Hardwell (real name Robbert van de Corput) has had a pretty remarkable career. Aged just 28, the Dutch music producer has already been crowned the world’s number one in DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs poll – in 2013 and 2014 – cementing his position as an electronic music superstar and breaking a record for being the youngest-ever winner of the coveted award. He currently sits at number two in the list, second to Belgian duo and brothers Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike. But despite being trumped, Hardwell is as in demand as ever and is headed for Dubai with his world tour, I Am Hardwell, United We Are, at Meydan on Friday February 19.
“I’m okay with being number two. I achieved my goal and I’m really happy that I was number one a few times in a row. I’m making music and I’m still playing the same festivals, so I can’t complain. And it’s just a number. People in Dubai are really well-educated when it comes to dance music, so I’m looking forward to coming,” he tells us.
Speaking from his home in The Netherlands, where he has been working on material for a second album (expected to be released next year), he says his days have been spent in the studio, sometimes for up to 12 hours or more. “I have so many songs lying around that I’ve no clue what to release yet. Dubai will be one of the first places where I test out my new songs. I’m curious to see what people think.”
Playing a three-hour set, with support from Kill the Buzz, he tells us that the concert will be an experience rather than just a DJ set. “The whole show is synced with visuals. I always improvise during a set, of course, but the most important thing about being a DJ is reading the crowd. The DJ is just a part of the party, the people on the dancefloor make the party what it is.”
Hardwell’s journey from a young boy from Breda to international EDM DJ and producer has become an inspiring one for many. At just 14 years old, he was signed to a major record label, before quickly making a name for himself and becoming an award-winning producer, label owner and EDM king, playing alongside fellow Dutch DJ Tiësto, who he considers an icon. “If you had asked me five years ago what it’s like being on the same level as Tiësto, I would have said, you were crazy,” he tells us, laughing. “I never thought I’d be on his level. Tiësto will always be my role model, no matter where he is in his career. We’re good friends, he’s like my big brother. I’m really happy I can play alongside him. He is like the master of DJing.”
With Tiësto set to headline DXBeach at Zero Gravity on Friday February 26, and Dubai’s first Dance Music Conference taking place from Thursday April 21 to Friday 22 at JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, electronic dance music is becoming increasingly popular in the city, with many young aspiring producers and DJs hoping to follow in the footsteps of Hardwell.
“Talented kids can become producers now without spending a lot of money. It’s just about a lot of hard work and dedication. If you want to be a DJ, it’s about practise. It’s not about playing big festivals, it’s about playing the small clubs. I’m not a super-talented guy, I’m just a kid with a dream and I always say, if you can dream it, you can do it.”
Dhs295-650. Fri February 19, 6pm-2am. Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba, www.iamhardwelldubai.com.
Three top Edm Events
Tiësto at DXBeach
See the Dutch DJ perform his remixed version of John Legend’s hit All of Me.
Dhs275-400. Fri February 26, noon-3am. Zero Gravity, Dubai Marina, www.dxbeach.ae.
Dance Music Conference
The event will feature sessions from music label pros and DJ performances from artists such as Mark Knight.
Prices to be announced. April 21-22. JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Business Bay, www.dancemusicconference.com.
Benny Benassi at Cavalli
The Italian DJ and producer will play tracks such as Satisfaction.
Free before midnight, Dhs250 thereafter. Thu February 25, 10.30pm-3am. Cavalli Club, Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.cavalliclub.com.