HARDWELL & KSHMR Open Up About Working On Their Latest Collab "Power" [INTERVIEW]
HARDWELL & KSHMR are both legitimate producers who have made a definitive impact on the EDM community. Their unique styles are incorporated into "Power" and is distinctly heard throughout the record. EDM.com had the awesome opportunity to pick their brains and to learn more about the inner clockworks of a producer's mind. We hope that we gave some insight on how a collaboration works and to help the reader more on their journey into producing a great record.
HARDWELL the Legend.
HARDWELL is a true pioneer who has helped shape the dance and DJ culture into what it is today. With HARDWELL’s influence on the DJ community being #1 on DJ MAGs TOP 100 twice in the world, he has become a legend through his performances and continues to make an impact in EDM with his Electro House amp’d records and his affinity for live performances.
EDM.com: "Power" is a huge record that has aggressive synths and ominous undertones being carried throughout its melody and lyrics. When collaborating, why decide to go with this theme and what was the thought process on doing so?
HARDWELL: Energy and a driving groove was what I had in mind when we started on "Power." We came at this from the same area and felt that the combination of both of our styles really gave the track a unique edge. The track does what it says on the tin, giving a big dose of "Power" on the dance floor. This was a really fun collab to work on and the final outcome, after seeing how it works during my sets, is something I’m really happy with!
KSHMR is known for his epic live performances and energetic melodies. What was it like working with KSHMR on a really intense and energetic project, and how fast did the production take from start to finish once you started working with him?
HARDWELL: The collab was really fun. KSHMR is a really cool guy and super easy to work with. What I loved most about the experience was the back and forth of ideas. As a producer he has a clear vision of what he wants to do but he’s very open in his creativity, which is a nice mix when you’re doing a collaboration with another artist. This record took a little longer than we planned mostly because trying to squeeze studio time in during the summer can be difficult when both our tour calendars are pretty busy.
During your ULTRA Europe 2017 performance, you threw down "Power" as a stand alone and called it out during your performance to give it its own stage. What was it like, emotionally, when you released it out to the world and have them go absolutely insane? Could you describe the thoughts that were running through your head when you were playing such a massive hit?
HARDWELL: I’ve been privileged a lot over the years to be able to use my sets to single out records of mine that are forthcoming and give the fans something really fresh. Dropping "Power" during my show like that was up there as one of my favorite moments for doing this kind of thing. It’s such a powerful record and had this immediate fan reaction that was just insane; I loved it! Ultra has always been a place for me to bring big records and showcase them on that incredible stage and "Power" was the perfect record for doing that this year.
"Power" is a record that gives energy when you listen to it, giving the listener strength and the feeling of being able to accomplish anything. Through the chords and melodies that you are using, is there a key that you normally go to or is it based off of your feeling?
HARDWELL: All my music is based on a feeling. It’s how I experience music on the dance floor and how I try to bring it into the studio. Of course there are elements that bridge into how tracks are made, what key, what BPM etc, but I still try to put my feeling and emotion into the music before anything else.
This last question is for aspiring dance producers who are out there in the world and are having trouble understanding the concept of creating a great dance mix. What is one modern technique or advice you can give that you use on a daily basis that might be able to help out producers who are currently struggling on their own dance projects, specifically huge records like "Power"?
HARDWELL: Whenever I’m struggling with a record, instead of trying to put more into it I actually go away, take a breather and then come back to it with a fresh set of ears and actually try to take some of the parts out and find the magic within what I already have rather than adding more into the mix. "Less is more" is a good quote to remember... hoarding all the plugins and gear might seem like a great idea but you’d be better off becoming an expert in a few, so say mastering one compressor and one synth is better than spending hours and hours learning multiple synths etc.
KSHMR the Eclectic.
KSHMR’s live performances is something you have to witness as a true EDM fan. He dominates live performances with his records by pure will and determination landing him the prestige award for DJ Mag's Top 100 New Live Performance. His melodies on dance records is a must hear for any lover of the genre.
