Salt Lake We Go Hardwell

Posted August 30, 2013 in ,

I was offered the opportunity to talk with one of the world’s top DJs before his set at last weekend’s Das Energi festival in Salt Lake City. I sat down with him just moments after his touchdown in Salt Lake from a show he played a few hours earlier in Vegas, and he introduced himself to me with a chicken wing in one hand and a bucket of KFC on the couch (I feel you, Hardwell). We sat for over half an hour and discussed everything from his music, to his relationship with Tiesto, to what he thinks about the new Kanye album.

In the last few years, Hardwell has become one of the biggest names in dance music. He was named the Number 6 top DJ in the world by DJ Magazine and has headlined international music festivals such as EDC, Tomorrowland and Ultra Music Festival. This year, his Ultra Music Festival set was live streamed online with over 80,000 views worldwide. The set was so talked about on Twitter that it crashed the websites servers after he became a trending topic before he even took the stage. “Ultra is one of my favorite festivals to play at, and when I found out [that the servers had crashed] after I got off stage, it was so unreal to see how many people were so dedicated to the music. It’s great to see that EDM has achieved something so great in the States right now,” he says. Despite that accomplishment, he still appreciates smaller shows and clubs. “I think as a DJ you should prefer these kinds of shows and festivals because you can connect more with your fans. We’ve done clubs with 400 people on the Go Hardwell or Go Home tour just because we like to connect with diehard fans and rage in just a small room,” he says of his attitude towards playing smaller shows like Das Energi compared to festivals like Ultra.

Robbert van de Corput, aka Hardwell, grew up in the small town of Breda, Netherlands––the same town that gave us other Dutch house artists like Tiesto, Freddie Le Grand and Dannic. “We were both born in the same city, but had never met. I think almost 80 percent of the Dutch DJs are from Breda,” Hardwell says of his close friend Tiesto. “Almost five years ago, Tiesto emailed me and had me send him some of my songs, then a few weeks later people started telling me online that he was dropping my songs in his sets. After that he invited me to come play a show with him in Ibiza and we became really great friends,” he says. Music has been a part of Hardwell’s life since he was a child. “I was four years old when I started playing the piano and I think I was about ten when I watched a documentary on how Tiesto and Armin Van Buuren blew up outside of Holland and I realized that it was exactly what I wanted to do,” he says. “I started downloading programs from the Internet to make my own songs, and before I knew it I was 14 and had been signed to my first record deal,” Hardwell says. As far as what influences his production style, he mentioned that although he likes to find inspiration from every genre, he likes to challenge himself to channel his musical taste into the music he’s making at the time. “When I produce, I don’t focus on one particular style. I like to think outside of the box and gain inspiration from people like Kanye and Jay-Z or more rock stuff like 30 Seconds to Mars,” he said before we started a conversation about how much we liked Kanye’s new album, Yeezus.

For his new music, he has said in previous interviews that he’s interested in collaborating with unexpected artists that don’t regularly make electronic music. “I think it would be more refreshing. For example, when I make a track, I focus on the kick drum, where artists like Pharrell are focusing more on the vocals and the snare. It’s a totally different way of mixing. I’m actually now working with 30 Seconds to Mars on a remix for their new single,” he says.

When releasing their new album, Daft Punk made the comment that the dance music of today has no personality to it, and that it’s all made on a laptop to please a large crowd and make money. I asked Hardwell his opinion on this comment, because obviously, if my friends and I can have multiple arguments on this comment, he probably has something to say as well. “I don’t understand why they’re hating on the scene that they started in. They’re not really making dance music, and a lot of people think the disco elements are more refreshing, but in my opinion, it was more of an old school disco album,” he says of Daft Punk’s latest. “To be honest, I loved “Get Lucky,” and the album had a couple of good songs, but I miss their old stuff. They should appreciate what EDM is right now, and they can hate on it, but without it, the album wouldn’t be as big. I get that they’re saying they opened a lot of doors for people, but without artists like Avicii and Afrojack, and people that are making EDM popular now, “Get Lucky” wouldn’t have been on the radio.”

On being named the Number 6 DJ in the world, Hardwell remains very levelheaded. “I really appreciate that all of my fans are so dedicated, and I think it’s fair to say I’m one of the guys with some of the most dedicated fans. As a kid, it was only a dream to even be in that list. All of my idols are on that list and I’m still so young, so to be Number 6 is so incredible. I think everybody deserves a really good place on that list and we’re all working really hard and making good music, so we’ll see how I do this year,” he says.

After months of waiting and hearing from my friends who have seen him live about how mind-blowing and insane his shows are, Hardwell finally took the stage at Das Energi on Aug. 17. Opening his set with “Spaceman,” probably my favorite song of his, took an already insane crowd to a whole new level and was only complemented by the epic light show V2 had set up to go along with it. Like Dannic, Hardwell dropped some of the hottest dance songs of 2013 and added his own flair. There is something that sets house shows apart from other EDM shows, as far as the energy that comes out of the crowd. It’s nearly impossible to go to a house show and not feel an overwhelming aura of happiness from everyone around you that comes from the uptempo beats being shoved in your face. In raver terms, house shows are very “PLUR.” Additionally, Hardwell is the perfect example of an artist that puts 100 percent into every show, which is something that sets a good artist apart from a great artist. When you can feel that an artist is truly thankful for their fanbase, it makes you feel über appreciated as a spectator.

My favorite song in his set was “Apollo,” the upbeat hit song of his with a killer drop and female vocals that match perfectly. Hardwell did not disappoint once in the nearly two hours that he played, and after talking to multiple people about his show, it sounds like everyone felt the same.

The final act for the Temple of Boom stage was W&W, a Dutch house duo signed to Revealed Recordings (Hardwell’s label) as well. Although the night was slowing down and the crowd was starting to leave, the party was still going strong and the two DJs absolutely killed their set until 3 a.m. The two dropped more hit songs from various artists and expanded their music choice into different genres such as the popular dubstep song “Decisions” by Borgore, who had just finished his set inside. Meanwhile, Patrick Reza was doing an awesome job in the indoor part of the venue. The best song in his set was his remix of Lana Del Rey’s song “Summertime Sadness.” Overall, this year’s Das Energi Festival was one of the best V2 events I’ve attended to date, and I look forward to their next festival, Get Freaky 2013 on October 12 of this year.