Energetic Armin van Buuren ready to rock Omnia nightclub
With his recently released track “Another You,” with Dutch rapper Mr. Probz, his upcoming gig at Omnia nightclub at Caesars Palace on Friday, June 19, and a performance at Electric Daisy Carnival next weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Armin van Buuren is like the Energizer Bunny—he just keeps going and going and going. He’s been “going” for nearly two decades in the EDM scene, working as a DJ, producer and radio talent; the Dutchman has also snagged the prestigious No. 1 spot on DJ Magazine’s Top 100 DJs poll, a record five times. The elder statesman of sorts took time to talk with Las Vegas Magazine’s Kiko Miyasato ahead of his busy Vegas weekend.
Congratulations on the release of your newest single “Another You.” Tell me how it came to fruition?
The background is Mr.Probz and myself. Mr. Probz you might know from that song “Waves,” such a beautiful song; when I first heard it I didn’t even know it was Dutch, I didn’t even know who he was until I discovered it was Mr. Probz, the rapper, from the world of Dutch hip-hop. I was really blown away by the song.
So, last year we were at the Buma/Stemra [a Dutch music rights foundation] awards—like ASCAP in the U.S., they collect money for when your tracks get played. They had this dinner and awards ceremony, and Mr. Probz got a lot of awards for that track “Waves,” and at the same time I got a lot of awards for my track “This is What it Feels Like.” We were sitting at different tables and showing off to each other. We ended up hanging out and said we should see if we could do a track together. Normally nine out of 10 times nothing happens with that, but in this case, I happen to know his manager really well, so it was one phone call away and before I knew it he came to my house with this idea he had. It was the chorus for “Another You,” which he had written with another guy, but at that point it was just a hook line, and I was like, “This is a good hook line.”
So I asked him if he would give me a chance to produce it. I wrote an instrumental idea sent it to him and he really liked it. So we went into the studio in the Netherlands. I hired a string orchestra. We worked more on the song, added a verse, added the chorus, we did a lot of backing vocals and such. Then it was finished. It took about six months. Mr. Probz is a real perfectionist, as am I, actually so bad that we finished the song right before Christmas and he actually came to my house Christmas Eve and said there’s one thing bugging him, and could he please come over and fix it. And he was right; there was something to be fixed. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Describe the song—how does it make listeners feel, what’s the vibe?
It’s very uplifting. It’s very happy. “Another You” is a happy song. It’s a summer song. It has a hook that gets stuck in your head that works really well.
Let’s talk Omnia. You’ve performed at the club a couple times. What are your overall thoughts on the nightclub?
Amazing. I’m literally blown away by it. I’ve never DJ’d in a more beautiful club. Honestly. And I’ve been DJing for 16 years, doing close to 2,000 gigs all around the world, and I’ve never seen such a venue. It’s an amazing club.
During your next Omnia performance you’ll also be performing at Electric Daisy Carnival. What do you have planned for your festival performance?
We’ve got something really special planned. We’re working closely with Insomniac for it, something really special that I can’t tell you about right now. It’s gonna be amazing.
Between nightclubs and dance music festivals, you’ve performed in the scene for a long time—have you noticed any big changes? Any pros and cons?
There’s three things that have changed. First, the sheer size of gigs. I remember being picked up from the airport and the promoter saying, “Hey, I sold 800 tickets,” and that would mean they did well. And now it’s like 80,000 tickets! So it’s definitely grown; there’s a whole new generation that’s listening to dance music. The second thing is, of course, the technique has changed. I used to DJ with all vinyl. Now it’s all CDJs and all that. And third, it’s become a global phenomenon. When I was first into dance music, it was completely a Dutch thing. It was completely unthinkable that you would DJ anywhere outside of the Netherlands. There was no scene, there was no DJ magazine, no dance chart. You heard of some DJs in New York, but it was a club scene, not a festival scene.
I think it’s been a cultural revolution. Let’s say we look at the ’60s, the ’70s and the flower power movement, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, the impact they had on youth culture. A lot of people remember what happened at Woodstock. I think what is happening right now will have the same impact on an entire generation, as did the ’60s and ‘70s; it’s a cultural movement. It’s really a cultural revolution. And yes, there’s still a part of the underground, too. A part of the dance music has crossed over with pop and mainstream, but a lot still is underground. Right now dance music has left a mark on every genre out there, but also underground music. I’m just really proud to be a small part of it all.
You’ve been one of the pioneers of trance music. What do you love about that genre of dance music? Why do you love playing it?
I guess it’s in my DNA. I grew up listening to synthesizer music. My dad was progressive when he was listening to music, and I grew up listening to his music choices—he used to listen to Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze—it was called synthesizer music back then, it wasn’t called trance.
If you listen close to that music, it inspired a whole generation; dance music came from that. And we only really started to call it trance music in 1992-’93, but it was already trance before that. Guys like Cosmic Baby, Paul van Dyk, Jam & Spoon were already making trance before it was called trance. I like to say I like melody, I like euphoric elements, I like uplifting, and that’s the common element in trance in general. But music is not a fixed thing. It will constantly move forward, there’s not really a box you can put trance in.
I’ve never really played just trance, purely trance. I’ve played across the board. In 2003, ’04, ’05, you’ll see some of my records labeled as progressive house, even techno. In general, I love trance because it’s so uplifting, emotional. I like the minor chord changes. I love it.
What would you like your fans to know most about you? What do you want to tell them?
I hope people see me as an entertaining person. A happy person. A lucky person, to be standing here. I’m passionate about music in general, specifically trance, and specifically dance music; everything that’s emotional, energetic, uplifting, that’s what I like to bring to people. I like to bring people an unforgettable night.
I realize that every person coming into the event where I’m spinning, a lot of people have normal jobs, they have 9-to-5 obligations, mortgages to pay, and they’re looking for an escape and they come here and want an amazing time—and I’m the guy that’s supposed to bring them that amazing time. That’s the way I view it; it’s a big responsibility. I’m not playing for myself, of course, I want to have a good time and I’m not playing just exactly what the crowd wants to hear, but at the end of the day I’m there to entertain them. I want to surprise them. Play a little of the expected, then the unexpected and take people on a journey.
It’s like seeing a good movie. You walk in, you watch the movie and you walk out, and you completely forget what day it was or where you are on the planet. That’s because the movie made such an impact on you—I wish that as a DJ, I could give that feeling to people as well.