Thursday, March 15, 2012

The King of Trance - Armin van Buuren


Tête-à-tête with one of the world’s most popular DJs

Dutch trance producer and DJ Armin van Buuren is one of the biggest names in music. Not only is he renowned for his tracks and collaborations (having worked with the likes of Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Ferry Corsten, and Adam Young), but between hosting the weekly radio show A State of Trance and running Armada Music, the record label that he co-founded, he has cemented his position as a force on the sonic landscape, and his influence can be felt globally. Ink was lucky enough to get a chance to chat with the trance maestro and ask him about his work.

Ink: You were voted the world’s most popular DJ (in DJ Magazine), not once but four times in a row (from 2007 to 2010). Does that put a lot of pressure on you as an artist?
Armin van Buuren:
Yes, people do have higher expectations. All of a sudden I had people that came to my gigs not for Armin van Buuren but for the number one DJ in the world. I figured I had to stick to my roots and just do what I always do. I never want to abandon the fans that have supported me from day one. But being the most popular DJ also offers a lot of opportunities.

Ink: How important is this achievement, and all the awards you have received, for you?
It’s a great feeling knowing so many people like what you do. The fact that so many people take a minute of their lives to support what you do is just an incredible thing. I don’t live for awards like an athlete or something. I make trance music because I have believed in it since 1996 when it wasn’t so popular. But of course it does give a great feeling.

Ink: How and when did your passion for dance music really begin? What inspired you to become a DJ?
When I was around 15/16, I was in school and all my friends were listening to the early dance music, then just called “house”. I was at the critical age where you try to find your own identity. All my friends were buying records so naturally I did the same. We were making mixtapes for each other. I started making records soon after I became 16 years old. My big inspiration back in those days was Dutch master-mixer Ben Liebrand.

Ink: A State of Trance has become a global success. What, in your opinion, gives it such worldwide appeal?
It’s hard to say but I’m very proud of it, of course. I guess the fact that it has been around for so long has helped. I was one of the first to do a two hour weekly radio show. Many of the DJs that said I was completely crazy to do that every week now have their own shows. Also, I think people really appreciate the fact that I try to bring them all the best and latest in trance every week. If you listen to A State of Trance you’ll hear at least 75% of the records that matter in the charts and on global trancefloors.

Ink: What do you feel has been your biggest achievement so far?
I think the Armin Only Mirage tour. It was the biggest thing I’ve ever done. 11 cities in one year with 11 sold out shows for 175,000 people. Each event had a nine hour Armin van Buuren set with dancers, lights, lasers, movable LED walls, singers and even a whole rock band and orchestra.

Ink: You have worked with some well known musicians over the years. What has your favourite collaboration been so far (both in terms of the artist you worked with and the music you created)?
It’s very difficult to say. All my tracks are like my babies, especially the ones on my last albums. If I had to choose one I would say In and Out of Love with Sharon because of the success on YouTube.

Ink: Is there any other artist you’d like to work with in the future?
Enya, Björk, Depeche Mode, Brian Eno, Steve Hillage, Peter Gabriel, Snow Patrol…I have a long list actually.

Ink: Between DJing, production, a radio show, and your record label, does the workload ever become too much to keep up with?
It’s a lot of hard work, especially since I became a father this year of a beautiful daughter named Fenna. But I’m very fortunate to have a great team of people around me who help me almost 24/7. I still select, mix, and present my own radio show, but someone else downloads the tracks, for example. This saves me a lot of time. And I tour with a tour manager now who makes sure everything is properly organized.

Ink: Any message for your South Asian fans?
Yes! I know there are many people who expect my return and you have to trust me I will be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, please keep listening to A State of Trance, and thanks for your support!!

- Sameen Amer

Ink Magazine - Jan-Mar, 2012

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