On Monday 25th June an event is set to touch down at the worlds biggest club - Privlege - that will blow this island apart in a giant explosion of lasers, pyrotecnics, glow sticks and epic trance breakdowns. Tiësto's 4 year relationship (not including his 2 shows in 2007) with Privilege has come to an end and so in steps the worlds number 1 trance artist - Armin Van Buuren.
His 'A State Of Trance' parties are the stuff of legend, particularly amongst his die-hard legion of loyal fans who often tune into his weekly ASOT broadcasts and podcasts. Whilst 2011 was a big year for Armin as the 'Be' parties on Wednesdays at Space were his home, 2012 will undoubtedly be bigger. 10,000 people will flock to the newly improved club each week as his unleashes the ASOT sound all season long. If you're going or think you'll be talking to people who will go, expect to hear the word "epic" a lot. Because it will be. Really, really epic.
You had some really successful times with Be @ Space, if you were to sum up your time there, what would you say?
I’ve always looked up to the brand Space, since it stands for something cool. My year at Space totally lived up to that feeling. I felt closer to the crowd and played deeper sets than usual. I felt connected.
Mondays at Privilege have been all about trance for a few years now, how does it feel to be embarking on this new adventure over at Privilege?
I’m very excited although that’s the answer you might have expected. The reason you may not: I’ve never done a weekly night for my radioshow. Ever. But the success of the ASOT 500 and 550 celebration made me think about the concept. Ibiza is special. I never do ASOT nights on a weekly base anywhere else. So why not combine the two? It’s a big risk, since Privilege is such a big venue, but it’s one of the few trance nights on the islands. I think it’s worth the risk.
Do you think the venue offers the perfect space for your music?
Well, with the ASOT 500 and 550 celebrations I’ve stepped up my game. We don’t do under 5000 people with ASOT special events, except the pre-parties, like in London. Trance brings a massive euphoric feeling that sounds best if it’s shared by a big crowd. That’s why it’s called “big room music”.
It could be argued by some that trance had its heyday in the 90s, do you agree with this? Having said that, it seems pretty clear to me that with you moving to your own night, amongst other things, that the genre is back and stronger than ever…
Well if you say that trance had it’s heyday in the 90s then House had it’s heyday in the early 90s but that’s back and bigger than ever as well. I think anyone would hardly disagree. In my years of doing a radioshow, I’ve seen the subgenres of trance come and go. Over the years, many styles have influenced the productions of trance but the elements are still the same: euphoric, uplifting, melodic. You can feel a huge influence of electro and minimal for example. The average BPM of a trance production has gone down to about 132 (from 138). What I love about trance, is that it’s open to all kinds of genres and that makes it grow. I think anyone would agree Big Sky, Motorcycle, The Fusion, Air For Life, We control the sunlight etc etc are all very big, very recent records that keep the genre growing.
The ASOT parties seem to be going from strength to strength, with a huge following for each event both in person and via the podcast, are there any big events coming up?
Yes, we’re doing an ASOT area during Electric Daisy Carnaval in New York and Las Vegas. I think they’re expecting around 100.000 people. All events will be broadcasted live as usual. That’s what makes ASOT unique. And then there’s ASOT 600...
Will the parties at Privilege continue in the same vain as your other ASOT parties around the world then? What can we expect?
Yes! Big production, bigger than my usual gigs and intro’s and visuals in the same style as the invasion tour… The invasion of 550 continues in IBIZA!!
Can't wait... tell us about the other artists who will be joining you at the parties.
We have a massive line up of fantastic acts, like Markus Schulz, Dash Berlin, Jochen Miller, and many more.
What is it like juggling huge events, a record label, being a producer, DJ’ing and all the other things you do? How do you find the time?
Hahaha! It’s hard work indeed, but I just really want to do it. When I wake up, I can’t wait to go in the studio to work on a new song. Every day, there’s something exciting in my life, like a new song I like, an interview I love, or a new gadget I love to play with. On the other hand, I just took a week off with my wife and daughter with no email and internet. That was a fantastic experience too!
With all of that going on, what is your involvement with Armada in terms of your day-to-day business?
I decided to no longer be part of the board of directors but I’m still a share holder so behind the scenes I help with the signing of new acts. Two labels are fully A&R-ed by me: ASOT and Armind. But I don’t deal with employees or business contracts. I want to be in the studio, that’s where I belong.
How are things over at your label, Armada? Any exciting releases on the horizon?
Pfffffft! So many! I could fill this page with just naming the artists!! This year alone we release albums & singles by Dash Berlin, Paul Oakenfold, Markus Schulz, Paul van Dyk, Chicane, Ashley Wallbridge, W&W, Susana, Christian Burns, to name just a few!
And the radio show, how’s that going? What is your aim with it? How does it differ from the podcasts?
My radioshow started June 1st 2001 and is still going strong with the same formula: bringing the latest in trance and progressive, every week. If you listen to ASOT, you know what’s going on in the world of trance. Podcasts are like a “best of” the show since they’re a lot shorter and feature only the highlights.
And for yourself personally, how are the productions going? You have a new artist album in the pipeline right?
Yes, already halfway. Can’t say much about it, except for the fact that I’m very happy with what I have so far...
Clearly you are massive in Holland, as is your music, why do you think that is?
I don’t know, I find it hard to answer in just once sentence. I guess it has to do with the fact that I’ve been around for a few years with tracks, mixes, compilations, albums, concerts and a weekly radioshow on national radio.
Judging by the amount of projects you have been involved with over the years, from music, DVDs, TV, apps, new media, etc etc, you could probably make a case as being the furthest away from an ‘underground’ DJ. Given that many (but not all!) would consider being ‘underground’ to be the way forward, how have you managed to do all of the above and yet still remain so credible?
I find it hard to define what is underground and what isn’t. I don’t try to be underground, nor stay away from it. Obviously, nobody likes to be considered completely “commercial" in the sense of “just doing it for the money”. I think it’s all about artist integrity. I don’t go in the studio when I wake up, thinking: “Oh, how can I make another million” or “how can I become number one in DJ mag again”. I usually go in the studio because I’m excited about an idea I have or a song I’ve created. Sometimes, it’s just about having fun or being touched by sounds. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t try to be anything I’m not. The music should always be your drive, not anything else. Trying to create something from nothing, something that comes out of your heart is magic. Don’t think. Feel.
Final question - you’ve achieved so much, but is there anything you would love to try your hand at in the future, perhaps away from music? Or will it be your focus full stop?
I don’t know, I can’t predict the future. I don’t know where life will take me but I’m excited and very open minded. I love learning every day. I actively learn studio tricks but I also read books about philosophy and science. I finished my law degree although I don’t see myself doing something with it in the future. Music is so strong in my soul though. There’s not a day that goes by without finding a new track that I’m totally in love with. Passion.
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