Hardwell Interview: Future of EDM, Return To Australia, Big Room Techno + More

Hardwell, also known as Robbert van de Corput, is a world-renowned DJ and producer hailing from the Netherlands. He rose to prominence in the electronic music scene with his explosive big room sound that fuses elements of progressive, electro, and house music. Known for his high-energy sets and captivating stage presence, Hardwell has become a global icon in the EDM community.

Fans of Hardwell can look forward to his upcoming performance at Ultra Australia, where he will undoubtedly deliver an unforgettable show. With his unmatched skills behind the decks and his passion for creating memorable experiences for his audience, Hardwell is sure to leave a lasting impression at Ultra Australia and continue to solidify his status as one of the most respected and influential DJs in the EDM world. Don’t miss out on this highly anticipated performance by Hardwell at Ultra Australia!

Just over a year ago Hardwell returned from a sabbatical to explode back onto the scene. He has released an album, toured the world and has put out some incredible collaborations since. We delve into this and more with our in-depth interview. Join us below as we dive into the world of Hardwell.

It’s been such as long time since you’ve been back in Australia. Are you excited to be back? Do you approach anything differently whilst playing here?

It’s been a really long time, but it feels good to be coming back. I couldn’t make it to Australia last year as part of the REBELS NEVER DIE 2022 tour, so I wanted to come back with a big show in 2023 to give the fans something special. I’ve made a lot of new music between the release of the album and now, so fans can expect a lot of surprises and a huge production on stage!

You are playing Ultra Australia this time around. You have a great relationship with the Ultra brand, even making your surprise return at Ultra Miami in 2022. How has the relationship with Ultra grown over the years and what made Ultra Miami the right place to return?

Ultra Miami is a special event and has been a big part of my story over the years. I love the city, the crowd and have a great relationship with the whole Ultra family. Plus because of its early timing in the year, it’s always a great destination for making a big announcement so it felt like the right place to make it happen.

How do you feel about the future of dance music? Are there any territories that stand out?

I predict that dance music is going to be even bigger than it is right now. It keeps growing. Some years it grows faster than others. But now after COVID, you see that dance music is reaching countries where we never thought it would. I was recently in Saudi Arabia – five years ago I never expected to be here. I got a question about Africa on my panel [at MDL BEAST’s XP Futures Conference]. Africa has Ultra already there – but you see that the community is really growing as well. Asia is not slowing down, but they had a huge catch-up in the last five years. It’s a constantly evolving thing. Russia is really catching up. Don’t get me wrong, dance music has always been around in Russia, especially at the beginning of the trance hype in the 90s. You see that even we as new kids (not like Tiesto and Armin) the new kids are really breaking through there in Russia as well. I think it’s nothing but a bright future for dance music.

You came back to touring earlier in 2022, are you planning to take it much easier this time around to eliminate burnout? 

Yeah, 100% I’m only doing 30 to 40 shows a year. I think at my height I did close to 200 shows a year, maybe even over. Doing 30-40 shows won’t make me lazy, I want to spend the rest of the time that I usually spend on tour making music in the studio and working on my record label. I’m just scheduling my time differently. Which makes it more fun for me so I can work on different aspects than just performing.

Following your hiatus, you also left the studio for a year. Was it difficult to work again following that break?

In the beginning, it was really hard because I kind of lost my reference with my own studio. That feels really weird. Normally I’m basically every day in the studio. When I’m doing my emails I’m in the studio because I have to listen to demos so I always work from the studio. When I hadn’t been in the studio for a year, I lost a bit of my education about frequencies and stuff. I had to really get used to it again. It came back within a week but was still very weird. Almost a year after I stepped back into the studio, everything sounded the same at a certain point really, and I mastered every record myself. I’m really picky about that stuff so it took me like a couple of months before I was really happy with the new masters.

What are some upcoming acts from Revealed and beyond that we need to look out for? Especially in that big room techno world? A lot of them have come from Australia, is this something you have noticed? Why do you think that is?

