It was hard enough to mask my excitement for Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas a few weeks ago alone. Adding on top of that, when I found out I was lucky enough to be invited to a private Revealed Volume 4’s meet and greet at Hakkasan on the behalf of Daily Beat and EDM Penn, I was floored to say the least. Humbled by such an opportunity, the idea of being able to talk with Hardwell and his two rising protégés, Dannic and Dyro on a personal level got me thinking, “Is this real life?” How about Hardwell’s life recently, hitting 1 million likes on Facebook, and releasing his unforgettable 2 out of 3 hours of footage from his sold-out I am Hardwell World Tour Kickoff as a thank you, HERE. However, what is the real story behind the album and the DJs other than Dannic’s “Viper,” Hardwell’s “Spaceman,” and Dyro’s “Leprechauns and Unicorns”? I was soon to find out.
Everyone starts from somewhere, right? Robert van de Corput, better known as “Hardwell” has come a long way since watching MTV where he was first inspired to be a DJ. Starting out out as Tiësto’s protégé, Hardwell now does the same for his label mates on Revealed Recordings. In fact, a few nights before the meet and greet the trio finishing out their North American Tour spun the Revealed Volume 4 launch party at Hardwell’s newest “Go Hardwell or Go Gome” residency at Hakkasan. So surprise, Tiësto shows up to support Hardwell of course.Only hearing great things about the event, only created more of a buzz about the album, the three Dutch DJs, and their sets that they were about to play at EDC.
It was about 2PM in the afternoon when I arrived at the MGM. I just arrived at Hakkasan, and there was only a handful of people there. Despite the small number of people, the excitement of everyone as they entered the club was palpable. All the representatives were very friendly and talkative. Mostly comprised of online music blogs, I met people who also dealt with fashion, sales and a multitude of other media platforms–it was nice to see such diversity. As media began to fill the room, Hardwell took pictures until everything was set to get underway.
Everyone was gathering in a semi-circle so they could talk with the panel, however, my ADHD self was looking around the grandiose room memorized by the club. The brand new club is a site to see. It was an experience being in the empty Hakkasan seeing the décor in the light. I couldn’t help but look around the brand new, 5-tiered club/restaurant. The club gives off a modern chic feel with the decor, and truly on another level. While the VIP tables are nothing to scoff at, the sheer decadence of the club is filled out by its state of the art technology, including: two huge LED panels for the DJ booth, lights and lasers spread throughout the room, as well as a sound system that I can only imagine what does to a room that has great acoustics.
Kicking the Q&A off, the first question out of the gates was, “What does Spaceman mean to you?”
Hardwell responded by saying, “Do you mean a real spaceman or the song?” as he chuckled with the audience. While I laughed awkwardly to myself, I though how it was the perfect icebreaker to cut the tension and to kick off the Q&A. Hardwell followed up by telling us, “Spaceman is one of the biggest songs I’ve done so far. I think it is the song that is almost the Hardwell signature… I always start with Spaceman every DJ set.” Some peoples best work comes out of no where. Hardwell then admits to us that “It was a song that took really quick to make in the studio. I produced the whole melody and beats in 20 minutes.” While I may not be a DJ, many of my friends are, so this statistic is pretty crazy to me. I guess once you have an idea planted, running with it is the way to go.
A large portion of the Q&A involved getting to know Hardwell’s label, Revealed Recordings, and how he runs the company. Hardwell makes it clear he surrounds himself with a fantastic team. But what sets his label a part from others? He tells us that originality plays a key role. Hardwell looks for an artist who has a different sound when looking for someone to sign. Hardwell wants to cultivate new talent rather than sign a big name. At the end of the day he states “We’re not afraid to release a track from a name nobody knows, we focus on the music.” Many of the tracks released through his label or personally try to invoke a “club feeling,” just like in Europe, he says. After the Revealed Recordings question was answered, the follow up question asked the three about their beginnings.
This was very brief, and Hardwell quickly told us how he met Dannic at a bar in the Netherlands, and actually found out about Dyro’s music on Soundcloud. After speaking about how Dyro was founded on Soundcloud, the room wanted to know what advice Hardwell has for any upcoming producer. After being asked such a question, Hardwell honestly told us:
I think it all starts if you have a good record. Share it with your friends. Have them share your link on Facebook. Just put it out. Have as many people listen to the track . Upload it everywhere, youtube, soundcloud. Try to email it to a radio station, and to give it to DJS for their podcast. Every DJ on his website has contact information. If it is not him personally, it is his label manager. Then again not all labels listen to all of the tracks they get. Everyone has the same chance.
The idea is to put yourself out there as much as possible. You never know when you can catch a big break, what was learned from Hardwell. Ruminating some specific past examples, Hardwell explained two stories of DJs you may or may not heard of. Their names are Nicky Romero and Afrojack.
First he told us about Nicky Romero’s story. Hardwell, stated:
A perfect example, Nicky Romero sent me a track 4 years ago. Well, he was at EDC Vegas mainstage yesterday only in 4 years. He was the same guy emailing me emailing me. Like wow!
The moral of this story is that a little persistence can go a long way. The second story involving the 6’10 Afrojack may elude you. It did for me. Hardwell continued to tell his stories, telling us:
I don’t know if you know the story of Afrojack. I discovered Afrojack like 6-7 years ago. I was playing in a club in Rotterdam, and this guy walks up to me with a cd. “Hey Robert, can you please listen to my music?” “Yeah, sure” I replied. “No no no, right now. Play it in your set now,” Afrojack told me. “What?! I responded” But when I drove home I was like, “Wow, this guy has some serious talent.” At the time I was working at a record company, and signed his first six records. It was fair to say you couldn’t deny Afrojack. Because he is so tall, right? He was one of the guys to bring EDM to the states.
