W&W is a Dutch DJ and record producer duo composed of Willem van Hanegem (Dutch: [ˈʋɪləm vɑn ˈɦaːnəɣɛm]) and Ward van der Harst (Dutch: [ˈʋɑrt fɑn dɛr ˈɦɑrst]). They began their careers by producing trance music, before venturing into electro house and big room house.
After producing trance for five years, W&W founded their own record label called Mainstage Music, and became active in the big room house and progressive house scene. This was followed by the release of their commercial breakthrough "Bigfoot" in 2014. In 2017, they returned to their original trance style with the Nwyr (stylised as NWYR; pronounced "new year") project.
2007–2012: Trance releases and founding of Mainstage Music
Willem van Hanegem and Ward van der Harst began to build an interest in trance music while in their youths. The duo first met through Windows Live Messenger, which they used to share their song productions with one another. After their first successes as solo producers, the two DJs began to build a friendship and met at the Trance Energy 2007 Festival in the Netherlands. The track "Mustang", which appeared at the same year, became a success and was played by Armin van Buuren and Tiësto in their sets. On the basis of van der Harst's recording contract, Armada Music released the song as a single on 7 July 2008. Within a short time, the track achieved popularity on several forums and music platforms. After Sander van Doorn played "Mustang" in 2008 at the Trance Energy Festival, the duo's popularity started to grow. In 2011, they made their first appearance on DJ Mag's Top 100 DJs list when they reached the 36th place.
During the next few years, W&W had numerous single releases and appearances at trance festivals. W&W released their debut album, Impact, on 23 September 2011. They founded their record label named Mainstage Music, as a sub-label of Armada Music in April 2012. Alongside W&W's own works, the label publishes singles produced by other artists such as Armin van Buuren, Dash Berlin and Sick Individuals. The duo hosts a bi-weekly radio show under the Mainstage Music moniker.
2013: From trance to big room house
On 3 December 2012, the duo released the single "Lift Off!" which showcased elements corresponding more to the popular big room house genre, by mixing hard trance and electro house elements together. Shortly thereafter, they officially announced their move to the big room and electro house scene. "Lift Off" reached *82 on the Dutch Top 100 Singles charts. This song attracted the attention of Dutch DJ Hardwell, who took them to his record label Revealed Recordings to release "Trigger" and "The Code", the former produced with Marcel Woods and the latter of which was produced with Ummet Ozcan. "The Code" was initially heard on Hardwell's BBC 1 Essential Mix, and it became ranked first on multiple Beatport charts. Both for W&W and Ozcan, "The Code" became their first song to reach #1 in Beatport.
"D# Fat", released on 25 February 2013, was a crossover between W&W's old trance style and their new big room style. The track reached #2 on the Beatport Top 100 charts. As a celebration for reaching 100,000 likes on Mainstage Music's Facebook page, W&W gave away "Ghost Town" as a free download on 4 March 2014. At the same time, they worked together with van Buuren to remix his single "This Is What It Feels Like" as a single release. The duo's next production, "Thunder", appeared on 20 May 2013. The track embodied much of the same sound as the van Buuren remix, and reached #2 on the Beatport Top 100 charts. On 27 July 2013, they performed for the first time at the mainstage of the Tomorrowland Festival in Belgium and advanced into the top 20 of the DJ Mag's Top 100 DJ's list.
On 5 August 2013, W&W's collaboration with Hardwell was unveiled under the title "Jumper". The track was debuted at the 2013 Ultra Music Festival in Miami by both Hardwell and W&W.
2014: Commercial breakthrough with "Bigfoot"
Logo of their record label "Mainstage Music" In the spring of 2014, initial previews of their track "Bigfoot" started to appear. The song featured a blend of big room and progressive house. "Bigfoot" was well received and soon developed into their most successful single, charting in Germany, Switzerland and France. Hardwell's single "Everybody Is in the Place" which was released on 7 April 2014 was co-produced by the duo. The track marked their first chart appearance in the United Kingdom at #59.
On 27 February 2014, they performed at the Hakkasan Nightclub in Las Vegas together with DJs Tiësto and Dzeko & Torres. Performances at big festivals followed, including the mainstages of the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, Ultra Music Festival in Miami, and Tomorrowland in Belgium. Their single "Rocket", produced with Blasterjaxx and released on 21 April 2014, received positive reactions. Hardwell produced a mashup of the track with his song "Spaceman", which he uses as a closing track for his festival sets. W&W also collaborated with Belgian DJ duo Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike to produce the official anthem for Tomorrowland 2014 titled "Waves". The song reached #7 on the Belgian singles chart. On 2 September 2014, W&W's second collaboration with Hardwell titled "The Dancefloor Is Yours" was released as a free download. The song was initially produced during a late-night studio session in the group's homeland and was premiered by Hardwell at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2013.
