Armin Interview: Transcript, mp3 Download, and Pictures
Ryne Tyme: This is Ryne Tyme of TranceSphere Radio. Its March 6th 2004, Iím here at the Wyndham Hotel, in downtown Cleveland, Ohio with Armin van Buuren, before his show at Metropolis. Armin, thank you for finding time in your busy schedule to sit down with me for this interview.
Armin van Buuren: No problem
Ryne Tyme: I think the hardest part about interviewing you is the fact that most fans know everything about you, you have a real dedicated following. So Iím going to try to focus on the future for the majority of this interview
Armin van Buuren: Okay
Ryne Tyme: You have a new album coming out, the end of this month, do you want to tell us a little bit about that?
Armin van Buuren: Well, itís a compilation; itís just to fill in the gaps between two albums, as Iím working on the second album which is due for February 2005. There are just a lot of good records out at the moment. And we set up Armada Recordings, youíve probably heard about it, you probably know about it, Armada is my label, set up together with Maykel Piron, ex-head of A&R at Warner, and David Lewis my manager. And the label was so successful, the first week of sales for vinyls and stuff was so good, that we thought we could expand our horizon by doing a worldwide compilation CD. And we just, ya know, at Amsterdam last year we asked a couple partners, people we already did business with, like Ultra Records in America, and Sheer Music in South Africa, Balle in Spain, B&G in Holland, we asked them if they wanted to join in, and they immediately said yes. So weíre so enthusiastic about the idea of doing a world wide compilation thing. So actually itís a pretty new compilation concept, because it has been done before, but not on this scale. I mean this CD will be released in over 11 countries on the same date which is a pretty big thing, itís really exciting. I think doing a compilation is harder than doing an artist album at some points because whenever you make a compilation itís like a photograph of your favorite records at that moment. And now I mixed the compilation a month ago, no, more than a month ago, and for me, my set is already renewed and this comp still has to come out. But Iím sure that almost half the tracks havenít even been released yet, but you want the compilation to be perfect and I did compilations in the past, but Iím really proud of this one. The first CD is like a photograph of my sets, and the second is more like a chill, sort of progressive, mellow kind of CD. The record companies are really enthusiastic about it, pre-sales are good, people are already ordering off the Internet, itís not even out. Actually you could already order it off the Internet before it was even mixed yet. I thought of a name on Thursday or something and that following Tuesday on Amazon you could pre-order it with the name I just thought of. Itís weird, but itís really exciting, Iíll be touring for the CD all over the world. Itís great to do a double compilation.
Ryne Tyme: Thatís coming out March 22, in the States?
Armin van Buuren: The compilation? March 23.
Ryne Tyme: Oh March 23, okay, weíll make sure to look for that. Next up is about the productions from Armada, I mean theyíve been on fire lately. This month you have Robert Nickson Ė Spiral, Firewall Ė Kilimanjaro, and Mark Otten Ė Tranquility are getting released. What do you personally have coming up, as far as production releases, in the near future?
Armin van Buuren: Blue fear will be released as the last single from the album, and then the album is finished. Iíve got a project running with M.I.K.E. the Belgium producer; we did one side, its kind of a pretty hard track. So we are in the studio next week again, I think, and weíre producing the B side or A side, I donít know. And from that point on it will be quiet because I want to focus on my second album. So no compilations, no new tracks, until 2005, I know itís a long wait, but to help the people get over that period I am thinking about releasing the first single very soon. It is already finished but I canít tell anything about it yet; management thinks, well, my hands are tied. I donít know, I am really happy with the way things are going right now, I feel really free, I donít feel the pressure I would expect you would feel at this level. I mean being voted at #3 obviously brings a certain level of stress and pressure. But I think with ASOT, my radio show, the following I have, the sets Iíve built, compilations, my album, I am pretty sure what I want in the future. And itís not necessarily your average trance records; you can really feel a development in the market at the moment. A lot of people move away from the big break trance to the more kind of progressive, melodic kind of stuff, which is only natural and I think it is really good. So, we are really focusing on that with Armada as well at the moment; I just started a new label called Electronic Elements. We are releasing more of the left side, more progressive, deep kind of trance productions, its still trance, but the new 2004 sound.
Ryne Tyme: You said about a dead period, any chance youíll do a DVD release like Tiesto did?
Armin van Buuren: Actually weíre shooting, weíre making stock for that right now. See if I want to do a DVD I want to do it proper, I mean what Tiesto did with Tiesto in concert, I can not just do that. He is so popular all around the world, and he deserves a lot of respect for what heís done. A lot of people ask for an Armin in Concert and stuff, but I wasnít feeling too sure about that.
