Interview with Award-winning DJ, producer, label manager Hardwell. This talented genius, better known as Robbert van de Corput, started his DJ career at the tender age of 13. After this blow-out, Hardwell’s talent was picked up by a Dutch label, and they signed him when he was only 14 years old. Shortly after his label signing, he started to play at all mayor clubs in the Netherlands. For the last couple of years, Hardwell has been recognised by the industry as having a new and refreshing take on a scene that continues to evolve, and seems to have an everlasting shelf life. His identity and musical development can be summed up in a single phrase, “Big Room House”. He has created his unique trademark as a DJ and producer around this sound.
His growing reputation and success was picked up by party-minded people, they voted for him for the DJMAG Top 100 this year, and he got a well deserved No.24 spot in the Top 100 list, his first entry into their charts. They pinpointed him as one of the leaders of a new generation of DJ’s, and unequivocally one to watch in the future. The growing momentum of his ‘fresh and open-minded’ label, Revealed Recordings, certainly proves their point, and fans can expect loads of exciting new releases very soon.
Hardwell’s international breakthrough came with his ‘Show Me Love vs. Be’ bootleg of Steve Angello and Laidback Luke’s track and Robin S’ classic. That bootleg became one of the biggest and most played dance hits of 2009.
In 2010 Hardwell went on to release several noteworthy tracks such as ‘Alright 2010 ft Red Carpet’ and ‘Feel so High ft I-Fan’, licensed to 10 countries. Tracks like ‘Molotov’, ‘Voyage’ and ‘Move It To The Drum’, a co-production with Chuckie, have had great support from the biggest names in the scene.
After launching his label ‘Revealed Recordings’ in 2010, Hardwell also started with the release of the brand new Revealed compilation series. ‘Hardwell presents Revealed’ gives you a clear vision about the sound Hardwell and the label represent. After two successful editions he will soon bring you volume three of the Revealed compilation series. On top of this killer list, Hardwell’s Eclectic Beatz compilations are some of the best selling mix albums of the last few years, with 10 editions released in total. This summer he was also chosen to mix the 2011 Amnesia Ibiza compilation.
Hardwell has already showcased his remix skills for top DJ’s such as Fedde Le Grand, Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Bob Sinclar, Chris Lake, Funkerman, Laidback Luke, Sharam (Deep Dish), Steve Angello, Booty Luv, Flo Rida ft. Akon, Martin Solveig, Dada Life, Alex Gaudino ft. Kelly Rowland, Gareth Emery and Hi_Tack.
2011 remixes include huge smashes like Taio Cruz, Hangover (Hardwell Remix), Tiesto ft. BT, Love Comes Again (Hardwell 2011 Rework), Martin Solveig ft. Kele, Ready 2 Go (Hardwell Remix) and DJ Fresh ft. Sian Evans, Louder (Hardwell Remix). But that’s not all! Hardwell’s bootleg of Avicii Levels had 100,000 plays on Soundcloud in only four days. His position as a true crossover artist is crystal clear – he’s in demand by some of the world’s biggest artists to give their tunes that big room house vibe.
This year Hardwell has continued to produce top records such as ‘Encoded’, a track with a teaser that was viewed over 700,000 times on YouTube, reached the Beatport Top 10, and gained major support from the biggest DJ’s worldwide. And did we mention his collaboration with Tiesto on hit record ‘Zero 76’ in February 2011? This banger went to No.1 on Beatport, and received a huge amount of airplay worldwide.
That success was compounded by the release of his track ‘Cobra’. This tune went to No.1 in the dance charts in Holland, and stayed for a month and a half in the Beatport Progressive House Top 10, after being released in over 20 countries worldwide. The teaser of this track had 100,000 views on YouTube in one week. He also collaborated with Nicky Romero on a tune called Beta, another huge hit that achieved international success. Watch out for new track ‘Spaceman’ landing now, as it’s bound to make you pay attention!
In March 2011 Hardwell launched his very own radio show, Hardwell On Air, giving everyone who hears it an extra boost for the weekend. The show is broadcasted on Holland’s top dance station, SLAM!FM, on Sirius XM in the US, on Radio FG France and Belgium, and right here on 1Mix Radio, with more stations to be announced soon. Next to Hardwell’s latest floorfillers, the show also provides a platform for new DJ talent, and shows Hardwell’s status as a true tastemaker in the music industry.
Behind the decks Hardwell never fails to deliver. His exceptional technical skills, variety of music, distinguished looks, and that added personal touch make him stand out. These days he’s bringing it to the masses, with performances all over the world from Sydney to Miami, and Ibiza to London. Hardwell recently toured with Tiesto through North America and made his debut at one of the worlds biggest dance events, ‘Sensation’ in Prague, Czech and Denmark, and he did a full tour in the USA and played at EDC/Electric Zoo. His own event, ‘Hardwell Presents Revealed’ is well on its way to setting clubs worldwide on fire, and upcoming gigs include an Extended USA Tour and headlining Energy 2012 “The Network”, one of the biggest indoor events in Europe and of course Revealed night at Set Miami
It’s important to add that Hardwell has a nomination at the IDMA Awards for the category ‘Best Breakthrough DJ’. Voting closes March 1st 2012 and winners will be announced during the WMC in Miami. To add Hardwell will perform Saturday 27th of July at the main stage of the globally known event ‘Tomorrowland’ in Belgium. Check www.tomorrowland.be for additional info.
