In 1997, Armin van Buuren kicked off his now legendary music career with the trance classic Blue Fear. Since then, he’s produced numerous hits, made DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs number one spot a record five times, landed a Grammy nomination for his 2013 hit single This Is What It Feels Like, and launched A State of Trance, a weekly radio broadcast that attracts more than 41 million listeners in 84 countries.
Now celebrating his 20th year in the music industry, van Buuren remains one of the planet’s most popular DJs and producers, headlining more than 150 shows at festivals and venues around the world. We caught up with the Dutch producer, radio personality, pianist, and label owner ahead of his gig at Macau’s Club Cubic on September 9.
Why has the trance music scene enjoyed such longevity?
I think this is mainly because trance music has one of the most loyal fan bases. It amazes me time and time again how loyal and relentlessly dedicated these guys are. Also, I believe that where some genres have gone and evolved into something different, trance music has stayed fairly the same at its core. Fans cherish that and that’s why trance is bigger than ever.
How has dance music evolved since you began your career more than 20 years ago?
For starters, the dance music scene is about twenty times as big as it was twenty years ago. It has seen an exceptional growth in the past two decades and it has also become insanely more diverse, with more genres popping up as we speak. The other thing that has changed is the attitude towards dance music.
Back when I started out, a lot of people seemed to think less of dance music as opposed to the more traditional genres. As if it wasn’t real music. That has changed now. I feel that dance music has never been as much appreciated as it is now and I am truly thankful for that.
How do you see dance music changing over the next twenty years?
The way it’s heading, I can only see dance music becoming ever bigger, ever more widespread and even more diverse. I am very much looking forward to seeing how it will all play out in the (near) future.
You’ve collaborated with one of you earliest inspirations, Jean-Michel Jarre. Are there any other electronic music pioneers you’d like to work with, Simeon Coxe, Brian Eno, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Gary Numan . . . ?
I’ve got to say, I really like your suggestions. To be able to work with Brian Eno, for instance, would allow me to learn so much, not only about music production as a whole, but on tonnes of other aspects as well. I think working with any of your suggestions could be really inspiring. That being said, I’ll work with anyone as long as their ideas are fresh. I’m just looking to be inspired.
What can fans expect at your gig at Club Cubic in Macau?
I am all about giving them the high-energy set they deserve. As for the specifics, you’ll just have to wait and see!
What advice would you give to young DJs in Asia?
You find yourself at the core of an emerging industry. There are tonnes of opportunities for you to seize, but there’s also a lot of competition. Work your hardest, learn from criticism and don’t ever feel like you won’t get ever get there. The key word is persistence and if you persevere, you will succeed.
See also: 5 Best Bars And Clubs In Macau
What do you like best about touring?
To see many cultures, so many different traditions and people, truly inspires me. As a DJ, I get to fly around the world and take in all of that and even make a living out of it. That has got to be the best thing about touring in my humble opinion.
You're on the road a good part of the year, what keeps you grounded?
It’s imperative to keep a healthy balance between work and personal life. This doesn’t just count for DJs, but for everyone who has a demanding job. I have been able to surround myself with people whom I trust and respect. They help me keep the balance and ensure I’m always focused on what I need to do by allowing me to also take a step back if the scale starts tipping. Whenever it may become somewhat overwhelming, they keep me grounded and help me to not lose sight of the bigger picture.
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