This summer has been amazing, we’ve been to more festivals that we can count, and met some amazing artists and producers. One of those incredibly talented producers we had the pleasure of speaking to was Armin Van Buuren, the ‘father’ of trance as some would call him. I had a chat with Armin backstage at Creamfields before his set on the Armada stage.
Armin Van Buuren came into the starlight in 2001 when he hosted his weekly radio show ‘A state of trance’. Since then, Armin has become one of the biggest names in Dance music, topping the DJ Mag’s Top 100 5 times, and more recently at number 4 in 2016.
So here it is, my conversation with Armin Van Buuren at Creamfields 2017. If you prefer to listen to our conversation, scroll to the bottom to find the audio.
*Also, We have slightly edited our conversation for the readers sanity.
Hey Armin, pleasure to meet you. How are you doing?
I’m doing really well thank you.
Now your getting ready to play the Armada stage tonight at Creamfields, how are you feeling fo that?I’m very excited. It’s always one of the biggest gigs of the year because, UK was really the first place in the world that things took off for me personally, so it feels like coming home. And I’ve been coming here for years, especially in the early days. And I feel really blessed to be back again. And I’m lucky enough to have two sets this weekend, tonight on the Armada stage and tomorrow on the main stage as well. Which is super exciting. Like I said, what i’ve always felt up here is the passion for the music itself, as a DJ that’s who you really want to play for you know, getting emails saying ‘Can you play this track’ and that makes it all worth it.
Do you find you still get nervous before a set? What emotions are you going through now?
Uh I think nervous is a big word, I guess you always have to be a bit nervous before a set, you know, it gets the adrenaline pumping and gives you a rush. So yeah I do still get nervous, but no where near as much as I used to get, not being able to eat for a day or so before a big gig. But I know my fans, I know what their expecting and I like to surprise them a bit, and in one hand give them a bouquet of flowers and in the other give them a little slap, and that’s how I plan a set, play a little of what they know and then surprise them a little bit.
So at the moment, what track do you feel is getting the best reaction from your fans?
Uh, there’s many actually. I guess my remix of Kensington – Sorry is doing really well, I guess also because it’s not out. And it’s a shame because I would love to release it, but that won’t happen as the label won’t give permission to release it.
Is that an issue you come across quite a lot?
Yeah yeah, you know you have to respect the rights of the original composer, and it’s fine I totally understand why they don’t want to release it. But at the same time it’s kinda cool as I’m the only one who plays it.
So now the only way people can hear it is if they come to see you live.
Aha yeah so that’s actually exciting.
So when you play tracks like that, new edits that aren’t out yet, people won’t have heard before, do you get nervous before your about to play that track?
Yeah of course, Also because it’s such a different track too, it’s such a departure from the sound before that track in the set so it’s a little like ‘Ooo what’s he playing now?’. But you know it’s a moment. I try to bring it as a moment in a set, you know you want to make you set memorable, that’s how a DJ set works. People take a few things away from your set, their favourite song, the T-shirt you wore, if you smile or point at them, that’s what they take home. So you try and create moments like that.
And of course, you are one of the biggest DJ’s in the world, nobody can argue with that. Obviously you’ve topped out the DJ mag Top 100, and placed at number 4 last year. Would you say taking the number one spot is the biggest achievement for a DJ?
Well you know there’s good and bad sides to DJ mag, I’ve always said this, even when I was number one I used to say as much as I love my fans and as much as I appreciate them voting for me, it is a bit of a strange list. Because it’s comparing apples to oranges, how can you compare that?
It’s very hard to judge Music
Yeah totally, you know Carl Cox is playing tennis, and Martin Garrix is playing basketball, I think their totally different sounds, so how can they compare? The problem I have with that is how can you compare those styles? It’s just a taste in music. Of course it’s something about popularity and ticket sales, an how many people listen to your sets, it’s an appreciation. And that’s why I’ve always supported it. I think, it’s great way to say thank you to your fans. At the end of the day, if there weren’t that many fans voting then I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you. So that’s the good thing of it, the the bad bit is how can you compare those DJ’s? I have a bit of a mix feeling about it. But at the same time, i’m thankful to be in this position.
And so how do you measure how popular a track has been after being released?
At the moment it’s cool because of social media so it’s cool that fans talk back to you, if you play a new track on air you get feedback from people telling you how much they Love, or hate it. But it’s great to get instant feedback. Over the last couple years I will admit that I haven’t been looking at criticism that much anymore because I found that it kind of killed my own character because I was just making tracks for the fans, and don’t get me wrong I love my fans, they are very deer to me. But if I just make the music that people expect me to make, then i’ll just be remaking my stuff from the past. Which I’m very proud of, but I feel as an artist the need to progress.
Put it this way, I find it essential to keep it exciting for my more than anyone else? You know why? Cause I’m the only one in the studio. So as much as i’m proud of the early achievements and with the tracks of the past. But the only way I can make something new music is if I make something that excites me. And I can’t make a track that Iv’e already done, because it’s already there, it’s my baby. It’s growing. Any it’s not me defending myself, it’s just me explaining to the world why I make certain choices. You know, that’s why I made the great spirit track with Vini Vici, it was a risk.
I’m trying to not over think it, and just let my feelings decide where I go. And I feel that’s proven to be a good decisions over the years because I used to be on the internet all the time, reading every single comment on twitter and Facebook and all the forms that were there. And they were killing me, and I sort of let it go, I can’t lie. I still read a lot, but defiantly not as much as I used to, and I have a social media team now that takes care of it. And if they give me a rundown of the criticism, I can take it a lot better than I would if i read it myself.
So would you say you take comments quite personally?
Well, if you read 10 really good comments on a track or a set, that’s great. But if there’s one Sh*t comment followed by it, that’s the one that you notice. Which is not fair, but that’s the way that human beings are born. We notice criticism over positive comments, and you know criticism can mean danger, and we’re animals we have to defend our territory.
Armin, it’s been amazing talking to you. We can’t wait to see what’s coming from you in the future.
Perfect thank you so much.