When you think about “How Many” club smashes W&W have unleashed in the past eight years, it may come as a “Shocker” that the duo of Willem van Hanegem and Wardt van der Harst have gone way past 50. They “Break the Rules” as they “Twist” trance, electro, and progressive for their unique-sounding “Mainstage” anthems. Their “Invasion” of the DJ Mag List top 15 comes as no surprise as the “Impact” of their beats are felt at “Rave After Rave.” Creating “Synergy” with fellow producers Hardwell, Armin van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, and Ummet Ozcan, their tracks “Trigger” an “Invasion” of the dancefloor with every beat. We caught up with the dynamic duo at “The One” perfect place in Miami, The W Hotel.
RS: I am just realizing that you are W&W at The W.
Wardt: Yes, we love this hotel.
Willem: It is actually a very nice hotel and they have hotels all around the world. We have stayed at this chain quite a few times and it’s always a good hotel, we are happy to be here today.
RS: So it’s WWW pretty much.
Wardt: We should start a website for it.
RS: One of you is from Breda, is there something in the water that makes all of the guys such amazing producers?
Willem: We don’t even have water, we aren’t next to the sea or anything. There was a club a long time ago where Tiesto used to play when he was like 25. I was too young to go but other DJs used to go see him. He paved the path for everyone else and opened up a record store in Breda. My friends and I that DJ’d would go there after school every Friday to look for records. I think that it created a kind of environment where DJs really connected with each other, maybe that is the reason or maybe it is just coincidence.
RS: Talking about connecting to DJs, you guys run Mainstage which is an imprint. How does that work?
Wardt: We just listen to all the demos with our label manager and we decide which ones we really like and which ones we feel have that Mainstage feeling and which ones we can play in our sets.
RS: Is your shirt a Mainstage shirt? I see MS.
Willem: No it’s not a Mainstage shirt. We should make one though and you should design it!
RS: We could get RaveNectar together with W&W, that would be hot! I have to tell you that the lyrics and message of “How Many” is pretty incredible, did you guys write the lyrics to it?
Wardt: No, we just produced the song, when we got the lyrics back we were like wow, it fit perfectly to what we wanted with the song. We did a second version and then we created the melody and what we wanted for the second verse, it was perfect.
Willem: We send out a lot of tracks for people to write on. You get so much back that is not what you are looking for, but this was instantly perfect.
Wardt: The exact same feelings were in the vocals that we tried to do with our song.
RS: What do you think is the biggest thing that people outside the scene don’t understand about us?
Wardt: I think people that aren’t into this music think it is an aggressive scene. Whenever we play at venues, the bouncers tell us that at dance events they never have to kick anyone out and at other parties there are always arguments and fights. It’s a friendly scene and it’s all about sharing the same love for music.
Willem: I think that it is all about sharing the love for the music and love for the movement and that’s what I think is different from the other genres.
RS: Now I am going to get into your secrets, who is the singer and what is the effect that you have on that vocal?
Wardt: We actually don’t know the singer, we have never met her. The funny thing is that our manager sent the vocal and we didn’t know the singer but Hardwell texted us that he was in the studio with her. Hardwell met her and we didn’t, it was pretty weird.
RS: What effect is that on the vocal?
Willem: We pitched it up three notes and we also put a vocoder on it under the layers of the chords on it so that it sounds fuller. I think that the vocal is divided into four different layers.
RS: You did “Arcade” with Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike, were all four of you in the room together?
Wardt: We work with Dimitri and Mike a lot and they always send us setups and main ideas and we always work with it. We have such busy schedules so we just sent it back and forth, we have made a few songs together.
Willem: I think that for most of the collabs that we have done we haven’t sat in the studio together with them, we did with Hardwell though. It’s not really necessary because sometimes you feel comfortable in your own zone and for us that is the case.
Wardt: I want to say one thing, I see a lot of people commenting and hating on Dimitri and Mike for not making music but these guys always send us the best demos. Maybe their mixing is not all that but their IDs are brilliant, they are getting so much hate for actually doing such good songs.
RS: The thing is that when you hit the top, the haters come out.
Willem: I find that really annoying because those guys do well and it’s not fair because they actually do have a lot of talent and they are very creative. I think that it is more about being creative than being really good at twisting knobs to make it sound good.
RS: Going with the arcade, what is your favorite old school video game?
Willem: We still play Tekken too!
RS: I saw the picture of you on the Hollywood Walk of Fame looking at the super stars. When they do the movie biography of your life what actor will play each of you?
Wardt: It might change, I used to say that I wanted him to be played by Will Ferrell but now it is Vince Vaughn.
Willem: Yes, I went from Will Ferrell to Vince Vaughn! You could be Leo.
RS: I could see Leonardo DiCaprio 20 years ago! I saw that picture that you posted of your fellow DJ friend Ejdabah. So, I am wondering for you guys - boxers or briefs?
RS: What is the strangest question that you have ever been asked in an interview?
Willem: The one that you just did! I would never imagine that Ejdabah, his real name is Elliot Duba, would actually be mentioned in an interview, I am going to message him straight after the interview.
RS: I’ll send you a link when it is posted. What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Wardt: That we love them and we thank them so much for their support. We have been able to live the dream because of them and we hope that it will continue for the next few years.
Willem: We are very grateful for what we are doing and plan to keep on going as far as we can.
Wardt: We always try our best for them and to bring new stuff every year and try not to disappoint them.
Interview conducted March 2016 during Winter Music Conference.