Armin Van Buuren Talks About 20 Years of Making Music in an iEDM Exclusive Interview
Known for his main stage appearances at the biggest and most well known festivals across the globe, Armin van Buuren is a must-see act for electronic music lovers and dance enthusiasts of all shapes and sizes.
He has been named #1 on DJ Mags Top 100 four years in a row, and still to this day he continues to relax in the top five along with artists such as Martin Garrix, Hardwell, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, and Tiesto.
Along with several awards for 'Best Global DJ' and 'Best Trance Artist,' Armin also manages to maintain the top spot for 'Best Radio Mix Show' with his A State Of Trance radio show which has dropped a new mix every week for almost two decades.
The man can clearly do it all, and even with such a busy summer festival schedule, weekly ASOT mixes, and managing his own Armada label, he still found the time to sit down and say a few words to his fans. I caught Armin backstage at Electric Love Festival in Salzburg, Austria before he jumped on the massive main stage, here's what he had to say:
iEDM: Here you are at Electric Love Festival for your 4th year. How does it feel to be back?
Armin van Buuren: Awesome. Actually my tour managers company designed the stage this year so I got to see the design a few weeks in advance. Every year this festival grows which is a good sign. A little rain won’t hurt us.
iEDM: Congratulations for your recent 20 year celebration of making music!! 20 years ago, did you ever imagine yourself to be where you are now?
Armin van Buuren: Hell no. 20 years flew by like that. Everything goes in an age of a second to me. I’ve been touring non-stop. I started my company in 1997 and really started touring internationally since 1999. So I’ve been on the road for quite a long time. I feel really blessed, I know it’s a cliche but to have all these fans and to see them keep coming back. And all this love! Even though I did some experimentation with my music I still receive so much love from my fans and it’s incredible.
iEDM: What can we expect from Armin van Buuren over the next 20 years?
Armin van Buuren: Haha! Well, I’m going to keep making music of course. I actually have a lot of new music in the works. I just released my new single Sunny Days, the next single is already coming out and we’re shooting a video for that release soon. I just finished a new compilation: A State Of Trance Ibiza which will drop at the end of August. I just released a Wildstylez mix on Great Sprits. Yea, a lot of new tunes coming out.
The radio show is of course a milestone in my career. Next year we’re celebrating episode 850, and of course only 3 years left for episode 1,000. We’re already making plans for that, which is going to be massive. I recently started doing the radio show as a video show instead of just audio. So I built a custom studio for that, and we’ve been doing 21 episodes in that new studio for people to watch online for free on Facebook, on YouTube. 2 hours every week and it has just been going off! Listening numbers have doubled, it’s good for the scene. I really want to promote also non-Armada artists. People think I’m only doing it to promote Armada artists or nothing at all. I always promote other DJs from other labels because I think it’s important to have a radio show that reflects part of the scene. This is the new trance sound, so that’s going to be a massive focus.
I’m also helping two young guys out. A new duo called Gaia, I’m producing a lot of their new stuff. We’re trying to build them as an act, it has been going on for many years. I just want to be a producer for that, I don’t want to tour.
iEDM: Your A State Of Trance radio show reaches over 37 million listeners in 84 countries each week, what challenges and successes have you experienced creating the Best Radio Mix Show in the world?
Armin van Buuren: Oh wow, ASOT has a massive history, of course. This week we just recorded episode 821, so that’s 16 years going. We've had a lot of ups and downs. The biggest down being I was fired from the station where A State Of Trance was on during episode 183. That’s when I switched to doing the show in English. Funny story, a lot of my English speaking fans started to complain because they love the Dutch language.
That actually meant success for the show. That’s when I started working with a lot of online stations and more and more FM stations kept coming on board. I’m still with the same company that’s been selling the radio show since 2003 or 2004. So I’ve just been doing it ever since. I’m just blessed with a great crew and great fans that keep tuning in every week. I’m try to stay on my toes with finding the latest music, having guests in the studio, talking about tracks that I like, and those that I might not like so much. It’s great.
iEDM: You have special guests on A State Of Trance all the time, are there any artists in specific that you just love to work with? Why?
Armin van Buuren: One of the greatest things about doing ASOT live now every week is that every week we have a guest or colleague in person. Of course we can do it over the phone, but it’s nice to be face-to-face to see facial expression, hand gestures, etc. It’s important because that’s a level of communication. It adds to the atmosphere of the radio show. I think that having a visual radio show will have a massive impact.
Pretty soon I’ll be having a takeover episodes because I’m going on holiday with my family. So I thought it would be a nice idea to give the radio studio to three of my colleagues. One being Ferry Corsten, he’s doing a two hour show. And then we have one show with Orjan Nilsen and Andrew Rayel. That’s going to be very interesting and exciting for the fans. It’s only going to be one episode each so don’t worry.
iEDM: How would you say European music festivals differ from festivals in the US?
Armin van Buuren: The only thing that strikes me is how much it starts to look similar. Of course in America, different sounds are more popular than in Europe. I guess in America you could say trap and EDM are more popular. Techno is maybe more popular in Europe. But it’s not black and white because you have massive techno events in America, and great bass parties in Europe. So I wouldn’t say it’s black and white it just depends on which festival you’re going to.
I guess the US is very insecure about themselves because they might feel like they’re catching up or something, I don’t know. I think it’s rubbish. The US basically invented dance music. It came from Chicago and New York, and we stole it. America has a lot to be proud of. Guys like Steve Aoki are killing it. Hate him or love him, he’s doing an amazing job. The American scene is really adding to everything right now, and it’s really exciting because that’s opening doors for all of us.
iEDM: Is there anything else that you’d like to tell your fans?
Armin van Buuren: I just want to say how blessed I am. I know it’s a cliche but it’s true. Thank you all so much for the support.
Shortly after this interview, Armin took the stage and helped close out the weekend at Electric Love Festival for a wave of fans as far as the eye could see. Take a look at Armin's event schedule to experience the magic that is his live performance in a city near you.