The pair collaborated with hardstyle DJ Headhunterz to produce "Shocker" which appeared on 8 September 2014, and "We Control the Sound", which released a month later on 11 November 2014. "Shocker" was debuted at EDC 2014 in Las Vegas. The combination of W&W's big room with Headhunterz' hardstyle in "We Control The Sound" was received positively. On 22 December 2014, the duo released "Don't Stop the Madness" with Hardwell and American rapper Fatman Scoop, which would eventually appear on Hardwell's album United We Are during the next year.
2015: Big room scene
Spring: "Rave After Rave" and "The One"
In January 2015, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike played W&W's instrumental production "Rave After Rave", which was labelled as an "ID" at the time of their world tour "Bringing the World Madness", so neither artists nor titles were announced. Hardwell also played the song at the Ziggo Dome for his "United We Are" tour on January 2015 while Tiësto played it at Ultra Buenos Aires. In the end, "Rave after Rave" was released as a solo track on 16 March 2015.
During their set at the Ultra Music Festival, the duo debuted new songs, including collaborations with MOTi and Hardwell, as well as a remix of the 2000 hit "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Italian trio Eiffel 65. A second collaboration with Blasterjaxx was also debuted at the festival. It is titled "Bowser" and was played for the first time in May in Tiësto’s "Club Life" podcast as well as in Hardwell's "Hardwell on Air 218" radio show. "Bowser" was released through Revealed Recordings on 1 June 2015. On 12 June 2015, W&W posted a teaser of their next single titled "The One" on Facebook. The teaser included a pitched sample of the song "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston. In contrast to their previous big room house singles which are characterised by their loud synths and kicks, they took a more melodic approach to "The One". On 29 June 2015, the song was released on Armada Music. At the same time, they uploaded the official music video of the song which featured an animated love story between two young travellers.
Autumn: Big-room with MOTi and trance with Armin van Buuren
A few days later, a one-minute teaser of the collaboration with MOTi appeared on Facebook. However, the song title and release date were not announced with the teaser. The song eventually took the title of "Spack Jarrow" and was released on 24 August 2015 through Musical Freedom. The name is based on the character Jack Sparrow from the film series Pirates of the Caribbean. The song has a melodious similarity to the official Pirates of the Caribbean orchestral score, "He's a Pirate". On 28 August 2015, W&W released a big room house remix of the song "Sun Is Shining" by Swedish DJ duo Axwell Λ Ingrosso. Their Facebook profile teased a remix to Nico & Vinz's "Am I Wrong", which currently remains unreleased. Their remix of "Birds Fly" by Hardwell and Mr. Probz was published in the remix album of Hardwell's United We Are record.
On 21 December 2015, W&W released single "If It Ain't Dutch" in collaboration with Armin van Buuren on Mainstage Music. The track is a fusion of progressive house and big room, recalling the style of its predecessing single "D# Fat", also produced with van Buuren. The song was premiered at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, which was then ripped from the live recording and uploaded onto various streaming sites under the title "Your House Is Mine", courtesy of a sample from Nelson Cruz's "My House" heard during the buildup. The song reached #1 on the Beatport Top 100 charts a few days after its release.
2016: "Arcade" and "Live the Night"
At the 2015 Tomorrowland event, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike played an unreleased song which was later revealed to be a collaboration with W&W in a Tomorrowland Aftermovie. In mid-February, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike announced that the song would be released on 29 February 2016 with the title "Arcade". In parallel, they launched a PR action on their website, where a selection of classic, well-known "arcade games" such as Mortal Kombat, Pac-Man or Donkey Kong could be played on a game machine. The official music video came out on 1 March, showing the four producers in comic style as they are drawn into an arcade machine and become characters in various arcade games. The song became a success and reached #1 on the Beatport Top 100.
On 28 March 2016, "How Many" was released through Armada Music which was described as a hybrid of happy hardcore, Eurodance, and big room house. On 15 April 2016, the duo's remix of "Don't Let Me Down" of The Chainsmokers and Daya was released. Together with The Chainsmokers, they premiered the song's remix at Ultra Music Festival in Miami. The remix was described as a "festival-friendly" big room house song by We Got This Covered.
On 11 July 2016, "Live the Night" appeared as a collaboration with Hardwell which had been played by both Hardwell and W&W since 2014. The track was long-awaited by listeners, but the trio had not been satisfied with both the instrumental version or the version recorded with Harrison’s vocals, and eventually settled on vocals by US crunk rapper Lil Jon. Critics wrote that the song was well-produced, but had a dated sound due to its delayed release.
In 2015, the track "Meet Her at Tomorrowland" was made available on the compilation album The Secret Kingdom of Melodia, which was a cover version of the 2000 track "Meet Her at the Love Parade" by Da Hool and was produced with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. As a separate free track, the title was released on 8 August 2016 by Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike without W&W credited.
The track "Caribbean Rave" was used as an intro for their festival sets between spring and autumn in 2016, and was officially released on 31 October 2016 through Mainstage Music. The song was stylicised as a big room house track with a "touch of the Caribbean" based on its instrumental sounds.
