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Behind the Beats and Benevolence: DJ Hardwell Opens Up About Music, Life Balance, & Philanthropy

Hardwell is a renowned DJ, producer, remixer, label boss, filmmaker, and philanthropist hailing from Breda, Netherlands. His illustrious career in electronic music began at a young age, gaining popularity in the Dutch dance scene before achieving global recognition. At 25, he was crowned World’s #1 DJ in 2013 and played a significant role in shaping the EDM explosion.

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Throughout his journey, Hardwell released numerous chart-topping singles and collaborated with notable artists like Rihanna, Calvin Harris, U2, and many others. He is known for his electrifying performances on major stages worldwide, headlining festivals like Lollapalooza, Coachella, Tomorrowland, and Ultra Music Festival. Hardwell’s influence in the music scene extends to club residencies and pioneering live streaming events.

Beyond his artistic endeavors, Hardwell is committed to philanthropy. Through his United We Are Foundation, he organized aid concerts to support underprivileged children in Mumbai, making a positive impact on thousands of lives. In 2018, he took a sabbatical from touring but continued to produce music and focus on expanding his label, Revealed Recordings.

However, in 2022, Hardwell made a triumphant return with the release of his artist album, “REBELS NEVER DIE,” and embarked on a world tour to the delight of his global fanbase. His unique sound combines elements of hard trance, big room, and techno, showcasing his versatility as an artist. Hardwell’s continuous dedication to pushing boundaries and creating exceptional music sets him apart as a true icon in the electronic music world.

In an exclusive interview with Pooja Kashyap of GrooveNexus, DJ Hardwell talks about his experience as a DJ, record producer and record label, Revealed Recordings.

Pooja Kashyap: You’ve achieved extraordinary success as a DJ and music producer, earning the title of World’s No. 1 DJ twice. How do you balance business and private life?

Hardwell: These days, I am focused on maintaining a healthy balance between my music and personal life. Earlier I would say “yes” to everything and put too much pressure on myself, but now, I’m aware I need to take care of my health, I need to eat and sleep well, I need to make space to be creative in the studio, and when I’m on the road touring, I need to be focused on that without other things distracting me. I feel I have a perfect balance now.

Pooja Kashyap: As someone who has won numerous awards, how do you perceive the significance of awards in the music industry? How have they influenced your career?

Hardwell: Early on yes, it was one of my goals, but as you mature as an artist you begin to focus on other things that drive you, and for me the further I got into music, the more I wanted to just focus on it as my main goal. 

Pooja Kashyap: Could you provide some insights into Revealed Recordings? How did it come into existence, and how has your journey with Revealed Recordings contributed to your growth as an artist and a record label owner?

Hardwell: I launched Revealed in 2010 and at first, it was more about creating a home for my music, but my vision was always to have other artists on the label and eventually turn it into a platform to springboard other artists’ careers, host festival arenas, have a radio show and so much more. Revealed has been a big part of my career and it’s also brought me a lot of knowledge about the development of artists and the recording industry. I’m super proud of the work we’ve achieved with Revealed, and all its artists, so far and I’m excited about what the future holds.

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Pooja Kashyap: What are some of the challenges you faced while building your brand “Hardwell” and Revealed Recordings in the highly competitive music industry?

Hardwell: In the very early years there was a judgment on why I am trying to do this all on my own with my label, or my sound wasn’t quite right for the clubs, festivals etc., but you just work through that. So, I just stuck to my vision and focused on the goals ahead of me.

Pooja Kashyap: Returning to the spotlight after a sabbatical can be both exciting and daunting. How did you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for your comeback?

Hardwell: By the time I was ready to return, I had already had plenty of time to rebalance my life. It felt like the perfect time to come back and show the world what I had been working on over the past few years. Of course, stepping back on stage after so long away comes with a lot of nerves, but it’s all part of the process of reconnecting again. I can honestly say I’ve never felt so good and happy in life as I do now. It was the best decision in my career to take the time out to just be me again.

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Pooja Kashyap: Being named an honorary citizen of Breda is a rare honor shared by only two other individuals. How does it feel to be recognized in such a meaningful way by your hometown, and how has Breda shaped your career and artistic vision? Incorporating the essence of your hometown into your performances, how do you believe this connection with your roots resonates with your fans?

Hardwell: I’m super honored to have been invited to be a citizen of the city. It means a lot to me. The city was how I got my break, it helped me launch my music career and it’s been a big influence throughout. Even the track Tiësto and I did ‘Zero76’ was just our chance, back then, to create a track with Breda in mind. So, it influences the music and hopefully, fans can hear that. I’m a big believer in never forgetting where you come from because it helps keep you grounded, and so for me, Breda has not only helped me launch a career but also helped me become comfortable with the success thanks to the incredible community we have in the city and especially its music scene.

Pooja Kashyap: Your commitment to supporting local talent through Revealed Recordings is commendable. Can you share a particular success story of an artist you’ve helped nurture, and what do you believe is crucial in fostering new talent in the music industry?

Hardwell: The main thing we try to focus on at the label is giving the talent a chance to breathe and be free of pressure. We want to help foster artists who have a clear understanding of their abilities and sound. From working with guys like Dannic and Dyro, in the early years, to more recent acts like KAAZE, Maddix, and Tim Hox, sharing both the studio and being on the road together, helps us all grow.

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Pooja Kashyap: You recently released an exciting new collaboration with Space92 called ‘The Abyss’, which follows on from your big single ‘ANYBODY OUT THERE’. They pull your sound in two different directions; can you share more about your thoughts on these singles?

Hardwell: Sure, so ‘ANYBODY OUT THERE’ is a vocal-driven anthem that I wanted to create because I’ve felt for a while, I needed a big track that fits my Hardwell set and that would have all the right emotions, the right chords, and the perfect balance in arrangement to fit what I was seeking. I’ve worked with Azteck before, so it made sense to reconnect, and Alex Hepburn came in because she has this perfect voice for the sound needed on the track. The Space92 collab is a project that leans more into my love of those dirty acid sounds and big rave anthem energy, which was then combined with Space 92’s trancey techno and distorted percussion style. Both tracks are perfect for my sets.

Pooja Kashyap: Throughout your career, you’ve played at numerous festivals and venues worldwide. Is there a particular place or performance that holds a special place in your heart, and why? Could you describe how you feel when performing on such a grand stage?

Hardwell: Every show, event, and festival is different with its unique crowd, set-up, etc, so it’s really hard to compare them. Just speaking about my return show during Ultra Music Festival in Miami last year. That was something else! It was an unreal moment for me and also extremely nerve-wracking because I was playing all new music, in a new style fan had not heard before. But the fans loved it, and it was one of the craziest and most exhilarating shows I’ve ever played.

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Pooja Kashyap: Apart from music, you’re also involved in charitable work. Could you tell us more about the causes you support and why philanthropy is essential to you?

Hardwell: I’m somebody that wants to see the good in the world and see social change where it can be made to help make lives better. Because I profile, I’m able to use that platform to hopefully help make these changes so I feel it’s only right I do so.

About GrooveNexus   

At GrooveNexus, we believe in nurturing and empowering emerging artists, allowing them to gain visibility and recognition in the music industry. Our platform is a launchpad for talented musicians to showcase their unique styles, genres, and artistic visions. 

For further information, interview requests, or media inquiries, please contact: [email protected]

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