He’s won the DJmag Top 100 poll an unprecedented three times, making him our most popular DJ ever, and earlier this month topped that up with awards for Best European DJ, Best Global DJ, Best Label, Best Trance Track, Best Radio Mix Show DJ, Best Full Length DJ Mix and Best Podcast at the 26th Annual International Dance Music Awards. He’s Armin Van Buuren and he must have a very long mantelpiece.
Currently celebrating ten years and 500 episodes of his award winning A State of Trance radio show, Armin today sets off on a five date, five countries, tour this Saturday 19th of March in Johannesburg accompanied by his closest friends. If you can’t make the tour, all dates will be broadcast live while fans can also personally keep in contact with him via social network Flowd.
We caught up with Armin to find out how he deals with the pressure of all these accolades, what he’ll be doing after this milestone, and why he’s just about to embark on the greatest journey of his life… Full tour dates and interview after the video.
Your number one position in the DJmag Top 100 has just been reinforced by winning Best DJ in the World at the International Dance Music Awards in Miami, amongst a number of awards. How do you cope with the pressure of keeping in the top spot? And as the public favourite, who would you choose as your own favourite number one DJ?
“After being voted number one in DJ Magazine in 2007 I really started feeling the pressure. Even though I was extremely glad with this big honour, I did feel the crowd expected something more to happen when I got on stage. After winning it again in 2008 I thought I would never win it again so the fear of losing started to fade slowly and I realized I should just focus on making the music I wanted to make and have fun. I thought, if I got this far by just being myself, maybe I should just be myself even more and just do what I like? I can never get any higher, so let's just have fun! So the less I was focused on ‘staying on top’ the easier it became. I just did what I did and thought, ‘even if I lose, I can always say I had the best time in the world!’
“My all-time favourite DJ is Ben Liebrand from the Netherlands. It sounds completely weird now but he was one of the first DJs to ever mix two records together. Back in 1974 they used to talk in between records! I was really into what he was doing and creating new records out of two existing. I got really interested in technology because of him. He's still a big inspiration to date.”
Armada also won award for Best Label. Obviously the summer is the time for a big anthems - what do you have lined up?
“We've just released the Dabruck & Klein album and soon we'll release the new John O’Callaghan album. I've just released ‘Drowning’ as my new single and we've just shot the video for my single with Nadia Ali called ‘Feels So Good’. I will promote my new compilation CD ‘A State of Trance 2011’ heavily and I've got two new projects coming, one called ‘Gaia - Status Excessu D’ and one called ‘Triple A’ with Ana Criado and Alex M.O.R.P.H. Also, I've just released the Blu-Ray of my new concert ‘Mirage’. Besides that I hope to get my best production this summer - my wife Erika and I are expecting a little one!”
After ten years and 500 episodes of State of Trance you’re off on a five continent, five country, tour. How would you describe the state of trance today compared to when you started?
“The way we produce and play ‘trance’ nowadays is completely different. Back in the day we all worked with big midi setups and sequencers. Now usually everything is done internally in one computer. Back then we played vinyl, nowadays you hear more DJs playing with laptops and USB keys. But the funny thing is, even though BPMs have gone down and the basslines have changed, the melodies and euphoric feelings are still there! Even house producers use trance melodies now! It's been spectacular to see the whole genre evolve and it's still here, stronger than ever!”
What are you most looking forward to on the tour?
“Every gig will be special, and I can't wait to present the radio show and talk with the community out there! The Den Bosch one will be particularly crazy with 20,000 tickets sold out and five rooms with all trance! I can't wait to hear some of the DJs myself. You can follow us on Twitter: #ASOT500”
Each event is going to be broadcast live while fans can keep in touch with you on Flowd. With so many other things to think about other than DJing and producing, is it possible to be a top flight DJ these days without a massive management team behind you?
”Not really, you really do need a team around you and I'm proud to say I'm working with some fantastic people. Plus, it's much more fun to share the success with others than just on your own. In Holland we have a saying: ‘you first have how to learn to divide before you can learn how to multiply.’ And I want to stress, even though there are many people working at ALDA, Armada, DLP, Dancefoundation and Cloud 9 music now, they don't all work just for me. There are many artists who benefit from this team, like Markus Schulz, Dash Berlin, Gareth Emery, John O’Callaghan and so on. And we all travel the world together, sharing the fun!”
After such a massive milestone, what is your next goal?
“A State of Trance 1000? Ha ha, I don't know. First I'm going to finish the Armin Only Mirage tour. We still have shows planned in Moscow, Bratislava and more countries. Then I think a new album and big tour? Or maybe I just want to focus and learn how to be a dad first.”
A State Of Trance 500 dates
19th of March — South Africa, Johannesburg
27th of March — United States, Miami
2nd of April — Argentina, Buenos Aires
9th of April — Netherlands, Den Bosch
16th of April — Australia, Sydney
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