Saturday Night Session 015: Armin van Buuren discusses how his heart will always be with trance music and teases a return of his ‘classical’ Armin sound later this year
Few moments are more sacred than the reprieve Saturday night provides from the daily grind of school and work. Its importance is meant to be emphasized, and thus, a feature dedicated to “doing the night right” was born. Saturday Night Sessions are set around energizing mixes meant to get the party started. New or old, each episode has one cornerstone thing in similarity: they serve as the perfect backdrop for the weekend pregame.
Dutch DJ and producer Armin van Buuren has been called many things. ‘Trance legend,’ a ‘godfather’ of modern day electronic music, and ‘musical icon’ are a few of the many descriptors that he has amassed throughout his 20 year career. The artists who do end up becoming global headliners typically ride the five-year wave of being at the top before they either burn out or the next new act comes and takes their place. Van Buuren has found a way to maintain his stature in the industry over the long term while also balancing teaching a masterclass, touring, releasing copious amounts of new music, and most importantly, having a family at home.
Those who have been fans of the producer for the longer term know he has continued to innovate sonically and push the boundaries of what is considered ‘his style.’ While Trance is the genre van Buuren is most closely associated with historically, his releases over the past few years have become increasingly diverse. In 2019 alone, the producer has released hardstyle, DnB, Trance, and Big Room singles.
While it may seem that van Buuren’s increasing sonic diversity and musical experimentation have been a purposeful and strategic decision, the artist clarifies otherwise. Van Buuren states, “As an artist, I’m always looking to reinvent myself, to try new things and get creative. I don’t want to be a prisoner of my own style. Sometimes, that means I create music that some people may not expect or even encourage.” He continues, “But it’s not even about wanting to change it up. It’s not as if I decide to create a certain style of music even before I set foot in the studio. Instead, I just let inspiration take me into the direction it wants to. My heart will always be with Trance, but I need it to explore my boundaries to innovate.”
Van Buuren recently released a new single, “Turn It Up,” and he explains that the track was created for the sole purpose of inciting energy in a crowd during a live performance. When asked if fans could expect to hear new music coming out that is a closer listen to the ‘old school’ Armin style versus the ‘new school’ releases such as “Turn It Up,” he explains that the answer to that question would entirely depend on one’s definition of his ‘old school’ style.
He notes, “Music is always evolving, so to reach back for that classic sound of, say, the early ‘90s or early 2000s might not even work in today’s scene. That being said though, I still love Trance music as much as I did back when I first started out, and I still love creating it. So I’m definitely up for it. That’s why later this year you will hear more “classic” Armin sounds coming out of my studio. Let’s just see what happens!”
While the prospect of the ‘classic’ Armin sound returning makes it nearly impossible to be patient for his new music coming later this year, van Buuren’s Saturday Night Session throws the listener straight into A State of Trance set, showcasing his finest and most energetic Trance work.
When asked what kind of a night his Saturday Night Session is getting listener’s ready for, he notes, “A Saturday night you won’t forget for the rest of your lives! All funny business aside though, it’s a very energetic mix perfect for the bigger stages. Could even be a mainstage set for an A State Of Trance event! Hope you guys like it!”
Photo Credit: Bart Heemskerk
The music you’ve been putting out is becoming increasingly diverse in genre. What made you want to start changing it up?
As an artist, I’m always looking to reinvent myself, to try new things and get creative. I don’t want to be a prisoner of my own style. Sometimes, that means I create music that some people may not expect or even encourage. But it’s not even about wanting to change it up. It’s not as if I decide to create a certain style of music even before I set foot in the studio. Instead, I just let inspiration take me into the direction it wants to. My heart will always be with trance, but I need it to explore my boundaries to innovate.
Can you tell us more about your new song?
“Turn It Up” is a real club/festival track made for the sole purpose of making a crowd go crazy. And, judging by the response of the ASOT Utrecht 900 audience when I played it, it does it’s job quite well. You could say it’s a follow-up to “Blah Blah Blah,” but I also feel it’s a solid mainstage banger in its own right.
Can we expect to hear any more ‘Old School’ Armin Trance releases in the near future?
That would mostly depend on your definition of ‘Old School’. Music is always evolving, so to reach back for that classic sound of, say, the early ‘90s or early 2000s might not even work in today’s scene. That being said though, I still love Trance music as much as I did back when I first started out, and I still love creating it. So I’m definitely up for it. That’s why later this year you will hear more “classic” Armin sounds coming out of my studio. Let’s just see what happens!
Are there any up and coming artists who you feel are rising superstars?
I really like what Fatum are doing, but also Avao and Maarten de Jong.
The amount of music you have been releasing is impressive, especially when considering you were teaching a masterclass, touring, and you have a family at home among the many other things you do. How do you manage to do it all?
It’s quite a tough act to balance, that’s for sure. Luckily, I’m surrounded by wonderful people and an amazing team, all of whom look out for me. I also have a wonderful wife who helps me keep both feet on the ground. It’s safe to say I wouldn’t be able to do all of this without them.
What are you listening to right now? Outside of your own music, of course.
It largely depends on the mood I’m in. I tend to enjoy many different kinds of music and always try to keep an open mind. For instance, some of my favorite all-time dance tracks range from Jules Verne’s mix of L.S.G.’s “Netherworld” to The Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up” – I still can’t believe we lost Keith Flint so suddenly – to the Ben Liebrand remix of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight.” So there’s not a specific artist or genre I’m listening to at the moment, but rather a lot of different tracks and styles that I just find very enjoyable right now. If a record strikes a chord in me, I like it, no matter which genre or style is. Currently I’m listening to Derelicts by Carbon Based Lifeforms.
Did you grow up listening to electronic music? What spurred your love for it and made you want to make this a career?
I actually grew up listening to lots of different kinds of music. My mom and my dad both enjoyed various styles of music, from Jazz to Classical music to The Beatles. Electronic music was barely a thing back when I grew up. The first time I heard dance music was when a friend of mine gave me a cassette tape with a mini mix from Ben Liebrand on it. I was sold ever since. I spent all of the money I earned with my paper route on buying new records and experimented a lot with mixing and sequencing on a computer my mom had won when I was ten years old. That was the start of it all for me.
Do you have a favorite year or era of electronic music?
Not really. One of the things I truly love about electronic music is that it changes so frequently. There are genres that merge, styles that evolve, and even new musical waves that just seem to come out of nowhere every few months or so. I love it. It’s what make this whole scene so unique. And that’s also why I don’t have a favorite. Each “era” has its own small wonders.
Are any of your children interested in being a music producer like you? Would you encourage them to do so if this is what they wanted?
I don’t think they’re interested in being a music producer as of yet, but they’re also still quite young. And, as any dad, I just want them to be as happy as they can possible be throughout their lives. If that means they want to pursue a career in music, I’m okay with that and can probably teach them a lot about the lifestyle and all. If they’d rather pick something else, I’m perfectly fine with that as well. I’ll support them no matter what.
What kind of a Saturday Night is your mix getting us ready for?
A Saturday night you won’t forget for the rest of your lives! All funny business aside though, it’s a very energetic mix perfect for the bigger stages. Could even be a mainstage set for an A State Of Trance event! Hope you guys like it!