With the big room techno, it’s definitely Maddix. He’s not an up-and-coming guy. I feel like it’s disrespectful if I say that. He is still a bit under the radar and might not be playing mainstages yet. He has one of the biggest releases on Revealed at the moment with ‘Heute Nacht’. If I look at my REBELS NEVER DIE setlist, I only play Hardwell music, Will Sparks, and Maddix, and that’s my entire set. Of course, we’re signing more records on Revealed now of that genre, but I’m really picky when it comes to that sound. I am really happy that we are receiving more and more demos, even songs from unknown names. Even someone like Lister, who I feel is doing amazing, Achilles also is doing amazing stuff. Those are definitely the guys that I would like to play in my set and I already am playing them! They’ve all got this great approach to their music with a unique style. I’ve also loved the vibe and energy of the scene in Australia, and it’s clearly made an impact on gifting the world some amazingly talented artists over the years. It’s great to see many more exciting artists coming out of Australia. I’m really happy to see the genre that I felt most comfortable with during my sabbatical is now finally getting the recognition worldwide.

Speaking of the big room techno sound, you have fully embraced it as of late. Which city on the tour so far has received it the best? 

I never expected this, but it was probably New York. I had some of my Rebels Never Die shows which really felt to me as a DJ, that they really appreciated my bedroom stuff here. New York was super open-minded and fully into the album, singing along to the Rebels Never Die title song and were really into it. Some countries are getting used to it. I think the biggest difference is that people are used to jumping during my set, with that big room sound. I think the whole big room, techno or whatever we want to call it is more danceable but may be less accessible, but in a good way. It’s up to us as DJs and producers to educate people with new sounds. Yeah, I’m all up for it.

The album was done almost entirely by you. Was this something that was important for you to achieve? You’ve mentioned even doing the artwork?

Yeah, I did the artwork, and if I didn’t sample it, I wrote all the lyrics myself. It was important to me because it felt so personal. During my sabbatical, I didn’t feel the urge to work with somebody else. When I wanted to get back on tour and make myself feel ready to get back on tour, I had to prove something to myself. It’s really hard to explain for me, it had to be the most personal thing I’ve ever done. If I collaborated on that, then I would probably lose that certain feeling. Maybe it’s just a personal thing, but that’s how I felt about it, and this is the way I wanted to do it.

Your album was released single by single, resulting in the full package on the release of the last single. What did you learn from this, would you do it again? 

I will definitely do it again. If it’s three tracks or so, and then if they’re in the same genre, or if it’s collaborations with a certain artist, I could definitely do an EP. If I ever do an album again, which I am totally up for, by the way, I would do it this way again. I’m saying this because it’s always a discussion “is an album still relevant?” I truly think it is. I love art; I see it as a piece of art when you create something like that. We’re definitely living in a world where you’re not able to drop an album and just see how it goes… We’re way beyond that now, past that time.

After releasing your album which was done solely by you, you’ve been involved in numerous collaborations with various artists. How has this changed your creative process and approach to music production, and what has been the most rewarding part of working with other artists on these collaborations?

After releasing my solo album, I decided to explore a different direction and collaborate with some of my favorite artists. This led to numerous new collaboration projects and solo tracks, and now I have a lot of new music waiting to be released. Even though I run my own label, Revealed Recordings, it still takes time to release everything. So fans can expect to hear a lot of new material from me during my shows.

In terms of the rewarding part, it was a refreshing change to shift from spending a lot of time on my own ideas to sharing the creativity with like-minded friends and artists. As a producer, I feel that it’s important to mix up the process from time to time, which is why I am a fan of doing collaborations.

You have always dabbled in hardstyle over the years and are back with a brand new hardstyle endeavour with Sub Zero Project. What draws you to the genre? How do you approach the production compared with your usual sound? Sub Zero Project are also playing Ultra Australia, is there anything planned? 

It’s a genre I have a lot of love for and I’m proud to be part of the community. It makes me happy to see the hardstyle scene get wider attention and watching many of my friends and other artists from the genre getting more mainstream success. I’ve always had a lot of appreciation for hardstyle producers, and I like the uniqueness that hardstyle artists bring to their productions. It’s part of why I like to play hardstyle tracks every now and then at the end of my sets. As a producer, I’m always striving to improve myself and I find hardstyle gives me a whole new canvas to work with. Let’s see what happens on the day 😉

Hardwell is set to headline Ultra Australia on April 15th in Melbourne – get your ticket.