Armin Van Buuren - There Is Only One
Monday, 2 June 2008
There's no stopping the Dutch trancer Armin Van Buuren. In 2007 he vanquished his superstar compatriot TiÃ«sto and oldtimer Paul Van Dyk to be voted the world's number one DJ.
Van Buuren has branded his power trance globally with studio albums, mix-CDs, DVDs, a radio program, and his Armada label. Now he's plugging his third 'artist' album of euphoric trance, Imagine.
The Leiden-born Van Buuren has long produced copiously. He's spawned his share of classics, like Blue Fear, recorded in his late teens. Imagine, which arrives on the back of the 10 Years compilation, references its predecessors with sweet female vocals and rock stabs. Indeed, Imagine is littered with vocalists - among them Sharon Den Adel, who fronts Europe's answer to Evanescence, Within Temptation.
In contrast to Ferry Corsten, Van Buuren hasn't opportunistically crossed into electroclash. Nevertheless, his motto is 'don't be a prisoner of your own style'.
'I wanted to make an 'artist' album - which is definitely totally different to a mix-CD,' he claims, on the road in Orlando, Florida. 'I think I succeeded with this album because I have co-written a lot of the tracks and it's really like an album - not so much something that you bounce away to. Every track is danceable, every track is made for a dancefloor, but you can also listen to the album when you're chilling at home. There's a lot of more relaxing tracks as well.'
For many mainstream DJs, 'trance' is a dirty word. Sister Bliss of Faithless spins on the trance tip yet routinely disses the music in interviews, oblivious to the irony. Not Van Buuren. Armin's colleague M.I.K.E. Push recently conceded that with his current LP Moving on in Life, he was overanxious in his bid to transcend trance. Van Buuren trusted his instincts with Imagine.
'I haven't really tried to discover a new sound or something,' he says. 'It's still very much a trance album. It's just new - it's new tracks, new songs, sounding '2008'. It's an album that I wouldn't have produced three years ago, because the sound was different then.'
A frequent visitor to Australia, Van Buuren is again touring after sell-out appearances in 2007; this year he's staging his 'Armin Only' concert in Australia for the first time. He developed the Armin Only 'concept' initially for the clubs, but his last stadium event was televised in Holland.
'It's not just a DJ set of nine hours, but it's a DJ set including an array of live performances and live acts and fireworks and dancers - it's a whole show,' he says. 'It's more than just a DJ set.'
'Armin Only' is comparable to Tiesto's 'In Concert'. The Dutch trancers are both taking their music from the clubs to the stadia, rock n roll style. Van Buuren is surprised more DJs haven't attempted something similar.
'I think you have the obligation as an artist to constantly reinvent yourself,' he says. 'I think if you step on paths that you stepped on before, it might not be as appealing to the crowd. You have the obligation as an artist just to try to rediscover yourself every time.'
WHO: Armin Van Buuren
WHAT: Imagine though Armada/Central Station / Plays Hordern Pavilion
WHEN: Out now / Friday 6 June