Calling any DJ seminal is risky business. They deal in music that needs to stay fashionable and can change their style without as much criticism as Metallica would receive if they decided they wanted to stay current and sound like One Direction. That lack of permanence can be criticised for its superficiality, the music lacking a core that isn’t strong enough to stand the rest of time.
If there’s one DJ that’s bucked this trend, who would balk at such cynicism, it’s Dutch legend Armin Van Buuren. Over the course of an illustrious 20 year career, he’s developed his own sound, experimented with it, while remaining true to trance, his singular musical vision. It’s a career that deserves celebrating and it’s one that’s far from over. In fact, many would claim Van Buuren is only hitting his prime now. We catch up with the legendary DJ ahead of his set at Macao’s Club Cubic on September 9.
You celebrated 20 years of solo work this year, capping it with a huge performance in Amsterdam. How was that?
Even now, around three months later, it’s still hard for me to find the right words. Of course, the show itself was huge, grand and spectacular, but to celebrate such an amazing milestone with the people who have never stopped showing their tremendous support just sets fire to my heart. I couldn’t have wished for anything else.
How do you reflect on your career up to this point? What are some of the highs and lows?
While I may look back on past decisions and not entirely agree with them anymore, everything that took place in the past 20 years helped me grow. Every decision, good or bad, contributed to me being the artist I am today. There have been brilliant highs and an equal amount of lows, but I’d rather focus on all of the beautiful moments that lie ahead. I’ve had an amazing 20 years and there’s still loads more to look forward to.
Looking back over your back catalogue, what tracks stand out and still resonates with you?
Oh man, your questions are really tough today! Are you really asking me to pick one, or a few, out of all the records I made in the past 20 years?! You know there are hundreds, right? Well, let’s see… I think I’m going to go with Blue Fear. That record was pretty much my breakthrough track back in 1997 and it’s a song that’s been at the core of many other records. There are, of course, loads of other tracks that I’m extremely proud of but this one will always be special to me.
You’ve been at the forefront of the dance scene for a long time and your music has transcended musical taste. Why do you think that is?
Sometimes, I feel it doesn’t even matter all that much what genre or style of music is played. A lot of events or festivals are a coming together of like-minded people that just want to have a good time and unite with other music lovers. You’re there to be part of something bigger, to lose yourself in the music alongside your friends and to just be in a non-judgmental environment. It’s hard to not get lost in such an amazing feeling. That being said, I think that passion is the main thing music lovers can relate to. If you throw your heart and soul into the music you make, it shows. It gives the music something extra that’s exceptionally contagious, no matter what genre you’re into.
You’ve achieved so much as an artist – been everywhere, won over countless fans – so what still excites you?
As a DJ, playing in front of my fans always gives me the energy I need to keep going. As a producer, I need to be inspired. I either need to work with artists that have their own approach or need to push myself to step out of my comfort zone in other ways. This is what helps me stay on top of my game. It helps me be me.
What’s your experience of Asia? How do you think the crowds and moods in the room differ here as opposed to Europe?
Whereas dance music has become part of the culture in regions like North America and Europe, it hasn’t been making waves in Asia all that long. It’s still somewhat new there and the crowds there respond like they don’t know what’s hit them, giving their all and making sure every single moment counts. They’re so full of energy and they’re very passionate. I’m not saying that people in Europe or the US are not like that, because they are, but it’s definitely noticeable in Asia.
What can we expect from your set?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s going to get full-on crazy. I know for a fact that my fans in Macao are ready to give it their all on the dance floor and I’m more than happy to give them exactly what they want. It should make for an amazing experience for all of us.