Hardwell’s first full-length album as an artist, United We Are, is a 14-track production that caters more to his festival fans than what is palatable for the radio and has consequently seen mixed reviews on the charts. Having only hit No. 85 on the Billboard 200, it peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Albums.
In an interview with Billboard, Hardwell shares that United We Are is the perfect foundation for his second world tour. Additionally, he attests that the album is the culmination of ten years of work, specifically focusing on accurately representing who he is as a producer.
Despite the many offers extended to Hardwell from big labels to produce in LA, he stays focused on the idea that his music isn’t meant to be packaged and commercialized via radio waves, thus releasing the album on his own label. Hardwell also discusses the inspiration behind his single, 'Sally;' one that strays from his conventional sound and has garnered mixed reviews as a result. He mentions that part of the inspiration is from his bootleg of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. Additionally, the term 'Sally' is used within rock culture to describe having an uncaring ethos. Meant to be a feel good track in this respect, Hardwell says to "picture yourself getting drunk with your friends at 2 or 3 am, and you play that "Sally" track."
The interview also sheds light on Hardwell’s experience as a hip-hop DJ. Despite his aptitude for this style of DJing, he finds it hard to be able to showcase it during his live shows as the sounds don’t necessarily mesh with the progressive house his fans have come to relish in.
As for the future of EDM, Hardwell has high hopes when it comes to festival lineups becoming more diverse. He anticipates the return of more trance and progressive sounds as big room house dwindles in its initial burst of popularity and notes that Kygo and Flume are the future of EDM.
Cover image via edmmaniac.com