Taking five with Armin van Buuren

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Fifteen minutes of fame is literally what some people can expect to have these days. It’s a fact of our modern digital age; “show business” is a fickle industry the world over. But idols can, of course, arise.

To Truly be great and reach the upper echelons of your chosen field, three essential elements need to align. Ensuring you are in the right place at the right time and an unwavering level of hard work are the first two, the third is to unequivocally possess an absurd amount of natural talent. 

The universe, then, generally takes charge of the rest. Armin van Buuren has enjoyed success for over 20 years as one of the world’s top DJs and producers is a testament to this rule.

Arguably one of the most successful people ever in dance music, often seen as a clean-cut Dutchman he has taken Electronic Dance Music and particular Trance to places no one else has or probably will. 

As well as being Grammy-nominated and record-breaking five-time winner of the Top 100 DJs poll, since 2001 he regularly hosts his own weekly Trance radio show that attracts 40 million listeners in 84 countries.  

Armin is in the country currently headling the debut of Festival X with the likes of Calvin Harris and Alison Wonderland, Lil Pump and many more who are taking to the stage across the country this weekend. 

Brisbane Today and Sydney Tomorrow and Melbourne on Sunday. 

While off the back of his recently released his 7th studio album, Balance – With a loyal Australian fan base and multiple visits under his belt we managed to grab some time with the man before taking to the stage in Brisbane tonight.

What’s the first word or phrase that comes to mind when you hear these words spoken?

 Australia: Freedom

 Europe: Home

 Festivals: the best

 Producing music: lifeline, more than just a hobby

 The Fans: nothing but love

 Music Awards: Recognition, because of the fans!

 DJ Life: Tough

 The Future: Bright

 How do you find Australia to visit and perform compared with the multitude of other places you’ve been and go?

 Australia is definitely one of the best countries to come and perform at musically; the people are really open to partying and for any new sounds. I’ve been coming to Australia every year since 2002, and I’ve seen the festival scene grow for sure. I am always excited to come and perform here. 

 Your music career has spanned 24 highly successful years, do you feel like it’s been a journey and that the result is that you have grown and developed along the way?

 Absolutely. I’m actually happy to be a little older believe it or not. 

I find it has helped with the stress of touring and releasing my new albums; it’s confidence essentially and a more stable state of happiness. I used to get very anxious at times, but not anymore. 

 Can you describe in as few words as possible what we can expect from your seventh studio album Balance?

 It’s the result of 4 years being in the studio and finding a balance between the old classic ‘Armin” sound and the new ventures and direction I’m going in now, as well as the use of modern studio equipment and exciting collaborations.

 How was the process for this album, was it different from others and tell us about collaborating with Ne-Yo? 

A new chapter for Armin van Buuren with Balance

 Yeah, it was amazingly fun to work with someone like Ne-Yo, I really got to look into his head quite intimately; how he thinks about songwriting, vocal production, all of it – it’s a process I learned a lot from. 

So the process was educational you might say?

 Totally, that’s one of the things about this album actually, is that I now know how little I know! Even after 20 plus years and the awards etc. I can still learn so much from working with different talented people. 

 Who would you like to collaborate with next?

 Hmmm, in honesty, it’s not so much about the artist. I could obviously throw a bunch of successful names at you or who’s trending on Spotify. For me it’s always about the song, if it’s good then I want to work with it. 

 As Climate Change is an increasingly discussed topic, what are your thoughts on sustainable events and the environmental impact music festivals might have?

 I think every human being should take responsibility for his or her carbon footprint, their impact on nature and the world in general. 

And that shouldn’t matter what profession you are in or what it is you do for a living. It’s imperative that we work together for a safer, healthier planet and leave it livable for future generations. I do whatever I can to mitigate my effect as a musician, such as always offsetting my carbon footprint while flying. 

 What keeps Mr van Buuren motivated to keep producing world-class dance music, podcasts and your ever-popular radio show?

 It comes back to the basic excitement for music. 

The radio show has been going for over 20 years now, and yes, it can be exhausting. But that said, there is never a week driving to the studio for the radio show that I am not looking forward to performing, sharing the music with the fans. Every week there is at least one track that I am excited to share or has surprised me and for me that’s what makes my job so great. Seeing trance music develop and change over the years and being at the forefront of that is hugely rewarding also. 

 Has social media helped in keeping you motivated do you think?

 You’re hitting the nail on the head with that sentiment. I can talk to the fans through my radio show but they, of course, talkback through social media it’s an immediate two-way process. 

 You have performed to some massive crowds in the past and still, do to this day, is there ever a moment when you might feel Pre-show jitters or anxiety, and how might you deal with it?

 Being a little bit older and having experienced as many shows as I have, in reality, I’m no longer that nervous anymore. 

There is always an element of nerves, but these days I take confidence in my crew and the preparation. If you come prepared with a music set in mind that is well thought out I feel good. I don’t pre-mix my sets so that it can be a little tense, but once I am up there in front of the crowd, it just disappears, and I just play. It’s the best feeling. 

 How have the vast advancements in technology in the last two decades affected how you create and distribute your music/art?

 I think it’s a huge danger if you start making music just for the huge reactions on social media, I think it’s essential to shut yourself off from that before you go into the studio to create the music. However, saying that it is great to have feedback. 

During my weekly radio show, the real-time comments help me, the listener’s ears help me construct better music and even live performances as well. 

There are still tickets to Festival X up for grabs to see Armin van Buuren Live gcmag.me/festivalx

Inset Photos by SNDR

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