I am hardwell
Robbert van de Corput is the 26 year old superstar DJ known to the world as Hardwell. Bit of useless trivia for you—Van de Corput translates from Latin/Dutch to Hardwell. The name change was the first of many a strategic decision taken in conjunction with his parent managers (in his early playing days they had to accompany him as he was too young to be allowed into clubs alone) in the bid for world domination, or at least as far towards world domination as the DJ can hope to achieve. In 2013 he became the youngest ever winner of the coveted DJ Magazine DJ of the year award. Hardwell hails from the fountain of Dutch DJs that has brought us such names as Corstein, Buuren and Tiesto, the latter from his home town. OK so that’s the press pack bio but I like to ask around for people’s opinions/questions/reactions prior to an interview. In Hardwell’s case you can split it into two. Though his well may runneth over in professional accolades and a huge fan base (approaching 6 million on facebook—that’s more than the population of Scotland for Cliff’s sake) his name still does not have the same level of recognition as some of his senior 1st generation A-listers. Of the half that did know of him he clearly carries a very high standing—a general consensus that he justified his world number 1 status. The exception to the yes/no division in awareness was amongst his countrymen. The Dutch all know him, young and old, whether into the whole edm world or not. In the Dutch community the professional respect has an additional layer of warmth of feeling that comes from a national pride, and also as I found out something of a maternal pride, that ‘our boy did good’. I asked him if he sensed that feeling.
H: Definitely I sense it. I appreciate it. Generally I think the Dutch people are very proud of what happened to Dance Music in Holland, especially when we have people like Tiesto, Armand Van Buuren, Ferry Corstein. Dutch DJs were dominating the scene along with the English guys back in the day and yes I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved as well. It’s great to hear you have a lot of Dutch people reading this.
Hardwell invites his PR manager to try some Bitterballen, one of a range of Dutch delicacies I have taken along in a picnic hamper lovingly prepared by San Antonio’s very much Dutch bar Tulp. I’m starting to pity whoever will be transcribing the interview as a rummage further into the hamper is greeted with happy cries of Herring (ok that one was easy) Frikandel Speciaal, and -you know what you’ll just have to take my word for it—a lot of Dutch food names that I cannot hope to pronounce let alone spell.
With impeccable manners I am asked to be sure and pass on my thanks to Tulp. It was when talking with Paul, Diana, and a table of Dutch clients at Tulp that the maternal side of their affection came out. To be frank many of those present were not people you would expect to be keeping up with the cutting edge of what’s hot in electronic dance music, but it turns out they all fell for him as a rather cute 15 year old when he appeared on a major Dutch television programme.
H: Ah yes, you mean, “de wereld draait door” (the world turns around). I had my first record when I was 14 and they asked me to appear on the programme. It is like a panel show with a studio audience and they feature anything that is new. They invited me on to talk about it, and asked me “what is your biggest dream?”. You know since Tiesto was my role model, and he became world DJ number 1 in 2001 just at the same time as the interview. I said “I want to become world number 1 DJ as well” and everybody, the audience and the guests on the panel, started laughing, they all thought it was really funny at the time, but now (he says this with a big smile on his face) it’s like fuck you all.
Well I guess enough of this nostalgia, we’d best get on with the here and now. The Ushuaia residency, do you prefer outdoor?
H: Yeah, I’m a real festival kind of guy, I definitely prefer outdoor events. On the ‘I am Hardwell’ world tour dates around 40% of them were outside. What can I say, when you are in Ibiza for the summer season you want to be partying outside, you don’t want to be in some dark smelly club, you want to be looking at the water, whether it’s the beach or a pool, that’s what Ibiza is about man. Besides Ushuaia is an amazing club technically—the sound system, the lighting, it’s perfect for me. When they asked me to do a residency here I was really honoured. I’m a big fan of the island. The people here are really educated musically, they know what I’m playing, what I’m about, I really like that about Ibiza.
Your set starts quite early at 9pm, does that effect your set? Are people ready to party?
H: For me the timing is perfect, but it is why I play for 3 hours you know. I want to start in the daytime and end in the night time, I think every DJ would love that idea. I don’t think a lot of DJs my age play 3 hour sets. The new generation want to play an hour, hour and a half, and bang out the hit records then they’re done. I want to take the opportunity to take it back to the way it used to be, to take people with me on a musical journey and give them the best time possible.