Without further explaining how Afrojack being on the forefront of bringing EDM to the US, Hardwell’s closing statement was subtly put stating, “Everyone has the same chance.” Something to really take away.
As the Q&A began to wind down, the trio were asked more fun questions. “What do you all do for fun?” All of them gave very normal answers, including: hanging with friends, relaxing by watching movies, biking, and having the guilty pleasure of being in the studio. Hardwell admits, “I don’t find it work. I just like messing around with making different sounds.”
From left to right: Dyro, Hardwell and Dannic
After this question was answered, the trio were asked what their favorites songs of all time were. “Now that’s a tough one,” most of them said in unison.
Dannic responded first by saying, “Michael Jackson – Billy Jean. That song speaks for itself.” He began to hum the toon to the audience. After smiling for a few seconds he made a high pitched sound of “ooh hoo,” just like Michael Jackson.
Before Hardwell responded about his personal favorite song, he continued off the Dannic’s response about Michael Jackon, stating:
Michael was the king of pop. He was amazing and original in his art and did what he loved. This is why I love Tiesto. He paved the way for dance music. He started the drops of bass; He started all the live sets to start all the dance and EDM events. To me, he’s the king of dance music. Both those artists have influenced me to chase the excitement of being original in what I do.
His close relationship with Tijs is evident with his response, but no one can deny what the man has done for EDM. The Hardwell told us his answer to his favorite song, “Smack my Bitch Up by Prodigy,” he said confidently. “Do you know how the song was made?! It was revolutionary for it’s time—just look at the layering in it,” he told us as he was further explaining himself. Referencing not only the songs instrumentals, but the aesthetics of the music video was shot, Hardwell’s background and appreciation of hip-hop music truly stood out on this one. It was refreshing though to get such an answer.
Dyro is certainly a quiet one. Maybe he was nervous to be in front of the crowd–despite normally playing in front of thousands or Hardwell taking over for the majority. Dyro playfully told the audience, “Justin Bieber.” As he didn’t know off the top of his head what his favorite song was. Finishing up the questions about their songs, the focus shifted on their North American Tour that currently just ended.
Someone asked, “What was it like being on tour together?” The three chimed in, telling us “Just like being with anyone day in and day out, we’ve developed a very close relationship with one another on a personal and working level,” what I got from their answer. “We learned about being able to not only give but receive positive and negative feedback. Something that has really helped us move forward in our careers,” they added. I laughed when the man next to me made the comment, “You guy(s) are adorable by the way.” I’m unsure if it was referanced to Hardwell or the group, but needless to say they told us “Well, I think we are not a family. We are kind of like a boy band now.” While the trio is no N’Sync or Backstreet Boys, the crowd laughed at the comment.
Finishing everything up before our one on one talks, Hardwell gave his explanation of Revealed Volume 4, stating:
The whole track list is a combination of the tracks you already know for example “I Lose Myself” Alesso remix, a lot of revealed releases W&W “Decode” all of those tracks are on the CD as well as a lot of unrevealed stuff that’s coming up on revealed so it is like a 50/50. Actually we started the CD because revealed is to be honest more of a DJ minded label. We focus on Beatport, we try to release as good as possible music with the dance floor in mind, so every release we do is straight dance floor material, and I think the CD and the whole mix is a good introduction for not a crowd, the more iTunes crowd. And, yeah, what’s on Revealed? Well if you know the previous CD this is like a new track list with all the unreleased stuff including our [Hardwell and Dyro’s] track “Never Say Goodbye” as well, which is now finally available on iTunes in America. Dannic’s new single is there called “Rocker” and besides that a lot of new and interesting collaborations. And you know that actually this is the first Revealed CD, I think even the first CD ever with mash-ups of the CD, like the mash-ups played on Ultra Music Festival will be on the CD as well, like the original versions how I edited them myself, so it’s pretty cool and I’m really excited about this CD, and hope you guys really like it.
Read Daily Beat’s review of Revealed Volume 4, HERE.
After explaining what the CD was compiled of, everyone was given a CD. I was surprised but intrigued to find remixes and mash-ups on the album, but I’m sure he isn’t the first to do such a thing. After the table was dispersed everyone grabbed a few more pictures and got to talk with the three one on one. I admit that the 20 song version isn’t enough after finding there is a 50 song version.
What I forgot to mention, and one of the highlights by a mile, one of the female reporters asked Hardwell, “Will you marry me at the newly installed wedding chappel?” Hardwell’s response, “Can we go on a date first?” While I’m not sure if the crowd was all that in shock, I think the other two DJs were hurt they weren’t asked the same question. At the end of the Q&A and speaking to Hardwell and the two one on one, it speaks volume to me to see such young talent how humbled they are for where they are, as well as actually taking into account their status as artists and DJs. After speaking about production and upcoming collaborations and originals, and any advice they may have for an upcoming producer or someone breaking into the scene? They all told me, “Clearly you’re doing something right if you’re here,” as they told me with a smile. The whole vibe of the meet and greet was very calming, casual and engaging, and hopefully I can do something like this again. While I know I forgot a few things touched upon, I’m sure others did as well. I hope you enjoyed this write-up. Don’t forget to purchase Revealed Recordings Volume 4 on Itunes or Beatport NOW!
Tiesto & Hardwell picture of Hakkasan ~ Hakkasanlv.com
Revealed Volume 4 ~ facebook.com/djhardwell
Hakkasan wide photo ~ Beethouse.com