It’s hard to draw up a better year for a dance music producer/DJ than the one that Hardwell has had in 2014. Named the top DJ in the world for the second year in a row by DJ Mag, the 26-year-old Dutchman has continued his hit residency at Hakkasan in Las Vegas, put the finishing touches on his first “artist” album (his own songs, rather than remixes) and toured the world with his first-ever arena show, I Am Hardwell.
amNewYork caught up with the superstar, who brings his show to Madison Square Garden on Saturday, to talk about performing on the biggest stages and setting up for a long career.
What makes for a great arena dance music show?
No matter whether you’re a singer or a DJ, I think it’s really important when you do arena shows that you’re able to connect the crowd, to create one big unit. Everybody should enjoy the music and have the best time of their life, and the most important thing is to try to make it intimate, even when it’s really big arena shows.
You have 12 years of experience already, but also became a superstar here in only the last couple of years. How do you capitalize on it all and create a career that spans decades, like a Tiesto?
The artist album is definitely a next step for me. As a DJ I’ve achieved so many things in the last two or three years; my next step is focusing a little more on producing. And at that point, I’ll see what I really like. I’ve got a record label, so maybe I’ll focus some on that. But of course, I’ll always do my shows, because that’s the thing I love the most.
That debut artist album comes out in January. Any hints as to what it sounds like?
They should expect a Hardwell album in the most diverse way possible. I tried to invent my own sound. I’m exploring different genres and combining the best of all worlds — there’s a little rock influence, a little bit of deep house and underground influence. It’s not only for the dance floor — it’s for radio, it’s for your living room, it’s for everybody.
IF YOU GO: Hardwell performs at Madison Square Garden on Saturday at 8 p.m., 4 Penn Plaza, 212-465-6741, $58.55-$144.50.