To some, he is a living legend. To others, he represents something that they can only dream of. Fact is, Armin van Buuren is the proud mastermind behind the A State of Trance radio show, label and brand and he’s more than ready to celebrate the next milestone: ASOT 550! We caught up with the Dutch DJ and producer, to find out what’s on his mind now that the ASOT 550 craze and madness is about to kick in…
Hey Armin, we’re catching up with you in the middle of your South-American tour! How are you doing?
Armin:”Really great! It feels good to be back on the road after spending 5 weeks straight in the studio. I’ve created a lot of new material, some of which I’m premiering on this tour. My gigs in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Colombia have been amazing. I really didn’t know the crowd there had been waiting for me so much. They knew all my songs! I’m now in Brazil for the carnival 2012 and it’s been nothing but good fun. I even ended up playing a small club on my night off with a back to back set with Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano and Klaus Goulart, a Brazilian DJ. Just for fun.”
We could ask you all about your favourite colour and food, but what we really want to know is: Less than 2 weeks to go before ASOT 550!!!! What’s going through your mind right now?!
Armin:”Well I’m a little bit nervous about it to be honest. A State of Trance 500 was such a huge success. At first, I didn’t want to do a party for A State of Trance 550 because 550 is not such a nice, round number like 500. But SOOO many people convinced me. The fans really want me to do another round of shows. And the way I see it, ASOT is a radio show for the fans! I play a lot of requests on my regular radio show. The opinion of the listeners is extremely important. But I also demand a lot from the production. I wanted the ASOT ‘space angels’ to go the next level. I wanted to broadcast all the shows again for free! It’s important to me that people can tune in and have a party at home. This is what makes a State of Trance 550 special: it’s not just a party in some venue but the whole world is joining the party! We’ve already had months and months of preparations for the line ups, productions, the intro’s etc, etc. I’m actually still a bit nervous but I hope people will appreciate all the efforts we do.”
You’ll be doing no less than 7 events, across 6 different countries. Was that one of your conditions, for this celebration to be even bigger than ASOT 500?
Armin:”Not necessarily bigger but I wanted to reach new territories, new countries, besides Den Bosch and Miami. And I wanted a few other DJ’s on the line up as well. I see it as my responsibility to promote trance as a genre and I want to support every single DJ, competition or no competition. Music should connect us.”
We don’t want to rush things too much, but what does that mean for A State of Trance 600? Or is that something you haven’t thought about yet?
Armin:”I think it’s important to first make ASOT 550 a big success. If I’m ever going to do ASOT 600 depends completely on the fans. But there’s certainly a huge ambition to make it happen. ASOT 1000…”
What is the selection of ASOT 550 cities based on? Was it a matter of ‘wherever possible’, or did you pick these cities on purpose?
Armin:”The most important thing is that there are fans there. I wanted to do London because London has the Olympics this year and I really like Ministry of Sound as a club. The UK has been extremely important in my career as a DJ and I know there are many fans there. Belgrade is a bit of a guess because I’ve never played there before but I think it’s important to reach new territories if there are fans there. Moscow and Kiev have always been amazing for me, I did Armin Only there too. Miami last year was such a success that I couldn’t resist saying yes. Unfortunately, due to problems with the promoter I couldn’t do Armin Only Los Angeles so I wanted to bring something EXTRA special to my Los Angeles fans, hence ASOT 550. Finally, Den Bosch will be the grande finale. The location is ideal for the kind of show I want to do: 5 rooms with 25.000 fans, with nothing but the best in Trance and Progressive. The location is not as expensive as other venues so we can make the ticket a bit cheaper. And for that money, fans get 47 DJ’s and live acts and the world can tune in for free.”
11 years ago, when you were in your early twenty’s, you started working on a special mix: A State of Trance. Can you still remember the very first official A State of Trance show you created and how you felt after it was broadcast?
Armin:”Yes!! In fact I even have a very short video of the very first episode. It wasn’t my first radio show since I had worked for a local radio station before but I was nervous the first time! Even though I knew I still had a lot to learn as a radio host, I felt relieved everything went well but I remember a lot of people telling me I was crazy for doing a TWO HOUR radio show EVERY WEEK! It turned out to be one of the smartest and best decisions on my career.”
There’s quite a few things that have changed since then! ASOT has turned into a worldwide phenomenon, a global happening. 25 million people tune in each week. Is that young Armin, who experimented with mixing and spent hours of listening to radio shows to learn the tricks, still the driving force behind all this?
Armin:”Yes, 100%. I know there’s quite a few DJ’s that don’t mix and produce the show themselves but I don’t think that’s right. I can only share my vision of trance with the people if I mix and produce it myself every week. I have a team that helps me with finding new music and the general script for the show but I still select, host, master and mix the show myself. It’s also a great way to stay on top of new music. And I’m very proud of the fact that the original idea of the radio show that I had when I first started the show is still the same: ‘Bringing people the latest in trance and progressive in a two hour non-stop mix. If you listen to A State of Trance I can guarantee you hear most of all the records that matter in the trance genre and rock global dance floors.’”
On March 1st, there’s another highlight happening: the release of A State of Trance 2012! Does it get harder to mix this compilation every year, or is it easier now that productions are in abundance?
Armin:”I found mixing this year’s edition easier than ever. I simply had too much tracks! I was really biting my nails last minute when I was closing the tracklist and started mixing. I had to make a lot of tough choices which I consider to be a luxury! I have such a great team of people to work with now.”
Pleased with the result? Did your running track in Leiden go well enough for it to get your approval?
Armin:”Hahahahaha, indeed I tested it 3 times while working out and made some last minute tweaks, still sweating from running. For me it’s the best way to test if the overall flow of a mix is good.”
How about an official A State of Trance 550 compilation? Is that one scheduled yet?
Armin:”Yes, working on that too!! I’m trying to find the old version of the rare classics that shouldn’t be forgotten. I’ve asked some really cool other DJ’s as well! Stay tuned….”
Last question: what do you want to say to all those A State Of Trance fans, tuning in or visiting the events?
Armin:”I want to say to all my fans and the #TranceFamily members that I’m doing what I do with so much love each week thanks to the huge support on forums and social networks like Facebook and Twitter. It’s really what motivates me every week, the interaction, the discussions. There’s no party without you! I can’t wait to share these beautiful tunes with you. Let music connect us. Something wonderful will happen.”