(Waitress serving food)
Ryne Tyme: Next thing I wanted to comment on was the North American tour you have coming up in April; youíre hitting Atlanta, San Francisco, LA, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal all in 11 days. (Actually, New York is also on this tour)
Armin van Buuren: Am I? Oh my god, they are making me work for my money.
Ryne Tyme: What do you expect to happen on this tour?
Armin van Buuren: Well, I feel like I just started to break the market really. So for me, a lot of places I will come back for a second time. I just hope, for me, the first two I did for 76 was, ya know, I was amazed that I sold out venues in Miami, in Boston, it was fantastic. The crowds that have shown up, the numbers have been really good, so I can only hope that the numbers will be the same. Apart from that, I will be promoting my new CD.
Ryne Tyme: What is your favorite track to drop right now? Like what really gets the crowd going?
Armin van Buuren: There is a lot actually. Obviously, Solid Globe Ė Sahara is doing really well, um, and Burned with Desire still rocks it. Yeah, I donít know that track is a bit of a weird one, because I actually made it as a chill out tune for my album. Then Ultra Records wanted it to be a single, and I was a bit skeptical about it. Because I said, well, itís a chill out tune, and making this a dance version, I donít know. So I made the Rising Star mix in four hours. Right before my plane went.
Ryne Tyme: In four hours? Thatís an amazing tune.
Kenneth Thomas: It is.
Armin van Buuren: By the way, all my biggest tracks are made in four hours. Really, itís true, ask anybody else. All the biggest tracks are made in four hours.
Kenneth Thomas: Do you mind if I interject something? So do you basically do that by having a lot of elements that you work with constantly so you just kind of pick and pull the same kind of elements alter them slightly? Is that how youíre able to do, to bang out the tracks like that?
Armin van Buuren: Yeah I guess so. I mean you have days where you have, ya know, I call them sampling days. You just look for samples for the right sounds, you go from presets, alter them, stuff like that. And at the end of the day you do nothing, you just switch off the studio. You go downstairs and people as, ďHow was the day?Ē You say, ďBlah blah blah, I didnít make any music.Ē But actually that day is really important so you know your equipment and when you have to do something quickly you know what sounds inspired you, what presets you really liked, thatís the way to go forward.
Ryne Tyme: Incredible. You also just signed up for a residency at Air with Godskitchen right? How is that going in general, how do you enjoy your residency there
Armin van Buuren: Better than expected. Air is a bit of a funny club, its really nice, but I played there on half full nights and full nights. New yearís eve was really good and then two weeks later I had to play there again. So I was like, okay I played there New Yearís Eve and its now 16th of January and I have to play there again, and I didnít think anyone would show up. I havenít gotten any new records; beginning of January nobody is releasing any new records, so I didnít know what would happen. And the 16th of January was equally good to New Yearís Eve.
Ryne Tyme: Got a big following there too? Doesnít surprise me but, Iím surprised you still get surprised at big crowds.
Armin van Buuren: I just want to stick to what I do best, and pick a sound I believe in.
Kenneth Thomas: I think what might have happened with you particularly is there are a whole lot of other trance DJs that have been breaking into the US market for quite some time, and if Iím not mistaken you didnít really break into some of the other US markets until just recently. People are kind of like antsy for their Armin fix. I mean the guys from Detroit, we got 30 some people that came from Detroit that drove four hours that have all seen you 2-3 times within the last four months, and they are still driving, getting hotels, paying for gas, paying for tickets, and coming, 20-30 of them.
Armin van Buuren: That is just amazing. I donít want to think of that too long, that makes me go (moves hands to indicate a growing head). You get the superstar effect.
Kenneth Thomas: They are getting something you are giving out they are appreciating it
Armin van Buuren: The only thing I can not get used to is this superstar thing its just not Ö
Ryne Tyme: That ďOMG Armin can I have your autograph?Ē
Armin van Buuren: Iím like well can I have yours in return? You should not say that, but I think I am just a regular guy, nothing special. I did my law degree, I had a bunch of friends we hang out stuff like that, and I started playing some records and all of a sudden boom your #3 in the world. Iím like, ďMy god what happened?Ē It feels like your living in this dream, like reading this boyís book that keeps getting better and better. I get to go to the most exotic places; there is no job better. I do not want to be the president of the United States; I do not want to be a high placed chief of a big company or whatever. This is the life man, you get to see the whole word, you get to play for crowds, people love you, love what you do, okay you have a little bit of responsibility and a little bit of pressure but thatís life.
Ryne Tyme: My only question is how do you keep up with it? Godskitchen just signed you up for 50 global dates. You produce, you do a CD, you have your weekly show, you have this residency, do you sleep?
