"Trance music will always exist, in one shape or another" - Armin van Buuren

Armin van Buuren is a legend in the world of dance music and there’s no valid point that can defeat this argument but how did he establish this reputation?

 

We got an insight into the world of Armin van Buuren and his journey from starting the A State of  Trance radio show in his home studio to creating his own music festival!

Keep reading to know who Armin thinks will rule our trance music playlists this year!

You’ve been in this industry for more than 20 years, defining and re-defining the sound as well as the culture time and again. What keeps you going, as a producer and as a performer?

As an artist or producer, I’m always looking for new experiences, to do things I haven’t yet done. I have always been open-minded towards other genres, and I like to adapt to the changes in the music industry by experimenting with new sounds and styles. As a performer, I love the thrill of seeing a crowd go wild. It may just be the best feeling in the world, especially when I’m playing one of my tracks! It feels as if you’re making a difference in the lives of others, and that’s a great feeling.

Your last few releases are pretty diverse in terms of sound. For example, your latest collaboration with Garibay, “Phone Down,” is very different compared to “Turn It Up” or “Show Me Love.” What do you keep in mind while producing new music?

There’s nothing specific I keep in mind. I just let the inspiration decide which direction to go in. I love collaborating with new people, and I love putting a piece of their own sound into my production. It’s all about being open-minded in the studio. That’s what gets the best results in my opinion.

 

However, we still hear “typical” trance music coming from you. How do you strike the balance of making pop-friendly material and trance?

Almost every time I create something that can’t be categorized as “typical” trance music, I try to balance it out by creating a club mix or trance mix. That way, everyone will have something to his or her liking.

What are the ingredients of an Armin van Buuren track in your opinion?

I don’t think there is something like a typical Armin van Buuren track. However, I strongly believe in the power of music on an emotional level. So most of the times, I feel my music has to have some form of emotion and it has to be danceable. I wouldn’t call it dance music otherwise.

There’s grapevine about your new album, can you settle all the rumors and tell us what to expect from it, if any of it is true?

I am definitely working on a brand-new album, plus some other projects I’m really excited about. For now, though, let’s wait for the actual announcement. It shouldn’t take too long. I’m happy to say pretty soon there will be a debut album of my Gaia project…

The first Gaia track, “4 Elements” released back in 2000. Why did it take 19 years for you and Benno to put out a Gaia album?

Although I did release several Gaia tracks before in tandem with Benno, the new GAIA project has nothing to do with it. It can be seen as a new project – my most personal project to date – with a new musical vision. It’s the start of a new and amazing journey, and I’m really excited to share it with the world.  

Apart from your original tracks, we love your remixes! What’s your workflow when you’re remixing a tune like the “Game Of Thrones Theme“?

Remixing a record properly is an entirely different craft in my opinion. Although all of the standard things like a proper song structure still apply, there’s a very fine line between doing the original record justice or not. Simply put though, remixing is about turning someone else’s work into a song that represents you or your sound on an artistic level. It also has to complement the original work in one way or another. Otherwise, chances are it won’t be good.

 

On the other hand, when someone remixes one of your tracks, what do you expect them to remember while experimenting with it?

That’s a good question! I don’t think I expect them to be completely mesmerized by a certain part or element of the original track or anything. Instead, I think I just want the original track to inspire them in a way that brings out the best in them as a producer or artist.

Let’s talk about ASOT, The latest A State of Trance (2019) contains a lot of new names alongside the ASOT regulars. How do you curate the tracklists for these albums and what’s the thought behind releasing these compilations?

Simply put, the album contains some of the best trance records of the moment. Of course, there will always be licensing issues that get in the way sometimes, but most of the tracks are there on the album. As for the thought behind releasing these albums, it’s my way of sharing my taste in music and my personal picks with the world, which is similar to what I do with the radio show.

From March 2001 till date, how do you think ASOT, the radio show, has evolved over the last 18 years?

It started out really small in my bedroom studio. Now, it’s not just a global radio show with millions and millions of listeners, but an entire music brand with many different aspects (e.g. radio show, events, albums, a record label and more). Sound-wise, it hasn’t changed too much though. It’s still all about the records that get people into A State Of Trance.

When you launched ASOT, what was your original goal and vision? What do you think contributed to the success and growth of this property?

My goal was simple. I just wanted to share the music I discovered with anyone who wanted to hear it. Of course, the show grew as my own career picked up, but it was never an actual goal for the radio show to become such a global brand as it is now. I definitely welcomed it though. The more people I can share those amazing tunes with, the better.

When did you think ASOT is not just a radio show anymore and decided to take things a step further with its own festival?

It wasn’t really about taking things a step further in my opinion. Of course, I noticed how close the ASOT family grew and how many people loved the show. I thought it would be a cool idea to bring these people together in person by hosting an ASOT show. The first one was ages ago, and the event series is still going strong today. It shows not just how strong the brand is, but also how involved everyone is. It wouldn’t be possible without those amazing fans of the show.  

 

This brings us to your live performances: you’re a producer, DJ, label boss, and radio host. How do you juggle between these roles when you’re traveling for shows?

Mostly, it’s just time management. It all depends on the tour schedule. There’s always room for recording a radio show, getting some studio time or spending time with the family. I just have to plan really well. Luckily, I have an amazing team helping me out with this. 

The Armin Only tour was a completely different concept from what we see these days, what initiated the idea of longer sets and incorporating live elements in the show?

When you have more hours for a DJ set, it’s much easier to give your own twist or vibe to it. When you’ve made it your own, it’s much easier to incorporate live elements. The longer a live show is, the more you can turn it into something that represents you as an artist. So that’s where the idea came from. I just want to personalize my live shows and Armin Only was the way to do it.

We’re pretty sure, coordinating all the units wasn’t an easy task, how did these shows come to life?

In short, it involved lots of preparation, lots of rehearsing and lots of putting the right people in the right place. There were so many different people involved it made my head spin a few times, but that’s what we needed to get this thing done properly. And I couldn’t be more proud of the end result!

When you ended the Armin Only tour, you mentioned “I really don’t know yet if I’ll ever do another Armin Only tour,” in one of your Facebook posts but video parts about The Best Of Armin Only have recently been appearing on your YouTube channel. Is that a sign of a return of the Armin Only tour or something new altogether?

It’s neither, I guess. Mostly, it’s about wanting to relive that special show all over again and giving the fans a bit of extra background information along with it. It’s just something I want to share with the world.

One of the stops on your Armin Only tour was India and you’ve been performing in India even before EDM became popular here. What do you think of the evolution of the EDM industry and festivals in India?

I think India is one of the places that has really picked up on dance music. It’s still a bit new in India, but that’s also what makes it really special to play there. The crowd is so eager it’s almost ridiculous, and I love every second I get to spend in their presence. Their energy is amazing!

 

Closing this conversation with your opinion on trance music regaining traction: what do you think of the future of this genre and who are the producers you think will take it up a notch this year?

Trance music will always exist, in one shape or another. Sometimes, people seem to forget that music, and dance music, in particular, keeps evolving. We shouldn’t frown upon these changes; we should embrace them instead. Because that’s the beauty of music. I really love the current sounds of Super8 & Tab, Maarten de Jong, Beatsole, FUTURECODE, Davey Asprey, Allen Watts and many more!

Want more of Armin van Buuren? Stream his Selects playlist on JioSaavn

EDM