Artist of the Week: W&WDecember 4th, 2008
Add up their ages and you won’t even reach 40. However, 19 year old Wardt van der Harst and 20 year old Willem van Hanegem seem to be just as experienced and skilled as a producer twice their age. The youngsters joined forces in the summer of 2007, have released a range of quality releases and are considered the ‘next big thing’ in tech-trance. As big room anthem ‘Mustang’ erupted into the clubs, so did their W&W guise in the scene. What started as a dream, soon became reality. W&W: ‘It was way beyond our expectations!’
The different type of music
Two young guys with a shared passion for beats and melodies. That’s how it started. The W&W adventure began when both guys discovered their love for EDM. Wardt: ‘When I was about 11 years old I bought some hit compilation cd’s because of the pop songs on it. There were also a couple of trance records included, which I actually preferred over the pop songs. So from there on I started listening to trance more and more.’ Willem: ‘When I first heard the sound of a synthesizer I was hooked immediately. I guess the first one I totally loved back then, was ‘DJ Jurgen – Better Off Alone’. After that one I started listening more and more to trance music and didn’t even pay attention to the pop music the other kids listened to.’
Finding out about this ‘different’ type of music, made them discover a whole lot more than they’d expected. Dj’ing and producing, for example. Wardt: ‘I guess when I was around 14 years old I started with some cheap-ass tracker software. At the age of 17 it all became a little more serious when I got signed to labels such as Armada, Black Hole and Spinnin’.’ Willem:’I started dj’ing when I was 14 and around my 16th I saw my first Tracker software. I started producing, together with my neighbor and good friend Bas van Essen. With him I made my first release under a project we have, called ‘Dirty Dot – Heart Of Pain’.’
Easy as that. The boys both managed to find their way to the parties and be part of the dance scene. It’s exactly there, that the two lads met each other and decided it was time to fathom their musical chemistry in the studio. Willem: ‘We first met at Trance Energy 2007. We both have a huge interest in music so we hooked up a lot. Nowadays we are very close friends, besides being studio partners.
I think it was in the summer of 2007 that we decided to produce some stuff together. The first track that was finished, was ‘Mustang’.’
A swell kickoff
And what a track to finish and start their W&W career with! Addictive tech-trancer ‘Mustang’ was soon being hammered by the big dj’s, from Tiësto to Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten, Eddie Halliwell, Johan Gielen and anyone else. Only a year after they first met, Sander van Doorn played their ‘Mustang’ at Trance Energy 2008, making a 30.000 trance lovers go nuts on their phat beats, compressed melody and mind-blowing hi-hats. W&W achieved their first goal: to create a true big room anthem. W&W: ‘After we went to ASOT 300 in Den Bosch and arrived home, we were in a producing mood. Cause we both really like the big room anthems which work great on a dance floor, we wanted to make something like that as well. That’s how ‘Mustang’ was born. Of course we hoped that it would get been picked up by Armin and Tiësto, but when almost every trance DJ was hammering that track and Armin played it for like 6 months, that was way beyond our expectations. ‘ Armada Music quickly snatched the guys and released the track in a duo-pack with their ‘Eruption’ on the Captivating Sounds imprint. Along with ‘Mustang’, a new sound was born.
A new sound
W&W didn’t only deliver two bangers of tracks, but also introduced their unique, typical sound. Willem and Wardt both define it as ‘big room trance with a techy edge’. W&W: ‘We always try to bring that big room feeling in our records with massive lead sounds, catchy melodies and tough beats.’ To prevent it from getting a bit of a trick, the guys try to use a different approach on every track, without losing their W&W sound. W&W: ‘When you compare ‘Mustang’ to ‘Arena’, they both have a catchy hook, but it’s a totally different style. ‘Mustang’ has the rolling beats and basslines. ‘Arena’ is very minimalistic, with very little percussion and no rolling basses, but it still has the specific W&W sound.’ A sound which isn’t only appreciated by dance lovers, but also by the big names in the scene. Armin van Buuren even mentioned W&W as ‘the best upcoming producer duo of the moment’. W&W: ‘That is way too much honour. There are so many good producers out there. Besides that, how can you compare progressive trance producers with tech/trance producers like us? Of course we were very happy about it! It’s great that one of our favorite dj’s likes our stuff that much!’
