From: Breda, Netherlands
DJ style: “Hardwell sound.”
Best known for: “Big festival sets, Revealed Recordings, United We Are Foundation.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “KAAZE.”
For the past few years, Hardwell has been a towering a fixture in the Top 100 DJs poll, equally as much as he has been in the EDM scene since its staggering takeover of the US (and by default, the rest of the world). Wherever there is a spectacle-filled mainstage, you will find Hardwell, and he spoke back in 2014 of the Top 100 and its significance following his sophomore No.1 win.
“It definitely changed a lot of things for me. Although I’d spent 10 years dreaming of becoming the No.1 DJ, nothing really prepared me for what would happen after that. The most notable thing was the attention it brought from a new side of the industry, and people from different scenes.”
The rollercoaster ride continued this year, in particular, the 350th episode of his Hardwell On Air radio show in January, which weekly amasses an incredible 50 million listeners across more than 100 FM stations worldwide. Music-wise, it saw the release of ‘Conquerors’, debuted to memorable effect during the intro of his set at Ultra Miami in March and saw him collaborating with the 52-person Dutch Metropole Orkest for the sake of some extra symphonic drama.
With so much going on, something fans might not have been expecting this year was his retirement from touring/performing. Nonetheless, this is exactly what he announced back in September.
“Being Hardwell 24/7 leaves too little energy, love, creativity and attention for my life as a normal person... I’ve always dealt with all the pressure that comes with the heavy touring schedule, but for now, it felt too much, like a never-ending rollercoaster ride... I need some time off to be me, the person behind the artist and reflect on everything that happened the last few years.”
To mark his final Top 100 issue as a touring DJ, we grabbed Hardwell to say a few words about his “whirlwind” year, as well as his decision to retire from touring. “I achieved so many highs and had the pleasure to meet and party with hundreds of thousands of fans around the world! From headline sets at Ultra Music Festival, EDC Las Vegas, ParookaVille, Creamfields, as well as a special show for the UEFA Champions League Final and a return to Tomorrowland’s mainstage... on top of another busy summer in Ibiza and some amazing club shows along the way. I’ve loved it,” he tells DJ Mag.
“Out of the studio I had collabs with guys like Steve Aoki, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Blasterjaxx, WildStylez, and the third edition of my Hardwell & Friends EP. During ADE, I’ll be playing a special one-off show with the Metropole Orkest at the Ziggo Dome, who I collaborated with on ‘Conquerors’. This will be my final show for now. I’m excited to be closing this chapter in my life in such an exciting way!”
Referred to bombastically as ‘Symphony: The Global Revolution Of Dance’, his ADE finale will take fans on a journey through the history of dance music, and is set to see him go out with a bang. But who really knows what the future will bring for Hardwell? Only time will tell.
Words: ANGUS PATERSON