A chopper lands nosily in the lawns of the DY Patil University, Navi Mumbai, as security guards start cordoning off most of the lawn from an excited, young and screaming crowd. Alighting from the chopper is the famed Dutch DJ, Hardwell (27), sporting a black T-shirt that reads Hardwell in the Devanagari script. He walks across the lawns waving like a movie star, while a camera person from his team captures the crowd’s hysteria with an amused expression on his face. Hardwell’s fans have gone berserk by now, and are chanting his name.
This is the kind of reception the superstar DJ receives in India, ever since he first visited in 2012. Soon, he is whisked away from the adulation to the green room. Winners of a meet-and-greet with Hardwell contest (some carrying posters of him) have queued up outside. He obliges each selfie and autograph request.
Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is not exactly something you associate with charity. But Hardwell (real name Robbert van de Corput) was in the city recently for a charity fundraiser show. In an attempt to hold the record for the world’s biggest guest list, entry to the event was thrown open to fans at no charge. Though the event organisers aren’t willing to share numbers, it is believed an estimate of 80,000 people showed up for the gig. Hardwell’s United We Are Foundation tied up with Shailendra Singh’s (joint managing director, Percept Limited) Unite Welfare Trust and a city-based NGO, Magic Bus, which works towards providing education to underprivileged children to make the event happen (see box).
In the artist’s arena, Hardwell’s management team hovers around him at all times, and he won’t do a thing until he has the green signal from his staff. There’s chaos, as he’s needed in five different places at once. Everyone wants his time, a piece of the pie. Finally, we manage to get a word with the man himself.
Q) What brings you back to India time and again?
I think everybody knows my love for India. We’re doing something beautiful with Unite Welfare Trust and Magic Bus now. I visited some slums (in the Bombay Port Trust area) yesterday. I was walking through the slums and, all of a sudden, one of the kids played my music. I was so surprised. I went into a couple of houses and interacted with the families. It was amazing to meet the kids from Magic Bus.
Q) What does a regular day in your life look like?
I know it’s a bit of a cliché but no two days are the same. I’m always working on new music or I’m on the road. I like to keep myself busy. So, whenever I’m away from my studio, I have my laptop with me and will either be working on new tracks, doing special edits for my set, or be checking promos for my DJ show or label. Apart from music, I like to relax with friends and family, watch a film, go out for some food. It’s nice to just enjoy some quality time with people I’ve not seen for a while because I’m away a lot.
You were inspired to become a DJ after watching a documentary on Dutch MTV…There was a documentary about the Dutch dance scene which featured DJs like Tiesto, Armin van Buuren and Ferry Corsten, and it really ignited something in me. I was about 12 then and was completely hooked on this music. I wanted to hear more and become a part of this new sound I had discovered. I started searching for electronic music and fed my hunger for it.
Q- What made you choose the stage name, Hardwell?
My dad came up with it when I was 12. And I never changed it.
Q - What prompted you to set up your own label, Revealed Recordings?
I wanted a platform where I could release my music but also help other artists find a home for their music. It gives me the chance to share my experience with new artists, which hopefully, helps their careers. I am personally involved in the management and running of the label. All the music goes through me before being signed or released.
A total of 18,200 underprivileged children from urban and rural areas across India will benefit through Magic Bus’s programme. By providing education through customised curriculum, Magic Bus hopes to break the poverty cycle and equip children to have dignified livelihood options.
Log on to donate.magicbus.org for more information.
- Favourite food: Sushi
- Last movie you saw: Taken 3
- Dream vacation spot: Ibiza, during the summers
- Any crazy fan moments: I’ve met a few fans who have my logo tattooed on them. That always blows me away.