Trance soothsayer and cultivator Armin van Buuren has been on a worldwide expedition to bring trance to every nook and cranny of the Earth. It began just as a radio show, but A State of Trance (ASOT) quickly evolved into a worldwide phenomenon in a matter of years – travelling as a moving rave with every centennial edition of the show. Last 15 March ’13 saw the show visiting Malaysian grounds in collaboration with Future Music Festival Asia ’13, little did most non-trance heads know though that it all really started with a grassroot social media campaign by fans. Read on as JUICE speaks to the man himself on his touring MO and EDM trends among other topics.
What’s the modus operandi with your tours?
I make it my mission to promote my music and promote new talent. And also to do new cities every time, so on this tour there are only 3 cities that I think we’ve been before. Out of the 12, there are 8 or 9 new cities. And I want to promote this music to people who are maybe not aware of it. For example, we did a big show at Sao Paulo few weeks ago in Brazil. Trance music is big in Brazil but it is not as big as it could be. So by bringing trance music there, I hope to appeal to a bigger audience, draw people away from the house sound, get them more into the trancy sound. This is the way I like to see it.
What made you decide that you want play in Malaysia?
Why we come to Malaysia right now is because out of nowhere, people started campaigning online, on Twitter. We didn’t do this, we didn’t facilitate to anything. I just mentioned it on my radio show and I saw that there was a lot of following for Asian accounts. And it made me realised the potential, so I went to my manager and asked “Why didn’t we go to Asia yet?” And we all thought we should do something [about it].
We were looking for the right event, and Future Music Festival Asia is a company that we’ve been working with for a long time, we had a good relationship with them. Also I want to stress that it’s not easy to do A State of Trance party, because we have to make sure there’s a satellite connection, we have to make sure there’s good loud sound. We have a lot of demands to do a good show. So we really want to make sure that everything is perfect. So every ASOT is a lot of stress – there’s a team here that’s already been here for a week to set everything up. But I think it’s worth it, because I hope to get a lot of more Malaysian fans!
More than any other genre, EDM has got to be the one that’s heavily trend-based. House had its days, then trance, techno, and dubstep’s popularity is waning while the aforementioned genres are still relevant. What new trends do you foresee in the next few years, or what is coming back?
I think trance will always be there, and I think it’s cool right now that it sort of has this underground vibe and I’d like to keep it that way. I don’t think necessarily number one, two and three in the Top 40 should be trance tracks, leave that to the more commercial people. We’re cool by being a little underground. I’m not necessarily here to get a mass commercial crowd, I’m trying to persuade people to like trance. If they’re open for it then the trance family embraces you. To answer your question to where the sound is going – I think sound is always evolving.
If you look at the history of music, any type of music – Bach used to listen to Beethoven, The Beatles used to listen to Bob Dylan – if you listen to the first Beatles album, it’s completely different than the last Beatles’ album. When EDM started it was just house, and then like you’ve said yourself, all the other different sounds coming up.
Within trance right now, it’s not only trance – there’s tech-trance, euphoric trance, uplifting trance, vocal trance, psych trance – there are all these genres. So I think what would happen is that, there would be more styles evolving from trance. It’s funny to see a lot of house records actually used trance riffs and a lot of dubstep incorporates house sounds. So it is normal for music to develop. I’m sorry to say this to the idea of a safe haven for trance; there is no safe haven. Because music will always merge and new styles will evolve and this is what would happen continuously.
Are there any non-EDM artist that you listen to, can you share them with us?
I basically love all kinds of styles. I think if you want to be a DJ, if you want to be successful – you got to have an open mind to what people like. Sometimes I hear a track and I go “No way! Is this track a hit, is this big?” Then I listen to it a couple more times because my job as a DJ is to understand what music does to people. I’m a big fan of ambient music and I’m a big Coldplay fan as well, but I basically like any kind of music. If you look at my CD collection at home, you’ll laugh so hard. Because I’m curious, and I think every DJ should be curious about music in general – classical music, hard rock, EDM, non-EDM, ambience, children’s music, gospel, whatever opens up your world, whatever opens up your mind. Try and be interested, this is how I view life in general, to be open-minded about all kinds of people, to all kinds of religions and beliefs and cultures.
JUICE was in a state of trance at Future Music Festival Asia ’13 Presents ‘A State of Trance 600: The Expedition World Tour’ on 15 March ‘13.