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Hardwell: From Vegas To Ibiza

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Some DJs need no introduction. Hardwell is such a DJ. Enjoying a meteoric rise through the industry the uber talented Dutchman returns to Ibiza this summer as he takes over from Luciano at Ushuaia for his new I AM HARDWELL residency. Having only made his debut on the White Isle back in 2010 its a bold undertaking for the 26 year old but another challenge the EDM superstar looks set to take in his stride.  With plans of world domination this summer we caught up with the affable Hardwell to talk Ibiza, Vegas and fakery

So we are sat here at Ushuaia for the opening of I Am Hardwell, your first residency in Ibiza. What have you done to prepare for it and how much are you involved with the organisation of line ups? 

I haven’t prepared anything just because I want to go with the flow. I’m going to play for three hours and I think that’s kind of Ibiza. All the DJ’s that play here just want to take the people on a journey and that’s what I’m going to do tonight. I think that’s the best night you know, when you just read the crowd and take them wherever you want musical-wise.

With the line-ups, I’m totally involved. Most of the guys playing before me are really good friends of mine, and all the guys I look up to music-wise. I’ve programmed the night to be deeper than you’d probably expect from an I AM HARDWELL show. This is because most of the guys who play before me are more tech-house and deep house minded, but I think that fits Ibiza way better.

Cool, so is your whole summer going to be slightly deeper, techier sound or are you going to mix it up throughout the season?

We’re going to mix it up a little bit. But we are never going to book guys that play the same style as me because I think people will get bored. Especially when I’ve played three hours. Normally when I play in a festival for like an hour, it’s normal to book like all the big headliners after each other, but when you have a line-up like this and me headlining for three hours, I think it’s perfect to have deeper guys in front of me. But we definitely switch it up today, Franky Rizardo is one of my best friends, he is signed to Defected. That will ring a bell for a lot of people so that’s deeper. But on the other hand, we have Fedde Le Grand as well, so yeah it’s somewhere in between them.

We noticed with other events here at Ushuaia for example Ants they have a big production structure for the stage, do you have anything like this planned for the shows? 

Definitely. Well, we have a whole custom built stage. We have an incredible lighting system here. Well, we have a really big circle in the middle of the stage. We have our whole team is here, like the normal I AM HARDWELL team that is doing the concerts worldwide so we have all custom visuals for three hours built on this stage and we have, well obviously a lot of fireworks and pyro, CO2, you know how it goes nowadays on the festivals!

When you are here in Ibiza do you get to see the island much, do you have any favourite locations in the time you have been here, or you do find yourself in the straight in/out mood for Ibiza?

To be honest, so far, every experience I have had in Ibiza was strictly business. I came here, I played my gig and left the island, but this summer I actually have some time to be on the island. I’m going to do all my gigs from here, from Ibiza, so I can live for two months around Ibiza. So yeah, I hope to get to know the island better because I’ve heard all the amazing stories about the island and I can’t actually wait to experience it myself.

Is there anything that stands out that you want to do?

Well, if I have the time I want to just chill on the beach. I’m really a food kind of guy so I want to check out all the amazing restaurants around the island.

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So you recently played EDC Las Vegas, how was it?

Amazing. Well it’s the biggest main stage in the world, you know. You play in front of like, maybe 80,000 people on one stage and it’s incredible. It was a really great experience, you know. It’s a great festival and I’m glad I could be apart of it this year. 

What were your thoughts on the experience and how are you feeling about not playing the UK leg of EDC? Where can we catch you in the UK this summer?

The UK EDC event was cancelled just this Sunday. So I’m not playing at EDC this year. I was scheduled for the Sunday and they cancelled the Sunday. They dropped all the Sunday artists. So yeah, my thoughts about it are that I’m disappointed. I was really looking forward to coming EDC in England again. Last year it was great when I was there, but I’m still playing Creamfields. We have our own Revealed tent and we have all the Revealed guys playing.

Ahead of the American leg of your I Am Hardwell tour, you went undercover around the streets of New York asking the public about their thoughts on EDM. Were you surprised by the public’s responses? Does that happen a lot are you that you are still unrecognised and able to move about and keep your privacy more freely?

The thing is we never aimed with Hardwell to become the Justin Bieber of EDM, and with that I mean I’m never performing in my own videos. The only thing you see is me performing being Hardwell, and except for that, you never see my face. So yeah, I can understand a lot of people don’t recognise me, and then again I’m happy with that because it’s all about the music. I think the music should speak for itself instead of a guy or a certain face. The same thing happened with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, if you saw that video. Ryan Lewis went on the streets, not even undercover, just Ryan Lewis went on the streets and asked everybody “How do you like Macklemore?” and everybody would respond like “Yeah I love Macklemore, I love Macklemore.” “What do you think of Ryan Lewis?” and everybody would respond to “Who is Ryan Lewis?” 

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That’s pretty funny. Tell us more about the shows, we read they are going to be longer DJ gigs, taking in all your material? Is there any thought to moving to a more live show set-up once the album is launched?

Yeah maybe, I don’t know yet. I am still working on the album, so I don’t know which direction I’m actually, well I’m aiming for a certain direction but there’s no certain sound on the album. So far it’s really diverse in every single way. There are more commercial songs, there are like way more underground songs that you would expect from Hardwell. I just like to make music as a producer and I want to listen to my album, if I listen to my album, I want to be proud of making the album. So I don’t want stick to one certain sound. When I finish the album I’d like to definitely do an album tour.

We want to take you back now, We noticed that you were classically trained at 4 on the piano, which we guess was brought on through your parents, do they have a musical background? There is a quite a step from Classic Piano to the EDM sound you are producing today, where they happy when you went that route or did they try to sway you in another direction? 

Well, I’ve always listened to music and I’ve been trained in classical piano. I was listening to all kinds of music and when I discovered dance music I was just fascinated by the way they produced the songs with the synthesiser and all the electronic sounds. Yeah, [my parents] were really happy I took that direction. They saw my passion and I think they saw it in my eyes you know, I really had the passion to perform Electronic Dance Music. Yeah, my parents always supported me throughout my whole career and I’m really grateful for that.

The concept of ‘ghost producers’ isn’t a new one, but it’s one that has recently been under the spotlight again. We noticed from previous interviews that you have Ghost produced for some people, what are your feelings on the seemingly negative press it’s got?

I’m not a fan of ghost producing, but I think it’s fair if people use ghost producers because it’s a different job – producing music and being a DJ are totally different jobs. Some people are really good DJs but can’t produce the music. What I hate about ghost producing is DJs who pretend to be making their own music but use a ghost producer, that’s what I hate. I think that if you don’t make your own music, you should just say it. Don’t be afraid of saying it. I think after a while, people will figure it out that you’re using a ghost producer and then people will be angry at you for faking it. Never fake it, just be true to yourself. Look in the mirror and look at who you really are, I think that’s way more important than faking it. 

You can catch Hardwell in Ibiza every Tuesday at Ushuaïa as part of his summer residency at the club for 2014. More information and tickets can be found at www.ushuaiaibiza.com

Words: Matty Adams and Isabelle Salter

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