Ahead of Ultra Europe in Croatia, we caught up with one of the biggest names in EDM music Hardwell to talk about new music, festivals, fashion and what he’s got planned for summer.
How did you first get into EDM music?
There was an MTV documentary about the Dutch dance music scene showing guys like Tiësto, Armin van Buuren and Ferry Corsten. It was really inspirational for me as a young kid and it set me on my path to becoming a DJ and very shortly afterwards a producer.
When was the pinnacle moment you knew you could make a career as a DJ?
I felt it very early on. I went from my first ever ‘gig’, playing my friends birthday party at age 13, to djing in clubs pretty quickly afterwards. I was playing alongside guys like Chuckie etc very early on in my dj career and I just felt it would happen. I was so determined that nothing was going to stop me. Thankfully my parents supported me the whole way.
Name the three main artists you had on your playlist growing up?
Well before electronic music I was really into hip hop so guys like Dr Dre, Eminem, DMX were favourites of mine.
Do you have any new music out at the moment you can tell us about?
Yeah, I released a single called ‘Anthem’ with Steve Aoki last month. I also dropped my ‘Earthquake’ collaboration with Harrison which has been a massive record in my sets these last few weeks!
What has been your career highlight to date?
I’ve been blessed to have so many highlights in my career so far. Closing my I Am Hardwell world tour at Madison Square Garden to a sold out crowd, being the first dj to perform a solo show at the Hockenheim circuit for my second world tour I Am Hardwell – United We Are. Working with amazing artists from Jason Derulo to Craig David, seeing my first artist album ‘United We Are’ hit the global #2 place on the album charts and then launching my United We Are Foundation, which last year raised enough funds to school 100,000 children from the slums of Mumbai. This was part of the World’s Biggest Guestlist Festival where 100,000 joined me on my personal guestlist for a special party in Mumbai! A very special moment for me and the Foundation.
If you could collaborate with someone past or present, who would it be?
Pharrell is one of my musical inspirations and someone I’ve always wanted to collaborate with.
Who’s you favourite DJ to go B2B with?
We’ve only done it once, but I went B2B with Armin van Buuren last year at AMF in Amsterdam which was a lot of fun. We did a special II=I (Two Is One). It was very unique and something I really enjoyed.
Festival season is here, what’s your favourite thing about playing festivals?
The sun, the vibes, the good spirits and the happy faces! I like the diversity on offer at festivals. It’s a great place to go and check out new acts and discover new music/artists.
Which has been your favourite festival moment?
Playing to 75,000 crazy fans in Mumbai for the first ever ‘World’s Biggest Guestlist’ Festival for our United We Are Foundation back in December 2015 was something very special for me! It was a huge event and was myself opening up my guestlist to fans to join me in the hope of raising money for kids from the slums of Mumbai. We managed to raise enough money put over 18,000 children into education. The love and support that day for this cause was one of the most moving things I’ve ever been a part of.
What separates UK festivals to those around the world?
You guys have an energy which starts the minute the doors open and last way behind the doors closing. It’s a country, come rain or shine, that is always up for partying and I love that!
What’s your festival outfit?
Trainers, shorts, black t’shirt and a good pair of sunglasses! Don’t forget the sun cream too!
How do you spend your down time away from music?
Mostly just relaxing with family and friends either watching films, going out for meals or just relaxing. I’m on the road most of the year so its nice just to enjoy the quiet times.
If you weren’t a DJ, what would you be…
I can’t really think of anything else I’d rather but doing. My some design work but I always wanted to be working in music.
Favourite place to vacation?
Ibiza. It has everything you could ever want as a music fan.
Drink of choice on a night out?
Some kind of Vodka mixer or beer.
Favourite film or TV series?
I’ve been so locked into music lately that I’ve not really had a chance to catch up on films or a TV series. Ask me again once the festival season is over!
Describe your fashion/style?
Cool but subtle. I like to keep it stylish but not too outlandish. It’s easier to travel from city to city.
Who would you consider a style influencer for you?
I don’t really have a style influencer. I don’t to follow my own ideas with style and fashion. Maybe the Boohoo team have some suggestions on who I should follow?
Finally, words of wisdom for those wanting to make it in music…
Just go for it! Believe in what you’re doing and understand where you are heading. It takes time so don’t rush it.
Check out Hardwell’s new track with Steve Aoiki below: