Armin van Buuren doesn’t need much of an introduction. Anyone remotely interested in trance music knows all about his productions; his radio show, A State of Trance; his record label, Armada; and his other various projects, awards and doings in the music industry. Despite being so highly regarded in the dance music realm, van Buuren still expresses awe of the shows and venues he plays. We met up with the #TranceFam ringleader at Omnia nightclub, where he will play June 19 during EDC Week. If you have tickets, you can also catch him June 19-21 at EDC Las Vegas.
What’s the story behind your new single, “Another You”?
I worked with Mr. Probz, who you might know from his project, “Waves.” I met him during the Buma/Stemra Awards. Buma/Stemra is the Dutch collecting society. Like ASCAP, it’s an organization that collects the money from the radio stations and gives it to the artists. He got an award for Most Liked Track on Dutch Radio with “Waves,” and I had the same award ceremony for an award for Most Played Track on Foreign Radio with “This Is What It Feels Like.” We were showing off these awards and telling each other, “You know, one day we have to [work] together.” And it actually happened this time. We hired a string orchestra to record the strings on the track, and we spent a lot of time finalizing it in my studio, and then the track was done.
What’s the background of the track “Panta Rhei”?
Panta rhei kai ouden menei. You mean the lyrics? I believe it’s an old saying from Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher. In school I studied ancient Greek, and I really liked the saying [essentially: “everything flows, nothing stands still”]. It’s an old philosophy, and to this day it’s very accurate.
What does it mean to you?
Let’s say there is a running river here. You stand in the river, [then] come out of the river, and the next day you walk into the same river at the same position. All the water around you would be different, yet the river would still be the same. That’s what he says. Everything flows. Everything is moving forward. I like that because it’s also in music. Everything in music is constantly changing. Yes, you’re standing in the same spot in Omnia, but the music you hear every time is different.
Do you ever get to just hang out and watch your friends perform?
Not as often as I should. I actually really enjoy watching other DJs’ sets. If I see other DJ sets, I always get inspired. I mean, I’m not talking about the established guys alone. Yes, they are great, but in general, I really, really like watching new talent. You can learn so much from the young guys, as well.
When you do get to enjoy other sets, do you ever go out into the crowd, or do you always stay behind the scenes?
Sometimes, I bring a hat and glasses, and I put them on [to go into the crowd]. It’s such a different experience to be standing behind the decks or standing on a dance floor. That’s what I’ve noticed, at least.
Why has EDC been so successful?
It has a lot to do with the vision of Insomniac, the people, Pasquale [Rotella] of course. He’s always about innovation and trying to set the bar for the best electronic music events in the world. He pushes that limit every time. He just doesn’t say, “Let’s just have the stage that we had last year. Let’s change a few things, and that’s it.” No. He invests in visionary people who bring new dancers, a new theme, new stage design, new visuals and new fireworks shows. Yes, he has a couple of the familiar elements at work, but every time, EDC has a new theme, and it works differently. I’m just blown away; I’m not worthy. When I’m walking on-site, I’m like, “Wow!” It’s amazing, really amazing.
So you still get excited after playing multiple years at the same festivals?
You have to understand, for me as a DJ, I don’t take anything like that for granted. Every DJ who walks on-site I’m sure is like, “Wow, I’m so lucky to be playing here.” It’s really like that. I keep telling that to people. Even with 16 years of DJing, winning DJ Mag’s [Top 100 DJs list] and all that, still to this day, I walk into festivals and I go like [becomes distracted by Omnia’s kinetic chandelier in motion]—what? Look above you! Did you see the chandelier move???