In the electrifying world of electronic dance music (EDM), there are few artists who have left a lasting impact like Hardwell. With an illustrious career spanning DJing, producing, philanthropy, and label management, this former 2-time World No. 1 DJ has etched his name as one of the true pioneers in the industry. Today, we delve into the life and accomplishments of this trailblazing artist as we celebrate his extraordinary journey on our digital cover.
Emergence of a Star
Hailing from the picturesque city of Breda in the Netherlands, Hardwell's journey into the music realm commenced at the young age of 14. His undeniable talent soon earned him widespread recognition in the Dutch dance scene, which ultimately led to international acclaim. By the time he turned 25, Hardwell achieved the pinnacle of his career when he was crowned the World's #1 DJ in 2013, setting the stage for an extraordinary career ahead.
A Sonic Pioneer
Hardwell's prowess as a producer is unparalleled, with numerous Beatport No. 1 hits like 'Spaceman,' 'Apollo,' and 'Run Wild,' as well as impressive remixes for music's biggest names such as Rihanna, Calvin Harris, and Coldplay. While never shying away from his electronic roots, he collaborated with esteemed DJ friends like Armin van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Steve Aoki, and more, further solidifying his status as an industry heavyweight.
A true mainstage maestro, Hardwell has been a headline attraction at the world's most prominent festivals, including Lollapalooza, Coachella, EDC Las Vegas, and Tomorrowland, among others. His awe-inspiring performances drew massive crowds to venues and stadiums worldwide, and his 'I Am Hardwell' world tours garnered immense success and sold-out shows across 21 countries, captivating nearly 900,000 fans.
Music for a Cause
Beyond his artistic endeavors, Hardwell utilized his fame for philanthropy, founding the United We Are Foundation. Through special aid concerts known as the 'World's Biggest Guestlist,' he raised donations to provide education to over 122,000 underprivileged children in Mumbai, India. These events touched the hearts of millions and demonstrated the power of music as a force for positive change.
A Triumphant Return
After taking a sabbatical from touring, Hardwell made a spectacular comeback in 2022 at Miami's Ultra Music Festival, where he surprised fans with a mesmerizing closing set. Alongside the announcement of his 24-date world tour, he released his groundbreaking 14-track album, 'REBELS NEVER DIE,' on Revealed Recordings, which marked a pivotal moment in his musical journey.
An Evolving Artist
The 'REBELS NEVER DIE' album showcased a transformative side of Hardwell, as he fused early hard trance elements with the energy of his signature big room sounds, creating a timeless piece of art. Featuring entirely solo material, the album's singles like 'BROKEN MIRROR,' 'INTO THE UNKNOWN,' and 'I FEEL LIKE DANCING' evoked emotions, while seismic club bangers like 'GODD,' 'LASER,' and 'PACMAN' proved to be dancefloor anthems.
Awards and Accolades
Throughout his career, Hardwell has earned a cabinet full of prestigious awards, from multiple International Dance Music Awards to an MTV European Music Award. With two-time World #1 DJ titles, 'Best Electro House DJ' at the DJ Awards in Ibiza, 'Best Global DJ' at the IDMA awards, and 'Best DJ' at the Nova Era Awards, he stands as one of the most decorated artists in dance music history.
An Honorary Citizen
In a touching tribute to his remarkable achievements and unwavering commitment to his hometown, Hardwell was named an honorary citizen of Breda. This esteemed title is shared with only two other prominent Breda residents, including his close friend and fellow DJ, Tiësto. The recognition highlights the pride and admiration the city holds for its iconic ambassador.
As we move into 2023, Hardwell's journey continues with a whirlwind of electrifying performances across the globe. His dedication to experimenting with diverse genres and pushing the boundaries of his sound only reinforces his status as a maverick figure in the ever-evolving electronic music scene.
Hardwell's relentless pursuit of excellence and his unwavering commitment to using his platform for philanthropic causes have solidified his place as a true icon in the electronic music industry. His innovative sounds, electrifying performances, and dedication to making a positive impact in the world have left an indelible mark on dance music history. As we celebrate this digital cover story, we honor the extraordinary journey of Hardwell, a visionary artist who continues to inspire and elevate the world of EDM to new heights.
- Hardwell, can you take us back to the beginning of your journey into the music world and share some of your early accomplishments that set you on this path?
Sure, well, I think signing my first record deal at 14 years old was a huge moment for me. I hadn’t been producing music for long by this point, so it was, for me personally, a huge turning moment because it helped me believe I was on the right path. Everything kind of started to evolve a lot faster for me from that point onwards.
- What do you believe sets you apart as a true pioneer in the electronic dance music industry, and how has this influenced your approach to music?
I think just believing in myself and following my own path. When I make music I don’t really look around at what other artists are doing. I’m just focused on my sound, my ideas and what would work in my show. I’m not interested in following trends.
- You've headlined at some of the world's most prominent festivals, captivating massive crowds with your performances. What's your secret to delivering such awe-inspiring shows that leave a lasting impact on your audience?
I don’t really have a secret, it’s just that that whatever show I’m playing, I always want to give 100%. It’s just who I am. I want the show to be the best experience I can give so it’s all about creating something special with the music and putting every ounce of energy into the performance.
- Your philanthropic efforts through the United We Are Foundation have made a significant difference in the lives of underprivileged children in Mumbai. Can you tell us more about the 'World's Biggest Guestlist' concerts and how they touched the hearts of millions?
Those shows were a chance for me to give something back to the community. I felt very moved by an earlier experience of being in India and seeing young children sleeping under a banner with my name on it. So, I talked with the promoter, and we agreed to do something special to help try and make a social change on my next return. That was really how those concerts came about, and I’m pleased we were able to put so many young children into the first steps of education, thanks to the incredible donations from fans and viewers.
- Your album 'REBELS NEVER DIE' marked a pivotal moment in your musical journey. Could you tell us about the inspiration behind the album and some standout tracks that resonated deeply with you?
The album was a journey of me reconnecting with myself in the studio during my break from touring. Through listening to all the music, I first started out buying and playing when I got into dance music, I was inspired to get back into the studio and over a period of time, I ended up with so much new music. I just felt it was time to come back with a new sound, a new show, and a great way to tie it all together was through the album. ‘REBELS NEVER DIE’ is about me not following the trend, being a rebel and pushing against the boundaries of what I can do. All the tracks resonate deeply with me but ‘BROKEN MIRROR’, ‘INTO THE UNKNOWN’, ‘ACID’ ‘F*CKING SOCIETY and ‘I FEEL LIKE DANCING’ are ones which were a big part of the build process of the album.
- Throughout your career, you've earned numerous awards and accolades. What do these achievements mean to you, and how do they motivate you as an artist?
I’m super honoured by any award I’ve won, but I can’t say they motivate me. It’s not really how I’m wired. My passion for the music and the fans is what motivates me. Of course an award are a nice cherry on top of any success, but I’m here for the music and sharing that with the dancefloor.
- Being named an honorary citizen of Breda is a tremendous honor. How does your close connection to the city influence your music and your sense of identity as an artist?
Breda is my home. I’m proud of where I come from and super happy to see our community of artists thriving globally. It’s an honour for me to fly the flag of my city and country wherever I go. Breda is the place that gave me this start in the music scene, so it’s a huge influence on my career, even to this day.
- As a visionary artist in the EDM scene, what are your future plans and aspirations, and how do you envision your legacy in the music industry?
Right now, my main focus is simply living in the moment and enjoying the creative process of making music and being back on the road touring. Evolving my Revealed Recordings label to be a bigger platform for supporting talent remains one of my core goals.