[Exclusive] Master of EDM Armin van Buuren on being #1 and watching Paul van Dyk fall off a stage
In an exclusive interview legendary DJ and music producer Armin speaks to us about things that we could learn from him, innovating in EDM, his lowest point in life and more
By R. Prashanth Vidyasagar
They say that some people are born with a purpose, to fulfill something; and the man we speak of today is one such. He was born to make millions dance to his tunes. Armin van Buuren, now 42, began working towards being the grandmaster of Electronic Dance music (EDM) from the age of 10. A curious kid, he began fiddling on his mother’s computer, starting off with writing basic programs to later making mixtapes for his friends. He saw his uncle creating music, and that lit the wick that set off the explosion of creativity in his mind.
Back in his school days, he had a paper route that paid for all the vinyl he bought. And back in the day, he ensured that made full use of every opportunity and played whenever and wherever he could. But it is never wrong to have a Plan B either, which is why he later pursued a Master’s degree in Law (Specialization in Copyright Law). But needless to say, music is and was always his calling, and he continued his journey in that. Well, what makes Armin the megastar is the fact that even after all these years, he hasn’t lost his charm and continues to innovate in the ocean called EDM.
His radio show 'A State of Trance' (ASOT) is tuned into by lakhs of listeners to this day, his tours and sets are some of the most looked forward to, his set at Tomorrowland 2018 is an example of this. Wanting to take electronic music far and wide and to help other artists in the process, he set up music label Armada Music (Armin is a co-owner), which represents some of the biggest names in EDM today.
Since 2002 he has been in the Top 5 of the prestigious DJ Mag top 100 ranking, holding the number 1 position a jaw-dropping five times. Amongst the numerous awards and accolades he has won so far some that stand out are, his Grammy nomination ('This Is What It Feels Like'), him being named an Officer in the Order of Oranje-Nassau by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (A chivalric order open to everyone who has earned special merits for society) and him being honored on a commemorative Dutch postage stamp. Excerpts from his exclusive interview with Meaww.
If I were to spend two days with you, what are the four things I would learn from you?
· Due to my intense touring over the years, I can sleep pretty much anywhere at any time of day when needed.
· I may or may not start humming on random occasions. This may be because I have a catchy tune in my head, but it also could be just because I feel like it.
· I don´t do bad hair days. I deal in weeks and
· You´ll learn that two days are long enough to fit in several Star Wars binge-watch marathons.
First, it was ‘This is a Test’ and now ‘Blah Blah Blah.' How do you manage to conceptualize such unique tracks like these? What’s the thought process?
I always liked doing gimmicks, and these tracks are just another way for me to have fun with music and to do something different. Most of the time, I (or someone else from my team) just stumble onto a quirky idea, and it just flows from there.
When did it hit you that you had attained superstar status and how did that make you feel?
Probably by the time I was named #1 DJ in the world by DJ Mag in 2007. It felt great knowing that so many people loved and appreciate what I do. And it still feels that way. I wouldn’t trade that feeling for the world.
What was the lowest point in your life?
I reached the lowest point in my life when Paul van Dyk fell from the main stage at ASOT festival. Luckily, he’s OK now, but I still feel horrible.
What would make you want to collaborate with someone new?
If someone’s ideas are good and refreshing and out of the box, if they bring something to the table no one else can, then I’d definitely consider collaborating with this person. I’m very open-minded, so it doesn’t matter which style of music it involves. We can make it work in our own, joint way.
Your track ‘Therapy’ is soul stirring. It takes one back in time. What/who are you reminded of when you listen to ‘Therapy’?
Well, the music video of ‘Therapy’ portrays it nicely. It’s about my high-school crush, someone I had once fallen heads over heels in love with. So that’s what I’m reminded of every time I listen to it.
Do you sing? If yes, what’s the one song you can sing well?
Do you sing? YES! Do you sing well? Nope. But I have mastered the lyrics and catchy phrasing of ‘Blah Blah Blah,' so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
What does your name mean?
I could lie to you and say I know it by heart, but I don’t. Luckily, I know my way around Google. It means "soldier" or "warrior."
If you could rename one planet which one would it be and why?
I’d rename Mars to Marshmello. Our solar system could use a little more dance music, don’t you think?
If you were throwing a party who would be first four people on your guest list?
My wife, my two kids and my ASOT radio studio pet rubber chicken for good measure.
What makes you shiver in fear?
I am definitely not made for flying, in airplanes(laughs).
What do you think is the next massive thing that’s going to change the face of EDM?
I think melodic Techno, the kind you hear in France nowadays, is going to be really big.