Robbert van de Corput currently holds one of the most coveted honors in the dance music industry: the votes of the infamous DJ Mag Top 100 poll leading him to be considered by most as the number one DJ in the world under what we know him as, Hardwell. Heading up his label Revealed Recordings since 2010, having a documentary in the works, headlining Ultra Music Festival, and working on more and more music also make him one of the hardest working people in the industry. We caught up with him during one of the busiest weeks of the year during Winter Music Conference in Miami last week to chat about his outlook, what's changed and what hasn't since his taking the throne as Number 1, and were pleasantly reassured that the Dutch producer doesn't plan on stopping here.
EARMILK: Miami Music Week is always the craziest week of the year for artists like yourself. Are there any essentials that you always make sure to bring? Anything you do to prepare yourself to get here?
Hardwell: Definitely. Well of course, the first thing is getting all the new music ready to go, and then all of my music for Miami Music Week. It's exhausting, but the most important thing is having all the fun we end up having, and linking up with all of the other DJs here. It's great, it's been a long while since I've seen my other DJ friends, so it's really one of my favorite times of the year.
EARMILK: Obviously a lot has changed for you over the past year, what's different this time around?
Hardwell: Well, I'm closing Ultra Music Festival this year instead of just playing Ultra like I normally do, that's the biggest thing and a really important thing for me. We still have our label stuff, the Revealed party at Mansion is sold out so that's really exciting. Besides that, though, nothing has changed: I still get to hang with friends and have a great time.
EARMILK: Back to the music - how big as music in your life growing up? Did you have a musical family?
Hardwell: Not really, my parents were always playing music but not like, pop music. I've been playing piano since I was four years old, so I do have a good musical background.
EARMILK: Was your family supportive when you decided that this is what you wanted to do for a living?
Hardwell: Yeah, definitely even since the very beginning. I signed my first record when I was fourteen years old and started playing gigs in Holland, but I wasn't allowed to enter the club without my parents being with me. And my parents came with me to every show until I was eighteen.
EARMILK; Not a lot of people get to take their parents clubbing with them. So when you started producing at age fourteen, where did your inspiration come from?
Hardwell: Definitely Tiesto, he has always been a role model for me. Since we are from the same city in Holland, born and raised in Breda, he was always in the local and national news, even before he broke through. He was always an inspiration and a role model to me and still is today.
EARMILK: What about now? And outside of dance music, who do you listen to?
Hardwell: Oh outside of dance, I listen to a lot: Lana del Rey, I love the new album from Foster the People, I listen to all kinds of music. And I really think I need to continue to do that to continue making my own music as well.
EARMILK: When you get inspired to produce, how do you go about it?
Hardwell: Most of the time I just take my hand, open up the studio and start playing. I always start on the piano starting with some chords and fill in electronic sounds from there.
EARMILK: You're always collaborating with the best vocalists: Matthew Koma on "Dare You," Amba Shepherd on "Apollo." If you could work with anyone on a vocal track, what would it be?
Hardwell: I'm a huge fan of Adele so I would love to work with her. And I'm working on my artist album right now so I hope to realize that.
EARMILK: What else can you tell us about your upcoming artist album?
Hardwell: Well I'm still working on it, so I'm not sure who I'll be collaborating with just yet. There will be a new Hardwell Tiesto collaboration on there, though!
EARMILK: What else are you working on for 2014?
Hardwell: My full focus is on the album right now. I've got a couple of singles coming out during the year, and besides that the record label Revealed Recordings is doing really well, we signed a lot of new talent, so we're focusing on that a lot more as well.
EARMILK: Awesome. And as a listener, I know the sound of Revealed, but how would you describe it? What do you look for when signing new records?
Hardwell: It's a really euphoric, a really energetic sound. The whole genre has evolved so we like to stay as open minded as possible. I always like to say that as long as it fits into a Hardwell live set, it fits into Revealed.
EARMILK: So for any up and coming producers trying to get to that level to be on Revealed or just to make it in this business, what would you say to them?
Hardwell: Really just believe in yourself. Don't make the sound that's happening right now. I always love the quote "Don't believe the hype, always try to create the hype," instead of following it.
EARMILK: And how would you describe how your style has changed over time?
Hardwell: I think it's just evolved, not changed. I think every single genre is changing and I think rock music is changing as well. And it's all about evolving: it would be really boring for me to make the same music as I did three years ago. I'm always trying to push myself, evolve and get some new inspiration from different sounds, and I'm just really happy with the music that I'm making right now.