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Not a prisoner of my own sound: DJ Hardwell

| DIPTI
Published : Sep 30, 2016, 11:12 pm IST
Updated : Sep 30, 2016, 11:12 pm IST

One of the world’s most recognisable DJs, Robbert van de Corput aka Hardwell has headlined every major dance music festival in the world.

DJ Hardwell is set to enthral city fans today
 DJ Hardwell is set to enthral city fans today

One of the world’s most recognisable DJs, Robbert van de Corput aka Hardwell has headlined every major dance music festival in the world. Back in India to enthral music lovers in the capital today at Sunburn Arena, he chats with us about his love for music, India, Indian fans and more. Excerpts:

Namaste! Welcome back to India. What makes you keep coming back to India I’ve always had a strong relationship with Indian fans. They’ve been some of my biggest supporters, and I am so grateful for their belief in my music and me. India is one of the emerging powerhouses of dance music right now; the pace at which the scene is growing has been so impressive. The fans are really driving that, and it separates the Indian fans from other countries in the world. Connecting with my fans in India via gigs or social media has always shown me how special the passion in the country is; not just for music, but for life. It’s magical. It’s one of the best fan experiences I’ve ever had. The crowd is so dedicated; they know every song that I play. That’s why I keep coming back to this beautiful land.

What are the craziest things that you’ve ever encountered while performing live in India Not the craziest but seeing 1,00,000 thousands go insane at my United We Are Foundation concert in Mumbai last December was a big moment for me. It was a magnificent occasion that was for a bigger course than just a party. We were raising money to put kids from the slums of the city into education. We managed to raise enough money to put over 18,000 kids into school, which was something truly special for me.

You started producing dance music when you were just 14. How much of people’s attitude towards DJs changed since you started out It has changed drastically. If you look at the musical landscape, DJs are looked up to like they are the new rock ‘n’ roll stars. Our (DJ-ing) culture is now taken more seriously, and we’re now shoulder to shoulder with hip-hop, pop, rock and many other genres.

What’s the biggest misconception about dance music right now that dance music is stagnating and is on the decline. And that it is a temporary trend. The people saying that are so wrong. It’s still growing and has become a global scene, which is never going to go away now. It is here to stay and is going to be really big. Dance music as a whole has never been healthier or more exciting than right now.

You first played live at a friend’s birthday party to a crowd of 100 as a young teenager. Now you play in front of a mad crowd comprising several thousands. Do you feel nervous at all before going on stage Yeah, it’s natural to get goosebumps but it’s important to feel that. It keeps you sharp and alert to the moment. I love to be in the moment and embrace the occasion because it’s why I am here, to give the best show I possibly can. You always want to put your best foot forward in front of your fans, live up to their expectations and never disappoint them.

As an electronic musician, you have been gigging hard recently. But you still managed to find time to work on new tracks, collaborating with a combination of new singer-songwriters and some big names. Do you have a list of people you want to work with in future I choose people (to collaborate) purely based on my instincts. It’s a more of a natural process to me. For collaboration, I’m always on the lookout for guys who have that same energy, with a positive state of mind, and just, you know, make music. It’s really all about the final outcome and how it feels. If I work on collaboration, I don’t care if it’s a major celebrity artist or an unknown singer-songwriter — I always need to have a connection. Also for me, it is not always about making a hit record. It is about being original. If someone inspires me as a DJ, or makes me hear something that I have never heard before or if someone gets out an instant reaction from my heart and makes it skip a beat — I surrender. But, of course, one tends to have a list of dream collaborators. For me, it would have to be Dr Dre or Pharrell Williams. I admire Pharrell in every single way, as a songwriter, as a singer, as a fashion designer, and his whole personality.

It’s quite surprising at how many different genres you manage to fit into one single album. Do you want to showcase your influences, or more you trying your hands at a bunch of different genres I am just enjoying myself trying new sounds and styles. It’s just as simple as that. I am not looking to be a prisoner of my own sound, I want to play and make what inspires me and gets the right energy for the moment.

You are still so young, how would you say being a huge success has affected your life and the time you spend with family and friends It can make seeing family and friends difficult when you’re away from home as much as I am but they all know this is the life I chose, and the life that I want for myself. You have to work hard to achieve your goals and with success you have to keep yourself grounded and understand to not let it go to your head. The truth is life isn’t really that much different. There are a many fancy lifestyle changes from hotels to occasional private flights but your family and friends are still the same. You still like the same food, wear the same size clothes and enjoy the same things in life. I’ve never wanted to be famous so maybe I’ve not done enough red carpets for it to change me.

How do you deal with jetlag and different time zones The key thing is eating healthy and looking after your health. I also make sure to get as much sleep as possible. I try to get a good six to eight hours a day. You need to keep your mind active. I love to party as much as the next person but I know when to stop. I value my music, the fans and my DJing too much to not want to give it a 100 per cent whether I am on stage, or in the studio.

Coming back to India, did you ever get a chance to listen to Indian music I have heard quite a few. But I’d love if someone shows me or makes me hear the music of local artists. Maybe I’ll get a chance on this trip

But what about Bollywood If given a chance to compose a sound track for a Bollywood movie...would you go for it Who knows I’m always open for new collaborations and ideas but it’s all about timing and if it feels the right project for everyone involved.

Lastly, an Indian tour is incomplete without food tasting. What all do you want to try this time around I’ve tried quite a lot over the years but on this trip I’d love to try a real Indian home-cooked meal. And something that’s very unique to the city.