This interview has been paraphrased for consistency and clarity.
Joey: Could you please start with a short introduction of who you are?
Cor: My name is Cor. I’m the father of Robbert van de Corput, better known as Hardwell. As parents, we supported him professionally for 18 years.
Joey: When did you realize that Robbert now had a professional career?
Cor: Probably the moment he signed his first record deal at 14 back in 2010. I realized that it was my responsibility as a parent to help him with the business and financial aspects, while he continued to enjoy what he was doing. It was also essential for me to understand the obligations and the rights of his contract.
Joey: When did you realize that your son had the potential to become something big?
Cor: As soon as Robbert started touring as a DJ. He had already become famous within the Netherlands because he was the new kid on the block. He was a swift learner, and within two years, he was well known within the Netherlands. The most important thing for us was that it had to come naturally. We wanted him to enjoy the process and have a lot of fun.
Joey: And how did it impact your life and your wife’s life?
Cor: In the beginning, we accompanied him to all of his shows because he needed the guidance of his parents, not from a commercial person involved like a manager. When he was 14, it was two weekends a month, and by 17, he had three or four bookings per weekend. Our private life was affected; it was a big time investment. At the same time, we never saw it as a financial investment or an obligation because we also enjoyed it.
Joey: And how did school come into the picture?
Cor: When he was 18, he applied for the Rockacademie. He had already gotten a lot of support from the music industry, so we walked through that whole process. Within a few months, it became clear that he was too good. Some teachers were already working with him professionally on a production. We eventually got the advice from the school to leave so he could develop on his own. We never decided for him. He decided to go and work with more people in the industry outside of school.
Joey: Somewhere along the way, you decided that it was best to assist him in some things. How did that come about?
Cor: It came more or less naturally. I worked in the financial industry, so I found it my responsibility to help with the business part of Hardwell. It started with one hour a week, and eventually ten hours.
Joey: Would you advise all parents to work with their children?
Cor: Absolutely not. You have to do what you can do. We never pushed him. He made his own decisions.
Joey: Were there any moments where you, as parents, felt scared of any decisions?
Cor: I remember when he had his first international booking at 16. We saw him leaving the airport to take the plane all by himself. He didn’t have a tour manager or anything, so we were just scared about how the people would be at the club and if he would be well received.
Joey: From a younger perspective, most people would focus on the money and wouldn’t think about the long term experience. What was your view on funding and costs?
Cor: We never discussed money. When Robbert got the opportunity to tour with Tiesto in North America for three weeks, that was very expensive, but he learned so much. To work with Tiesto was an honor, and he also had the opportunity to play in front of tens of thousands of people. We saw more value in that.
While he was touring, Robbert never knew what he was earning at a gig. He was never interested in it. He didn’t want that to affect his performance.
Joey: Is there any additional advice that you would give to parents who have children that potentially want an artist career?
Cor: The essential thing should be that they enjoy what they are doing and learn. When you see that’s not happening anymore, when the learning stops or when the fun comes along with stress, then you should reconsider how to help and proceed.
Joey: Thank you so much for taking the time!