After meeting up back in 2007 Willem van Hanegem & Ward van der Harst came together to form W&W and they haven’t looked back since.
In the past year, this Dutch production and DJ duo have transcended the boundaries of genre, with the launch of their trance alias – NWYR, and traverse the globe with their music and performances.
We caught up with Willem and Ward at ADE 2018 and spoke to them about NWYR, their love for India and their favourite superhero.
T.H.E – To start off with, let’s talk about your NWYR (New Year) project. Why did you guys feel the need to start it?
W&W – Why we wanted to start NWYR was because there were a lot of people over the years still asking for us to go back to trance. And we were like “ok, maybe they’ll probably stop asking after two years”. But they kept supporting us, even though they were not so happy with the music we were making right then, even right now. And then we were like, you know what, we have so much W&W music lined up already and we were still making a lot of like trance-y kind of tracks just for fun but never did anything with them. So, we’re like why not start a new alias, for all of the fans that have stuck with us over the years, just for free, just for them to enjoy. And that’s basically why we started it.
T.H.E – But if you look at how W&W has evolved, right? You obviously started off making trance songs and then you moved on to different genres.
W&W – Yeah.
T.H.E – Does this mean that while you will continue to experiment with genres, you will never make trance as W&W, that will always be reserved for NWYR?
W&W – No, we have always had trance influences in our W&W songs. But we are not going to make a typical trance song, that’s for NWYR right now. And with W&W, we will keep continuing to evolve and with NWYR as well. With NWYR, we also have a lot of different sounding influences and you know them when you hear the songs. For W&W, all the melodies we still use are very much inspired by trance.
T.H.E – Why NWYR? What is the message behind the name – NWYR?
W&W – New year… yeah? We basically came up with that. I was like…. It’s a new start, it’s a new year and that’s basically why. And if you look at the logo, it’s a dragon, which also is a symbol of Chinese New Year. And it’s very also Asian inspired in general. And because like every time we are in Asia in general, we feel inspired. So, it’s like it has a lot of different meanings.
T.H.E – You guys also have your Year of the Dragon tour, which has already happened, right? It’s supposed to be a mix of W&W and NWYR. So, do we expect to see both different styles together?
W&W – It’s the whole concept of the year of the dragon tour, we play first as NWYR, and then we play as W&W, so basically two totally different sets.
T.H.E – You just changed your record label from Mainstage music to Rave Culture. Why did that change happen, and what are your plans for the label?
W&W – We totally changed that because Mainstage used to represent a very typical sound. It was limited compared to what we are doing now, especially with the fact that we have NWYR right now. How can we release an NWYR song on Mainstage? We wanted to create more of a community instead of just a label that releases song after song.
T.H.E – Mainstage Music was a label for you guys and obviously for other artists as well, right? Rave Culture – do you see that being a platform only your sounds or other artists too?
W&W – No. It’s a platform for everyone. Rave Culture is a community thing. It’s like we release our songs on there as well but everyone can. It’s just not for us, it’s more about the people.
T.H.E – You guys have obviously accomplished so much but, I mean, there’s still a lot more to go for you guys. So, what are the kinds of goals you have for yourself that you want to accomplish next year?
W&W – Oh, next year? Hopefully like we can do our year of the dragon tour worldwide. That would be cool!
T.H.E – That would be great, yeah.
W&W – It did well. We did like four shows in America and one show in Canada. It did really, well and people loved it. And it’s also fun for us to do, you know, we played for 3 hours. We would love to do that in India, though. That would be amazing.
T.H.E – That’s something to talk about!
W&W – That would be a goal! If we could do an India tour, that would be crazy.
T.H.E – I’m seriously going to follow up on that?
W&W – Yeah! Really! Like especially India because we love India. We have gotten so much feedback and love since the beginning of our career. We would love to do that!
T.H.E – I saw a post from you guys for the DJ Mag poll in Hindi. So that was quite interesting?