Armin van Buuren: Nope. Itís hard work. I donít have a social life; I bring my social life on the trip. If I miss a friend I say hey will you come with me this weekend? That is kind of the downside. I have a lot of people I know all over the world, but not real friends but I donít have times to visit them and share intimate things. I used to have a big group of friends, and I still see them and we still hang, out weíre still close but it is sometimes hard. Because I just donít know them and weíre all sitting together and watching football or something. If I would have been home I would just sit there drink and make stupid jokes, dirty jokes, whatever. Doing stupid things, guy stuff, I donít get to do the guy stuff anymore. It is either a or b, it is not a and b.
Ryne Tyme: You do get to go all over the world, what is your favorite venue, where do you really like to perform at
Armin van Buuren: That is a difficult question and I will tell you why and you may think itís a political answer. Because, If I say a favorite venue then all the other venues would be offended. That is not the real reason. I mean I just played on a boat from Stockholm to Helsinki and there was about 400-500 people, small crowd but a big floor. I was playing a four hour set and the sun was coming up, this was 36 hours ago. The sun came up slowly and we were on the ocean and there was big chunks of ice because itís so cold there. So you see this boat and I was playing on the main deck and the captain was on the floor above me so I could see from my DJ booth when I turned around I could see the sun come up with all the chunks of ice, and this big ship going through the ocean playing this really good music and I was like fucking hell, Jesus Christ, so I can not really say what is my favorite venue. I mean that was a magic moment, the Columbus booking was good, New yokr was good, Miami, everywhere I go. I just did a tour in Australia, last month, in January. I did six hour sets in every major city in Australia to promote the album as well. Every six hours there were at least 1500 people, can you imagine? 1500 people! If there is a good sound system and there is a sound system and 1500 people you donít care about the venue, you just go.
Ryne Tyme: What country do you think has the most passionate fans? I mean you have been everywhere, is that kind of the same thing where there isnít one above the rest?
Armin van Buuren: I think this trance thing, and if you donít agree you have to just tell me, I think trance is something of a global thing. The websites, tranceaddict.com, trance.nu, your website, TranceSphere, whatever, itís a global thing; if I play a bad set in Israel, people in Australia know the next day.
Ryne Tyme: Yeah, I have your set from Australia, the one in Sydney, Nova 969; itís pretty amazing. Did you want to comment on the American scene at all? The New York scene was already established and Filo & Peri are really rejuvenating it there, Markus Schulz and the WMC down in South Beach, everything on the West Coast, have you seen a development in the American scene?
Armin van Buuren: I think a lot of the American people are really influencing in a positive way the Europeans, the big guys from Europe are coming here, and I do not mean myself, but the big guys from Europe coming here. It obviously influences the local people which is great from the scene. In Europe the scene is struggling, the dance scene is struggling in general because of the economy, downloads, whatever. But you still feel there is a huge enthusiasm for dance music, I mean my show has gotten one of the biggest rates internationally.
Ryne Tyme: It is our most popular show we get close to 1000 listeners every single week for your show, and thatís our peak, it definitely is amazing. How do you have time to do show too? I mean you do that for free, you donít make any money whatsoever, and every week you produce a show that is amazing.
Armin van Buuren: It takes a lot of time; it takes me almost a day per week to produce the show.
Ryne Tyme: I canít imagine that, what is new on ASOT? Your XXL shows, anything big coming up?
