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Hardwell Opens Up About His Soul-Stirring Highway to Reinvention: “It Feels Manner Extra Like Freedom” – EDM.com

When you peered by way of a window into Hardwell‘s soul in 2018, you’ll have seen nothing however vacancy.

However after getting back from a four-year hiatus, the Dutch digital music icon has torn hell for leather-based into a brand new artistic frontier. Hardwell is now the cynosure of all eyes as his long-awaited comeback album, REBELS NEVER DIE, approaches.

“I’m actually pleased with the entire determination, and I’ve by no means been extra productive and completely satisfied within the studio as I’m proper now,” Hardwell tells EDM.com in a video interview. “It feels far more like freedom proper now than following the foundations of the actual method that went straight into large room.”

Inside a nanosecond of Hardwell’s resurgence, it was clear the euphoric large room home type that longtime followers had been accustomed to was gone, eighty-sixed in favor of 1 that foams at its mouth with darkish techno influences. The anthemic vocals that lilted by way of his distinct sound had been dumped like bitter milk and changed by cerebral, spine-chilling samples.

The REBELS NEVER DIE single “PACMAN,” for instance, explores an escapist nightmare by interpolating an eerie soliloquy about succumbing to internal demons.

From a artistic standpoint, all of it paints Hardwell’s time away as a deeply restorative respite from the hyperactive world of EDM. However he needed to expertise life’s lows earlier than once more hovering by way of its highs.

“The one factor that followers truly need is you to be there. In all places.”

The pitfalls of a grueling live performance schedule will be crippling even for an idol like Hardwell, who took a step again from touring in 2018, citing a want to spend extra time with household. However the noxious results of a headlining DJ’s breakneck way of life are invisible to the fan’s bare eye, veiled in a murky cloud of hole Instagram posts and braggadocio.

To at the present time, DJs are anticipated to masquerade as doppelgängers of themselves, silently struggling by way of a faux-rockstar way of life that rejects vulnerability and rewards ego. And their psychological well being dissipates like a fart within the wind.

Although artists are actually extra open than ever about their psychological well being, it appears there’s nonetheless a obvious disconnect with followers, who’re accustomed to scrolling by way of jet-setting social media timelines. And there is no silver bullet to this drawback, which Hardwell encapsulates in simplistic phrases.

“The one factor that followers truly need is you to be there,” Hardwell says. “In all places.”

Irrespective of how badly they need to appease each fan, artists of Hardwell’s renown should do an exorbitant quantity of spadework behind the scenes to organize for exhibits. The character of that work will be so incessant that it slowly eats away at their tenacity.

And therein lies the catch-22. What followers could not readily perceive is that it is definitely doable to carry out in all places while you’re spending half a 12 months on a airplane, however the journey is so exhausting that it throttles your potential to take action. “Being Hardwell 24/7 leaves too little vitality, love, creativity and a focus for my life as a traditional individual,” he lamented when he introduced his indefinite hiatus.

It is troublesome to stay to your convictions if you end up grappling with their limitations.

“It’s powerful typically,” Hardwell tells us with a sigh, “particularly while you’re doing 200 flights a 12 months. I’m actually completely satisfied that I introduced it right down to—not kidding—I believe I’m doing 30 or 35 exhibits this 12 months. And I’m actually pleased with discovering that steadiness between being right here at house in Holland with my studio work and being again on the highway.”


Hardwell in his house studio in Holland.

Even pilots aren’t legally allowed to fly an excessive amount of—so why are DJs anticipated to?

“It is humorous {that a} full-time pilot… is just allowed to do 50 flights a 12 months,” Hardwell says. “In any other case it’s going to have an effect on his well being.”

It is necessary to notice that Hardwell would not fault his followers, who stay among the many most loyal and diehard within the digital dance music ecosystem.

“I believe it is a pure factor while you’re so hyped about an artist, you simply need to see them,” he explains. “And I do not assume the followers truly imply it in a nasty manner. It is actually onerous to know.”

When Hardwell in the end made the daunting determination to hold up the headphones, not solely did he put his efficiency profession on maintain, however he additionally separated himself from his house studio for a whole 12 months. Relative to the turbocharged world of dance music, it could as nicely have been an eternity.

He could not have realized it on the time, however the short-term detachment from his artwork would in the end present Hardwell the psychological reset he wanted to maneuver ahead.


Dutch DJ and digital music producer Hardwell, whose comeback album, REBELS NEVER DIE, is predicted to launch in late 2022.

Hardwell’s momentous return to Miami’s Extremely Music Competition—an occasion he had carried out at yearly from 2012 to 2018—was characterised by a brand new, eye-popping stage manufacturing and the conclusion of his cohesive imaginative and prescient for REBELS NEVER DIE. However the triumphant comeback was hardly what was on his thoughts the second he lastly returned to the studio.

“I needed to create one thing that is as shut as doable to myself. That’s REBELS NEVER DIE.”

As a substitute, the evolution of REBELS NEVER DIE started with Hardwell channeling his roots. He listened intently to the music that made an influence on him in his formative teen years, he says, across the time when he had signed his first document deal.

