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The Evolution Of: Hardwell

There’s only a handful of artists that have been around since the golden era of electronic music and are still in the game. One of them even retired for several years, only to make a comeback bigger and better than ever: Hardwell.

The Beginning

Hailing from the picturesque Dutch city of Breda, DJ and producer Robbert van de Corput began his music career at a young age. He began to lay the foundation for what would soon become his meteoric rise at the mere age of four, when he dove head first into the music world with his enrollment in music school and frequent piano lessons. By the age of twelve, Robbert began to experiment with electronic music production, while also mastering the art of DJing hip hop tunes. Throughout his teenage years, he participated in numerous music competitions that propelled him into the spotlight of Breda’s vibrant DJ scene. His early music drew upon influences from trance, techno, and house music, and he was highly inspired by fellow Breda DJ and producer, Tiësto.

Surging toward Success

As hip hop music transitioned into an underground phenomenon, Hardwell pivoted towards commercial electronic dance music. Delving into production, he began crafting remixes and posting them across various online platforms. By age 14, Dutch producer duo Klubbheads recognized his talent and offered him a record deal with the esteemed Digidance label. Within just three weeks of signing, Hardwell debuted his first official release ‘Bubbling Beats 1”. He became an instant success in the world of electronic music, and set out to tour across the Netherlands and performed in many popular nightclubs.

The now 36 year-old released his first official single in 2006, ‘Play It Around’, which showcased his unique sound in combination with other popular musical genres of the time. By around 2007, Hardwell produced several tracks that garnered attention from industry leaders. He released the song ‘Never Knew Love’ in collaboration with Greatski, which quickly became a chart-topping hit in Germany. like his bootleg of ‘Show Me Love’, that was praised by Steve Angello and Laidback Luke.

The Rise Continues

In 2010, Hardwell started Revealed Recordings, aiming to champion fresh electronic dance music talent. He contracted with Dutch DJ duo W&W at the very beginning, as well as other popular DJs and personal friends Dannic and Dyro. Every year since, the label drops ‘Hardwell Presents Revealed’, which showcases new releases on the label, alongside Hardwell’s own tracks. Today, Revealed represents dozens of artists from around the world, including Blasterjaxx, Dubvision, Maddix, and Sick Individuals– to name a few.

In 2011, Hardwell debuted on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs list, landing at number 24, just behind Skrillex as the second-highest new entry. The following year, he released perhaps his most famous track to date. ‘Spaceman’ was an instant success, selling over half a million copies in the United States and becoming a nightclub staple and music festival anthem. Following the success of this track, Hardwell began headlining the world’s best EDM festivals like Creamfields, Ultra Music Festival, and Tomorrowland.

In the years following, his success and fame grew exponentially. The Dutch DJ was touring around the world, performing alongside top DJs like Tiësto and Armin van Buuren. In 2013 and 2014, he was even named as the world’s #1 DJ. He was also continually releasing hit after hit, from ‘United We Are’ to ‘Hollywood’ with Afrojack and ‘Power’ with KSHMR. It seemed as though Hardwell was on top of the world- or at least on top of the electronic music world.

A Shocking Surprise

After almost a decade of unprecedented success, Hardwell stunned fans across the globe with an unexpected announcement. On September 7th of 2018, Hardwell took to social media to announce his retirement from live performances. Reminiscent of Avicii’s decision to do the same in 2016, Hardwell asserted that his live DJing days were behind, but he would remain committed to producing music for years to come.

At the time of his retirement, Hardwell had created an impressive catalog of achievements, including over 120 singles, 80 remixes, an artist album, 11 compilation albums, two documentaries, two arena world tours, and countless international headline performances.

“Being Hardwell 24/7 leaves too little energy, love, creativity and attention for my life,” he stated in his post, “This is why I have decided to clear my schedule indefinitely to be completely liberated from targets, interviews, deadlines, release dates, etc.” The EDM community was in total shock over this- but we all know how that went.

A Revolutionary Return

As a true fan knows, Hardwell’s career was not over then. Four years later in 2022, he made his iconic return to live performances at Ultra Music Festival in Miami. Following his timely return, he announced that a new album would be dropping soon – ‘Rebels Never Die’ – as well as a tour to follow soon as well.

And that, was the return of Hardwell, but with a different kind of sound. In the 2020’s, he began to shift his sound from traditional big room to techno big room. Regardless of his changing sound, Hardwell is back at it and better than ever- and that’s all that matters.

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