Armin Van Buuren
Armin Van Buuren is now a bona fide, global trance music phenomenon. There can be no disputing it. He has won more awards, sold more records, played to more people and broken more hearts than probably any DJ on earth, save the odd outlier (read Tiesto). But make no mistake - this man is a machine, an institution
And he is getting ready to get his equipment back to Australia for a very special evening themed Armin Only: Mirage. As it so happens, Melbourne will be the city of choice, much to the delight of his legion of loyal fans here; and to the chagrin of his fans everywhere else! No doubt, a ticket stub to this event will be hot property and not without good reason. Armin is playing a nine-hour set, which means you can expect to hear everything that’s worth listening to in the EDM space right now. Likewise, you can bet the Dutch master is pumped.
“Playing for a crowd that big and for that long pumps the adrenaline right up! I know it’s not particularly healthy and I wouldn’t recommend anyone trying it! Even my doctor recommended against it for me, but before you know it, the night is gone.” Indeed, Armin claims he doesn’t even need to step out to the bathroom in all that time. Insane. And the show for him, just as for the fans, is one of epic proportions in so many different ways.
“Anyone who has seen the show, knows that there are some pretty amazing moments – it’s somewhere between a theatre show and a live DJ set. It’s basically nine hours of non-stop entertainment.” No less, with nine hours of music up your sleeve, there is no such thing as a typical performance. “It really depends on the crowd I have to say. I can easily play uplifting trance for nine hours if that’s what people want me to do! Or I can play progressive or techno. It depends on the crowd and where they want me to go. A lot of people want to know what’s going to happen but I can’t really say right now!”.
But don’t let that put you off. In nine hours, he will undoubtedly sign off on all the classics, as well as plenty of material that is an edit, white label, unreleased or exclusive. Armin also suggests there will be some special guest in attendance with him on the night, although he won’t give away too much. “I can’t tell you right now, but I have brought some of the artists I’ve collaborated with in the past along. So someone like Chris Jones might come out to do a live track or something!”
It’s clear that you don’t need to expect a setup with a basic light show and a video display playing random clips. This is going to be a fully co-ordinated and choreographed performance that will change the way music is delivered to the masses. “We’re using a new technique for the Armin Only show because we really wanted to have a lot of control. It’s actually really cool because I can tell my light guy to dim just before a special breakdown; or I can tell my fireworks guy or show director to do something in particular. It really gives us the chance to do something that hasn’t been done before on this scale.”
Indeed, some of the YouTube clips from the Armin Only gigs are wonderfully impressive. It’s a special show being co-ordinated for Melbourne as well, so expect this to be very different performance to one where Armin plays for a few hours. Even if you’re curious, expect to be completely wowed and taken to another place. And we get to be one of the first cities in the world to see the awe inspiring show by virtue of our love for the humble trance legend.
“There is a lot of work involved and we really wanted to give something back to Australia and Melbourne in particular. That’s why we have chosen Melbourne and New Years Eve to perform. The crowds there are fantastic and it’s always a pleasure to perform there. I must admit it was very hard when I was voted the #1 Dj for the third time in a row. I thought once was amazing; twice was ridiculous and three times, well I was just wrong. Even my dad is trying to convince me that it’s not a coincidence so yes, the pressure is definitely there to keep delivering.”
So as part of trying to do that, I built a new studio and I want to continue to focus on my productions. The mistake I made back in 2001 was looking for a follow up to Communication; I’ve realised since then that I shouldn’t try to make follow ups. My main goal is to have fun and enjoy my time while I’m doing what I’m doing; I just want to share my music with people and have fun.”
Studio wise, Armin talks about having released his new artist album in September and the full focus was on the first single; and then the second, which was a big chart success in Holland. “It’s now just turned gold which is great. And since then we’ve been really busy working on the show and we’re preparing a whole performance around time coded video and things. It’s still a DJ set but there is so much more going on in the background that it is really exciting!”
And how does he do it? Where does all the inspiration, the music, the drive and the willingness come from? “Well, it’s many things. I love what I do for example. I do my radio show every week and that helps me scout new tunes and helps me know what’s going to work. It’s that feeling you get from the crowd; you want to try something without being too obvious. The show is themed and I'm playing for a long time obviously, so you have to have progression in your set and every part will have a specific feeling. It’s all hidden in there but you get all sorts of ideas, before, during and after the performance. It’s a tangible feeling with the lights and sounds and video screens – what we want to try and do is bend time and space and create a feeling of non existence!”
Armin Van Buuren [NED] plays Mirage at Etihad Stadium on Friday December 31.