Armin van Buuren: “I don’t want to be a jukebox at a festival”

Regardless of where you stand on his musical output, you can’t help but admire the tenacity of Armin van Buuren. The Dutchman never seems to stop moving, and he manages his punishing schedule with a kind of superhuman enthusiasm. Tune in to the A State Of Trance radio show and you never sense a crack in his professional zeal. See him DJ and no matter how many shows he’s played that week, he’s still unmistakeably Armin: bouncing around, beaming and, yes, Jesus posing like it’s all new to him.

It tends to be the same for interviews, too. In the seven-odd times I’ve talked to Armin van Buuren, he’s always presented a polished demeanour, thanking inthemix for our support and answering each question with ease. There are a couple of recurring themes in how he speaks to journalists: the phrase “don’t be a prisoner of your own style” invariably comes up and he’ll almost certainly use food as an analogy (twice, actually, in this interview).

Inquire in the right way, though, and he’ll divert from the well-scripted path. Recently, he’s started to speak his mind more freely on some of the topics that bother him. As you’ll read here, we discussed what he sees as narrow-mindedness from some fans and also a trend towards easy wins by “these new DJs” he now shares festival mainstages with.

You can understand Armin’s occasional gripes. The ‘narrow-minded fans’ observation followed the response to his football anthem We Are Here To Make Some Noise, which had some devotees declaring their hero was now a ‘trouse’ defector. Away from the insular world of keyboard warriors, though, he’s still one of the world’s most bankable, and loved, names in dance music. Not to mention the busiest. We had just eight minutes to talk this time, but it was an illuminating back-and-forth.

Did you expect a bit of backlash to We Are Here To Make Some Noise?

You know, it’s a gimmick track. It won’t fit on my new album. Let me tell you the story. I’ve been working on the new album, and I have 40 or 50 layouts for the tracks, and the first three singles are done. The album’s going to be more trance-y.

I had this track lying around and my publisher said, “Radio 538 wants you to do an anthem for the European Championship”, so I played him that gimmick track that I had, and he said, “This is exactly what they’re after.” I said people are never going to believe it’s me, but I like it. Overall, the reaction has been amazing; it’s number 32 on the charts in Holland, and in Russia and Poland it’s doing really well.

My motto has always been, “Don’t be a prisoner of your own style”. I love steak, but sometimes you want to have fish. I miss the days sometimes when Sasha and John Digweed used to drop everything from deep house to trance-y stuff, and everything was possible. I think sometimes people are too narrow-minded for their own good. I’m not becoming a prog-house DJ by the way, not at all!

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