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Poll 2018: Armin Van Buuren

Armin Van Buuren

From: Leiden, Netherlands
DJ style: “Trance.”
Best known for: “A State Of Trance.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Sunset Brothers x Mark McGabe ‘I’m Feeling It (MaRLo Remix)’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Maor Levi.”

Armin's neck-and-neck steeplechase with Tiësto to become the most vote-accumulating Top 100 DJ of all time is probably still a fraction too close to call. In those stakes though, he remains the chart’s apotheosis of ‘enduring’. Consider the fact that No.4 in the poll has been Leiden’s favourite son’s lowest ranking in the last 13 years. Staying that course is anything but a cinch, something brought into pin-sharp focus when listening to Armin recount his last 12 months. Reeling off a dozen or so highpoints, with barely pause for breath, is frankly enough to take yours.

From the highlight reel, Armin’s rare XL set at Romania’s Untold Festival is noticeably close to the top of the Dutchman’s list. Getting through one hundred and (count ‘em) thirteen tracks over the course of seven hours, it culminated with a double shot of his May-released, psy-trance foray ‘Blah Blah Blah’. All the classic trappings of a love-it/ hate-it single (one online wag dubbed it “mARMINite”), risk delivered reward with DJ Mag’s readers, who polled it one of the 10 biggest of the season. Outside of that there’s also been some ‘Therapy’ (setting Armin alongside BRIT award-winning singer-songwriter James Newman), a return for his Rising Star appellation with ‘Just As You Are’, and ‘The Last Dancer’ and ‘Our Origin’ — his two collaborations with Shapov.

February saw his ASOT radio show notch up its 850th episode, the annual cheer for which went up in front of a sold-out 30,000-strong crowd at Utrecht’s vast Jaarbeurs Hall. That went hand-in-hand with Armin’s mixing of ‘A State Of Trance 2018’ — one of the two compilations he released over the last 365. (The other was spawned by his dual-weekends sets at Tomorrowland.) He also continued to spin at his Omnia, Vegas residency and — for its second year — his summer tenure at Hï Ibiza, which played host to Armin no less than 13 times throughout.

Elsewhere there were appearances at festivals including Ultra and EDC, as well as a major China tour. The latter prompted another Armin ‘first’, with the five-time World’s No.1 DJing in a garage. Elaborating some, it transpires it was the far-more-impressive sounding (and looking) “Red Bull pit box, ahead of this year’s F1 race in Shanghai”.

One thing Armin hasn’t managed to do in 2018 is release an album. Yet, anyway. Having produced tracks under his much-revered Gaia guise since 2000, his partnership with Rank 1’s Benno de Goeij has previously appeared to be gearing up for an LP run on more than one occasion. With the heaviest of heavy hints dropped via his socials over the summer, Armin confirmed to DJ Mag that the “Gaia album and tour” are on, on, on.


Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2018-10-12 11:32

Poll 2015: Armin Van Buuren

Armin Van Buuren

“I think it’s a really odd phenomenon,” Armin van Buuren says matter-of-factly down the phone line. We’re talking with the legendary trance producer about ghost production — an issue that Armin feels strongly about.

“For example, everyone remembers the whole Milli Vanilli scandal, how cheated people felt. I think it's wrong if someone puts a name on a track they had nothing to do with, that they weren't even in the studio for. I've never used a ghost producer, I can firmly say that,” he states.

It’ll come as no surprise to any Armin fan that the industry champ crafts his own tracks. He’s been releasing music for nigh-on two decades through his imprint Armada and radio show/label, A State Of Trance. It’s not just with his tunes that Armin has garnered fans worldwide — he’s adored for his spectacular stage shows too. His 2014 Armin Only tour took 35 people on the road, including a theatre director, trapeze artists, dancers, singers and musicians, with this year’s Intense tour going even bigger.

“It was probably the worst decision for me to do this tour financially,” he says, ruefully. “But the best choice for me personally. It was the best time of my life!”

“It's so sad when it’s over because I won't get to see my Intense family anymore, we’re a really close team,” he finishes, passionately.

Armin’s Intense tour crossed the globe from corner to corner, with the DJ visiting the Ukraine, India, Russia, the USA, South Africa and Australia — phew! As if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Armin also held down his usual residency in Ibiza this year, spinning every Thursday to his loyal legion of White Isle trancers. “Ibiza is always fun, this year was really excellent. It feels like a home-coming when I play there,” he says of lush Ibiza venue Ushuaia, which he moved to following many seasons at Privilege.

So after another successful year as trance’s leading man, with his sixth studio album ‘Embrace’ set to drop on October 29th, is Armin van Buuren still in love with his day job? Absolutely! 

“To be a great DJ you need to be able to read the crowd, to read the room, and track selection is obviously the most important thing! That's why it's so special to be one. I’m still really excited every time I play a set.”


Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-09 16:37

What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“You will probably not expect me to say this, but I think it's probably the ability to produce your own tunes.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“Well firstly, I don't think it's really a relevant term, because I'm not sure what EDM even stands for anymore — no one can strictly define its sound. People forget that music is always a progression — listen to The Beatles' first album and listen to their last album. Of course, things change, sounds change, an artist progresses. EDM is just a stage in dance music’s latest progression, it gets a lot of unnecessary hate.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Yes, of course. I think it does on everyone, but I've definitely had times when I felt like I'm going totally crazy. I’ve combated it by going to speak to someone, a counsellor, someone objective. It really helped and he also recommended a few books for me to read: Daniel Kahneman Thinking Fast & Slow and Ian Robertson The Winner Effect.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Cancer, a lot of my family is really affected by it. I have a lot of history of it in my family and it's a terrible disease. There's lots of things wrong with the world, of course, but this is the one most in my mind at the moment.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“I think Turnmills in London, I remember first going there in 2000 and it was insane! I first played in the UK at Cream in Liverpool in 2000 though, and then went to Turnmills a few months later. It was pretty dark and grimy in there, but iconic! Gatecrasher was amazing too!”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
"I really think there needs be more girls out there. When I did A State Of Trance, I did a room called A State Of Pink where I highlighted some of the women on Armada, the great female DJs out there!”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I think it's wrong if someone puts a name on a track they had nothing to do with, that they weren't even in the studio for. I've never used a ghost producer.”