Trance icon Armin Van Buuren needs no introduction but we’re going to give him one anyway. The man has done it all from prestigious awards, to Grammy nominations, sold out tours to headlining main stages at the biggest festivals on Earth. His music is eaten up by his rabid fan-base the moment it is released. Whether it’s a new track, mix, ‘ A State Of Trance’ show, or studio album, Trance fans can’t get enough. On October 29th, he will be releasing his 6th studio album entitled ‘Embrace’. The first track off of the album, ‘Another You’, has already blown up on Spotify, and an upcoming North American tour in support of the album is fast approaching. Before the album is released, and before Armin Van Buuren rolls into Philadelphia for a show at Festival Pier on October 8th, we spoke with the Dutch legend about his music, favorite memories from Philadelphia, his achievements, problems facing the world of electronic music, Star Wars, Bigfoot, Donald Trump’s hair, and a slew of other topics.
Independent Philly: You are releasing your 6th studio album “Embrace” on October 29th, how does it differ from your past 5 albums? If you had to pick a personal favorite track from it, what would it be?
Armin Van Buuren: It’s hard to say because I’m not allowed to communicate about the track list yet but I am really proud of the first single with Mr. Probz, ‘Another You’, I think it’s one of my favorite tracks. It’s actually one of the shortest tracks of my life that I’ve put the most time and money into, recording a real string orchestra for the Marcato strings, being in a real studio, the Wisseloord Studio in the Netherlands was super exciting. So yeah, if there’s one track I have to mention, it’s definitely my new single with Mr. Probz.
Independent Philly: The album is of course spawning an upcoming tour which will be rolling into Philadelphia on October 8th (Festival Pier). What can your fans expect from an AVB show if they’ve never had a chance to see you in person before? Would you like to give a quick shout out to your fans in Philly?
Armin Van Buuren: I’m really happy to come back to Philly, especially for this special occasion. I’m super excited for the support from the radio stations for my track. Most of all, I’m going to bring a kick-ass new show with a lot of new tracks from my album and of course some of the current favorites (and of course my new single with Mr. Probz), that’s what you can expect. I bring five guys with me on the road these days to make a fantastic live visual experience, so yeah, people will be in for a treat. It’s definitely different than last time I was there.
IP: Do you have a favorite memory from the last time you played Philly (at the same venue no less)?
AVB: Oh yeah, I remember when I played Philly it was dry all the way through my set and as soon as I walked off stage it started raining but everyone was still able to make it home safely and dry and we weren’t affected by the rain and it was a fantastic show.
IP: We have come a long way from vinyl on turntables being the go-to gear for DJs and there is no shortage of equipment that is being used these days. What is your set up like for the upcoming tour? Are your sets pre-planned or do you change them up on the fly depending on the vibe of the crowd at each show?
AVB: I still use CDJs but we’ve been able to use a special program to link up Time Code to my CDJs. That’s means that the crew can see what tracks I’m playing but they can also sync up visuals, pyrotechnics, lights, everything to my tracks. I don’t have a pre-programmed set but the crew is able to fix up things to my show, link up special elements for my special set.
IP: Who are some up and coming DJs/Producers (on Armanda or in general) that have caught your eye (ear) that aren’t super well known now, but are poised for a big break out soon in your estimation?
AVB: There are so many guys that I am currently promoting. I think that Mark Sixma is doing an amazing job, Orjan Nilsen, Andrew Rayel, those are really the new, new names in Trance and they are really up-and-coming. MaRLo from Australia but he’s already there a little bit. One of these days I have to do a track with him.
IP: You’ve been voted as the Top DJ on the planet five times, nominated for a Grammy, and hit #1 on a variety of charts. Of all your accolades, which one do you personally consider to be your greatest accomplishment and why?
AVB: My two children. I know it’s cheesy to say that but my biggest production and my best production is my two children. They’re beautiful and so pure and I’m so proud to be their father. It’s really true.
IP: If you were curating your own stage for a major festival sometime before the end of 2015, who are 5 acts you’d make sure to book?
AVB: Kensington, Mr. Probz, Orjan Nilsen, Andrew Rayel, and Mark Sixma. MaRLo (laughs), that’s six.
IP: What do you see as the three biggest problems facing the world of electronic music today? How would you suggest that these problems be addressed and corrected?
AVB: First problem is illegal downloads. We are all suffering from a loss of income and not so much me, but I think the starting producers who are not participating in this interview. Spotify is a really bright star on the horizon because it finally generates income for a lot of people. That’s a good thing. Second problem is I think right now there are too many festivals. It’s almost killing, I think we should be focusing on a few festivals. The festivals we are having right now are great but it’s almost an overkill. I hope it’s not too much new things going on. New things are always good but you shouldn’t overdo it, I guess. The third thing I think is a lot of negativity on the Internet. There’s a lot of old school DJs bashing on the new EDM guys. I think there’s no need for that. Ask yourself why you feel the need to be negative about new guys cause new guys are always going to bring a new sound (so they aren’t you). I think one of the problems that’s facing EDM right now is that everyone is staring at each other and that should not be important. I think what’s the most important thing is that we should be staring at our own things, the things that we do, your own music, your own tracks, your own sets. Everybody’s always looking at another guy like, “Oh this guy’s playing this track or this guy’s playing that track”, and it’s not really relevant in my opinion.
IP: It’s hard to believe you’re coming up on ASOT 750! Do you have any special plans for #750 or #800?
AVB: Yes we do. I can’t really tell you more than this but we’ve already announced a date in Utrecht which is going to be really spectacular and there’s also going to be something really special for the celebration day.
IP: Please tell us if you think the following are real or fake: Bigfoot.
AVB: (laughs) Fake.
IP: Donald Trump’s hair.
AVB: I’m afraid it’s real.
IP: If we were going to name a Sandwich after you, what ingredients would it have?
AVB: It would probably include something spicy, something with chicken, something with a lot of healthy stuff like lettuce…something like that.
IP: Your October show here in Philly has us thinking about Halloween. What is your favorite Halloween costume you’ve ever worn? If you woke up tomorrow as a zombie, who is the first DJ you’d want to eat?
AVB: Favorite costume is a Storm Trooper. I think Steve Aoki has excellent cakes so I’d eat his cakes but not him.
IP: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise or even shock our readers…
AVB: I have a life sized Darth Vader in my game room.
[Interview by David Miller]