When it comes to fusing elements from both trance and big room house, there are very few acceptable answers of who does it best. Dutch duo W&W have undeniably blazed the trail for this sound’s prominence throughout the better half of the last decade, taking the throne each and every festival season with countless mainstage anthems. While Willem and Ward originated as a purely trance-based brand, they have certainly since shifted away from their initial style and found their present-day identity at 128 BPM. It obviously has not come without question from their diehard audience as fans have been yearning for a return to the music they fell in love with years ago. Over the past year, we’ve seen a handful of our favorite artists revert towards their days from the dance music “Golden Age” and luckily enough, W&W added themselves to that ever-growing bill.
Earlier in 2017, they began to tease their new alter ego with their euphoric transformation of Ed Sheeran’s “Castle On the Hill.” Instead of it being released under their W&W, it was labeled under the moniker NWYR — sparking widespread speculation that a new project was in the works. The duo officially premiered the new alias in March that year at Ultra Music Festival as while headlining the A State Of Trance Stage. It had been their first-ever live performance with a full hour of solely NWYR IDs and remixes.
For the first time in nearly five months, the Dutch pair is finally reigniting their alter ego with an inaugural, two-piece EP. They unveiled the first fresh single in the form of “Time Spiral,” infusing psytrance elements into the trademark NWYR sound that they have so masterfully developed. The second single, “Wormhole,” is officially available on all platforms, and has built an ample amount of anticipation over the past year after being a staple in their live sets as well as Armin van Buuren’s.
We recently had the honor of sitting down with one of our longtime favorites in W&W to learn more about their reasoning behind starting NWYR, why they choose to keep a lot of their music exclusively to live shows and their plans for the upcoming W&W vs. NWYR tour later this year.
W&W originally began as a trance-influenced act but you guys have obviously shifted towards a more electro house/big room sound over the last half-decade. What was the inspiration for the NYWR alias? Was the intention to take it back to your roots without compromising what you were currently doing as W&W?
The progression we made musically from the more trance-influenced sound to big room felt very natural to us at that point. It wasn’t something we intentionally did, but it basically just happened while experimenting in the studio. Then that sound really blew up and it became our new signature sound. Next to that we always have produced more trance-influenced tracks as well and we had so many ideas laying around and there were so many people that kept asking us about our older sound that at a certain point it just felt like the right time to do something with it. And why not start something completely new?! Once it was all made public and we played Ultra with the NWYR project in 2017, the reactions have been insane so that even gave us more inspiration to continue with it! We really see NWYR as a thank you to our loyal fans that have been supporting us throughout the years!
We finally just got some much-needed music from NWYR with their first release of the summer in ‘Time Spiral’. What can you tell us about that track?
It’s one of the tracks we started producing especially for the ASOT850 show and we tested it out in the months before as well in our W&W sets. People went nuts for it haha! So it was an easy pick as the first track of the NWYR EP we are giving away for free this summer!
Going off of that, since you guys initially premiered NWYR at Ultra 2017 with an insane amount of music, only a handful of IDs have seen the light of day. What are your plans with all of the unreleased music you have? Is there a potential full-length album in the works or are you more so focused on smaller NWYR releases?
For now we will just focus on NWYR singles and maybe some more EP’s in the future. For us, a release is always something special and tracks we produce for the sets are basically just playable versions, they work very well on the dance floor, but for a proper release, they are far from ready! The time we spend on finetuning playable versions in something that we feel is release worthy can be days in the studio. Also creating something of a theme (artwork, video, etc.) around a release is something we take seriously and feel is important. So we do understand people asking why we just don’t release all the tracks we have played in sets, but we really want to do it right and that’s basically impossible if you just drop track after track!
Would you say the production process (track starting point, gear/program used, etc.) is any different for you guys when producing music under NWYR versus W&W?
It’s completely different! We still use the same DAW for both projects (Ableton), but once we decided NWYR was really going to be a thing, we agreed to not use ANY VSTi in our NWYR songs that we use in our W&W songs. So where for W&W we use a lot of Serum, Sylenth1 and Spire, for NWYR it’s completely other synths like Dune2, Legend, our Virus TI etc.
You guys recently announced the first phase of your W&W vs. NWYR tour including a return to New York in October, which we are unbelievably excited about. Tell us about the concept behind that tour and what fans can expect when seeing it live.
We are excited as well!! What you can expect is a full NWYR set plus a full W&W set. Both will come with a very different visual and lightshow, but there will be an overarching theme in the full show that connects the two as well. For NWYR we obviously have the dragon theme, which will really come to live in this tour and for W&W we have a whole new show, but we can’t give away too much about it yet. You just have to come out and see it for yourself!
You guys premiered some insane IDs during your W&W Tomorrowland Weekend 2 set last month. We got another long-awaited collaboration with BlasterJaxx and two new ones with your Mainstage Music prodigy Maurice West. Aside from your tour, what’s coming up for W&W in terms of music during the rest of 2018.
We’ve been feeling really inspired lately and spent a lot of time making music! Besides BlasterJaxx and Maurice West we also have a new song with Steve Aoki, a new one with Armin van Buuren vs. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, and we’re working on something else with a big hardstyle act. Besides that, we have a ton of solo tracks waiting to be finished!
You can check out NWYR’s two brand new singles below and be sure to be on the lookout as they announce more information on the upcoming EP.
Photo credit: Rukes