Speaking of favourite dj’s, which ones are a big inspiration to them? W&W:’Well, to start with, Sander van Doorn. It’s incredible what that guy has achieved in only 4 or 5 years. His productions are just outstanding, production wise as well as his ideas. As a DJ he’s doing a great job as well, he knows perfectly how to make that crossover between house, techno and trance. Armin van Buuren is an inspiration as well. His DJ skills are fantastic; never off note, flawless beat matching and a great sense for the audience! We both like Tiësto a lot too. It seems kind of predictable, but it has a reason that these guys are number 1 and 2 DJ’s of the world. His productions are just always good. As a DJ, he’s just a legend, the feeling he has with the crowd is unbelievable!’ So far their admiration for others, let’s go back to where it should all be about: W&W.
Fill the arena’s
Being the duo that they are, they’re bound to work at distance or hook up in one of their studio’s. Wardt:’ We both have our own little studio. Sometimes we work at Willem’s place and sometimes at mine. It also happens that we start a track at the one studio, and finish it at the other.’
Either way, the outcome is always welcome. Over the past couple of months, W&W have released ‘Countach’, ‘Intercity’, ‘Dome’ and of course, ‘Mustang’ and ‘Eruption’. Quite a few, but all doing a very good job and receiving massive support. One might wonder though, whether these young talents are planning to extend their successes to a fulltime job, later or now. But both Willem and Wardt have backup plans. Willem: ‘We both intend to make a profession out of music, but because it’s a very unstable business we both have our backup plans. I’m studying music management in Utrecht, Netherlands.’ Wardt: “I want to start studying next year I think. I’m really busy with music at the moment, but if I’m going to plan everything well, it should work out.’ Turns out these wild mustangs are keeping their head cool and take well care of their future. A future which, to Willem, looked a lot different in his childhood. Being the son of world-famous ex-soccer player and coach Willem van Hanegem, and even being named after him, has given the expectation that Willem would be doing something with soccer as well. And he almost did, right before the music took over. Willem: ‘Haha, yes! Most of the people think I’m playing soccer as well. I did play soccer when I was young and really love it, but at the age of 12 I had to choose either to play soccer or go to school and my parents encouraged me to go to school, so I stopped playing soccer. Sometimes I still regret that decision but I have my music now, which makes me happy.’
Wardt, on the other side, seems to be pretty certain he is following the right path. After becoming part of the Solarize Agency family and pouring out some of his solo-tracks under the ‘Re-Ward’ guise, the gigs started to pile up and had him playing from Amsterdam to Kiev, Melbourne, London and Budapest. But he did receive a lot of questions why he wasn’t teaming up with Willem on the touring. Wardt: ‘Actually, we are going to DJ together in the future. Until now I only did solo gigs, which I enjoyed a lot, but since a lot of people are asking why we don’t play together, we decided to do some W&W gigs next year!’. Good news for all W&W fans.
But there’s more good news. Out on the Captivating Sounds imprint this week, is their new track ‘Arena’, another characteristic W&W banger with subtle minimal influences and a banging outcome after the break. Ready to bounce back on the walls of arena’s, clubs and halls. Armin already spinned it at the ‘Armin Only: Imagine’ event in Utrecht last April, and also featured it on the DVD, where you can see the impact it has on the crowd. W&W: ‘It’s our more minimalistic sound but it still has the typical W&W sound. We produced it around March this year. We were very surprised when Armin played it at Armin Only. It’s obvious that we’re very happy he still plays it often. Tiësto also plays it a lot, so we hope it’s going to be a good release! You will find a massive Ruben de Ronde remix on the B-side!’
Future is definitely looking bright for these two Dutchies. And for those that can’t get enough of them, there’s a lot to look forward to. Wardt: ‘We’ve got a new tune called ‘The Plan’ which we like a lot! I’ve been playing it very often and a lot of people asked me what it is. Plus we’re working on a remix for a collab between Leon Bolier & Galen Behr as we speak!’ As you can see, young boys grow up fast.
Exclusive Mix (November 2008)
1. Arena (Original Mix)
2. Arena (Ruben de Ronde Remix)
W&W Top 10
1. W&W – Arena
2. M6 – Fade To Black
3. JOC – Rotterdam
4. Vengeance – Temptation (Denga & Manus Remix)
5. One Republic ft Timbaland – Apologize (Sander van Doorn Remix)
6. Cor Fijneman – The White Socrates (Koi Remix)
7. Wardt – Show My Shuffle
8. W&W – Dome
9. Jochen Miller – Lost Connection
10. Robert Burian – Casino