Hardwell’s no stranger to Billboard Radio China. As one of Holland’s hottest DJs, he also plays host to Hardwell on Air, a lively hit show brought to fans exclusively by Billboard Radio China. We got a chance to talk to him at Macau’s Club Cubic about his tours, collaborations with other artists and his future plans.
As one of the headliners at the first-ever EDC China, he’s primed and ready to hit the stage, once again, with his uplifting beats. “I’ve been part of the EDC scene for a long time,” Hardwell says. “It’s one of the best festivals in the world and a real buzz to be there and to play. People need to experience this. Buying a ticket guarantees a whole new and unique dimension!”
Hardwell said he adores his time in China and revels in driving his fans crazy. “I love the scene, the energy, the shows here,” he shared. “Dance music’s come a long way in such a short time and is becoming so big right now. People sing along to every single song that I’m playing. It’s something special.”
He’s also excited about China’s seemingly insatiable appetite for overseas EDM: “The momentum just grows. You see a groundswell of American or European music festivals coming to China. It’s great to see its development and sensational to be part of it.”
Fans of Hardwell already know that the beat-maker loves to collaborate with different artists. His latest EP, Hardwell & Friends Vol. 03, is a crackling collection of work created with his friends. For him, collaboration is the key to unlocking and nailing undiscovered sounds.
“I really love doing all those collabs,” he shared. “I can stick to my sound, but it’s my friends who so often give that necessary twist to it. It’s a two-way street and makes our crossover sounds more interesting. To me, new friends, new genres, new person-to person chemistry is the DNA of EDM. Actually, we’re working on Hardwell and Friends Vol. 4, so there will be even more music biodiversity coming soon.”
Talking about collaboration, another Dutch DJ — Quintino — also played a pivotal part in the production of the EP, and Hardwell relished the process. “Me and Quintino have been friends for a long, long time — like, 15 to 16 years now,” Hardwell shared. “We started DJing in Holland at exactly the same time and did a lot of tours in Europe together. Working with him again is great.”
Perhaps it’s the distinct Dutch vibe and energy that makes their music so addictive. Other than Quintino, a major collaboration for Hardwell last year was sharing the stage with Armin van Buuren in AMF Amsterdam. It proved to be an unforgettable experience for him.
“Co-hosting the stage with Armin was amazing. The Amsterdam Arena, packed full of people, is something I’ll never forget,” Hardwell commented. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, the whole set, everything was flawless. We had so much fun on stage together, and was actually the first time we played back to back, but when I watched the video, to me, it felt like we’d been doing this for years.”
What surprised fans the most was his collaboration with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike in Tomorrowland last year. In 2015, it was reported that he’d had arguments with the duo over DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ poll. Hardwell said he was puzzled by the reports: “I’ve never been in a fight with them. Actually, I really support and love their work. If you look back at my sets, I always play their music.
“Everything started with a couple of tweets. I gave my opinion, and somebody took it the wrong way. When we finally got to talk about this together, we all realized that we were of the same mindset and in love with the same music genre. We embraced this, so that’s why we started the new collab. Music, not voting, really should do the talking.”
Two years ago, Hardwell also performed at a festival in Mumbai, India to raise money for charity and, in the process, setting a Guinness world record for the largest guest list. He finished the second such festival, which surpassed the achievements of the first.
“Round 2 was even bigger and better,” he explained. “It was a great festival made even greater. I brought with me some support acts like W&W. Being there two years later and meeting the kids that you actually helped by doing the first event was an emotional thing. Playing cricket and some other games with them was a lot of fun.”
Hardwell on Air has just reached a milestone: the airing of its 350th episode. For him, it’s a really big achievement. “Time really flew by. 350 episodes is crazy! We’re close to having 35 million listeners a week on Hardwell on Air. That’s why we’re talking about doing something different: It’s called Hardwell on Air, Off the Record. I’m a huge fan of the more underground genre, so I wanna provide my own taste of this. I don’t want be an underground DJ — don’t get me wrong — I just wanna share my music with everybody.”
Besides continuing with the radio program, Hardwell will have a busy schedule for the rest of the year. “I have a crazy summer ahead and will basically play all the major festivals this summer. Ultra Miami is the start for me to play out some new club tracks. And I’m working on the new EP — can’t reveal the name yet, but it’s gonna focus on a more commercial side of dance music.”