Award-winning DJ, producer, label manager, music lover and aged only 23…there’s a new kid on the block and he’s here to stay. Hardwell was a childhood music sensation in The Netherlands touring with Chuckie in his teens already with a No. 1 album under his belt.Step by step he has gradually become a leading figure around the music world. His talent is recognised by the dance music industry as a new, exciting and refreshing take on a scene that continues to evolve and with an apparent everlasting shelf life. Dan Prince checks in…
Welcome to the DMC World dude. Where in the world are you right now?
“At Zero 76, at home. Just came back from an Australian tour.”
A fabulous career that began with an excited 13 year old watching MTV one day and decided there and then to become a DJ, what’s the story there…?
“It all started off as a hobby and I had no special intensions. When I was younger, I always made remixes of well known records and put those on my website to download for free. At one point I heard some of my tracks on the radio. Apparently Radio 538 downloaded my tracks to play them on the radio. Soon after that I was approached by the label Digidance, who wanted to bring out my records on CD. That was the start of Bubbling Beats, I was 14 at that time. Everyone from Radio 538 was amazed, when they figured out I was so young! I am a lucky guy, but music has always been a part of me and that also helped me. After making remixes I started focussing myself more on producing, which turned out good for me.”
You once said that you “can’t remember one day when music wasn’t playing in the family home” – what sort of music was your parents into?
“They were basically into all kinds of music. From Abba to Elvis Presley, but they were also listening to artists like James Brown.” You were pretty young to sign a record deal over in Holland – were the press all over you?
“At the beginning when I signed my contract yeah, they were all over me because of my age, I was really young. After a while it all calmed down.”
At the age of 14 you were touring with Chuckie, had a mix compilation at No. 1 and had an ever expanding bank balance – what did your friends at school think of all this? Any jealousy from them?
“No, there was no jealousy at all. I only got good and most of all positive feedback. Everyone was very excited and supportive.”
Was there a moment when you thought to yourself, ‘yes, I can have a great career in music’…?
“I have always wanted to have a great career in music. There where a lot of moments in my career when I thought wow; when I heard my first track being played on the radio, signing my first contract, being #24 and the highest new entry in the DJ MAG Top 100.”
What is your current top 10 playlist?
01 – Hardwell – Spaceman 02 – Tiesto – Maximal Crazy 03 – Avicii – Levels 04 – Chuckie – Who’s Ready 2 Jump 05 – DJ Funkadelic – Doster 06 – Dyro – Daftastic 07 – Hardwell & JoeySuki – Munster 08 – Swedish House Mafia vs Knife Party – Antidote 09 – Coldplay – Paradise (Fedde Le Grand Remix) 10 – Tiesto & Hardwell – Zero 76
What is your favourite club in Holland right now?
“Club Noa, in Leeuwarden. Really good vibe and always full of people.”
Why do you think Holland is so successful at the moment musically? You lot are running away with it!
“I think it’s because in Holland we have the best clubs and festivals, so there are a lot of opportunities for the Dutch DJs to learn and practice. Also in Holland there is no feeling of competition, what makes it easy to develop.”
You have produced some incredible chart smashes – what do you think has been your best release to date?
“My beatport number one with Tiesto – Zero 76.” How long does it normally take to create 1 tune?
“4 hours up to one month. It depends on a lot of things, inspiration, free studio time, if it’s a collaboration or not.”
You have remixed the likes of Fedde, Armin, Tiesto and Laidback Luke amongst many others – did you initially find it difficult to touch someone’s else’s work?
“You have to respect the work of the owner of the track. But no it’s not hard to touch someone else’s work. I know how to give a song a bit of a Hardwell sound/feeling but with respect to the original track and artist.” Which one are you proudest of?
“My favorite is ‘Show Me Love’ – Robin S. It started of as a bootleg and ended up as an official remix.” What has been your summer anthem? And also, best summer open air party?
“Swedish House Maffia – ‘Save The World’ and EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) in Las Vegas without a doubt!”
What is the most fun you have had on a night out this year when you haven’t been working?
“I haven’t been clubbing yet this year, to be honest. But for sure I sometimes party a bit after my gigs. When I have some free time I want to be at home and just relax with friends or family.”
Who has been the person who has helped you the most in your career so far, a mentor so to speak?
“Tiesto definitely! I have learned so much from him and our stage performance and what we have been doing in the studio together.”
What do you think are the qualities as a producer that makes you different from so many other people out there?
“I’m proud of the way I master my tracks.”
Which DJ do you have the most fun with when DJing? Who is the biggest practical joker out there?
“Chuckie definitely, by far!”
Favourite festival story?
“That was a hilarious after party with Bart B More and his crew and friends at EDC in Las Vegas.”
What was the main reason you started your own label? Who are you excited to have signed?
“The most important reason to start my own label was because I didn’t want to have anything to do with a label manager who tells you to change this or that. It’s my sound and I don’t want anyone to change that. Nicky Romero, Funkadelic, JoeySuki, I’m proud off everyone I have signed!” What country do you love returning to and why?
“I would love to go back to Canada. The people there know what a good sound is, they are always nice and I just have a lot of good memories from Canada.”
Not many people know this, but Hardwell is really good at…
“Judo and Martial Arts.” Who are the next young breed of Dutch producers and DJs we should be looking out for…?
“DJ Funkadelic, without a doubt. He makes great tracks and is definitely a candidate for a worldwide breakthrough.” What is the biggest crowd you have ever played to?
“40.000 at Sensation White in Copenhagen.” Earlier this year you brought us Hardwell On Air on SLAM!FM! in Holland and Sirius XM in America – did you enjoy the experience, are we going to see more radio from you?
“I always wanted to make radio it is my hobby. So yes I want to continue making radio for sure, definitely when I can do this with my own label and sound.”
How do you chill out away from music?
“Going out for a drink, chill with my friends and family, watching a movie, things like that.”
So we come back to yours after a club, what 10 Back To Mine tunes do you play us (non house!) to chill…
01 – Bob Marley – Is This Love 02 – Michael Jackson – The Way You Make Me Feel 03 – Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks 04 – Usher – Bad Girl 05 – Adele – Chasing Pavements 06 – Snoop Dogg – Gin & Juice 07 – Collie Buddz – Come Around 08 – 50 Cent ft Nate Dogg – 21 Questions 09 – Fabolous – Can’t Let You Go 10 – Fish Go Deep – The Curse & The Cause
Who is your favourite DJ in the world?
“Real el Canario, technically there is no DJ better than him!” What is the best record you have ever played to a dancefloor?
“Mylo – Drop The Pressure. That one really impressed me.”
It may not be very good for my image, but Hardwell really likes… “Girls? Hahaha.”
What song can’t you get out of your head right now? “Avicii – ‘Levels’.” And finally, what have you got for us already confirmed for 2012… “Lot’s of touring and more great things Dan!”