W&W – (Laughs) Yeah, we tried to do the best we could. But I think, we just love India in general. And we hope to do like a full tour and like to do as many cities as possible cause we want to see the country. We played quite a few cities but I’m sure that there are plenty more opportunities.
T.H.E – Yeah, there is plenty more to see.
W&W – We’ve been asking our agent about that. And that would be a goal!
T.H.E – I’ll have a conversation about that.
W&W – Yes, please. Yes. Make it happen. Please tell them.
T.H.E – I do know a few people. It’s an interesting conversation to have. How has 2018 been for you guys?
W&W – It’s been a great year, actually. We released some music. We produced a lot of music, especially which hasn’t come out yet. We changed our label. to Rave Culture. We did our first full production tour too with the year of the dragon. Yeah, NWYR is getting a lot of gigs as well W&W so a lot of stuff has happened. A lot of great shows.
T.H.E – Which are some of the most favorite shows you’ve been a part of this year?
W&W – Well, it wasn’t this year, but the Mumbai show that we did last year. That was insane! That was the end of 2017 but still, in ADE years, it was still 2017. That was insane! Great show in Mexico, great shows in the US, we had great shows in South Korea and Germany. I don’t think we have ever had a year with this amount of amazing shows. We are very blessed every month that we get really spoiled with the amazing places we get to play at but it’s also because we still stick to making dance music, and at the festivals, people love hearing dance music.
T.H.E – Yup. They need to have the energy.
W&W – Yeah, so a lot of people just play pop music. And that’s why, like for us, the festivals right now are insane.
T.H.E – That does mean that the touring is quite hectic, right?
W&W – Yeah.
T.H.E – So how do you balance it knowing that while touring is important, adequate rest is also important?
W&W – It’s very difficult for us right now. So right now, we are trying to find the perfect balance. We haven’t found it yet but we’re trying to find it. It’s also why a lot of our songs are not getting released so fast because we still want to finish it in the studio. And take our time because we don’t have a lot of time off.
T.H.E – So what can we expect from you in the next few months, from a music production point of view? Are there any new releases coming out?
W&W – We hope to get our new single with Armin van Buuren out.
T.H.E – That’s going to be insane!
W&W – We’re doing a new remix, which we can’t tell you yet, it has a big meaning.
T.H.E – Give us a hint!
W&W – Nah! We can’t do that. We promised (laughs), you know. We also have a few releases coming out on Rave Culture, from other guys. And some from Steve Aoki, Maurice West and Blasterjaxx coming up. So, a lot of stuff.
T.H.E – And which artist do you think is doing extremely well, now?
W&W – Maurice West. This guy is like one of the only guys we play a lot of music from, in our sets, besides our own stuff. He’s just so musically inclined. Yeah, when he’s writing melodies, there is always something that is different that makes it special. And like professional, compared to the other guys. And melody-wise, he never goes for the easy choice. He’s like no, this is too easy. Like I want to do it a little more complex but makes it sound really cool.
T.H.E – Now just a few fun questions. Which celebrity would you rate as a perfect ten?
W&W (Willem) – As a perfect ten? My girlfriend is there so I can’t say anything right now. Like, you should do this!
W&W (Ward) – Alexandra Daddario. Nobody knows her but she’s a perfect ten.
W&W (Willem) – Who is that?
W&W (Ward) – She’s in that movie. She’s hot in it. That San Andreas movie. She’s the daughter of “The Rock” in that movie.
T.H.E – With Dwayne Johnson. Yeah!
W&W (Ward) – Yeah yeah yeah. The girl with the very blue eyes.
T.H.E – Next question is going to be tricky.
W&W – Yeah.
T.H.E – Favorite superhero?
W&W (Willem) – I like Batman.
W&W (Ward) – Iron Man.
T.H.E – Favorite cuisine?
W&W (Willem) – Japanese
W&W (Ward) – Italian.