Artist InterviewsInterviews

Jay Hardway

Although frequently recognized for his co-productions with Martin Garrix, Dutch DJ/producer Jay Hardway has done and will be doing plenty of work on his own. We caught up with Jay after his set at Royale Boston, one of the stops on the “We Are Animals” tour on which he’s the supporting artist. Check the interview to find out how he met Martin, the key behind the awesomeness of Dutch DJs, and why he thinks the term “EDM” isn’t used correctly in Holland.

Describe your sound with three words.
Energetic, fun, happy.

How did you get hooked up with Martin Garrix’s “We Are Animals” tour?
I’ve known Martin for about three years now. We met through music and we made a couple of tracks together. We’ve spent a lot of time together in the studio having fun making music. We had a big release in December called “Wizard,” and it became quite big. Of course Martin is very big with “Animals,” and he was planning a tour in America, for which he wanted someone as a support act and decided to ask me.

Is this your first big tour?
Yes. I’ve been touring through Europe solo, but this is the next level.

How did you guys meet?
Online forums; it’s where everyone spreads their music. I was like, “Hey I like your tracks,” and he was like, “Hey I like your tracks, let’s go in the studio and have some fun.” It just clicks musically. We have the same vibe in music sometimes, and a totally different vibe other times, which brings the fun to our tracks.

How did you guys get “Wizard” done?
It’s about five or six projects combined into one from both of us. It’s just one big pile of different elements.

At what point in time did you realize this would be your career?
I went to college and was always making music and annoying my friends to listen to it. Four years ago during college, I was like, “this can be something” because I had a real affection with music and thought maybe I could just do it. I didn’t want to have an office job. I wanted to travel the world and play music for people.

Did you graduate college? What did you go for?
Yes. I got my bachelor’s in economics and law.

Why are there so many awesome Dutch DJs?
I get this question a lot; I think it’s because Dutch people are so down to earth. Also, Holland is small, so you can travel to every DJ there is within two hours, and everybody is trying to help each other. All the big DJs aren’t like, “We’re the elite.” It’s like a real competition everywhere else except in Holland. The big [DJs] are always nice and open to everything. Martin would have never gotten big if DJs weren’t open to him. He was 15 at the time when he got recognized. Every kid has potential to have so much talent, so that’s why you should always be open to it. I think that’s the power of Dutch DJs.

What was your first gig playing out?
I think it was a small house party for friends.

What about your first club gig?

Something organized by friends at a club in my hometown. I wasn’t good at the time. I could mix but I couldn’t really feel the crowd yet, but it was fun.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Right now actually, with my solo follow-up. There are a lot of tracks I’ve done without Martin, and I’d like to top “Wizard” or get close to it. But that’s real hard because it’s a unique track. I need to come up with something real good now. I feel the spotlight is on me right now because Martin is supporting me and getting my name out there.

Is the term “EDM” widely used back home?
Yes, it started like a year ago. It’s used for the mainstream house tracks. It’s funny because techno, for example, is also electronic dance music, but the people in Holland say commercial house music is EDM. I don’t think they use it right [in Holland]. They make it sound negative. The people there who like deep house and tech house are like, “Oh EDM, the commercial stuff.”

What do you carry with you to every gig?
Headphones, USBs, my earplugs, and my laptop.

Mac or PC?

What’s your live setup?
CDJs, a Pioneer DJM, and USBs.

How old were you when getting into all this?
16 or 17, but I started making music at age 14.

Were you not taken seriously at that age?
Not really. Friends would be like, “he wants to be a DJ, that’s not gonna work.”

What about now, at age 22?
I think being taken seriously has nothing to do with age. Martin’s a perfect example; he’s 17.

Do you remember something crazy that’s happened during one of your performances?
I was playing with Martin in France and he told me to do a stage dive. I was like, “No, you stage dive. It’s your show.” He got the mic and said, “Who wants to catch Jay Hardway?” I had to go, and the crowd was trying to undress me; my shirt was half off and my pants half down. It was crazy, but I came out alive.

Advice for aspiring artists?
Don’t try to make it a competition. Do what’s best for dance music and the crowd.