Hardwell is a natural party igniter with rich musical tastes. The 26-year-old DJ and producer is frequently called upon to headline several of the world’s biggest festivals throughout the year. In 2014 alone Hardwell spun his infectious music at not only Ultra (Miami), but also TomorrowLand (Belgium), EDC Vegas, Beyond Wonderland (Mountainview, CA) and Amsterdam Festival, to name a few.
Currently traveling across America on the I Am Hardwell tour, this past Saturday marked the tour’s conclusion as well as Hardwell’s Madison Square Garden debut. In advance of what will be the Dutch artist’s biggest booking to date, BroBible sat down with Hardwell for an interview. Hardwell discussed his recent DJ Mag award, the current state of EDM, and even mentions the January 26th release day of his forthcoming album.
Brobible: Congratulations on your second consecutive DJ Mag Number 1 title. How does it feel the second time around and what makes this years award different from last years?
Thank you very much! The only thing I can say is I’m really happy to be back at #1 and happy that a lot of people still appreciate what I am doing.
“Young Again” featuring Chris Jones is your follow-up single to “Dare You” featuring Matthew Koma. Discuss the importance of both records to your career.
On “Young Again” & “Dare You,” we really tried to take a global approach with the records, and have them appeal to everyone. We wanted to cross genres with these songs and I think we really succeeded.
Describe the feeling you get from the fan’s reactions when playing your music at festivals/shows. How do you intend to further innovate your music?
I always like to test new records at shows. Fans’ reactions are the best indication on whether my songs work or not, so it’s incredibly special when they react in a positive way. It lets me know that I’m doing something right in the studio. With my music, I always try to push boundaries and explore different sounds and genres, yet everything needs to be genuinely Hardwell and dance floor minded.
Give your thoughts on the current state of EDM and why you think festival lineups are mainly male dominated?
In EDM, there is a lot of the same formula going around right now so I’m just trying to push boundaries, and listen to what else is going on around the world – even in hip-hop and the trance. I try to combine as much as possible. Dance music has always been a male dominated genre for whatever reason. There are a ton of really talented female DJs and producers out there who have made a huge mark on the EDM industry. The festival lineups just directly reflect the ratio of men to women DJing.
The I Am Hardwell Tour is your second North American tour this year. What is life like on the road?
Life on the road inspires me and has actually had a huge influence on my forthcoming album. Having a dance floor constantly in front of me allows me to test out my new tracks. On this tour, the crowd’s reactions have helped me decide what direction to take my album.
Describe the elements of the fall tour that have improved beyond your previous spring tour.
In the spring tour we did was a bus tour. There was no special production and the shows were in more intimate venues. The tour didn’t have much of a concept behind it like my current I Am Hardwell tour does, so there was a lot of improvement.
Just about every detail of this I Am Hardwell fall tour has been created with my vision and music in mind, so it all comes back to who I am as a person and artist. I’m able to play a 3-hour set, which gives me the opportunity to play my older tracks and build up the night even more. When I get booked for a festival for an hour it’s more like a Hardwell showcase or Revealed Recordings showcase, compared to the I Am Hardwell show. Also, we have massive LED screens, lots of extra production, and 60-70% of my show is synched up to visuals so I’m able to set the mood with my music combined with visual elements. All of this works well in the arenas that I’ve recently been playing.
The Netherlands has a rich musical history, especially for dance music. Which significant people and/or experiences pushed you to get into business with your own record label, Revealed Records?
The music scene in Breda and Holland has always been a huge inspiration for me. As everyone knows, Tiesto has had a huge impact on my life ever since I met him, and I am so lucky to have been able to work with him as my mentor. Since I started DJ-ing and producing, I wanted to have my own unique sound. People were always trying to tell me how my tracks should sound and this is why I started Revealed Recordings. It allowed me to have creative freedom, but also help my producer friends grow and develop their careers.
Give us the names of unknown artists that should be on everyone’s radars.
Definitely Julian Calor, he’s at this point really my favorite producer. Keep an eye out for his upcoming album next year on Revealed Recordings. His sound is really refreshing and something I think everyone will love.
In the length of a tweet, give advice to aspiring producers.
If you have a good track, share it with everyone you can, upload it everywhere, send it to DJs for their podcasts, etc.
Do you have plans for an album soon? If so, give the names of artists you are likely to collaborate with as well as when fans can expect it.
Yes, I actually just announced my next tour and forthcoming album, United We Are, which will be released on January 23rd. I think my fans can expect a really diverse album. Like I said, I’ve been exploring new boundaries and working on new styles as well, but really just being myself. I’ve been evolving my sound and trying to do things bit different this time around, but fans can still expect to hear the signature Hardwell sound.
The music ranges from everything EDM sounding, to deeper underground stuff, to some hardstyle and trance as well. I really tried to push things forward and come up with something new.
I have been working with Chris Jones, W&W, Fatman Scoop, and Tiesto lately, as you know from my latest releases. I can’t really tell you too much more about my album, but I am really excited about a collaboration I have with Headhunterz. The rest of my album is still a secret for now!
What do you want to be remembered for? What kind musical legacy do you want to leave behind?
I want to be remembered for always putting on a good party with my sets and with the music I make. I love it when people are dancing and having a good time, so for me to be remembered as one whose super energetic DJ sets and unforgettable music always got the party going, I’d be really happy with that.