Armin van Buuren - "In the end, the crowd is always right!"
If anything, it’s the music that drives him. An essential and relentless drive, for a man who does no less than two world tours in one year, all next to his ‘regular’ schedule of gigs, mixing the weekly radio show and taking care of his family. For Armin van Buuren, it’s all happening right here and now. And it’s been like that for the past 15 years. He’s the guy that has seen his radio show grow into a worldwide movement. And well, that was nothing he ever expected. Read along, as we interview Armin about Armin Only, Who’s Afraid of 138?!, ASOT650 and much, much more. Armin: “There never really was a plan for all this, only dreams. But they weren't on paper. Just in my head.”
Hey Armin! There’s so much going on right now, that there’s only one logical question to start with: how are YOU doing?
Armin:”I'm doing great. But to be honest it's a little too busy with everything I have going on. But it's all for a good cause. My life is definitely different now with two children but I love almost everything I do. I just wish there were some extra hours in a day!”
The ASOT Ibiza Closing Party had to be cancelled due to an accident of one of the crew members. That was a really sad end to a great summer season with fantastic parties. How do you look back on your summer there?
Armin:”It was my best season in Ibiza out of the 12 years I've been coming there. It just feels very sad to end it with a very black page. The good news is that Koen is slowly recovering. That's what is most important. We made the right decision even though I disappointed so many fans. I will make it up to them next year!”
Now that that chapter is closed, it’s time to look ahead. ASOT650! How hard is it to prepare something so big?
Armin:”Well it's hard and it isn't. The hard part will be to impress people with new locations, new stages, fresh sets and new talent. The easy part is that the formula just works. Like the live broadcasts, the intro's, the WAO138 room. That will stay!!”
How often does a guy like you have to pinch himself – when thinking back of the early days of ASOT?
Armin:”Haha, very often. I'm a very, very, VERY lucky guy. But it's all thanks to the listeners. They kept me focussed, sometimes even annoyed. But the crowd is always right in the end. I'm most proud of the fact that, even though a lot of things have changed, the original formula of the show is still the same! And it will stay the same, even though some small things may change.”
The world-tours and live broadcasts have turned ASOT into a worldwide movement, a shared feeling really. Has that always been your goal or is it something that has grown naturally?
Armin:”I think a bit of both. The most honest answer I can give you here is that there never really was a plan for all this, only dreams. But they weren't on paper. Just in my head. Sometimes I hate to read I would all do this for money or fame. I can honestly say with all certainty that we all still do it for the love of this music. Some shows even COST money to broadcast. THAT is most important.“
What exactly is the role of the ASOT Cadets in the ASOT story? Where do they come from?
Armin:”The success of the Armind angel showed me the power of giving a face to something. So I thought of an idea to give a face to the power of ASOT. Trance music feels like something from outer space. Something surreal almost as if the power really grabs you. It had to be something positive. I really want to connect people and that's what the space cadets do on my behalf. Handy eh? ;)”
8 dates have been announced so far, Almaty, Ekaterinaburg, Utrecht, Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Miami! Where did you base your decision on, to go for these cities?
Armin:”I don't make these decisions alone. They're made by ALDA events with David Lewis productions. They look at the demands for the production and the live show. We all know that the bar is set pretty high for ASOT, being the world's biggest trance event. People have high expectations. I want to meet those expectations, not only in sense of line up or broadcast. The whole experience should be something the space cadets represent: something from outer space, surreal, just magical. We always try to add new locations on each tour. Out of the 8 locations, 5 will be brand new and more cities to be announced soon!”
So we make the big move from the Brabanthallen in Den Bosch to Utrecht, a welcome surprise to lots of people! Why did you move – after 3 years?
Armin:”Simple: space! We ran out of space in Den Bosch. The aim is NOT to sell more tickets but to give the visitor more space to park and to dance.”
The official ASOT650 anthem was chosen by the ASOT listeners, ruling out your personal choice. Is it hard to let go of that?
Armin:”Hahaha yes, but it's also showing to my fans that in the end, THEY decide the success of the show.”
Now these are the live broadcast editions. Will there always be non-live events – like last year?
Armin:”Yes, half of the events will be broadcast live WITH live video and the other events will be recorded. In the end ALL the sets will be broadcasted.”
Before the ASOT650 madness begins, it’s time for Armin Only – Intense first, as we’re quickly approaching the kick-off of the Ziggo Dome! Getting nervous for 2 nights of 6 hour sets yet?
Armin:”YES. I think I never worked harder on a show. Fortunately we have the rehearsals coming up and, I think this hasn't been done before, a try out session!”
In what way will you take the show to a new level, in comparison to the ‘Mirage’, ‘Imagine’ and other Armin Only editions?
Armin:”I decided to involve some people from the world of theatre. This hasn't been done in the dance music industry before, to my knowledge. I will work with one of the top 3 directors from The Netherlands, named Jos Thie. The basis of Armin Only will always be a DJ set but to make it more interesting for the crowd, I'm going to try and really make the live moments almost like you would witness them in a theatre!”
On October 17th, you’ll reveal the other dates of the Armin Only – Intense tour. Without telling us too much – will there be any countries in there that never hosted an AO show?
Armin:”Yes, many! On the ‘Mirage’ tour we did 11 international shows. This time we aim to do at least 30 shows…. At this point I can’t reveal too much but it's going to be big!!”
In fact, you’ll be doing two world tours in one year. Does that mean you’ll be taking it a bit easier with other gigs in 2014?
Armin:”Not really. I still want to be there for the important moments like Ultra, EDC and Tomorrowland. But I do have to choose more wisely. What's most important for me, is that I can reach as many fans as possible in one year.”
Another something we’ve been meaning to talk to you about – Who’s Afraid of 138?!. It’s now an official record label – WOW! Was that part of your ‘master plan’ as well? Armin:”Nope, again, only a dream. Who's afraid of 138 actually came from something I said on the show. After I said it, it went viral on the Internet. I pressed a few t-shirts and… as they say… the rest is history! ;-D”
Why do you think the time is right to start another label – especially one that’s focusing on the uplifting, higher BPM type of trance?
Armin:”It's simply a logical step. I follow what I feel with the crowd. The success of 138 in Den Bosch showed me that people really want this sound.”
What will the future behold for WAO138, you think?
Armin:”I really hope we can avoid being formulaic too much. ANY kind of music always has its stereotypes and some kind of formula (like the ‘drop’ with electro house or the ‘hands in the air’ breakdown in trance) but as long as I feel that this sound progresses I will keep supporting it!”
Last but not least, what have you got to say to the ASOT listeners?
Armin:”I've said it a million times and I will keep saying it. Thank you for your loyal support. Without you, there would be no A State of Trance.”
Thank you so much for the interview, Armin! For everyone that wants to get more info on A State of Trance, check out www.astateoftrance.com. For more info on Armin Only – Intense, check out www.arminonly.com.