Armin van Buuren: I spoke to John 00 Fleming for him to do a show, and I want to do a Bonsai special, like a label special, Dj Fire, Airwave, those guys. It is just amazing I started this show almost three years ago when this idiot called me and said do you want your own radio show. Iím like my own radio show? I mean it was kind of my wish when I was very young, I had three dreams I wanted to be a producer, I wanted to be a DJ, and I wanted to be a radio DJ. And this guy calls me up and all of a sudden I was in the radio studio of ID&T and he said well, go ahead, do the show. And back then the station was not that popular they were not on the air yet, they were just on cable. So I started my show, and if you hear those first episodes there were funny as hell. All the basic errors you should not make I made, and from the show the whole community came. I mean there was not really a DJ who was doing a show weekly, I mean you had dance shows that had DJ guests and did DJ mixes. I think I was one of the first at that time to really have a weekly thing for trance which brought a huge community of people every week talking about it on the internet. And I must say, I got so frustrated and bored with it at some time around show 30-35. When I did it for half a year, when youíre at home and it is snowing outside, and youíre sitting on the couch and youíre with your friends and youíre watching TV and your like oh shit I have to go to ID&T. They are like why they are not even paying you and you are like yeah I know. And then when you get there and I logged into the chat room and there are all these people all over the world. ďHi this is so and so from Israel.Ē Iím like alright, who is listening from overseas, ďme I am from Connecticut, me Iím from Boston,Ē and Iím like what the..? And it was so amazing, through the internet, and the people really built ASOT. They gave me so much input; why donít you change this, why donít you have more guests on the show, why blah blah blah. The people that listened to the show helped to create the show. Itís not me; I was just standing there playing the newest tunes. What the hell; here ya go, catch, and have fun. About show 50, 60, 70 the show got really popular and all of a sudden ID&T got the permit from the government in Holland to be on air on all of Holland and that changed the world. Because, I showed my loyalty to the station, to ID&T, by having a radio show very week, so I got to stay. Thursday night is Armin, we will not touch that, he is the longest running show on the station we can not touch Armin. So I had carte blanche, where everybody else on the station had the play the records that ID&T wanted and I was the only person who could play whatever he wanted. And that only encouraged me to make the show better, to see on the internet, to look during my sets; actually I was investing more times in my radio show than my DJ sets. Because on Thursday I have my radio show and Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays I used to play, I still play. So on Thursday I invest all my time in my set, play some records, and sometimes I am horribly wrong with a tune. I go to a record store, buy some records, oh itís a good record ill play it it tonight, after hearing 30 seconds of it. And you play it on your show and your like, oh, what did I do. But my sets got better through my show, because I played the record which was horribly wrong, and I saw on the internet, oh why was he playing that terrible tune. But people forgive you for that, because if the other 7 tunes are okay, then itís okay. So you throw that record in the bin and you donít play it in your sets, and your sets improve as well. I didnít see this coming, and I didnít expect anything from this but a whole community was built around ASOT. Other DJs got weekly radio shows, obviously I donít mind, its part of the game. But I still enjoy doing it, itís so great, when I was very young Ė I am really talking a lot arenít I? When I was very young (singing: when I was very young) I used to tape all the radio shows that were on the air, back then we had like 3 stations or something, thatís it. And they had dance hours on these stations, which was then a brand new thing, and it some of these programs were so good, I still have them now, I archived them and that was my life that show was my life. Two shows, Wave Radio and (?) Groove, two shows back then that were so important for dance music and also for other countries. Shows are still very important, those shows helped develop dance music in general. The records that were played in that show gave me so much I wanted to give something back for those shows that I enjoyed. It is the biggest honor when people say, ďyour show has given me so much inspiration.Ē That is the reason why I am doing it; I want to give something back for what I got.
Ryne Tyme: Question from the Internet was, on your XXL show, is there ever going to be a Paul Van Dyk, Dj Tiesto, or Ferry Corsten?
Armin van Buuren: Oh I had Ferry Corsten.
Ryne Tyme: Oh you did?
Armin van Buuren: Yes, so download those, those were really good shows. I approached Tiesto, I SMSd him, I asked him twice, he confirmed twice; we never got a date. So here again, here is a call for all the TranceSphere listeners, ask Tiesto himself!
Ryne Tyme: Awesome man that would be a massive show
Armin van Buuren: He just has to come through the studio and perform. Itís not up to me anymore, I asked him 3-4 times, and he hasnít given me a date. You know what? I donít think itís ever going to happen. Paul Van Dyk, the chance is bigger because we have really good contact with the management; I know Markus, I know Mťlange, all the guys at the office of Paul. Iím playing Paulís records, heís playing my records, weíre supporting each othersí labels, at gigs we talk. So with Paul the chance is bigger, but I donít know what Tiesto is doing; heís been getting these huge fans around him, and I cannot blame him because heís got so much attention. Heís like a rock star, bigger than a rock star. So if you ever want Tiesto to be on my show itís up to you, itís not up to me; you have to ask him, you have to support him to be on ASOT.
Ryne Tyme: You and Paul Van Dyk have a show together in Canada in April, I think?
Armin van Buuren: Yeah
Ryne Tyme: It seems like thereís a really great camaraderie between you and Paul Van Dyk, DJ Tiesto, all the top DJs in the world. Arenít you surprised there isnít a bit more competition for the number one spot in the world? I mean you seem like a great group of friends.
