In town recently for the sold-out Singapore leg of his United We Are tour, we caught up with Hardwell hours before his show
27-year old Hardwell (also known as Robbert van de Corput) is taking over the world. Having signed his first record deal at 14 years old (yes, 14), his parents used to follow him around the clubs in Amsterdam as he wasn't legally allowed to enter alone. Now, the Dutch man has spinned in festivals such as Tomorrowland and Ultra, and performed at the iconic Madison Square Garden. His parents were there too — this time as attendees, rather than chaperones.
While success has struck him at such a young age, the friendly artiste remains humble, gushing about the other no. 1 DJ in his opinion, Tiësto. They both hail from Breda, now considered the dance capital of the world. Interestingly, when they were starting out, there wasn't a single dance club in the city. Instead, the aspiring talents would meet in bars to talk about what he affectionately refers to as "geek stuff".
His return to Singapore is a homecoming of sorts — Hardwell's first performance in 2010 was his first time playing outside of the Netherlands. When asked about the top five tracks that inspired him, he racked his brain trying to tie down the last one — before responding with, "anything by Pharrell". Here are the rest.
1. Flight 643, Tiesto: "This was definitely one of the songs that got me into dance music."
2. Simulated, Marco V: "The first vinyl I ever bought was Marco V's Simulated. It's another dance song that really inspired me."
3. Smack my bitch up, The Prodigy: "A song that I really look up to in terms of how it's produced technically. It's one of my all-time favourite songs. If you know the story behind the song, every single sound of the track is sampled from another track. They made a completely new track out of it."
4. The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem: "I was listening to the whole album for a long time when I was in high school. Well, what can I say — Dr. Dre is an amazing producer. It's definitely one of my favourite albums ever."
5. Anything by Pharrell Williams: "Everything he's done, from his solo tracks, to N.E.R.D. to the Neptunes...he's one of my favourite producers."