Hardwell might already be No. 1, but he’ll always try harder.
Right now, the Dutchman is at the vanguard of the EDM world. The progressive and electro-house specialist (real name Robbert van de Corput) is the reigning victor of DJ Mag’s annual Top 100 DJs poll, and he’s just toured the world like a champ.
On Nov. 15, Hardwell wrapped up his hugely successful, 18-month “I Am Hardwell” world tour with a finale at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Billboard caught time with the headliner and his key personnel as the globe-trotter’s run came to its inevitable halt.
“(For) every artist, no matter which genre, it’s a dream come true to perform here,” Hardwell told Billboard ahead of his MSG send-off. It would seem a whole head full of dreams were made on this trek. “We’re all in this tour together. We work really close and, especially when you’ve been on the road for a year and a half, actually its kind of a pity we’re closing this tour now, tonight.” It’s no surprise he’s sad to see the tour’s end. Almost all dates were sell-outs.
|Exclusive: Hardwell Tour Photos|
During our all-access peek backstage, we learned what makes the world’s top-ranked DJ tick — and we found out that Hardwell isn’t quite the hardman after all. He admits to being “super excited, maybe a little bit nervous,” about the MSG show, “but we should end this tour with a bang,” he said beforehand. “And we’re definitely going to do that.”
Backstage, the 26-year-old Hardwell took Billboard on a journey of a different type. We followed the relaxed party-master as he hung out with his meet-and-greet guest and we encoutered the tears among his entourage, just as the strobes we ready to ignite for the last time. But it was all smiles once the DJ took the stage in front of and bombared the crowd assembled in the mammoth arena with his hands-in-the-air grooves for a solid three hours.
“There isn’t really a secret of what I’m doing. I always try connecting with the crowd,” he explained. “My fans see my passion for music, I think they can feel it. I always try to create that euphoric feeling, that energy and try to unite as much as possible.” He adds, I think that’s the most important thing. The unity when you’re playing.”
Hardwell and his team will recharge their batteries over the holiday period. They’ll need the energy, because another world tour will kick off in Amsterdam one day after the release of his first full-length album, United We Are, drops on Jan. 23. And unlike his previous jaunt, Hardwell recently told Billboard that the new shows will be completely live. “I was on this tour for a year and half and playing out the same edit of my track every night. Well, sometimes you just want to recompose a track and re-edit it live just based on the crowd reaction. With this new tour, I’m able to make completely new melodies and come up with something new even when I’m up on stage.”