Armin van Buuren: Well, some really corky magazine in Holland asked me the other day ďSo you want to get Tiesto off the number one in Holland?Ē I said like ďNoĒ. Heís like ďBut you want to be number one in right?Ē I said ďYeah.Ē But I donít want Tiesto; I owe a lot of things to him. He helped me so much in my career by playing my records, by supporting me, by getting me in touch with the right people. I owe my career partly to Tiesto. So saying to him ďYeah, Iím going to get you off number oneĒ would be really rude, and actually we are good friends, if we see each other itís like ďhey manĒ. I mean, I know from top ten to thirty, forty, thatís DJ fighting, but in the top ten thereís like this rule: DJs have outmost respect for each other. Just try to find a DJ who says something bad about another DJ in the top ten, it wonít happen. Thereís this rule, we respect each other, and we do. Itís part of being in the top ten because you have respect for another peopleís career, respect for another peopleís set. You donít just barge in the DJ booth after the other DJ is done and pull off his record and say hey here I am. You donít do that, itís like a golden rule. You have to have respect for another DJ. Thatís what I have; Of course itís my dream to be number one DJ in the world, but itís a long way.
Ryne Tyme: Weíll see next year. I donít think itís that far away. So, you are one of the wordís best DJs, you are a world-class producer, you released an album, and you created a company with Mykal and David, Armada, youíre a trance legend: Whatís next? I know you donít think that; you probably donít like that term at all, but you are. So whatís next?
Armin van Buuren: Music. The answer to whatís next is always music. Whatís next is more music, what can I say? I really like the new vibe of producers thatís coming. I like the new sound, I like the trance-progressive sound thatís coming out now. I find it really exciting.
Ryne Tyme: You think that is the general area, I mean, trance changes all the time, even from when you started until now. You think thatís where generally trance is headed; the direction is towards more progressive sounds?
Armin van Buuren: Definitely, definitely. I mean trance, letís face it, the rift sound of trance is dying. I still play a few of those records, but the formulaic rift sound is over. Because you know, weíve heard that. But there are a lot of other great records out at the moment. That are on a line between progressive and trance; itís great. What Markus Schultz is doing Ö
Ryne Tyme: Yeah, Schultzís Coldharbour is all within that, promoting that sound.
Armin van Buuren: Yeah we signed him to the label. Actually I saw him yesterday, because we were doing that cruise together. And you know, we are friends; he ate at my house, and Markus is a great guy, and we had a lot of talk about music, and where itís going. I think I can honestly say that I can still stand behind any set Iíve ever played, any track Iíve ever made, but you want to move on, you want to look to the future, and thereís a lot of good talent out there, a lot of good people making music. I mentioned Perry OíNeill, Markus Schultz, but on the boat I met OzgŁr Cšn; heís one of the up and coming guysÖ
Ryne Tyme: Yeah he has really good productions; his set on GDJB was greatÖ
Armin van Buuren: Yeah, yeah, heís great. Ruzvah Delavhari is another. The borders between progressive DJs and trance DJs have to disappear I think. Thatís the only problem itís going to be interesting to see how it goes because a lot of people from trance expect you to play trance and the trance sound is over, so it is going to be interesting to see whatís going to happen.
Kenneth Thomas: Iím kind of thinking and Iíve seen it happen, Iíve seen it turning into a more Ėand this is a thing that I embrace - itís more a time and place thing. Like, if itís early in the night, youíre not playing the 140 bpm epic rifts; you know, you got to play the Coldharbour sound, a little bit early to set people up. Itís only in America that we can play on the 12-2 primetime, that is when the big sound seems to work, and tonight we are going from 8pm to 8am; we got house going early on and then build up to you and then hopefully take it down and let people chill out. What do you think about that?
Armin van Buuren: I think I play more varied than I used to. I mean, it used to be just trance, and now itís everything. For me trance is everything from progressive to techno, everything. People ask me a lot, kind of DJ are you, what do you play? And I go; there is a time and a place for everything. Thatís such a difficult question though.
Ryne Tyme: At least youíre still playing within trance, I had a rumor, and maybe you can verify this or maybe you canít comment on it; I heard that M.I.K.E is going into R & B, and he is leaving trance.
Armin van Buuren: No, he is not leaving trance, definitely not.
Ryne Tyme: But he is pursuing a R&B project?
Armin van Buuren: He did an R&B project on the side, to keep his mind away from trance but M.I.K.E. will always produce trance, donít worry. M.I.K.E. is signed to us as well.
Ryne Tyme: Yeah you know the rumor was started on forums and chat rooms; it was something I wanted to ask you about thatÖ
Armin van Buuren: You can tell it from me, I am sure of that. MIKE is making stuff to broaden his mind, maybe can be R&B, R&B combined with trance, whatever, you know? MIKE is still the king. That guy has meant so much to the scene, unbelievable.
Ryne Tyme: Thatís all I have as far as the interview is concerned, thank you.
Armin van Buuren: Thank you.
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