practiced daily and worked our asses off to get a demo ready for Nick Collings, who was looking for new DJs for a party he was promoting.
He gave it a listen and decided to put us on… straight after Sample Gee! We cranked out our first set, and were approached about playing at an all age club that was opening called ‘Platinum 104’ on Fanshawe Street. The rest isn’t really so much as history, more a fuzzy memory of too many nights dancing away to loud fast beats!
What would yo consider your career highlights so far:
Playing alongside Kam at our first gig at the Tahaki reserve in Mt Eden was epic, Plus pretty much every Planet Hardcore and Spectrum party. I’d have to say playing a 2 hour set at PH 80’s blew my mind (also completely wore me out!) Always epic and always great fun. Flying down to Christchurch last year to play a White Elephant party was great. I love getting together with the nutters from down there.
Freeformation 2007 was a big one; playing after Kevin Energy and Sharkey’s mammoth 3 hour set was the most nervous I’ve ever been on stage. Having Kev on the mic for the whole thing and congratulating me for ‘playing a blinder’ afterwards, was definitely up there!
And finally, all the people I’ve met through both playin and being part of such an awesome scene (even if my brain isn’t good with people’s names)
You’re known for playing Freeform. What is it about this style that initially attracted you to it?
I’d taken a break from the Happy Hardcore thing for a while and around when I got back into DJ stuff in ’03, there was a lot of Hard Trance, not to mention the Hard House scene.
I’d listened to the latest Bonkers stuff at the time (8, 9 10 and 11) and thought that, musically speaking, the stuff Sharkey was playing didn’t differ too greatly from that of Ilogic, Nick Sentience, Lab 4 and a host of other Hard Dance DJ’s, it was just a bit faster! I started to pick up records and it just went from there really.
I guess I prefer the urgency and energy the darker melodies and acid lines tend to give Freeform Hardcore.
What inspires you musically?
This may sound weird, but I’ve seen a tonne of technically excellent DJ’s who, whilst being able to mix flawlessly, are completely cold and clinical on stage. It ends up feeling as if they’re a jukebox, hunched over the mixer and giving nothing back to the crowd
When I’m on the floor I like to see a DJ who’s outgoing, who’s interacting with the punters and above all, who’s having fun! I guess that’s how I view DJing. I’m up there not only to play some storming tracks, but to provide entertainment, get the crowd amped and make sure that people leave saying ”Fuck yeah, that was MEAN, next time we’ll get everyone along!”
Freeform is a fairly niche genre, even by Hard Dance standards. How difficult is it to champion such a little known sound?
Hardcore and all its sub genres have had a lot of trouble gaining any sort of traction in NZ. In part, it’s due to releases being few and far between but also due to the fact a lot of people write it off before they even hear it.
That being said, I’ve never met a person who didn’t have a good time at a Hardcore gig. I don’t know why but people seem to take themselves less seriously at them, they tend to let go more and have more fun regardless of their musical tastes.
It can be difficult to find support for Freeform in Auckland, as the scene is so Genre fixated; it’s too fast for Hard Dance and not cheesy enough for Hardcore. But there’s a few people up here that are really into it and they kinda keep me goin when I start to think I should hang up the headphones and call it quits!
Tell me about your most random encounter with a punter:
So many to choose from… I’d say the most interesting would be when a young lad came up to me at Spectrum and told me I was his Idol!
You’ve just won Lotto, describe the gig you would throw for your birthday party:
Big, Free and Loud, Hahaha! It’s a hard call, but basically I’d ask my mates which artists they would want to see from the UK and get every single one of them out here.
How would you describe the Freeform scene and the NZ Hardcore scene in general:
It’s definitely quite small at the moment. The Hardcore scene is very fragile over here.
A lack of parties leads to a “Hardcore? What’s that?” mentality, too many gets a “Not another bloody Hardcore gig” mindset. It’s hard to maintain a balance!
Also the fact that good quality releases are few and far between at the moment, as the scene is mainly UK driven and traditionally it seems a lot of UK Hardcore DJ’s tend to keep their best tracks to themselves for a long, long time. Same goes with Freeform, as it’s a sub genre, whatever affects the parent, affects the child…
Where to from here for Ares?
Well, dance-wise, a few little projects here and there, remix work and maybe making another annual promo (for last year, I’m running late…) Apart from that I’m getting married in about a month, so things should be exciting!
And just before we wrap things up, what’s the biggest dancefloor crime you’ve committed ?
I think playing the ultra-cheesy remix of Electric Dreams every week for about six months at Platinum 104 would be up there…
Ares would like to give shout outs to:
Summer Angel, Kam, Carys and Lawson, Firefly, Scoob, Dammersh, Koob and Dimi, Darkmain, Blackdove, Snuggles, Mr. Motion, LR and Bradicle, TJ, the Nunya Crew. The Auckland Harcore Massif!