On The Couch With... Armin van Buuren
After the worldwide success of "Imagine," Dutch superstar DJ Armin van Buuren returns on September 14 with his much-anticipated follow up effort, "Mirage." The album features Armin's signature sweeping instrumental trance plus chart-savvy collaborations with dance music icons Ferry Corsten, BT, and Josh Gabriel, along with the talents of Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Nadia Ali, Guy Chambers, Christian Burns and Adam Young of Owl City.
I recently sat down with Armin to chat about his continuing reign at dancefloors around the world as the undisputed king of trance. We also chatted about what inspired this new LP and his collaboration with Sophie Ellis-Bextor and the Nervo sisters.
Lastly, Armin talks about DJs United, his teaming with Paul Oakenfold and Paul van Dyk to produce "Remember Love," a charity single that is a tribute to the victims who lost their lives at this year's Love Parade Festival disaster in Germany. All proceeds will be donated to the Association of Non-statutory Welfare in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany to help those who were injured and the families of those who passed. "Remember Love" will be available exclusively on Beatport.com starting on Tuesday.
Congrats with te release of your new album. "Mirage" features both instrumental dance pieces and vocal collaborations. What was the sound you were going for on this record?
People always tend to highlight the collaborations, but half of the album is instrumental trance. The collaborations are nice, they're cool, but for me the core of the album are the instrumental songs. I'm saying this because I don't want to focus purely on the collaborations, because the instrumental tracks represent me the best. I really didn't have a specific sound I was going for. Things just fell into place organically.
So why did you decide to include the vocal collaborations? Was it a way for you to mix things up?
It's like John Lennon once said, "Life happens when you were busy making other plans." It's exactly that. We shared a few demos with peope and we hoped a few collaborations would work out and some did and some didn't.
All of the pieces of the album all came together organically when we were in the studio developing the sound of album.
Mostly, making this album was a lot of fun. I was able to let go of the stress of the success of "Imagine." I bought a new house, built a completely new studio behind my house to really focus on the sound of this record.
I wanted to expand myself muscially. My main sound will always be trance, but I've been having a lot more fun by doing things differently. For example, I worked with Guy Chambers, the man behind Robbie Williams, and he taught me a lot about songwriting just sitting down with a cup of tea, a guitar and a piece of paper. That really inspired me.
I think your assignment in music is to find a balance between staying true to your own sound and trying to develop it. I want to inspire people by delivering something new and not just do the same thing. That's what I wanted with this album of vocal and instrumental tracks.
How does this new album reflect your development as an artist?
Songwriting, co-production, working with bands and orchestras and also using some of the latest production tools that are available these days. I hope that people that listen to Mirage will hear the amount of fun I had with it.
There are DJs that have been incorporating vocals to create a poppier sound. Take for example David Guetta who has had tremendous success with that. Was that something that you considered when picking your collaborations?
I've always worked with vocalists long before this whole hype started. I'm glad pop and dance music are successfully merging because it shows that thinking in genres or styles is completely rubbish. Music starts to get interesting when they start merging. I love what David Guetta has done. He's very forward thinking and is just having fun in the studio, plus he's one of the nicest guys I know.
One of the stand out tracks on the record is your collaboration with Sophie Ellis Bextor. How did that song come about.
Yes, I really like how that song came out. We had an instrumental track that we sent to the Nervo sisters. And I remember we were in my hotel room on Ibiza one time and they were singing on their Blackberries to write the song. A few days later, they had a meeting with Sophie to work on a completely different project, but they played her that song and she loved it so much that they recorded the track together.
You've produced a special charity song together with Paul Oakenfold and Paul Van Dyk to benefit the victims of the Love Parade disaster. How did that project come about?
It was an idea of Paul Oakenfold. We were all really shocked by what happened in Germany. I played Love Parade in 2008 and it was an amazing experience. We all felt that something had to be done for the victims. So many family and friends have pain from their loved ones that passed away or got injured. There will never be a second Love Parade because it is done. We wanted to step up for the victims and show them that we will never forget and always support them.I hope people go on Beatport.com and buy the single. We decided to call it DJs United and not attach our own names to the project directly. We dont want to profit from it in anyway - promotionally or financially. It's just a very serious matter and we wanted to get something done.