Who Are Ya?! - Get Happy with Hartshorn
Article by: Jessica Duncan
We had the opportunity to sit down with Denver native and Happy Hardcore producer Hartshorn (pronounced Harts-horn) to talk about his foray into Hard Dance, his achievements so far, and his hopes for the future.
Back in 2005, Weston Hartshorn was an Anti-Flag listening punk with a mohawk until his best friend came back from Arizona and told him, “Weston, you have to find out about this rave music, Happy Hardcore.” He dove in, got hooked, and has been a champion for the Happy Hardcore genre of Hard Dance since. Bay Area producer Molly Mush was the first Happy Hardcore artist that Hartshorn heard and the first domino in his enchantment with the genre, “It was a mix CD of cheesy hardcore.”
The first DJ he saw perform live was DJ Venom, a turntablist who specializes in Hard House. In 2007 he decided he wanted to learn how to DJ, so a group of his friends showed him the basics. Early on he had no interest in producing, he originally wanted to be a turntablist like American Happy Hardcore legend DJ Flapjack. After almost 10 years of solely being a DJ, he realized that he should start producing his own music “because it was the only way to get bookings in the US.”
He played piano as a kid but didn’t know much about making music beyond that. In 2016, he started learning to produce with just his PC running FL Studio and a small keyboard. Hartshorn decided to focus on producing “160 BPM Happy Hardcore that incorporates harder kicks and reverse bass sounds combined with Stonebank style leads.” He has been fortunate enough to tour overseas, learning from his friends that make UK Hardcore, including Outforce, and bringing that sound back to the US. Some artists he admires are UK Hardcore staples like Jakka-B, Spyro, and Outforce.
When he first started out, he was performing under the name Hazard, but there was already a British Drum and Bass DJ using that name. In 2016 he got the opportunity to play at the Hardcore Til I Die In The Magaluf Sun festival in Spain, however the promoter told him that if he wanted to play he would need to change his name. All of the names he could think of were already taken by other artists, so he decided to use his last name, Hartshorn. It is unique enough to stand out and true to who he is, so he has stuck to it ever since.
In addition to performing in Spain and the UK, he has been able to play in Canada and the home of Hard Dance, the Netherlands. That experience was a difficult one, he said, “I got so much hate. I did a live stream and they talked shit the entire hour. It was super disheartening.” For anyone who listens to Happy Hardcore, you know that it is intertwined with the Anime world. This is why Hartshorn was able to play Metrocon in Tampa, Florida in 2022. He has also played Wasteland, Basscon’s annual festival for all things Hard Dance, in both 2022 and 2023. His ultimate goals are of course to play the Wasteland stage at EDC Las Vegas, Defqon. 1, Creamfields, and anything put on by Harder Styles United (HSU) in Australia.
Since starting to produce, Hartshorn has released songs on some of his dream labels, crossing that wish off his bucket list. He was the first American to release a track on Darren Styles & Da Tweekaz’s label Electric Fox. He did mention that “it took about three or four releases on the label before Darren Styles finally followed me back” and for Da Tweekaz to know who he was. He was also the first Happy Hardcore artist to have a release on Basscon Records. It took two years of submitting tracks and a contact from Rob Gee before it finally happened. From these experiences, Hartshorn said he “has learned persistence and to just keep hacking away at it.” Kutski, the head of Keeping The Rave Alive, has always been one of his friends. He sent over his collaboration with Spyro “Bass Keeps Pumping” and Kutski loved it so much he decided to release it. Kayzo has been known to play this song in his sets and even dropped it at EDC Mexico in 2020. Many of his tracks have made it into the Beatport Top 10 for the Hard Dance/Hardcore category.
Other labels he would love to release tracks on include W&W’s Rave Culture, Timmy Trumpet’s Sinphony, Yellow Claw’s Barong Family, LNY TNZ’s Fvck Genres, Kontor, and of course, Dirty Workz. If he could collaborate with anyone on a track, it would have to be Darren Styles. He would also love to do some genre-bending work with Olly James or Lil Texas and return to his punk roots with Anti-Flag.
For anyone who hasn’t listened to any of Hartshorn’s tracks yet, he recommends you check out “I’m Like” with S3RL and Outforce as well as “I’m Just Here Like” with vocalist Giin. “These show two different times of my journey. They were created three years apart. The track with S3RL is more UK Hardcore sounding with a fast BPM, whereas the one with Giin is more mainstream, festival driven 160 BPM Hardcore.”
Some memorable moments he has enjoyed in his musical journey so far have included being Joey Riot’s +1 for Masters of Hardcore in Glasgow in 2019 where he ended up becoming the videographer for his Destructive Tendencies set. He got to hang out with DJ Anime and Angerfist in the green room and then ended up going to an after party in the countryside until the early morning. He has also been able to work with his biggest idols and certified Happy Hardcore icons S3RL, the producer behind “Pretty Rave Girl” arguably the biggest Happy Hardcore track of all time, and Hixxy. “It’s crazy when I look at the file with my name next to theirs.”
Hard Dance is a predominantly European genre, but Hartshorn is excited about the growth of the American Hard Dance scene. “I love it and I’ve been a member of it since 2005.” He would love to see more mainstream promotion of it, “it’s been a tough fight to watch because a lot of the underground promoters are going away.” He would also like to see it less focused on the Rawstyle genre of Hard Dance.
Denver, also known as the bass capital of the US, is understandably not a Hard Dance destination. Hartshorn and his friends decided they would need to start their own promotion company if they wanted to see their favorite artists and have the opportunity to play shows. They started 303 Family around 2007 and have been able to bring some big names like S3RL, Hixxy, Dougal, Outforce, and Rob Gee. They have also worked with Amplitude Presents to bring more mainstream American Hard Dance artists like Lady Faith, Darksiderz, and Geo.
In 2022, Hartshorn started working with Joe Rath and the Millennial Momentum team. Joe went to the shows 303 Family organized early on and from there he approached Weston asking him to join them. You can hear Joe’s voice featured on Hartshorn’s latest track “Set You Free,” which just dropped on Electric Fox. He is thrilled to be working with them because “It’s nice to have a team I enjoy being around.” Coming up next for Hartshorn, he has a show in Edmonton Canada on June 16th where he will be closing the show as a special guest. He also has another track slated for release on Electric Fox.
When he isn’t working on music, he is at work as the head of Security for Temple nightclub or at the gym. He enjoys skateboarding and used to race downhill bikes but according to him “As I’ve gotten older my knees just can’t do it.” He is also a big gamer and regularly streams on his Twitch channel. He is a console gamer, PlayStation specifically, who enjoys playing the Resident Evil and Battlefield series.
It has already been a wild ride for Hartshorn and we are looking forward to seeing where he goes from here. Keep up to date with everything he has going on by giving him a follow and listening to his music using the links below.
CONNECT with Hartshorn:
Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Twitch
LISTEN to Hartshorn:
Spotify | Apple Music | Beatport | SoundCloud | YouTube