September 19, 2008

No 1′ Armin Happy Just Making Music

By Gary Flockhart

AFFIRMATION of Armin Van Buuren's standing in the international arena arrived earlier this year when the Dutch trance master was named number one in the prestigious DJ Top 100 poll - voted for by more than 350,000 clubbers from around the world.

The last decade has certainly been kind to the 31-year-old, for whom being voted world's best DJ is just one of many achievements.

He boasts No.1 records, a weekly radio show that's broadcast around the world to over six million listeners, and his own record label.

As you'd expect, his appearance at Room At The Top in Bathgate tonight as part of Gatecrasher's 15th Birthday has clubbers in a fizz.

But despite massive success and an envious jet-set lifestyle, the superstar DJ remains level-headed about his achievements.

He is someone who clearly loves making and playing music above the trappings of fame.

"I'm not much for No.1's," he says. "It looks good, but the goal is to make great music.

"It's not like the Olympics, when eight guys start running after the starting pistol. With music it's almost like the referee fires a pistol and everyone runs in a different direction."

After pausing for thought, he adds, "It's not about popularity - it's all a matter of taste."

Launching his Imagine tour with a nine-hour set in front of a sell-out crowd of 16,000 in Utrecht suggests many share his tastes.

And clubbers can expect the star attraction to be really up for tonight's Capital appearance.

"The UK is still the centre of dance music in many ways, and it's still my favourite place to play," he says, looking ahead to the show.

So how does his hugely popular radio show differ from his live sets?

"With the radio show I don't have a crowd in front of me, so that makes a whole difference," he explains. "I basically test out a lot of new tracks to see what the crowd says on the forums."

Trance music took a beating due to the commercialisation of dance music, but Van Buuren thinks it's unfair.

He says, "I'm not afraid of playing trance, and it annoys me when colleagues call it electronic dance music."

But while he is clearly a dedicated trance lover, the Dutchman isn't imprisoned by a single genre. "What makes trance work so well is that it doesn't stick to one style, and can incorporate electro, minimal, whatever it likes," he says.

He indulged his passion for music from a fairly young age, spending the money he earned from his paper round on records.

His mum won a computer when he was ten years old. "So as a little nerdy kid I was writing my own basic programmes, and then learnt about the technology from there," he recalls.

He went from making low-profile mix tapes for friends to higher profile mixes when he discovered experimenting with different sequences on his computer from his uncle.

He cites French electronic pioneer Jean Michel Jarre as a major influence, as well as Dutch producer Ben Liebrand, who later mentored him in mixing and producing.

In the early days, Van Buuren thought it wise to have something to fall back on in case the DJing didn't work out. So he studied law.

The final year of his course was inevitably stretched as he juggled his studies with his increasingly hectic schedule; his rise to fame included lots of productions and remixes, as well as playing out to packed clubs every weekend. It took him three years to graduate.

The law profession's loss was music's gain. "This is just what I really want," he smiles. "It's not just a love for music, it's my passion. Music is essential to my life."

Armin Van Buuren, Room At The Top, Menzies Road, Bathgate, tonight, 9pm-4am, GBP 25, info 01506-635 123

(c) 2008 Evening News; Edinburgh (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.