Definitely, he is one of the most talked about faces on what we term the ‘Big Room House sound’ so we requested an interview from him, and despite his busy schedule, we managed to get it back and answered for you.
A spaceman landed… check his answers….
Dimitri: It would be great to start by asking who are the five most important DJ’s and producers that you feel that have influenced more your DJ’ing techniques, and your productions and your music style in general.
Hardwell: The DJ’s with the most influence are:
2. Swedish House Mafia
5. Laidback Luke
Dimitri: You managed to become the highest Dutch new entry at number 24 in the prestigious and highly influential ‘DJ Mag Top 100 DJ’s’ list. Can you think of the reasons that helped you to achieve this great success? For instance, did you run a heavy media campaign, and did you manage to mobilise your fans to go and vote for you?
Hardwell: I have put a lot of effort in my own productions and remixes. People began to notice my own style and unique sound, and with a lot of gigs around the globe last year, I think that is the reason for my entry in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJ’s
Dimitri: You established your own record label ‘Revealed’ along with Cloud9 music in Holland. Why did you take the decision to set up your own label, and is there a special motto about the kind of the tracks that you would like to release on it? Is it hard to find tracks that are worth releasing on your label?
Hardwell: The main reason for me to start Revealed Recordings is to have a place to release my own music on. I now have a home base for all my productions.
The released tracks on Revealed Recordings are selected by me and not difficult to find at all. Every day I get loads of demos, and often there are tracks that I like and use in my sets, so why not release them on Revealed Recordings?
Dimitri: Encoded, The World, has literally smashed the sound systems of many clubs worldwide and your track ‘Cobra’ is the main theme of the massive event Energy, The Network. To add your latest anthem ‘Spaceman’ rocks. How did you feel when ID&T choose your track to be this years anthem, and if you can give us some information about the stage that you will be the ambassador for, and the line up you have chosen for the worldwide visitors of this event?
Hardwell: It is amazing that ID&T picked ‘Cobra’ as the new official anthem for Energy, The network. To have Cobra as official anthem for such a huge event in my own Country is an honour.
Dimitri: You co-produced the track ‘Zero 76’ with the legend DJ Tiesto, dedicated to your hometown Breda. Can you tell us how this collaboration came about, and if there will be a chance to see you working with DJ Tiesto again for more tracks, or with other EDM legends?
Hardwell: Tiesto and I are both from Breda (which has the area code 076) and met each other a few times. We started a collaboration together, and ended up with Zero 76!
I can tell there are more collaborations coming in the future with Tiesto and other artists.
Dimitri: You have managed as a result of your hard work, to establish your own distinctive and characteristic ‘Hardwell’ sound. Many artists and labels are asking you to remix their releases in order to inject a bit of Hardwell! Can you tell us how do you define your sound, and can you reveal the remixes that you enjoyed producing for other artists the most?
Hardwell: My sound is shaped within the years to the sound it is nowadays, and became a typical Hardwell sound. My identity and musical development can be summed up in a single phrase, “Big Room House”.
The remix I enjoyed the most producing is the track ‘Ready to Go’ by Martin Solveig
Dimitri: One of my favourite questions to all the DJ’s is that one about self-reflection and self-criticism. Out of 10 with what score do you rate the various elements of your DJ performances and why?
Hardwell: a) your mixing skills: 8
b) your ability to choose the right track for the right occasion: 8
c) your friendly attitude towards the fans that come to shake your hand when you perform and after that? 9
Dimitri: Your started recently your own radio show ‘Hardwell On Air’. Can you please tell us why you took the decision to start your own show, and if radio shows are very important for the promotion of your career?
Hardwell: My own radio show is something I wanted for a long time. It is something different than producing or performing at gigs, so I am really happy to have Hardwell On Air.
Dimitri: In which places have you performed so far where you met the maddest and most happy crowd.
Hardwell: Definitely Privilege in Ibiza
Dimitri: Do you actively use the internet and the social networks like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube? Do you feel for example, that music videos are important to promote your music through YouTube, considering that a video of your track had more than 700,000 views?
Hardwell: Of course I use the social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Social Media is nowadays the best way to reach all of your fans in a blink of a second, and try to keep everything updated as fast as possible.
Dimitri: 2011 was a fantastic year for EDM. Would you like to choose for our readers, the best track, the best remix, the best producer, the best remixer and the best record label of 2011?
Hardwell: Best track: Benny Benassi – Cinema (Skrillex remix) Best Producer: Dyro Best Remixer: Skrillex Record label: Revealed Recordings
Dimitri: Please give us a message to our readers and a small piece of advice to the young producers who may try to get a release and follow your successful path.
Hardwell: I wish everyone the best for 2012 and loads of fun. My advice for young producers is to be original, that is the most important thing for a producer. You need to surprise the crowd with your own unique sound.
Many thanks to Hardwell for finding the time to reply to this interview
Many thanks to Mattijs van Welzenis from Cloud9 music for helping me organize this interview.
Many thanks to Marije de Konink at Armada/Cloud9 offices for her support in preparing this interview
Interview was written and conducted by Dimitri Kechagias, music journalist and 1mix radio resident DJ!