Hardwell Interview (FNT Exclusive) + Lavo Recap

Posted by on July 21, 2012

Thursday I had the opportunity to sit down with Hardwell before his show and chat with him about his first show, touring as a teenager, his collabs with Tiesto and Porter Robinson, the importance of labels and much more. The superstar DJ / producer from Breda, Holland is now a 10 year veteran of the dance music scene even though he is just 24. He signed his first record deal at the age of 14 and started playing clubs in Holland around that time. You are all familiar with his recent singles “Spaceman (Original + Vocal)” and “Kontiki“, as well as his techy single “Three Tringles” on Toolroom Records and his huge upcoming single “How We Do” with Showtek. He premiered his remix of Example’s single “Say Nothing” that was incredible by the way (i somehow managed to not get a video of it, I apologize). He is a superstar playing main stage at all of the biggest festivals all over the world from Ultra to Tomorrowland next weekend to EDC and many more.

His set at Lavo was clinical — a lesson on how to be precise with your mixing, moving between songs like clockwork with a quality and varied track selection. He played crowd pleasers like Otto Knows – Million Voices, “In My Mind“, “Silhouettes” and “Nicktim”. He also played a variety of tracks from his own label like Dannic – Tombo and Jordy Daz – OMG, as well as many selections from his already remarkable discography. He played and bootlegged a few Hip Hop records like DMX – Party Up (Up In Here), which got a great crowd reaction and made sense if you read to the end of the interview. Anyway read the beginning of the interview below and the rest after the jump.

FNT: Lets go back to the beginning when you first started DJing. Think back to your first gig, what was like, who was there and how nervous were you?

Hardwell: My first gig was when I was 12 years old and yea I was so nervous the day before I couldn’t sleep because I was really preparing this stuff and all this music. I can still remember the date, it was fun. On the first side, I was really nervous and on the second side on I was playing for my best friends so that made really comfortable, actually it was a really funny gig.

FNT: You had to tour with your parents until you were 18 because you couldn’t enter the clubs; how strict were they with your schooling and your schedule.

Hardwell: School was the most important thing at that point and after that music because my parents really wanted me to finish high school, and I did. At that age I really had a tight schedule, I think you need it at that point.

FNT: When you started it was hard to promote yourself as artist without the help of a label, but now with Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc; do you think is as important or useful for a young, unknown artist to sign record deals right off the bat, especially since people don’t buy music anymore.

Hardwell: I think it is still important because big record labels are taking care of your whole artist brand, so to take it to the next level, it is not about Soundcloud or Youtube, of course you can grow your artist profile too through that, but social media is just to stay in touch with your fan base and your profile as an artist you still need a big label and the right people behind you to push your name to the next level to make your name a brand. So I think in the beginning of course Soundcloud and Youtube and Facebook are really important, but then again the big labels are still important too not only for selling music, but for the branding as well.


FNT: Mandatory question, I apologize. How is the collab with Tiesto coming along? The drop was not good enough the last time you guys were together and you guys just had a studio session. How did it go? Who gets the song on their label?

Hardwell: We are still working on the label. The follow up for “Zero 76“, it’s a totally different track, don’t expect any club records. It’s a full vocal track, so we wanted to do something more musicwise instead of another club track banging out by different DJs. I think the idea came from Tiesto. We had been in the studio for two days and it is finished now, so I am really happy.

FNT: Can you say who the vocalist is?

Hardwell: I can’t say anything about it yet haha.

FNT: What is going on with you and Porter?

Hardwell: Porter did a huge tour in Europe and I invited him to my studio and spent two days in the studio and had a lot of fun. Actually the collab is almost finished, we are just sending it back and forth now.

FNT: What does it take to have a track on Revealed Records, what does it take to get your attention to get something on Revealed?

Hardwell: It is easy. I listen to all of my demos with my label manager. If a track fits in a Hardwell set and I feel like playing it and it is not signed, it is welcome to Revealed. It is really easy, as long as my DJs can play it out, that’s it.

FNT: So you listen to all of the demos that come in?

Hardwell: Yea I know haha, sometimes it is hard, but I listen the demos myself.

FNT: How did your collab with Showtek come together?