"Power," contains lyrics that start out with, “I’ll fill you up with bones that can never break, take you to a darker shade of grey.” The contrast between the two lyrics are quite drastic, starting the track with a dark tone figuratively and literally. What was your thought process on choosing an ominous tone and why?
KSHMR: I wrote this song with this great writer Jarrad Kritzstein and the idea was to tell the story of someone who has the power to make you happy and the power to make you weak. It was almost told from the perspective of an omnipotent, you know… a deity and, I have the taste for the cinematic. Jarrad Kritzstein was interested in exploring the cinematic theme and "Power" became the result.
HARDWELL is no stranger to energetic high intensity anthems that are known to get feet off the ground. What was it like working with HARDWELL on a really powerful record and how fluid was the workflow process?
KSHMR: Working with HARDWELL was great! I had this base idea you know, it was from years ago and I still believed in it, I presented it to different people and HARDWELL was the one who saw the vision and shared that vision with me. During the process of producing "Power," I was aided in a great part by the fact that he’s a real producer. I would send him an idea, then he was send something back and it would be even better. Some people you work with will give you vague suggestions or don’t really like the record and you're not sure why. But typically producers, real thorough bred producers don’t give you vague answers, they have very specific feedback and can also see the potential of an idea that is not polished yet. HARDWELL would have a recommendation on how to do a certain synth or how to do a bass, and it doesn’t sound like much now but he can see 10 steps ahead and finish songs that would go on to become great.
One of my favorite records of yours is "Secrets." "Secrets" has atmosphere and slowly brings the melody in as a banger, but "Power" has more thump in its rump and gets the crowd going wild and crazy off the start. Which overall style do you prefer to make when you are working on your music and how long does the process normally take?
KSHMR: I like to try everything in a single song. The difficult part oftentimes is when to decide what's gonna make the final cut. There were probably versions of "Secrets" where I tried a structure that's similar to power and vice versa. I look at "Power" and "Secrets," not being worlds apart really. I’ve made songs that are vastly different from both of them and also had satisfying experiences. I think to stay inspired, I just have to try a multitude of different styles. I’m a producer and as a producer I get inspired by people's music and by other things. I have fun making both songs and making them out of nothing, like "Power" and "Secrets."
"Power" is an intense mix that gives strength to its listener by fueling their emotions with adrenaline. When working on the sound design for "Power", where did the idea for the melody come from and how do you know it’s going to fit into the mix sonically?
KSHMR: The idea for that came from a song I was working on with Shermanology and they had this idea for a chant. Now... I just changed a few notes and I told them, “Guys, I love this melody, I don’t want to give up on it”. They probably lost faith in anything with what happened with it, but years later the chant became the basis for power. In terms of energy, I think in large part you can thank HARDWELL for that. I just think HARDWELL did an amazing job with the production and making it sound just monstrous when you play it live.
You were awarded Best New Live Act on DJ Mag which means you’re constantly touring and playing live shows all the time. Being able to maintain a crazy lifestyle of touring, creating, releasing, and making music, what are some methods that you use to overcome creative blocks when they happen?
KSHMR: I do tour quite a bit, but I also try to reserve a substantial amount of time for making music. I will say, it is not easy to transition from touring and then back into a creative music making state of mind. When I do get writer's block, often times I try to just power through them at my own peril, or go live and experience life. The problem is, is when you’re touring so much... going out to play shows and exploring these countries are like taking little vacation since you’re really on stage for an hour and a half or so. So you can’t make life a vacation. You have to be conscious of that, you can’t just treat yourself to another vacation after you just got back from a vacation.
Having the opportunity to reach out to Legends who have personally influenced some of EDM.com's own writers into becoming producers themselves, we had the chance to get an in depth analysis on the record "Power" that both HARDWELL & KSHMR collaborated on. We hope that their through our questions we have met our viewer's expectations, and gave some incite on not just an amazing record, but some producing and general advice as well.