Find out Armin’s take on Trance, technology and production as well as details on his upcoming stop at Crobar, NYC on 9/30. Our exclusive interview is right here!
(InternetDJ) How do you manage to keep your sound so warm, analog machines over digital? Or do you have a few tricks up your sleeve that we don’t know about?
(Armin Van Buuren) I still use an analog desk in my studio. Besides that I’m using a lot of analog compression as that gives me the best overall result. If you want to know more, please check the virtual studio section on my website www.arminvanbuuren.com.
(InternetDJ) Do you produce everything yourself or do you call in extra pairs of ears to help out?
(Armin Van Buuren) I’ve always been a big fan of engineering everything myself and I’ve done so since 1991 ever since I got my first Atari. I try to use the sounds like the records that I play on dance floors. When I make a new bass drum for example, I usually know its a good bass drum because I’ve tested it! Sometimes I like to master my tracks with somebody else or in somebody else’s studio, just to get a fresh look on your sound. But I’m still the one that makes the final decisions.
(InternetDJ) I believe you studied law in University, that knowledge must have come in handy when dealing with the industry’s legal eagles?
(Armin Van Buuren) Definitely! But in the end of the day what they don’t teach you in school is how to work with people. Rules can be rules, you’re still dealing with people at the end of the day. That means that personal relationships are much more important than contracts in my experience. You only grab your contract if something’s very wrong. Overall I think its very important to protect somebody’s work of art and the time he or she has invested in it to create it. This is something that is forgotten often in these digital times.
(InternetDJ) When you are not producing cutting edge tracks or playing 12 hour sets where in the world do you go to unwind and what do you get up to?
(Armin Van Buuren) I love diving, reading & sunshine. In Holland I often go ride on my bike with my iPod as that gives me peace of mind. And I like to spend time with my friends & family as much as possible. They are very important to me.
(InternetDJ) You are forced to pick one record that will play on repeat every minute of everyday for the rest of your life. What would it be and why?
(Armin Van Buuren) The Orb – Blue Room (extended version), simply one of the best works of dance music/ambient ever made.
(InternetDJ) We don’t seem to be as bombarded with the type of pop music some people confuse with trance as much. Will trance regain its integrity now that the era of artists like DJ Sammy and Lasgo are over or will there always be a stigma attached?
(Armin Van Buuren) I guess trance has become a little bit of a dirty word now that its much more popular in general. I even noticed how some artists and DJ try to prevent using the word trance for their own production because they’re afraid to admit it is! I think we should stop using different names & styles for slightly different types of music in general anyway. Everyone seems to have a different definition of trance or progressive. If one person would name a place “Paris” and another “Rome”, then how the heck are we supposed to ever find this place! I think the whole discussion should be about dance music itself.
(InternetDJ) Will Trance evolve into something unrecognisable from the classic sounds from the mid-nineties? Or does it need to retain some of the vintage sound to work?
(Armin Van Buuren) I don’t know. I guess music is always evolving. Trance for me (“Paris”) has a much broader definition anyway then most people (“Rome”!). The only thing I can say here is that dance music will always be here, but things will change. And change is good. Never be a prisoner of your own style.
(InternetDJ) How has your live setup changed in the past few years, have you embraced mp3s and laptops or is it still just cd and vinyl?
(Armin Van Buuren) Laptops are build for home or office use. The package for a laptop doesn’t say: “for use in smokey clubs, with vibrant surfaces and people that throw drinks on your laptop while in the middle of a set for 10.000 people”. I do use CDs though because it has proven its stability.
(InternetDJ) How is the world of radio holding up now that everyone is walking around picking their own playlists on their mp3 players? Do you see a State of Trance still being on the air as it is now in five years or will the format/medium change?
(Armin Van Buuren) I guess people will always be looking out for new music. Formats & media will change. The whole world of broadcasting in general is changing, but stations still need content! With digital radio coming soon we’ll have more stations to choose from and therefore more content is needed I think. If you look at what’s happening with Sirius & XM radio you can see where the world is going to. Its all pretty exciting!
