Hardwell on why the EDM scene prioritizes mental health over profits

Four years ago, Hardwell did the unthinkable.

Ranked #4 on DJ Mag The Dutch drummer and producer announced that he has been on an indefinite hiatus.

While the move was unprecedented for a DJ of his fame and proficiency, it wasn’t entirely surprising.

That year, 2018, the dance music world plunged into mourning Avicii diesthe Swedish DJ who took over his life in Muscat, Oman.

His relentless physical and mental struggles have been documented documentary Avicii: True Stories His death sparked some much-needed industry discussion about the well-being of DJs in the intense and competitive world of dance music.

For Hardwell, who has just reached 30 and 16 years into his career, it’s time to give his mind and body the rest it craves.

In an exclusive interview with the NationalHe describes his return to regular shows from March as refreshing as measured.

“I now really enjoy being on the road and have set a limit for myself to do 40 shows a year max, because it gives me time to work in the studio and spend time with family and friends,” he says.

“I really feel like I’m enjoying life a lot and it makes me a happier person and I think people see that on stage.”

Much needed conversation

This is a far cry from previous years, when the sheer adrenaline of performances could not compensate for the growing fatigue from constant traveling and more than 100 performances in 12 months.

Hardwell understands how the glamorous lives many DJs portray on the internet makes such complaints ring hollow.

“That’s the point that we need to talk about this without people thinking we’re bragging,” he says.

“Listen, people know I appreciate everything I have in my life and I love what I do, but when you get to a certain point you’re so tired you don’t look forward to the next tour, you don’t want to make music in the studio anymore, that’s the biggest sign of exhaustion.

“When I got to that moment, I knew I needed a break.”

The benefits were Hardwell’s revitalization to drop his new breakthrough album Rebels never die In September and fierce group performance in Saudi Soundstorm Festival in December.

Now Hardwell wants to help both seasoned and aspiring DJs find their own DJs A sense of balance.

In December, he appeared in a provocative session on mental health as part of the XP Music Futures conference in Riyadh.

Hardwell discusses his mental health journey at the XP Music Futures conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in December 2022. Photo: MDLBEAST

The mixologist and record producer says discussions like these are essential to inspiring the broader dance music industry to build an effective framework and initiatives to address the mental health experienced by artists, who are predominantly young.

“There are no right guidelines when it comes to DJs. For example, if you’re a professional athlete, you have a whole team that looks after your health.

“Even for [non-EDM] Singers, they go on tour and come back and take time off to work on their album,” says Hardwell.

“For some reason, we DJs work to our limits. There’s pressure to play shows, do social media, make music, set up DJ sets and now with so many DJs having their own radio show, that has to be done too.”

“The workload is insane and you have to ask if this is how we need to do it because it’s like working five full-time jobs at the same time.”

Help between friends

Hardwell performs at Soundstorm Festival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  Photo: MDLBEAST

Hardwell disagrees with the idea that DJs should unite to demand better working conditions.

He says effective change begins when sectors of industry abandon the zero-sum attitude prevalent in the landscape.

“It’s hard to ask for something like that and I don’t think it’s from an organization but from the DJs themselves,” he says.

“You don’t have to do 200 shows a year. You can be really good doing 30 shows a year, because that can make you financially stable and give you more time to work on your music and be with your family.

“Now I know in the beginning all of these shows sound interesting because you work so hard to make them happen.

“Ten gigs becomes 40 gigs a month and you just want to go and play everywhere because you’re living your dream.

“But then, after two years of this, you realize you’re tired and it’s not fun. We need managers and booking agencies to be more mindful of the physical and mental health of artists.”

Meanwhile, while we hope the electronic dance music scene will eventually dance to a different tune when it comes to mental health, Hardwell—real name Robert Van de Corbot—is content to build his career to his own beat.

his return to DJ Mag His top 100 finish of 43 this year is a far cry from his first place in 2013, but he really does look above it all.

Updated: Jan 02, 2023, 3:01 am

Leave a Comment