Finally. Five years after entering the Top 10 of our DJmag Top 100 DJs poll, Armin van Buuren has been crowned the World's No.1 DJ. After edging into the No.2 spot last year, he's now clinched the title.
"It's a really big honour, I'm kind of stunned, y'know?" smiles the top dog. "To be honest, I still haven't got it into my head yet, it's basically a dream come true!"
It's been another crazy 12 months in the life of the Dutch don. Having wowed an 11,000-strong crowd last November at his spectacular Armin Only event at Ahoy, Rotterdam, with an unprecedented nine-and-a-half-hour set, it's the trance superstar's taste for the spectacular, as well as his untouchable skills, that have placed him at the top of the pile.
"Armin Only is definitely different to anything else I do. It's a highlight of my career," says Armin. "Everything I do comes together for an event like that. I really want people to go home from that with a good feeling, a feeling that we did something special.
"Putting a DJ on for nine-and-a-half hours is something special, but it's been done before. What we wanted to do was to bring a whole show."
If the Rotterdam show wasn't mammoth enough, the top DJ road-tested the Armin Only concept with two more huge shows in the States this summer - just to see if it would work outside his native Holland. Suffice to say, it did…
"We did a few special things to test out the Armin Only concept this year," reflects Armin. "We did two big shows, one in New York City at McCarren Pool in Brooklyn Park, and one in downtown LA, in Giant Village. But this time, it was only me playing for eight-and-a-half hours, as I wanted to see if Armin Only would work in foreign country other than Holland.
"It really worked. It seems people are definitely ready for the Armin Only experience. It's something really special, more than just a DJ set."
Armin's Armada parties at Amnesia, Ibiza, have also gone from strength-to-strength this summer, with their most successful season yet on the White Isle.
"The numbers were definitely up," reports Armin. "We had 11 nights this year, with a bit of a rough start to the summer when Amnesia was shut down. But it was our best season so far, a very successful summer for us."
In fact, so scorching hot were Armin's sets there that he's re-instated his mix compilation series 'Universal Religion' with a live recording of one of his best sets of the season.
"'Universal Religion Chapter 3' is a live recording from my set at Amnesia this summer, the last one was in 2004," says Armin. "The idea behind the CD is to bring back the Balearic sound of Ibiza. It's a different approach. It's more about timeless tunes. It's a live CD, it's mixed live at Amnesia, there are no edits or whatever, and it just gives a really nice vibe. It's slower records building up to a big climax at the end."
It's perhaps Armin's versatility - his ability to flit between styles and shred genre boundaries - that has so endeared him to his legion of fans. Although he's a passionate advocate and defender of the trance torch, his sets typically incorporate techno, electro, minimal and underground house tracks, as well as his more traditional tech-trance fare, making for consistently exciting, surprising DJ sets that never fail to rock a floor and defy his fans' high expectations. And although trance is more often focused on melodies over grooves, Armin likes to keep it just as funky as he does musical.
"Trance has always been my main thing, but if you look at my set, everything that's labeled as minimal, techno and electro is in there. What I've found interesting is how all the styles are merging again, especially electronic basslines in trance records. The groove is definitely back in trance, which is a great thing."
In fact, as far as Armin's concerned, if you want to really master your art, you can't afford not to mix it up.
"Playing across the board gives a bigger pay off," reckons Armin. "If you're playing for nine-and-a-half hours you can't play just trance records for all that time. In order to keep it interesting for the crowd, you have to mix it up. People want to hear some classics, they want to hear some harder tunes, they want to hear an underground part of your set, to hear the odd vocal tune now and again. I'm not DJing for myself. They are coming to have a good night and that's what I'm trying to give."
Van Buuren's long-running, mega-hit radio show A State of Trance continues to grow in 2007, with its syndication spreading further than ever around the globe.
"I think we're up to 40 FM stations now worldwide," Armin beams. "It started in 2001 on a small Dutch station. It's grown to an international, weekly summit for trance music. It shows how strong the internet has been as a resource for getting my music out there.
On the production front, Armin's latest track 'Rush Hour' was specially commissioned as the theme for the UEFA European Under 21 Football Championships, which has seen his profile expand into yet another dimension.
"That was really big, I was on TV for that, and it was all over the world so that was kind of a surprise," says Armin.
He's also been locked away in the studio working on a new artist album for 2008.
"There's lots and lots of studio work at the moment. There are definitely some big names involved with the new album, which is really exciting."
It's fitting that the accolade of World's No.1 DJ should be bestowed on Armin at the age of 30. Having already achieved so much in his 12 years in music, this couldn't come at a better time for the affable champion.