Armin: “I’m not going to make Avicii-like records just because I can”

In the time he hasn’t been devising plans for a bi-monthly dubstep radio show, Dutch kingpin Armin van Buuren has been doing his usual thing: working very hard. In between planning for a new album, the DJ has spearheaded the A State Of Trance 550 world tour, visiting Kiev, Miami, L.A., Moscow, London and Den Bosch. As well as presenting the ASOT550 stage at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, Armin also closed the mainstage – and the festival – on Sunday with a galvanising set that put trance squarely in the spotlight.

There’s been no slowing down since then either, and in the latest edition of Canada’s DJ Mag, the Dutchman gives an honest appraisal of large-scale dance music at the moment. The interviewer asks whether “we are seeing a bigger drive towards the big room synths, like Avicii for example”.

“I think it’s a temporary thing to be honest,” Armin replies. “I mean, a lot of people tell me like ‘Hey man, that’s just trance.’ I’m like, ‘No, it isn’t.’ I think it’s really important for me to state that I’m not necessarily in this industry to be successful with commercial radio. I mean obviously I’d like to have the odd hit, just because it makes it easier to sell ticket numbers, but as long as it’s within my sound and within what I believe in.”

The DJ goes on to echo the points also made by Pete Tong recently. “I think the good side is that it’s opening a lot of doors, for example corporate America will now be more interested to invest money in big shows, so we can make the shows even better and the experience for the visitor even better. So we can promote the music that we believe in. The bad side I think is the commercialisation, there are a lot of people who want to make a quick buck and don’t care about the ground work that’s been done by quite a few people who are really into this music because they’re passionate about it.”

“I’m not all of a sudden going to make Avicii-like records just because I can do it. It’s a trick, I mean he’s very good at it, I don’t know if I could ‘beat’ him so I’m not even going to try. I’m going to stick to my sound. I want to make what I want to make, and I want to make the sound that I believe in, and I want to bring that across.”

Armin’s next points are sure to resonate with anyone who is starting to sense déjí  vu in big-name DJs’ sets right now. “I mean, in all honesty if I listen to a few DJs of my colleagues right now I like their sets but it’s so mainstream driven,” he goes on. “What you have is a lot of energy when the hits come on, like people are screaming when they hear the known record. Eventually they have to play something else because they do two – three hour sets; so they have one hour of big hits – everybody’s happy. Then the second hour everybody’s pretty flat.

“With all due respect, they’re not building towards some sort of a climax. This is the way that I see the art of DJing: the art of DJing is not playing all of those big records in a row. The art of DJing is playing a set which builds towards something. Yes, of course with a few big records, but it’s more the story that’s important, the journey, than the actual hits that you play.”