Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren recently took the stage at Creamfields Hong Kong to play to an enthusiastic crowd. Before the titan of trance music entertained his legion of fans, Billboard Radio China chatted with van Buuren about his ascension to legend status and his ability to curate marathon sessions. He even had a special message for his Chinese followers.
Van Buuren’s ascent to the upper echelon of electronic dance music and trance was set in motion at an early age. By the age of 15, van Buuren says he already had a home studio in which he began honing his production skills, and he has been producing ever since. He credits his successful career to the amount of time he has dedicated to his craft. “I think you can only learn how to become a producer if you invest a lot of time,” he explains.
Along with devoting significant time to practicing, he also acknowledges the role that luck has played in his success. “I got lucky, I guess: meeting the right people, starting my label at the right time, starting my radio show (A State of Trance) at the right time, and starting to produce at an early age,” he shared.
It was the mainstream commercial success of his 2003 track “Communication” in the U.K. during the golden age of trance that marked the real burgeoning of his career. The song’s popularity in the U.K. was followed by global success with the release of his album in the United States, and there has been no stopping him ever since.
Known for his marathon sets, such as one recent set in Romania that lasted more than seven hours, van Buuren also discussed how he is able to summon the energy to curate for such long periods of time. His rather simple answer to this question: a passion for DJing.
This passion was evident in his voice as he detailed a love for music and an opportunity to share it with others. Comparing the curation process to building a house, he said, “I use existing pieces of music to build a house. I first build the foundation, which has to be solid and more underground, and then start building the house.”
The crowd plays an instrumental role in dictating where he goes with the music as well. Much of his creative process is spontaneous, and reading the crowd helps him decide what to do. He refers to DJing as “the art of the moment, the art of timing,” and he strives to build stories with his sets. He begins with the aforementioned solid foundation and subsequently constructs the narrative and brings the listener along for the ride.
Some of those eager to join him on these metaphoric “rides” are his many Chinese fans for whom he expresses sincere appreciation. China has always fascinated van Buuren, and he is humbled by the fact that people halfway around the world know and enjoy his music. When describing his Chinese followers, he regards them as incredible and their support as phenomenal.
“The tour that I had here in March was one of the best tours I’ve ever done in my life, the way we were treated. I played in places I didn’t even know existed. And the fact that people actually know me there, it’s awesome,” he raved.
Addressing his fans directly, he said, “You’re making my dream come true. I love being onstage and getting your support and traveling all over the world and sharing my music with great people. So xièxie, thank you!”
Fans can check out his latest album, A State of Trance Year Mix 2018, which features more than 100 of the biggest trance tracks of 2018 in less than a two-hour mix. Check out his radio show’s milestone 900th episode in the video above, and hear the full interview on Billboard Radio China.