'For Me, Electronic Music Is About Sketching a Vibe, an Atmosphere'
With track names ranging from "Heart Stops Beating" to "A Wonderful Day," German DJ/producer Paul van Dyk's first album in five years, dubbed "Evolution," is a study in light and dark. Love and pain.
"For me, electronic music is about sketching a vibe, an atmosphere," he tells Billboard. "I think something we all share and experience at one time or another is being crazy in love, and feeling the pain of it; being in an amazing friendship, and also feeling let down by friends."
We've got an exclusive streaming premiere of "Evolution" ahead of its April 3 release. Listen Here:
The duality isn't always lyrical, says van Dyk: It exists between the beats and the words too. "Take [album track] 'Everywhere': The lyrics are quiet and sensitive, rather than straight in your face, but you have this really tough techno sound that drives the whole thing. These are the things that interest me; developing those soundscapes, and to some extent, elements that might not fit together. Those are the textures that make a track really interesting."
Van Dyk collaborates freely on "Evolution," enlisting the partnership of longtime studio buddy, Florida-based DJ/producer Austin Leeds ("We're a really cool mishmash of Miami and Berlin!"), singer/songwriter Plumb, young Russian DJ/producer Arty, and Owl City singer Adam Young, on album stand-out and first single "Eternity." Pre-order the album here.
"He's probably one of the most insanely great people I've ever met," says van Dyk of Young. "We got in contact three or four years ago, before he had a big hit with 'Fireflies.' We said, 'Let's make some music together.' When it became time to finalize ideas for 'Evolution,' he said, 'Let's go for it now.' The first track I sent him, he didn't know what to do with, because it was basically finished. I went back to the studio and wrote another piece of music that had more space for him to do his magic."
Van Dyk is a towering figure in the history of dance music, known as one of the original champions of the hard-hitting yet emotive European trance genre. He was twice voted the No. 1 DJ in the world (in U.K. magazine DJ's influential annual fan poll). Amidst the current flare-up of interest in EDM, he's emerged as an artistic champion, taking to task what he sees as opportunism.
"I don't really believe in those marketing-driven, organized by the manager collaborations that are good for the checkbook," he says. "I'm a freak when it comes down to music, especially electronic music. I'm really passionate about it, so the people I work with have to share that passion or it's not going to work. It's not about someone sending a vocal file; it's about developing a piece of music together. This is how I choose the people I work with; vocalists, cowriters, and producers ."