We interviewed Hardwell to talk about his recent collaboration with Sub Zero Project 'Judgement Day' and his passion for hardstyle.
He's the artist of the moment. As a good friend from space would say, he's the GOAT. He was not content to create his own genre in his return. This year, he's transiting between many of them, be it hardstyle, trance or a big room that, as he said, isn't dead. Following the long-awaited release of 'Judgement Day' together with Sub Zero Project, we've been able to chat with him before his show at The Brooklyn Mirage. In a hardstyle key, we talked about how he discovered this genre, his next collaborations and how hardstyle is growing in the United States.
Hi Robbert! It's a pleasure to have you here with us and congratulations on a successful year. We were one of the many attendees at your return at Ultra Miami and we have followed you through several festivals to close the circle with a new set at Bayfront Park. Some of us discovered hardstyle thanks to your sets and therefore, this interview means a lot to us.
1. ‘Judgement Day’, your long-awaited collab with Sub Zero Project, has finally been released a year after being premiered in one of your first shows of the ‘REBELS NEVER DIE’ tour. How did it feel to be back producing hardstyle again?
Good! I’ve wanted to put this project out for a while but unfortunately the scheduling with releases means occasional other tracks need to wait till the right time, but the guys were super cool with it. But it’s here, its officially out now, and I’m really happy. I’ve a lot of love for hardstyle and spoken many times before about how it’s a crazy genre to master, so I’m always learning, but I love it!
2. In your set at SIAM Songkran Music Festival, you defined Sub Zero Project as the biggest hardstyle act currently. Their growth in the last few years have been unstoppable. They are responsible for the new Defqon.1 anthem and have even headlined an Ultra event for the first time. What was it like working with them on this track?
A lot of fun! It's always great to pair up with artists you share the same love and drive for the music, and that's something we really clicked on from when we first connected. I'm super happy to see them they get the recognition they deserve. Their music and approach to production is refreshing and they've undoubtedly got long careers ahead of them.
3. Wildstylez, Atmozfears, Sephyx, Headhunterz, Dr Phunk… and now, Sub Zero Project. Are you working on any more hardstyle collaborations, or would you like to work with someone special?
I’m pleased to be a small part of this scene and get an opportunity to work with many of my friends. So, yes, you can expect to see more hardstyle projects coming soon but no names just yet.
4. You’ve supported hardstyle at every event you’ve played, both before and after your retirement. How did Hardwell discover this genre? What artists influenced you to do so?
Growing up in The Netherlands and being out in events in the Benelux area in my early years, I kept encountering this harder dance sound, which over the years grew on me and my friends. Obviously, a lot of my buddies are making hardstyle and had successful careers in that world, so I’ve just sort of grown up with it as a passion in my life. Guys like Wildstylez and Headhunterz helped shape the scene for a lot of us, I’m sure.
5. You are about to embark on a big North American tour, and will be playing Brooklyn Mirage in New York, where we will catch you perform. Are North American fans as receptive to Hardstyle in your sets as their European counterparts?
Absolutely! It’s of course a little different in styles when playing between the two continents but over the years I’ve noticed more and more fans across the pond are totally vibing on the energy of hardstyle. It’s always great to see fans at my shows, and this is around the world, be so open to a mix of genres within my sets.
6. In your sets there is usually a D-Block & S-te-Fan track, either currently ‘Blade Me Now’ or that wonderful ‘Godd Is a Dj’ that you have been playing at Ultra Europe or Tomorrowland this past year. Have you ever talked about working together?
Yeah, would be cool wouldn’t it?! It’s on the list but let’s see what happens. I love their sound and the energy during my shows when I drop their tracks is always berserk.
7. To finish, on the Q&A you did on Reddit, you talked about how you’re totally open to playing at Defqon.1 at some point in your career. In 2017, ‘Make The World Ours’, your solo hardstyle release was part of the Endshow, would there be any chance of seeing you there next?
Honestly, it’s not in the plans at the moment as I’m focused on a lot of other things for 2023, but I’ve always said never say never. It would be cool, so I’d absolutely be down for it at some point. Let’s see what the future brings.
8. SHORT QUESTIONS
- A festival: Maybe we should do our own Revealed Recordings festival?
- An artist: Maddix.
- A b2b: Calvin Harris?
- A hardstyle track: Dee-Block & S-te-Pack – 'Blade Me Now'
Totally grateful to Robbert and his entire team for granting us this interview. Our experience at The Brooklyn Mirage was sensational, with a set worthy of one of the most prestigious clubs in the world. Numerous IDs, an impressive staging and a totally dedicated crowd to an artist they had been requesting for years. We can't wait to see him again this summer!