Exclusive interview with the No. 1 Hardstyle producer in the world
Willem welcome to DMCWORLD Magazine. October was an insane month for you sir, rising to a staggering 11th place in the DJ Mag 100 and throwing the biggest event during ADE week with the Q-Dance presents Headhunterz – Hard With Style party. Tell us about ADE – what were the highlights of your party?
“For me personally definitely the 2 hour set I played. I was already walking around with butterflies for a couple of days so for me that moment unfolded as a big climax and of course a big relief afterwards because everything went beyond expectation.”
What was the big record of ADE for you?
“My new track ‘The Power Of Music’ which was the single track that was the most anticipated on the party because everyone knew it from the trailer.”
OK the huge DJ Mag 100 position – where were you when you found out the amazing news?
You have just brought the world your brand new ‘Headhunterz – Hard With Style’ compilation, a magnificent blend of 75 minutes of nothing but new tracks and unique material. Was making this another case of locking the studio door until it was complete, how long did this master class take?
“Actually this didn’t take much time in terms of mixing it but of course it is a fine selection of tracks which I knew were made with passion and dedication and if you put all the hours in there that were put in producing those tracks than it’d be months of hard work. The compilation is a celebration of the success of Hard With Style and the sold out Ziggo Dome event.”
What are the tracks on the album you are especially excited about?
“Well again my track The Power Of Music which is for me personally one of the best tracks I ever did. Furthermore I’m very excited about Code Black’s new track Brighter Day, Frontliner is also doing a great job on his new tracks but what can I say, each track is there for the simple reason that I love it.”
Your legendary Hard With Style podcast is treasured by your fans around the world, why was the idea of the podcast important to you?
“I didn’t think about that too much when I started, I just made a pilot to see what would happen and people happened to love it. It gave me so much positive energy and it also gave me an extra way to express my enthusiasm about music and hardstyle in particular. And then all kinds of reasons started to pop up which confirmed that this was a great idea. Right now I’m also really happy to be able to open new doors for upcoming talents and have their music heard by a bigger audience. I’m very thankful that I got this opportunity 6 years ago and more than happy to do the same for young talents. I have decided that at this point in my career I want to use Headhunterz and the capability to reach so many people in the most positive way I can. So that means motivating people, inspiring the listener, means something for someone. Besides the fun of making music, these are the reasons I’m still doing this.”
You were 14 years ago when DJ Jean brought the world ‘The Launch’ – Jan Engelaar is from your home town Veenendaal in the Netherlands. Did the song make any impression of you back then – as I recall you were into gabber in a big way from an early age…
“Well yes this was already after the period where I was a little gabber haha. I listened to hardcore when I was about 12 haha. Yes in this period I became further interested in electronic dance music and this was the period of mainly club trance. I loved it!”
Before that you were in a children’s choir and also started a productive career as a voice over actor providing the voice for the likes of the Harry Potter films. What did your parents think of you saving up and spending that money on your first pair of turntables?
“My parents have, lucky as I am, always trusted in my willpower. Maybe they got worried sometimes but they have never tried to move me in a different direction and always supported me. That’s probably one of the reasons why I am here sitting down doing this interview today.”
Who were your early DJ heroes?
“I was listening to hardstyle since 2002, in 2003 I started paying more attention to it and at that time Technoboy was my favourite.”
How old were you when you first hit a really good club?
“Actually I immediately got spoiled because the first real party I visited was Qlimax 2003 in the Gelredome. I mean, what club could compete with that? Haha. I have been in great clubs though. In Korea they have a sick club called Octagon, love it there.”
You once said that you love buying studio gear like a woman likes buying shoes. What is your most cherished piece of equipment you own – what is your Jimmy Choo?
“Well for hardstyle the Access Virus is one of my most important machines. But furthermore I really like my pair of Distressors and the Crane Song HEDD.”
You have had another very special summer on the festival circuit – what has been numero uno for you this year and why?
“Q-Base. Sometimes everything just falls into place.”
Who are the producers from around the world you are giving high fives to at the moment?
“Nicky Romero is a good friend of mine and we keep close track of each other. It’s amazing to see him going skyrocket and I’m really happy for him.”
You love a good collaboration – who would be the dream artist out there to hook up with in the studio?
“Deadmau5 but that’s probably never gonna happen. I don’t know just someone who’s as passionate about music as I am.”
Away from electronic music, who are the artists you listen to at home to chill out to or simply get away from the hard style?
“It varies a lot. I must say I spend a lot of time in silence but when I listen to music, mostly in the car, it’s some deep house, techno, hiphop, classical, I mean what not. Everything that comes from within will do.”
It may not be good for my image, but I absolutely love…
“Love itself. Some of the kids on the internet are in a period of their lives where they say “gay” at everything that comes to close to that, but really most of us have had that phase. If loving the music, why not just love the listeners with it.”
What is coming next from the Headhunterz studio release wise…
“I have just finished a new track which I’ve played a couple of times but I didn’t come up with a title yet. Have to think some more on that one.”
And finally, you are one of the hardest working producers in the dance world. What dream do you still have to fulfill?
“None actually. I’m not really working towards anything. I’m embracing everything that comes towards me and try to live it fully. That’s what I always kind of did. Predicting what’s going to happen is kind of silly, I prefer to just go with the flow.”