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“I walked within the studio and for the primary two weeks I solely began listening to bop music, like dance information from again within the day once I was 12 or 13 years previous,” Hardwell remembers.

Reorienting himself by way of a meticulous dissection of the craft, Hardwell’s focus was easy. He needed to know what made these nostalgic information nice and use that inspiration to forge a brand new pathway.

“I needed to create one thing that is as shut as doable to myself,” he rhapsodizes. “That’s REBELS NEVER DIE.

Hardwell tells us the primary REBELS NEVER DIE monitor he produced was “DOPAMINE,” a document that packs an adrenaline rush paying homage to his traditional mainstage hits. Coupled with the infusion of ominous techno soundscapes, the only is a nod to the underground. 

Whereas Hardwell describes REBELS NEVER DIE as one of the natural initiatives he is ever created, it was a labor of affection. There is definitely no handbook on easy methods to navigate such a fragile and high-stakes transition, however he felt a duty to confront it head-on and set sensible expectations for the way his new chapter would unfold. 

“After I have a look at artists I actually admire and so they change their sound, the primary query is, ‘Why?’ It isn’t that I do not agree with them,” Hardwell explains. “I simply need to know, ‘Why?’ What in your personal thoughts made you need to change your sound or your signature?”

With the album’s lead single, “BROKEN MIRROR,” Hardwell launched followers to his mission assertion through an emphatic lyric: “I do know what you need me to be / Now I am gonna present you who I really am.”

In an effort to make good on that assertion, Hardwell needed to dig deep. He approached his artistic classes with few guidelines or expectations, save for one: his subsequent chapter can be cultivated fully of his personal affect.

“Why do you have to imprison an artist in anybody specific type?”

Ordinarily a really collaborative artist, Hardwell bucked custom and insisted REBELS NEVER DIE be fully a solo endeavor. It isn’t that he did not need to crew up with different artists—if he had accomplished so, he says, he would’ve compromised the secrecy surrounding his historic comeback album.

Regardless of his unconventional method, longtime followers can discover solace within the notion that the “Spaceman” producer’s signature sound of yesteryear will come again right down to earth in some unspecified time in the future.

“I am engaged on a pair extra vocal-ish songs proper now, even within the new type,” revealed Hardwell, who stated that if he had been to deconstruct the association of REBELS NEVER DIE cuts like “F*CKING SOCIETY,” he might seamlessly repurpose it right into a vocal-driven anthem of previous. “These songs nonetheless have the proper chords, the proper emotion. I am simply making an attempt to determine for myself which path I need to go together with that.”

Regardless of the unwavering conviction he has right now, Hardwell intuitively knew that the introduction to his new path would not essentially win over everybody throughout that eventful return to Extremely Music Competition. He says he was extraordinarily nervous earlier than taking the stage, however had “no hesitation in any respect” when it got here time to push his chips ahead.

“If I’m going to a Coldplay live performance and so they began taking part in utterly totally different music with out their well-known songs, I might be dissatisfied as nicely,” he analogizes. “So I see it from that perspective. Alternatively, I at all times assume you must assist an artist, in the event you like him, in any path he is going. Why do you have to imprison an artist in anybody specific type?”

Hardwell candidly admitted his comeback efficiency initially landed with cut up viewers reactions that evening in Magic Metropolis. However he believes his crew executed his imaginative and prescient and “pulled it off the proper manner.” 

“I might have accomplished my Extremely set with 50% of my well-known, older songs and 50% of the REBELS NEVER DIE album songs, however that will haven’t made the assertion I needed to make,” he defined.

General, Hardwell would not seem like preoccupied with rehashing the selections of his previous. As a substitute, he sees solely upside forward as he continues to provoke audiences across the rallying cry of REBELS NEVER DIE.


Hardwell performs at Extremely Music Competition in Miami on Sunday, March twenty seventh, 2022.

Subsequent up for Hardwell is a return to Ibiza, the place he is primed for a two-hour DJ set on the island’s fabled Ushuaïa membership, one of many world’s most coveted nightlife designations.

He says the efficiency presents a brand new problem for his crew as a result of great scale of the REBELS NEVER DIE world tour manufacturing. The herculean stage design stole the present at three of the world’s largest EDM festivals: Extremely, Belgium’s Tomorrowland and Romania’s Untold.

“I believe it will be a extremely intimate present,” Hardwell says. “It was fairly a journey to get that REBELS NEVER DIE stage design squeezed into Ushuaïa.”

Contemplating it is Hardwell’s solely present on the White Isle in 2022, he says it will be “loopy.” Ergo, followers who made the journey to the idyllic occasion island are in for maybe the rarest efficiency of his profession.

“You must take the group on a journey,” he continues. “That is what Ibiza’s all about. It isn’t me getting on stage and begin smashing my album tracks proper into it—it’s a must to create that sure journey. After which while you attain that time, you possibly can drop that type of music. Then it is recreation over.”

Hardwell’s 14-track REBELS NEVER DIE LP is predicted to launch in late 2022. Followers can pre-save the album right here.


Fb: fb.com/djhardwell
Twitter: twitter.com/HARDWELL
Instagram: instagram.com/hardwell
Spotify: spoti.fi/3s1xcJD

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