Perhaps Holland's most famous DJ export ever, it's tough to find something to write about Armin van Buuren that hasn't already been said. Winning the Top 100 a total of five (yes, five!) times, he's also been voted into the top five a record 14 years in a row, plus retaining his No.4 spot from last year in 2016.
Aside from wracking up tens of thousands of votes in our annual poll, 2016 has seen the trance star continue his Armin Only: Embrace tour, which centres around original tracks, collaborations and remixes from his sixth studio album, 'Embrace'. A true showman, Armin has always been passionate about pushing boundaries with his big-budget stadium shows — this year he's focused on “involving more live elements, like the Toraiz SP16 drum machine, plus embracing sounds like the trumpet in my tracks”.
Van Buuren has also become a patron of the arts this year — he's spent the last few months developing a unique multi-media guide that allows fans to discover his fascination with, err… Vincent van Gogh. He's teamed up with Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum for the project, where visitors will be able to rent an audioguide narrated by Armin which discusses 11 of the artist's works, soundtracked by music from the Armin Only: Embrace world tour. As if that wasn’t random enough, the music used in the guide will also be released as a separate album, entitled 'Club Embrace'. “After… getting to know more about the museum, I was blown away,” says Armin. "The paintings come to life, it’s hard to get them out of your head. And I instinctively linked the paintings to music. Van Gogh is inspirational, and he certainly inspired me."
Release-wise, Armin's A State Of Trance radio show is still going strong, alongside a new ‘Old Skool’ mini-album that dropped via his label Armada back in August to widespread acclaim from original trancers. Revised versions of classics like ‘Dominator’ and ‘Ping Pong’ both feature in Armin’s Embrace show, plus a new remix of ‘Old Skool’ by Vigel. Phew! We feel exhausted just thinking about it — here we catch up with the unstoppable Armin Van Buuren...
Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art-form?
What’s the best new bit of DJ/production technology, and why?
“Toraiz SP-16 and the Allen & Heath DB4 mixer.”
If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be?
As a fan, what is the top price you would pay to see yourself DJ?
“Depends on what kind of show and what venue. For the Armin Only show I would pay more perhaps, since I'm bringing six live acts and a full band.”
What can be done to prevent drug-related deaths at dance music events?
“Make people self-aware of the dangers of alcohol and drug misuse — just imposing heavy fines isn't enough.”
How can we increase diversity in dance music?
“I don't think you can even speak of ‘dance music’ anymore, since electronic music has spread through all kinds of modern-day music ranging from pop to classical. It's not separate from other genres anymore.”
WORDS: CHARLOTTE LUCY CIJFFERS