Hardwell Responds to Criticism in Billboard Interview

Hardwell performing at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2014. (Rukes)
Hardwell has given numerous of interviews over the last year, but Billboard’s recent conversation with the Dutch superstar stands out. Despite scoring plenty of hits and winning DJ Mag’s Top 100 poll in back-to-back years, Hardwell (along with some of his peers) has also faced criticism. We’re not sure if it was intentional, but he addressed some of the issues in his Billboard interview. Below are the responses that stood out to us the most.
1. His controversial single “Sally” isn’t about a person.

“Harrison came up with the lyric, and that’s the shocking part for most people. The thing is, he explains this to me: Sally is not a fictive person. Sally is a term in the rock industry that’s been used by the Beatles and Eric Clapton, and if he says ‘I’ve been f—ing Sally,’ he’s saying he doesn’t give a f— about what’s going on. That’s the definition of the song.”

2. He recorded his new album with festivals in mind — not the radio.

“A lot of big labels approached me to come to L.A. with a big studio and singer/songwriter list. Most of those dance acts are completely aiming for radio and want to make an album as commercial as possible and make a lot of money with that album. All of my album’s tracks are made for the dance floor and not for the radio. They still have that punchy kick drum and it still feels like a festival album.”

3. He feels like the “button pushing DJ” label is unfair.

“A lot of people always see the EDM DJs as button pushers, especially when deadmau5 came up with that term. Well actually I started out as a hip-hop DJ and I won several awards in Holland for my skills. You can ask ‘well why don’t you show your skills in your DJ sets?’ But it’s not common to scratch and use turntablism in progressive house music. It’s very disturbing. It interrupts the whole DJ set, because with this kind of music you need to tell a story to the people. That’s something I want people to know, that I am a real DJ. I started as a DJ before I was even a producer.”

4. He thinks a lot of dance music A&Rs are out of touch.

“You know what still bothers me? A lot of big labels have an A&R manager who’s over 40 years old, who hasn’t been to Ultra or any club in the last 20 years, and that guy is A&Ring a dance music album. I just don’t get it. If I doubt whether a track works, I’m just going to play the instrumental version in my set and judge where the crowd takes it.”

5. He believes dance music will become more diverse.

“With things getting more separated and big room house going down a bit, there is maybe room for more trancey and progressive sounds. I think we’re going back to the more melodic stuff and even more downtempo progressive stuff with guys like Kygo and Flume. I definitely think there will be more variety in the festival lineups within a year from now.”

Related: Hardwell: ‘Producing Is Way More Important than DJing’