Jay Hardway, the 23-year-old dance music prodigy from the South of Holland, is going nowhere but up these days. He's been initiated into the Spinnin' Records family, has been booked on almost every continent in the world and even co-produced the chart-topping single "Wizard" with none other than young superstar, Martin Garrix. Jay sat down with us pre-set at the Day After Festival in Panama City, Panama to share a little more about his already successful career and who has influenced him along the way. Read below to find out more!
Ariel DB: How excited are you to play tonight for the crowd in Panama?
Jay Hardway: I'm really excited because it's my first gig of 2015. I've been in the studio for a few weeks and I had a little vacation at home so I have tons of energy and I've heard a lot of great stories about Panama and about this festival so I'm pretty excited to get out there.
Ariel DB: Is this your first time playing in Panama?
Jay Hardway: Yep, it's the first time I'm here actually.
Ariel DB: Have you done any shows in Central/South America before?
Jay Hardway: I've done things in Mexico and the Dominican Republic as well. I've done things right around Panama too. It's always amazing. The crowd is really up-to-date on the music and they have a lot of energy.
Ariel DB: How do you like the Latin crowd vs. any other crowd you've had the chance to play for?
Jay Hardway: Well, they know how to dance for sure. That's definitely one of the things because a lot of the time people are always jumping but sometimes you see people just dancing and that's really awesome. They are also really loud, you know? They love to scream, they love to sing along. That kind of energy is awesome. They sing-a-long so hard and when you say "make some noise," they scream. That's always an amazing feeling.
Ariel DB: What's your technique when planning for a set?
Jay Hardway: Well, I have like 50 tracks that I want to play or that I'd really like to play, but I usually pick one or two big tracks to start with and then once I've started I realize what direction I need to go in. Do I need to go more commercial or mix in experimental stuff? Then I just go straight to the 50 tracks I want to play or I go throw in some old-school stuff. I really just improvise.
Ariel DB: What's your process for preparing to create a new track?
Jay Hardway: Funny thing is every time I try to sit down and say "NOW I'm starting a new track," nothing happens. I'm just sitting making "shit" melodies and it's terrible. Sometimes I just start having fun or I do something crazy to a vocal and something eventually clicks. Before you know it I have a track, not really a track, but a draft of a track in one day or sometimes two days. Sometimes it takes months to complete it or change it again. Mostly the first part, creating the melody, goes really fast. I really just have to find that click, that inspiration.
Ariel DB: So, you're 22 0r 23-years-old?
Jay Hardway: 23!
Ariel DB: I read that you started producing at age 14 correct?
Jay Hardway: Yes, something like that.
Ariel DB: How has your sound evolved since you started making beats at such a young age?
Jay Hardway: It's pretty hard to say because if you start out with the music you really love, everything you make, like if I created a new melody when I was 14, I would really love it. I was playing it to my fans and I was like "this is amazing, listen to my music," and they were like "dude this sounds like shit," and I would say "you don't know what you're talking about." Now I listen back to the music and it really was terrible. I now notice when it sounds more professional and then you start DJing with it and you start to notice what will work on a live audience. You start to realize what's the better way to go. Always with my music, the most important thing has been the melodies. Even when my tracks sounded like shit it still had decent melody or nice chord schedules.
Ariel DB: How has your career taken off since partnering with Martin Garrix for "Wizard?"
Jay Hardway: It's been crazy. Before "Wizard" I did one or two gigs/shows outside of Holland, and after the track came out I did 99% of my shows abroad. In 2014, I saw almost every continent in the world. I played in so many different countries. It's been unreal. I still can't take it all in, it's still crazy. Now I'm here in Panama. I'm still enjoying it as much as I was two years ago, but now crowds are getting bigger and better. It's getting more and more fun for sure.
Ariel DB: Who's your favorite producer right now and if you could pick someone to collaborate with who would it be and why?
Jay Hardway: I love Showtek right now. They're always one step ahead of everyone else I think. They know what works. They have the perfect combination of production technique, knowing what the crowd wants and also being a fun track to listen to. I would love to work with them, that would be amazing.
Ariel DB: Do you have any advice for the younger producers advancing in this industry right now?
Jay Hardway: I think it's important to make music that you like yourself, and always compromise with what's out there right now. You have to always be influenced if you want to make it in the EDM or DJ world. You gotta look at what's out there now and try to add your own twist. You also have to really love the thing you make. Oliver Heldens, he started off making EDM really hard and then he started experimenting with future house. He made "Gecko" and he sent it to me and I literally said "Dude! This is amazing! But who's going to play this?" That's what I said to him and now everyone plays it. With making music, if you really make what you like, you're going to put so much time into it even when you don't even have the time. You just don't keep track of time anymore, you're in your own little world. Just stick to the music you like.
Ariel DB: Who's your biggest advocate right now?
Jay Hardway: It's pretty hard to say because the more you get into the industry, the more you realize that they're all just people, they're all just normal guys making music and doing that they love just like me but they have more experience. I really respect Tiesto and Armin van Buuren. I always respect the guys who have been doing this for so long and are still out there. Armin, for instance, has a sick fan base, a really dedicated fan base and that's really something I look up to. He always stuck to his own thing like what he loves, he loves trance. He's got a family too. I don't even know how he does it but it's definitely something to admire.
Ariel DB: Is there anything new coming out?
Jay Hardway: Yeah, I can't tell you names or anything, but there's something really cool coming out in the next two or three months. It's already planned so it's coming. A lot of new tracks. Maybe I'm gonna play them tonight, maybe not but some things I'm working on I still need to tweak. I'm definitely going to play at least two new songs tonight, maybe more, you never know!
Photo credit: Rukes