This morning we had the chance to sit down with the world’s incumbent number one DJ, Hardwell. With his North American tour beginning on Halloween in Chicago and an album of massive proportions on the way, there’s no stopping this Dutchman. Hardwell is here to prove that he deserves these consecutive champion titles, read more below. Buy Tickets
What can long-time Hardwell fans expect from “United We Are”?
Well I just finished another studio day today working on the album. I think the Hardwell fans can expect a really diverse album, exploring my boundaries trying out new styles as well, being myself actually. I try to evolve my sound, I try to do a little bit different and of course you can expect like the particular Hardwell sound, the more EDM sound but there are also like more songs, and more underground sounds. I try to push things forward, come up with something new.
How is “I Am Hardwell” different from regular shows or festivals?
The biggest difference is, when I get booked at a festival I only play for like an hour, max hour and a half, with the “I Am Hardwell” show I play 3 hours. Within the 3 hours I have the opportunity to play my older tracks and build up the night even more, when I get booked for a festival for an hour its more like a Hardwell showcase or Revealed Recordings showcase, compared to the “I Am Hardwell” show. I can play more bits of older Hardwell, more progressive stuff, and build up to one big climax. There is space for my older records as well, it’s really like a concert. If you go to a concert like for a big pop artist, they’re performing all the songs as well, which I’m actually doing the same on the “I Am Hardwell” show.
What inspired you to make an album instead of releasing more singles?
Well I think it’s kind of boring in general to ya know, copy a latest hit, like a template you know just keep doing exactly what you did before. I always try to do things differently, in the end everything I make is dancefloor minded, especially the songs I did in the past. With the album I feel like I have more musical freedom and I can explore more boundaries and music styles. It’s all dance, they’re all dance songs. Even within dance, with deep house and some more pop vocals, also more underground music. I think I feel more free to explore those things on an album.
Do you explore any genres or styles people wouldn’t expect from you?
At this point definitely, the album is a wide scale of different styles, I always hate to put certain songs in a certain box. I always like to think really out of the box, combine the best of different worlds and actually its a combination from whatever, more deep music, I don’t wanna say deep house but more deep underground feelings, to even hardstyle minded tracks to everything in between.
What has been the biggest struggle with “I Am Hardwell” and the album?
Not even “I Am Hardwell”, but the biggest struggle with the album is being constantly on the road and sometimes you’re in such a creative process and you’ll just wanna stick in the studio but you’re on the road. I hate to be in the airplane and work on my macbook, I just wanna sit comfy in my own studio with the big speakers and work it out.
What do you personally think about the DJ Mag Top 100?
It’s a popularity poll, and I know a lot of people saying some DJs pay for position and I don’t know what’s true or not true, the only thing I can say is I’m really happy with my position and I’m really happy a lot of people still appreciate what I am doing. I’m really happy to be back to back #1.
What’s the best part about running your own label?
To me personally, working with the label, it’s really inspirational. All these young kids have such amazing talent, and to be on top of all the new upcoming sounds, it works as an inspiration for me. Besides that, on festivals, it’s kind of true a lot of DJs are playing the same tracks now over and over, and I think even with the label I try to push new music instead of playing the major big hits, that are already being played the whole day of the festival.
What would you like to see more DJs do?
I would like to see a lot of DJs only perform their own songs, like if you go to a rock festival or something with more bands, the bands only perform their own songs. I think that’s better
even for the crowd, it’s way better to do. At that point you’re going to separate the producers from the DJs but for the diversity of a festival its better.
You’ve worked with Chris Jones on “Young Again” and Joey Dale + Luciana on “Arcadia”. Can you name some more collaborators on the album?
I can’t reveal them all unfortunately, but what I can say, the new Tiesto and Hardwell single is on it. Not written in reverse but the follow up to that. Besides that, a really exciting collaboration with Headhunterz. The rest is still a secret.
Who is your favorite person to collaborate and make music with?
That’s a really good one, I think every artist has their own special thing if you work with them, I really like to work with Dyro because he’s such a geek in the studio. He’s always trying to come up with different sounds, I think you can tell by just listening to his productions. He’s really a geek if it comes to the technique of producing songs. I really like and enjoy being in the studio with him, we never make songs we just tweak sounds and share tips and tricks about synthesizers.
What’s your favorite thing about being on tour.
Especially with the “I Am Hardwell” show being there with the whole team, I love to be in America. I like to be on the road, I always say producing music and DJing goes hand in hand and I get a lot of inspiration when I’m on the stage every night. I have the ability to start my new tracks, I can see the crowd’s reaction every night, and I use the crowd’s reaction and the crowd’s response as inspiration to go back in the studio to finish up tracks. This American tour is perfect for me because the album is like 80% done now and I’m gonna finish it after this tour. Basically, my inspiration from America is finishing the album.
How do you interact with fans more at “I Am Hardwell” than a regular show?
Since I’m on stage for 3 hours and like 60-70% of the show is synced up to visuals, it’s really more intimate. It’s more like a Hardwell experience than just me on a stage at a festival, it’s different. Every song has its own feeling and sometimes when you hear a song, certain feelings of the song, a certain emotion and atmosphere and you try to actually create an atmosphere by the lights and the visuals and everything. I think for a Hardwell fan this is the ultimate Hardwell experience.
Where do you see yourself headed in the next few years?
I really enjoy being in the process of the album, I felt more free to create and try to experiment with different styles. I definitely want to focus more on the producing side in coming years. Maybe not even another album maybe like record some music for a movie or whatever maybe some sound design for games. Of course I will continue doing the Hardwell things and making the Hardwell music. I really enjoyed this album and the whole process, I wanna be able to make music on a wide spectrum.
Is the album a collection of songs or is there a cohesive experience?
Every song you can still hear it’s a Hardwell song, it’s not that it’s like completely different from what I’ve done some things are just more songs, not all the songs are dance floor minded. All my previous songs were. They were all dance floor minded, they were all club tracks. some songs on this album are more to chill out to, listen to and enjoy the music. In the end good music is good music.
What producers are on your radar?
Definitely Julian Calor, he’s at this point really my favorite producer. He’s coming up with an album next year on Revealed. The way he produces his tracks sound-wise, is something refreshing. I think everybody is waiting for something like that.