Armin Van Buuren: On EVC 2017, dealing with imitators, and life after DJing

Despite being crowned the World’s #1 DJ a record five-times by DJMag, this Grammy-nominated artiste appears to remain rooted

Anoop Menon Published :  15th December 2017 06:00 AM   |   Published :   |  15th December 2017 06:00 AM

Armin Van Buuren

As an artiste, Armin Van Buuren has come up the hard way. Initially, he spent years doing double-shifts as a DJ and bartender at local clubs in Holland. Now, he regularly embarks on sold-out world tours earning up to $1,00,000 per gig at one point. Yet, in this age of internet-upstart EDM ‘superstars’ with larger-than-life personas, this 40-year-old Dutchman is often said to be the most down-to-earth person in the touring circuit.

Despite being crowned the World’s #1 DJ a record five-times by DJMag and amassing more air miles in a month than most entertainers will gain in a lifetime, Armin appears to remain rooted. “I think I have a genuine passion for music. That goes a long way to ensure your longevity as an artiste. Nowadays, it feels like a lot of (aspiring) DJs and music producers are in it for the money. They don’t seem to feel the necessity to make the most out of their love for music,” begins the Leiden-based composer. 

“I’m not saying that this (chasing the money trail) can’t work, but I do feel that you have to love what you in do order to stay on top. Without that passion, maintaining this job at the top-level would be near impossible,” he adds. We find out more about his 20-year-long career within the ever-evolving dance music industry by interacting with the award-winning DJ prior to his headlining show this weekend at Gurgaon’s multi-genre concert Enchanted Valley Carnival.

Constant reinvention
Armin was producing trance music even before the genre became a part of the mainstream vernacular. In spite of being hailed as a ‘messiah of trance’, this lawyer-turned-DJ has been a strong advocate of merging styles and developing sounds since day one. This has reflected in his chart-topping releases that range from psytrance to radio-friendly pop releases.

“I surround myself with people who inspire me and help me reinvent myself on all fronts. This helps me out in a big manner and ensures that the ‘touring’ life doesn’t become a tiring nuisance in the end,” says the artiste, who co-founded the hugely-successful record label Armada Music. However, if social media reactions are to be gauged, then it would appear that not all his attempts at reinvention have been a rip-roaring success.

Unfazed by criticism
Recently, the dance music bigwig received flak for playing a remix of Arijit Singh’s Bollywood tune Tum Hi Ho. Another instance, witnessed just days ago, revolved around Twitter—which exploded with jokes and memes when it was revealed that Armin is reworking his single Summer Days and re-releasing it as a Christmas carol, the first for any electronic music DJ.

“I do what I do simply because I love doing it and because it inspires me, not because it’s some kind of secret formula to international chart success,” states the musician, reinforcing that he doesn’t really mind if his sounds are emulated by other music producers in the EDM spectrum.

In his new radio studio for A State of Trance

Forging ahead
But no matter what armchair pundits spout online, the truth is Armin has done more for electronic music than most other EDM DJs combined. Almost all of this was achieved via his iconic show A State of Trance—one of the most listened-to weekly dance music radio shows on the planet—broadcast from his custom-built studio in Amsterdam to over 41 million listeners in 84 different countries.
Since Armin has nothing left to prove to anyone, has this father of two ever thought of pursuing newer challenges or life after hanging up his headphones? “After catching up with some quality time with my family and friends, I think I’d probably adopt a behind-the-scenes role at Armada Music. I cannot imagine a life without music, and I hope I never have to settle for anything less,” concludes Armin.

New artiste album?
We ask the Dutch trance star—who has performed in India a few times—if the rumours surrounding a possible seventh studio album are true? “If at all possible, I will, of course, try to play something new to keep EDM enthusiasts all excited and hyped. But as far as the rumours about a seventh artist album are concerned, I cannot confirm those,” shares Armin, continuing, “That doesn’t take away the fact that Enchanted Valley Carnival is going to be epic as always.”