DJ Hardwerk has no explanation for it but he knows it’s because of his mother that he’s experiencing so much success in the music industry. “My mother put a violin in my hand when I was 3. She was a church pianist, organist and choir director,” offers the Grammy-nominated DJ and music producer. “I don’t know why she chose the violin for me; she never signed me for piano though.”
His bio sums up his early success, “his unique style of fusing EDM with Reggae, hip-hop, and other genres of music has ushered in a new sound that has heightened his profile and made him a sought-after hit-maker for chart-topping platinum acts like Fergie, Sean Paul, Monica, Damian and Stephen Marley, Prince Royce, Estelle, Demi Lovato, and Akon. With the success of his first single, ‘Tell Me We’re OK,’ featuring Akon currently climbing up the Billboard charts, The Alliance Music Production is planning to release his debut EP, 1st Shift this summer 2016.”
In a little over a month, the music video for “Tell Me We’re OK” has reached over 45 million views on Facebook, nearly five million YouTube views, and also made Spotify and Adage’s Top Most Viral Tracks.
“We filmed the video for ‘Tell Me We’re OK’ in America, Brazil, and on a soccer field in Lagos, Nigeria. It was magical to see the soccer field light up powered only by kinetic energy,” DJ Hardwerk shared in a recent statement to press. As the players run, more than 90 underground Pavegen tiles capture kinetic energy from their footsteps which alongside solar panels generates enough energy to power the floodlights. This kinetic innovation in alternative energy is groundbreaking for villages, communities, houses, schools, health centers, and small businesses in rural areas who will receive electricity for the first time ever. But it’s not all rural; imagine lighting up Times Square with just kinetic energy, or having the lights turn on in your home powered just by your footsteps.
“I’m not an energy expert, but I see value in #MakeTheFuture and recognize the importance of creating alternative energy sources. Akon is from Senegal West Africa and both of my parents are from Kingston, so I spent a lot of time in Jamaica as a youth. Lagos reminded me a lot of Kingston, just bigger. A lot of the issues that we face in Jamaica are the same issues that plague other third world countries. When DaDa brought me the opportunity to be a part of the #MakeTheFuture initiative with Shell, and I saw how they were revolutionizing reusable sustainable energy in the third world, it was a no-brainer,” he says.
“Tell Me We’re OK,” feat. Akon is available now digitally on iTunes and all online e-tailers. (DaDa is actually the one who brokered the deal for Akon and Hardwerk with Shell Oil.)
During rolling out’s interview with DJ Hardwerk at music industry executive and Gluemen Agency CEO, Duwayne “DaDa” Mills’ Atlanta studio, the lights literally went off and no amount of running or stomping could light up the long dark hallway leading to the outside so we could relocate the interview to our West Midtown Atlanta headquarters less than 15 minutes away.
And the interview resumes.
As he grew older, Hardwerk continued to explore his talent and perform on the world’s leading concert stages. “By the third grade, I was playing the cello. It’s when I started to take it serious. I played Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and Lincoln Center, among others,” he vaunts. “I came up in church environment in the Bronx. My mother was a fan of classical music.” This fact fully explains why he champions the work of Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Paganini.
The Caribbean beats in Hardwerk’s productions are hard to overlook. “My family is from New York via Kingston, Jamaica, where I spent a lot of time so there’s a heavy island influence in my music.” The beats are energizing and infectious.
“I always like to pick up a guitar, bass and play drums … a little piano. I am more proficient now with the cello. I could get the record done. I picked up DJing thinking, when I was younger, that they were the ones who produced the music. I realized that producer was actually the role,” he laughs.
On when he played at world-class venues, were there many people in the orchestra who looked like him?
“Absolutely not … I wasn’t hard to pick out of the crowd. I have always liked being on something different. I like surprising people when I talk to them. They never think I play the Cello or that I am a classical music head. I like mysteries. If kids of color see me playing the cello and I can make it look cool, there’s so much to gain when you start young playing classical music … math, counting, memory, and just the discipline and training. I am a big champion of music, especially in public school. If my mom wouldn’t have put an instrument in my hand, we wouldn’t be talking. There are kids out here who are geniuses, but have never had the opportunity to sit down and play an instrument. There’s no one in their lives to say, here’s a guitar … a drum … some turntables … a piano,” he avers.
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Click continue to check out the video for DJ Hardwerk’s single, “Tell Me We’re Ok,” featuring Akon