Hardwell: Yea I have known the guys for a couple of years. They told me they were more into the house stuff and first it was like yea lets wait and see you know I don’t really want to do the collab, but then they sent me some tracks they were working on, more housey stuff, for example the “Hell Yeah” track they did with Tiesto and the new collab they did with Bassjackers. Yeah, I really like the stuff. It was more energetic than what I was doing at that point and I think our sounds really fit well together and the track came out pretty good.

FNT: In your remix of Bella – Nobody Loves Me, you include a little dubstep interlude. Was this a sign of the times or were you just experimenting with that or is it something you may do more of in the future?

Hardwell: Actually to be honest, I did a lot of dubstep tracks, never released them, never put them on the internet. As a producer, I always try to keep up with what is going on and when I heard Skrillex for the first time I was really surprised at what he did and tweaked all the sounds. I was trying to you know, not copy Skrillex, but for myself as a producer keep up on the same level, so that is what I did on the Bella thing as well.

FNT: Would you ever work with a big time pop star like a Usher or a Chris Brown or a Rihanna, because you have done remixes for Kelly Rowland, Taio Cruz, Rihanna, The Wanted, or is that out the question?

Hardwell: I like remixing big artists, to collaborate with, I don’t know, because you have to deal with the big labels and they try and make your track more sellout and make it radio friendly and my stuff isn’t really radio friendly. That is why I always refuse to do that. I don’t know, I will never say never at this point where I am right now I am not up for collaboration with big artists.

FNT: Have you been asked to do any?

Hardwell: Yea definitely

FNT: When you make a song, generally how much of it is done in the studio and how much is done on the road?

Hardwell: It depends on the records. For example “Cobra“, I did it on the road 100%, so yeah it depends on the track, where I am and where I get the inspiration. Sometimes I am sitting in the studio and I have four days off and there is nothing coming out. You can tell when you have the inspiration to make the new record.

FNT: Generally do you have a place where you start like the melody or the bass line?

Hardwell: It depends on the track. With “Cobra” I started with the beats, “Zero 76” we came with the idea of the drop, the whole dutch thing. “Spaceman”, the melody was in my head when I was on vacation, it was weird I was just there chilling at the swimming pool and was like “duh duh duh duhnu”. I don’t know where it came from it was head and I recorded it on my iphone a week later in the studio and did the whole track.

FNT: A couple quick questions. Who is the next superstar DJ from Breda?

Hardwell: From Breda? That’s Dannic.

FNT: What is your favorite remix that you have done?

Hardwell: One of my favorite remixes that I have done is definitely Tiesto’s “Love Comes Again” and Martin Solveig’s one “Ready To Go”.

FNT: How would you compare European crowds to US crowds?

Hardwell: I think the biggest difference is that with the US crowd, the whole house EDM scene is blowing up right now, so it is really more fresh to them and you can tell by every time you play here they really took all the DJs from Holland to another level. You can tell, when I started my first tour in the states I was nobody here. I had a small amount of followers on Twitter and Facebook, when the whole EDM scene blew up you saw immediately everything was growing. I think the states is responsible for making the DJs more like superstar artists, for example Avicii is a superstar now, Afrojack you know? It is different now. I know Afrojack because he walked up to me in a DJ booth “Hey can you please listen to my demo for your label” and look at him now. I am so proud of him that he is doing so well.

FNT: I was thinking also of the live crowds. I have been to shows in Europe and in the US and Europeans seemed to jump less.

Hardwell: It depends on the party. I think it is fair to say that the crowds in the States are more energetic definitely and are really up to hear from the DJ new music and they know his songs and they know exactly what is going on. They are more up to date than the European crowds, definitely.

FNT: The country with the hottest girls?

Hardwell: Wow, so I will say Sweden.

FNT: What is your go to drink order at the bar?

Hardwell: Jägermeister haha.

FNT: Who is your favorite football (soccer) player?

Hardwell: To be honest I am not really into soccer, but if I have to pick someone I will take Robin van Persie.

FNT: If you were the reincarnation of any musician, who would it be?

Hardwell: Michael Jackson.

FNT: Fun fact about Hardwell that people wouldn’t normally guess?

Hardwell: I started as a Hip Hop DJ. I was never into dance music for the last almost 8 years. I started out as a Hip Hop DJ.

FNT/Publicist: With the fitted hat and the big sneakers?

Hardwell: Exactly

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