If you're an avid listener of The Club you can agree it would be scarce any week to not find a Hardwell track. Hardwell, at just 23 years old, is producing music that makes small clubs seem like giant festivals and those mini computer speakers you're listening out of sound like Bose L1s. Last weekend I managed to catch Hardwell in his hotel lobby to ask about his latest work, how he spends his time, his past and what's to come in his future.
EARMILK: Hardwell, it's great to have you with Earmilk. You placed number 24 on DJ Mag's top 100 DJs, how has this affected you and your career?
Hardwell: I was really happy when they announced me 24th in the world but it didn't affect me too much, my production still sounds the same. Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing I have so many fans that are coming together to vote for me, so that's really what I'm most happy about.
EM: You went on tour with Tiesto just after releasing "Zero 76", what did you learn just from touring with him? Was that a really big step for you?
HW: It was definitely a huge step for me, because Tiesto isn't branding himself as a DJ but he's almost like a rockband or a rockstar. He's selling out to 40,000 people everyday traveling around the world with his own sound system and his own LED screen, it's unbelievable. It's like touring with a band as big as Coldplay! I've learned so much from him music-wise, show-wise, even management-wise. That tour was one of the best experiences of my life.
EM: So you have your own label, Revealed Recordings. What kind of work does this add to your plate? How do you choose who's on your label and is there a certain sound you look for?
HW: It's actually quite easy, the sound on Revealed Records is any sound that I would play in my own sets. The tracks that are released on the label are just a reflection of my DJ sets really. I like to think of Revealed Recordings as a platform for new producers that are coming up, for example I started with Nicky Romero who's blowing up really fast in the EDM scene right now. Some new guys are Dannic and Dyro who I'm hoping will become hugely popular this year.
EM: If you could work with anyone outside of EDM who would you collab with?
HW: I would love to do a collaboration with Adele because her voice is amazing. Even perhaps a studio day with Pharrell, Timberland or even Dr. Dre; something totally different that people wouldn't expect.
EM: You started your DJing career at just 13 and were signed at 14, was it tough dealing with that at such a young age or did it really motivate you and your career?
HW: It was definitely a big motivation, especially getting a record deal at just 14. I had always been into music since I was 6 so when I started DJing I really loved it because I could finally let people hear the music I wanted to share. So when I signed the record deal at just 14 it was like a dream coming true, I was able to release my tracks to a even bigger audience now. After that my name started to get recognized and my tracks started to get recognized and soon it became easier to get more gigs and that's really how it all started.
EM: So would you say you started producing more so before DJ'ing?
HW: Yea definitely, I was really into making music and I think I was 10 years old when I first discovered electronic music.
EM: Were you performing at clubs at this age or was that something you started when you became 19?
HW: No not at all, I started performing at clubs when I was just 14 in Holland. At the age of 17 I had played at every major club in Holland. I had to take my parents with me because I wasn't allowed to enter the clubs so my parents went on tour with me for 4 years. They supported me from day 1 which is not something you see very often.
EM: Do you ever produce while you're on the road?
HW: Definitely, I always make the basics and the ideas in the studio and then take that with me to work with on the road. I love being in the studio with a keyboard though rather than using just a Macbook [laughs]. Actually though, the "Levels" bootleg and "Cobra" were made on my Macbook and just finished off in the studio.
EM: You recently came out with a bootleg package that features several mashups, did you find it helped your sound? Where were you headed with that?
HW: I've always appreciated mashups because it's really the best of both worlds. Sometimes I'm a bit tired of hearing the same tunes so I like to change things up. For example I love the track "Levels" but you hear it everywhere, at every club on every radio station. At that point I definitely want to play "Levels" in my set because I know people will love it so I take the melody and make a completely different drop.
EM: So you just hit 100,000 followers on Twitter, how do you think social outlets have helped EDM grow?
HW: It definitely has done a lot! Everything is really about connecting socially now. It's a great way to connect with your fans and share your music. If you were to upload a preview or teaser on Facebook or Soundcloud in just a day you'll have like 100,000 views. Especially now with blogs that pick it up, it's really everyone helping each other out with fans and artists promoting tracks instead of the record label.
EM: What's your favourite song that you've made so far?
HW: I would have to say "Encoded", I don't know what it is about that track; I can't even describe it myself. Encoded has something special, it's been my intro to my DJ sets for about a year and a half now. Everytime I play it the atmosphere of the crowd becomes something special, I can't even describe it.
EM: What do you have coming up next for your fans?
HW: I'm not too too busy in the studio right now because I'm on tour but I'm working on finishing a track that's going to be the follow up of "Spaceman". I also have a new track coming with Tiesto that's going to be the follow up of "Zero 76" and some other collaborations that I can't say much about. I can say that I'm really excited about these collaborations because it's something people won't suspect.
EM: Any last minute messages to your fans?
HW: Keep making music if you're a producer, don't be afraid to put out your tracks because it's so inspiring making good music and I hope to see everyone soon around the globe!