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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

W&W: ‘We are perfectionists when it comes to our music’

We catch up with the world-conquering electronic music duo ahead of their Dubai gig.
W&W. Ruud Baan
W&W. Ruud Baan

W&W are taking no prisoners. After seeping into the public consciousness with 2008’s breakout hit Mustang – a tune that with hindsight they admit they could have done better – the Dutch electronic duo went back to the drawing board, emerging in 2013 with a harder, big-room trance sound that scored them a string of dance-floor fillers, including Big Foot, Thunder and Hardwell collaboration Jumper.

They rounded off last year with two huge collaborations: Waves, alongside #DXBNYE headliners Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, and Don’t Stop the Madness, a second single with Hardwell, which ended up on their countryman’s massive debut album, United We Are.

Not that W&W have plans of releasing an album of their own any time soon, they reveal, instead relying on well-timed hits to keep them afloat in the digital age, most recently with new single Rave After Rave.

With 3.7 million Facebook fans and counting, the duo – Willem van Hanegem and Wardt van der Harst – W&W, get it? – are a force to be reckoned with right now. We caught up with them ahead of their gig in Dubai on Thursday, April 16.

Let’s go way back. What is your first musical memory?

Wardt: The songs they teach you in kindergarten [laughs].

And what was the first music you bought, and in what format?

Wardt: I’ve got to dig very deep in my memory here. I do remember buying some hit compilations when I was, like, 11, because of the pop songs that I liked. But there were some trance songs on there, too, and it turned out that I liked those better.

Willem: I had those as well [laughs]. Before those CDs came out, I always used to record songs from the radio on a cassette tape. Really old-school.

Tell us about your first DJ set?

Willem: Well, the first-ever DJ set wasn’t really that special since it was for such a small audience and it was really unprofessional, so that wasn’t all too interesting. But the first, like, professional DJ set we played together was really exciting. Obviously we were nervous and stuff but it was a really cool feeling.

When did you realise you’d made it as a professional musician?

Wardt: There isn’t really a moment that we thought: “Wow, we made it.” A lot of times we think, “Wow, this is so incredibly awesome.”

Willem: We are very proud of what we’ve achieved so far, but we try to keep challenging ourselves. We always want to do better than before.

If you could steal any DJ’s record bag, who would it be?

Willem: This is so hard and we don’t want to upset any of the guys that we don’t choose [laughs]. There’s such a massive amount of sick music out there that we’d steal a bit from everyone.

Who is your favourite non-electronic musician?

Wardt: It’s kind of weird, but we really like Hans Zimmer. He made some good film music.

What’s the most annoying thing about your bandmate? What would they say was the most annoying thing about you?

Wardt: Well, one of us – we won’t point the finger at anyone specific – tends to get a little grumpy when we’ve got a lot of travelling to do, so that can get a little annoying. Then again, when one of us isn’t grumpy and the other is, the not grumpy one will become extra annoying because it’s fun.

Willem: I’m not sure if this makes any sense ...

If you could go back and change one thing in your career, what would it be?

Willem: Make our first track, Mustang, better. When we listen to it now, we hear some things we would do differently now. We are perfectionists when it comes to our music, so it’s something we will always have. But at the same time we’re very proud of the track, because that is what started it all.

You’ve had stacks of hits but have not released an album. When can we expect one? Is the format dead?

Wardt: There is a lot of new music coming your way. We don’t know yet if there is going to be an entire album. Nowadays, people like to listen to mixes, podcasts, or they download just that one track they really like.

Willem: There are so many options to get your music out there, so we don’t want to say that it’s dead – but albums aren’t the only way to go anymore.

The state of electronic music in 2015 is ...?

Willem: Better than ever. Just look at Florida’s Ultra Music Festival a couple of weeks ago – there were so many insane performances filled to the brim with exclusive new tracks.

Wardt: Everything is getting bigger and better every year.

W&W perform on Thursday, April 16 from 8pm at Eden Beach Club, Rixos the Palm. From Dh200, ladies free before 11pm

Clubland

Robin Schulz

The German producer behind that Prayer in C remix – 150 million combined YouTube streams and counting – guests for Nasimi Sessions.

Thursday, April 16 from 7pm at Nasimi Beach, Atlantis the Palm. Dh150 advance from platinumlist.ae, Dhs195 on the door, ladies free before 9pm

Click here for our interview with Robin Schulz

Jamaican Reggae Party

The ever-enthusiastic Reggae Beachfest team invade Al Ain with a party set from New York’s DJ Remarkable. Expect summery sounds.

• Tomorrow from 9pm at Al Ain Rotana. Dh70, ladies free before 11pm

rgarratt@thenational.ae