On 18 November 2016, they released their fifth official collaboration with Hardwell titled "Get Down". It enjoyed popularity following its premiere at the Ultra Music Festival. Unlike its predecessors, the track was based on jungle terror elements together with their typical big room style. The track, unlike its predecessor "Live the Night", was released on Revealed Recordings and not on Mainstage Music and reached #13 on the Beatport Top 100.
2017: "Whatcha Need" and "Put Em Up"
"Whatcha Need" was released on 27 January. The song stands out from their other releases as it was shaped with trance influences and rhythmic changes. On 10 April 2017, "Put Em Up" was released. The track is based on W&W's classic big-room style combined with "Lean On"-like dancehall elements. A Hardwell-produced mash-up with "Gasolina" by Daddy Yankee also achieved popularity.
On Koningsdag, the radio station SLAM! hosted their annual festival. W&W were announced as headliners and premiered new music and a new festival bootleg of "Habiba" by Dutch rapper, Boef.
Regarding the opening of the DJ Mag votes, they announced the release of a cover song of 2001 techno/trance single "Supa Dupa Fly" by German duo 666.
On 27 July 2017, the duo released an official teaser of their collaboration with the Israeli psytrance duo Vini Vici, "Chakra". The song is based on Vini Vici's psychedelic trance style and contained big room elements. After its release on 18 September, "Chakra" reached the top of the Beatport Top 100.
Due to the Amsterdam Dance Event the duo was part of the SLAM! Mix Marathon at Ziggo Dome. As a special guest, Hardwell appeared during their set and performed with them. In the course of the ADE W&W released the single "Crowd Control" on 20 October. It was their fourth collaboration with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. The song is based on the idea of the 2005 song "Orgasmo" by Pavo & Zany, the vocals of which consist of "move it to the left, shake it to the right", as well as on a provisional, hardstyle remix of "Stampede". The DJ then encourages the crowd to put their arms over each other's shoulders and to jump eight steps to the left as well as eight steps to the right fitting the beat.
In the 20th edition of the DJ Mag Top 100, which was released at 21 October 2017, W&W slipped one place to number 14.
2018: "God Is a Girl" and Rave Culture label rebrand
W&W released an electro house remake of Groove Coverage's 2002 Eurodance single "God Is a Girl" on 12 March 2018. Previously on 18 December 2017, the duo's remake of the 666 track "Supa Dupa Fly" was released on Beatport without any promotion. The song was then removed from the platform. On the Yearmix edition of their Mainstage podcast, they debuted the studio version of their remix of the number-one hit "Habiba" by Dutch rapper Boef. "Supa Dupa Fly 2018" was officially released as a free download on 9 April. W&W entered the happy hardcore genre with "Long Way Down", which was produced with English DJ Darren Styles and released on 7 May 2018 through Armada Music.
In October 2018, W&W rebranded their Mainstage Music label as Rave Culture to place a stronger focus on creative freedom and different electronic dance music genres. They released a single of the same name on 8 October 2018, which takes homage from the original 2012 big room sound with updated production standards. Their third collaboration with Armin van Buuren, a hard trance-big room hybrid titled "Ready to Rave", was released through the same label on 4 December 2018.
2019: "The Light"
The duo released their second happy hardcore single "The Light" on 1 March 2019, which featured the vocals of Japanese virtual YouTuber Kizuna AI.
Trance side project NWYR
On 10 February 2017, the Ultra Music Festival announced the line-up of its 19th edition, including an unknown name playing the trance stage called "NWYR". Fans questioned whether W&W would be playing as they had become a fixed part of the festival line-up. It was later revealed that NWYR was a side project of W&W, and that they would return to the festival with new trance music. W&W later revealed that they created the alias in response to the listeners who kept asking them about their older trance sound. They explained that only a few of their festival set IDs will ever be released since most of their played songs are merely "playable versions" which are unfit for proper studio releases, and that they prioritise releasing tracks which revolves only around a specific theme.
On 13 March 2017, they released a remix of the track "Castle on the Hill" by Ed Sheeran, their first under the pseudonym. Their big-room work influenced their new productions. On 26 March 2017, they performed at the Ultra Music Festival. NWYR are behind a remix of British producer Gareth Emery's track with Standerwick and Hailene called "Saving Light". The NWYR style makes the first drops experimental, and the second drop harder and more melodic. On 12 June 2017, they released the first single of their new project, "Voltage". On 20 November 2017, NWYR released their successor to "Voltage" titled "Dragon", which is a big-room infused trance track.
They released the single "Ends of Time" as a free download on 16 March 2018, which was initially debuted during their 2017 A State of Trance radio sets. The duo released an extended play on 28 August 2018, which they gave away as a free download. The EP comprises two tracks, "Time Spiral" which incorporates psytrance elements and "Wormhole".
NWYR released their first collaborative track on 4 February 2019, titled "The Melody" with Andrew Rayel. The two artists described the song as a blend of their respective melodic musical styles through a joint statement.
On April 29th, 2019, NWYR released "Artificial Intelligence" as a free download.
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