Trance music will always evolve, says Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren

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Armin Van Buuren (AVB) blends his own vocals with tracks and sounds from different corners of the world to create an entirely unique genre of music. Counted among the most popular DJs in the world today, he is the pioneer of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) movement that has shadowed pop and rap genres. The DJ mostly produces trance music, which is a slower and more romantic form of EDM.

Armin, who was here in India to host his annual A State of Trance (ASOT) Festival at Mumbai and Hyderabad recently, says dance music has now spread like oil through all different kinds of modern music like hip hop, pop, jazz and even classical. Excerpts from an interview with Folomojo (FM):

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FM: How was the journey with ‘A State of Trance’ (ASOT) been? How has it helped you evolve as a musician and entertainer?

AVB: I really couldn’t tell you exactly – I’d need a glass ball – but the word that springs to mind is diversification. Some people like to stick to the original sound, but what I find very interesting is people who dare to look over the border of their specific sound, that makes it musically interesting. If you look at the history of music, the people who have come furthest are always those who chose to come out of their safe havens and try to experiment with different styles and instruments. ‘ASOT’ and ‘Armin Only’ are my most important projects. I’ve always been a big fan of radio and I love being able to give new talent a stage to shine on. That’s what I love most. I had a lot of help in the early days from other artists and it feels great to be able to do something back. Second, I really love to connect the audience at the event with the people listening on the streams. Literally turning the world into a dance floor by spreading audio and video to anyone who cares to see it. I started off with hosting ASOT so the show will always hold a special place in my heart. Through my radio show, I have an ideal platform to really communicate with my fans.   

FM: What’s the next step for trance music?

AVB: This whole generation is growing up listening to dance music. It’s a cultural movement really, and I think only retrospectively will we be able to confirm that. It’s just amazing how it’s grown and how much different sounds have been developing throughout the years. There’s electronic beats in most pop albums, and even in classical music, they’re working with dance music influences right now. I like that dance music is constantly reinventing itself. It will never go away, but it will change. Dance music will always evolve, and so will trance. There’s a global boom currently.

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FM: As a pioneer in the Electronic Dance Music movement, do you foresee the industry gaining more strength in the coming years?

AVB: I think it appeals to big audiences because you hear it everywhere now! Dance music has spread like oil through all different kinds of modern music (like hip hop, pop, jazz and even classical music). You can no longer speak about “just dance music” because it has merged with so many styles and genres. I think social media like Facebook and Twitter are very important. They spread the sound like no other. It’s more important nowadays to have a big impact on social media because a lot of young people are active on it. When jazz or rock first became popular, we didn’t have social media like we have now. I think dance music finds it origin in the development of technology. Each synth and each plugin that comes out has an impact on the scene, more than social or political realities in my opinion. Computers have become more powerful and it has changed the possibilities. It’s like a guitar with more strings, you will play differently and investigate the options.

FM:  Who are your inspirations?

AVB: German techno pioneer Klaus Schulze as well as German producer Oliver Lieb’s 1999-released work “Netherworld” is something I draw inspiration from.  I was into a Dutch master mixer, Ben Liebrand. He was one of first guys in the Netherlands to mix two records together, which everybody does now while they’re cooking dinner. But at time, in 1977, mixing two records together was very new. He had “In the Mix,” a very popular radio show. He made combinations of records that I found very interesting, which he used to create a whole new record. I knew the original records and wanted to know how he did it.  I’m always influenced by the tracks i select for my weekly radio show “A State of Trance”. In a DJ set you want your own tracks to sound different but not too different from other tracks. My sound has changed by the use of different plugins and synths over the years.

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FM: Would Bollywood music inspire you enough to include it in your tracks? Would you want to consider it?

AVB: Yes, Bollywood is massive in India. I’m always open to the idea of experimentation. I think India has some wonderful musical lineage and the classical beats are quite unique to the sub-continent. I’d want the world to be one massive dance floor where musical inspirations from across the world converge on one single platform.

FM: What is your next project?

AVB: I’m finalising my new artist album and working on a new compilation CD. Also, I can’t wait for my new residency in Ushuaia Ibiza and looking forward to continue with my residency in Las Vegas. The challenge for me personally has always been to innovate my shows and tracks. 

FM: You are a DJ, a radio host, a music producer and a label owner. People see you as an inspiration. What message would you like to give to them?

AVB: If your ambition is to be a top DJ and play all the big festivals, start making a track and make sure it gets played by all the other big DJs. That’s your quickest way to the top. It astounds me that a lot of DJs who want to be popular do what other DJs have been doing for years.

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