Every second counts for a man that leads a full and fast-paced life. Straight out of his A State of Trance 650: New Horizons tour in March, life on the road continues for trance music producer and DJ Armin van Buuren with his Armin Only: Intense tour. On top of that, he has to be Father of the Year to his three-year-old daughter, Fenna, and his new born son, Remy. JUICE managed to have a chat with the Grammy nominee before his set at the A State of Trance 650: New Horizons show in Kuala Lumpur.
So, what’s new?
Well, there will be a wax statue of me in the Madame Tussaud’s in Amsterdam (laughs). I was in London a few days ago to see the clay version of it, and the statue will be unveiled some time in September this year! Other than that, I just released the A State of Trance 2014 compilation album, and I’m in the midst of the Armin Only: Intense tour.
Tell us more about that tour, and how it’s different from the A State of Trance shows.
For Armin Only, I’m the only DJ performing a six-hour solo set, and not only that, there will be loads of special guests and surprises for each show. I actually worked with a theatre director for this tour, and the tour is not scripted, so every Armin Only show is different from the other. I’m flying around with six live singers and a full band, four dancers and acrobats, and a backstage crew of 35 people. In a nutshell, I’d say that an Armin Only show is like a Christmas dinner with Armin van Buuren; you’ll get a starter and an appetiser, and you’ll get one main course after another, and end with a very sweet dessert. Compared to the ASOT shows, I love the variety of it, but I want to go deeper into DJing. You may just be buying a ticket to a show, but you’ll be getting all your money’s worth: you’ll be hearing big tracks right down to some unknown tracks, you’ll be hearing progressive trance and deep trance, sad trance to very uplifting trance… you’ll be hearing everything and more! This is what I want to do for my DJ career, to not just bring to the people the DJ behind the decks, but also the theatrical element of the show to them. It’s one of the shows that I’m really proud of, and it’s my biggest dream thus far to have the chance to bring it around the world.
There was a big fuss in the trance world back in 2011, when your #1 title on the renowned DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ list was given to French house DJ David Guetta. Although you managed to get back on track the year after that, Electro House DJ Hardwell stole the crown from you just last year. What is the kind of pressure, if any, that you face when you’re deemed DJ Mag’s #1 DJ? Do you ever feel like you have fallen short for this title?
You know, music is not a competition. I’m very proud of both David Guetta and Hardwell, and what they have achieved, and I think it’s a good thing that the others are taking over right now. I have been thankful of the five years when I was lucky enough to be #1, but if I were to get on top again, sure I’d still be very happy about it, but at the same time, I don’t think it would be a good thing in general for the dance music scene. There needs to be a new generation of names and talents constantly. That is the normal thing to have, and that’s the only way music as a whole can progress. So what if I don’t get the #1 title again? It definitely won’t stop me from making music and developing my career.
Do you think it’s necessary for a DJ to bend with the trend and times to stay above waters?
I suppose, the title itself, it’s very silly. The more you think about it, the sillier it gets. It’s not like the Olympics, where the fastest runner gets a gold medal. The dance music scene is made up of all kinds of genres, and if I want to be #1 again, I’d have to play electro house, as it’s more popular right now. But that’s not what I want to do at all. I still want to chase after my dreams in supporting the sound that I’ve always been supporting. Throughout the 15 years I have been in the scene, including the years when I was DJ Mag’s #1 DJ, the collective message I have gotten from my fans is this: Stay true to yourself. With all the productions that I have done, and every DJ set that I have played, I did them all because I want to do them, and I did them all with trance in my heart, regardless of I’m the world’s top DJ or not.
Not only are you passionate in your music and career, you’re also a passionate family man to your wife and two children. When does one door close for you, and the other opens, noting the distinctive line between Armin the DJ, and Armin the Daddy?
I like the fact that my lifestyle varies, the fact that just by closing one door, I’m already playing a different role. I do everything a normal father does! When I come home, I still change my children’s poopy diapers and take out the trash. I still read to my daughter, Fenna, two bedtime stories every night, and cuddle with her a little bit before putting her to bed. When mom gets a time off, I’ll be at home on the couch, looking after my two children – and I love it! I mean, if you only live this life of being on the road constantly, it’s very easy to get caught up in all the limousines and police escorts, five-star hotel rooms and mega suites, and screaming fans. That, to me, is not the real life. I’m very lucky to know that that’s a kind of life that I can choose to have forever. Whatever this life is and whatever it’s worth, it’s great and I do enjoy and cherish every moment I get. But at the same time, I also know that my family will never abandon me, and they will always be there for me, and that, to me, is more valuable than anything else in this world.
What would you say is your philosophy in life when it comes to these two important aspects in your life?
Live life extemporarily, because you’re only here once. Right now, I’m in the rush hour of my life, and I wouldn’t change anything of it. I’d rather lose a few hours of my life, catching flights and transiting through time zones, than to miss the things I’d experience performing live. Yet, at the same time, I don’t want to miss being a father too, so it just means I have to work twice as hard. I don’t want my family travelling alongside me, because children need the continuation of a normal life when they are very young. My youngest son, Remy, is too young to travel, and I don’t want to upset him with being on tour with me, being as fussy as he already is so far (laughs)! I can only try to make my travels as short as I can, and do as much work as I can muster at a shorter span of time. Always cherish your family above everything, but also, always live like there is no tomorrow.
Armin van Buuren’s A State of Trance 650 went down on the second day of Future Music Festival Asia 2014 on Friday 14 March ’14 at Bukit Jalil Stadium, KL.