How is the studio album coming along—your first right?
H: Yes that’s right. It’s about 60% finished , I have like 10/11 sketches. I’m really happy with those sketches now (sorry but it would just seem wrong to correct a Dutchman’s English) . Maybe I’ll make 3 or 4 more then I’ll pick my favourite 10 or 11 for release. It will be after the summer. I’m producing while on the road so perhaps end of July or August.
And Revealed 4 (Hartwell’s mix compilation series), are you happy with it’s reception and sales? You have just returned from Vegas, how is it doing in the States?
H: I’m on Revealed 5 now (I hang head in shame—damn you Wikipedia!). The sales have been just great. The best selling mix album ever. It is number 5 now on iTunes worldwide on the album chart.
I don’t suppose 5 is good enough is it?
Hartwell’s Dad laughs. Hardwell himself seems to take the question somewhat more seriously.
H: It’s amazing, I’m competing with Ed Sheeran and Coldplay at this point so I couldn’t be happier. I have the biggest dance album on the chart, I’m above all the artist albums of all the other EDM guys.
Do you think you’ll have a chance to see Ibiza?
H: This week and next I’m flying in and out but then for the rest of the season I’ll be living on the island as a base. I’ve always flown in and out before. I’ve heard so many great stories about Ibiza so I can’t wait to actually be on the island.
OK well if you are spending some time here you might like this .. I give Hardwell a map I cobbled together with the patrons at Tulp of the island’s Dutch owned businesses. Though we would never consider recommending a Brit to all the Brit-bars in Ibiza as a cultural introduction to the island, the rather sparser Dutch community seems to justify the Ibiza-Oranje map.
H: Ah that’s great, (to his father) Look it says here there be Frikandel ha ha
Yes that’s Tulp
H: Well please be sure to thank them (again impeccable manners, I can’t believe he really knew that ‘Fuck‘ is considered a strong profanity)
What about Football, have you been watching? Do you fancy Holland’s chances?
H: Yes I watched the match yesterday. It wasn’t a great match but we won.
You know you’re talking to an Englishman right?
H: Ha ha, yes I’m sorry about that. I loved the match against Spain. Fantastic. I’m not a huge soccer fan, but when Holland are playing I love to watch. The vibe in Holland is great. I think we have a good chance.
Thank you for talking to us.
H: Thank you, and thank you for the food, everyone will freak out back stage.
Hardwell went off to do whatever it is superstars do before going on stage, probably drinking unicorn milk in between more have-to-be-done interviews. I had a meander through Ushuaia. The crowd consisted of a starkly contrasting mix of people, some carrying on with a party that obviously started many hours earlier on the beach, and then couples, especially girls, who were dressed to impress with implausibly perfect make up for the heat of the day and heels that may give them an advantage in a view over the crowd but would be as practical for dancing as filling your pockets with cement.
The atmosphere was much more that of a gig than a club with expectation rising as the sun dropped lower in the sky – but after that you’ll have to read the review of another writer. I could almost smell the ink of the Diario’s printing press as it fired up for the night—though to be fair it could have just as easily been poppers. Either way I had a paper to finish. Judging by the photo below I missed quite a show—and I think the photo perfectly represents exactly what you would expect of a Hardwell set—here is a DJ playing right at the top of their game.
Essential have a great review here
Hardwell is a young man who clearly takes his work very seriously. Nothing wrong with that. The world would surely be a better place with a few more Hardwells and a few less Feckless. He has huge drive and focus on becoming the best in every respect. His work output in production and live performance is prodigious. Again who can fault such drive and ambition. Whether ‘the best’ can be best achieved by striving to get to the number 1 position in various lists is a different question, a good philosophical one for the stoned and feckless perhaps.
I am Hardwell.
I hope that while living in Ibiza he gets some opportunity to wake up and say ‘I am Robbert’.
Hardwell is playing Ushuaia every Tuesday until August 26th. General tickets are priced 50/55€. The party starts at 5pm, Hardwell starts a 3 hour set at 9pm.
Links are live in the online edition.