(InternetDJ) Clubland can be a pretty strange place at times. What is the most bizarre thing you have ever seen while commanding the decks?
(Armin Van Buuren) A few weeks ago I was DJ-ing in Jordan in the middle of the desert. I played till sunset and I saw a few Arabs passing on camels! ha ha!
(InternetDJ) Congratulations on releasing your second artist album this month, was it easier second time round?
(Armin Van Buuren) Yeah definitely. With ’76’, quite a few tracks HAD to be on the album so I had to produce the rest “around it”. “Shivers” gave me a clean sheet and it was great to just go in the studio and have fun!
(InternetDJ) What, if any lessons did you learn from ’76’ that you were able to apply to ‘Shivers’?
(Armin Van Buuren) Don’t try to force music. Just have fun trying to create something that has never been done before.
(InternetDJ) Do you feel that Shivers takes Trance in a new direction, or bringing the genre back to its roots?
(Armin Van Buuren) I think that question is not mine to answer. I just did an album and I had loads of fun making it. I really enjoy the tracks and they still don’t bore me after hearing some of them for over a year now. I think its up to other people to decide weather or not I did a good job.
(InternetDJ) How has working with Jan Yayne helped with your composing skills?
(Armin Van Buuren) It hasn’t really. He just played something during the sessions of “Classical trancelations” which I then used for a new track which was later called “Serenity”. Its that simple I’m afraid… ha ha!
(InternetDJ) Did you work to your own schedule on ‘Shivers’ or did time constraints put pressure on you to get it finished?
(Armin Van Buuren) Well, being constantly on the road makes it really hard to focus on a project like an album. Therefore I made some tracks ‘On the Road’! I decided I didn’t want any pressure while creating a new album. Only the last month was pretty stressful in finalizing the details and getting everything mastered and ok for production. We set the deadline only after the album was finished.
(InternetDJ) Which track on the album are you most pleased with?
(Armin Van Buuren) I produced 21 tracks for shivers and only 10 ended up on the final product. I only choose the tracks I was most pleased with so I can’t really pick one! Every track is personally very important for me.
(InternetDJ) You almost reached the big Three-O could you imagined in your wildest dreams that you would have achieved so much by this stage or were you always focused on such success?
(Armin Van Buuren) No I never count on anything. Life just comes as it comes. I’m very fortunate that I do what I like and honoured that I can play for such nice crowds. The funny thing is I don’t even mind to turn 30!
(InternetDJ) Any more dreams or ambitions you still want to fulfill?
(Armin Van Buuren) Yes definitely. I want to work like a real band when recording my 3rd album. I’m more and more interested in the whole concept of songwriting and live performances.
(InternetDJ) If you had to sacrifice either DJ-ing or producing which would you chose to keep on doing?
(Armin Van Buuren) Producing, even though DJ-ing can be very VERY addictive.
(InternetDJ) How is the label ‘Armada’ going, does it run itself or are you required to put a lot of your own time into it?
(Armin Van Buuren) Its doing really well. We had a kickstart in our first year and I think we were able to establish ourselves very quickly. I do invest a lot of time with it but a lot of the work I do overlaps with my radio shows & DJ sets anyway. When I sign a record, I can play it in my radio show & DJ sets & release it on Armada! When I make a record for Armada myself, its even 4 times the result!
(InternetDJ) Do you get to spend much time with your peers at the top of the DJ ladder or is there not enough time with your hectic schedules?
(Armin Van Buuren) No, not enough anyway. But its fun to meet so many colleagues during the summer at festivals etc.
(InternetDJ) Finally, plug one other artist. Who should we be listening to at this moment in time?
(Armin Van Buuren) Markus Schulz has one hell of an artist album coming up!
(editor’s note: Thanks Armin! Look forward to hearing you at Crobar, NYC!)
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