Paul van Dyk circles the globe 16 times a year entertaining over three million music lovers along the way. He has twice taken the title of the world’s No.1 DJ - a feat achieved by just two other spinners. As a producer Paul’s achieved similar success. ‘For An Angel’ regularly tops trance music’s greatest-ever lists whilst his remix of ‘Age of Love’ also frequently contends that title. He continues to build upon one of EDM’s most outstanding remixographies, artists who have received the PVD touch include superstars Madonna, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears whilst he's also reworked timeless bands like U2, Depeche Mode and New Order. Van dyk's sixth album shows that a filler-free artist album isn't only a possibility, but entirely achievable with 15 astounding new studio creations. Dan Prince gets the exclusive interview with Berlin's favourite son…
Hey Paul, welcome back to DMC. So the new album - when people first heard ‘Evolution’ many said that it is the best piece of music you have ever done. How do you think you have evolved since your last album ‘In Between’ back in 2007…
“Hi Dan. The idea behind ‘Evolution’ is based around how our culture has evolved so much in the last twenty years and nothing really to do with my own personal evolution. The album is about all the sub cultures in life, how communication has changed so much around the world – Facebook and Twitter wasn’t around a decade ago and now it is part of everyday life. As for myself, life in general is my biggest evolution. I am a human being growing up, life is simply a logical progression about learning things and doing things better as time goes on…this is all one big learning curve for us all. What inspires me is life in general and that’s what I hope is portrayed in my music I play and make.”
You have said in the press that you began to work on the album at a time when the industry were not expecting it. What did you mean by that?
“I started to record the album when I felt the timing was right and that was perhaps not the same time as the industry were expecting me to do so. When I started work there was no strict deadline or predetermined musical remit or people telling me who I should or should not be working with. I found this way of working very exciting and is probably why every piece of the ‘Evolution’ jigsaw fitted into place. It has been very satisfying!”
You have just launched your ‘Evolution’ album World Tour kicking off in Ibiza last week before hitting the UK and then some of your favourite cities. Talk us through the whole Paul Van Dyk live stage show in 2012, things have certainly evolved for you performance wise these days…
“On stage with me I have my keyboards, computers and a custom made mixer which means I can have a direct influence on the whole show and more importantly am able to be creative and interactive with the audience. Then we have the stage design, lighting and visuals which all depends on the size of each venue, I feel the theme of ‘Evolution’ works perfectly for the show and it gives me a very special feeling to be part of it all.”
Can you explain the ideas behind Anthony Burns and his live stage shows for ‘Evolution’…
“Everything that you see visually is an interpretation of the different aspects of ‘Evolution’. It starts with the Big Bang and then goes through different parts of the evolution of modern society, from architecture to the whole multi media world which I mentioned before, social structures and then back to nature. The whole idea is about progress and development. There is a German word for it which is ‘Freitgeist’ that translates to free spirit. Or more open. I wanted to do something that is an overall experience – the light, the visuals, the stage and video design all had to come together in a way that was special, whilst still allowed me to play as freely as I wanted to.”
And will this theme continue for the videos for the album?
“Absolutely. When you listen to each track on the album whilst watching the video, the idea is to take the audience to another level or place. The most important thing though is that the videos must function as art…the idea is to be evolutionary on many different levels. We wanted to give people a chance to dive into the whole thing on a visual point as well as an audio level.”
You are hitting Electric Brixton on October 13th with First State, Stoneface & Terminal and Eddie Bitar joining you in the main room. How much input do you have on your line ups?
“Well of course we always rely on the local knowledge of the promoters we work with when we are deciding who to book. At the end of the day we all have the same interests, it’s all about the people who pay for their tickets who are the main importance. When we put line ups together we want to do something interesting for them. Something new, something exciting. It has to work on all levels.”
One of the things we love about you at DMC is the way you are always very keen to point out that you are not a trance DJ. Your music combines many different formats which is represented by the selection of artists on the album that include the likes of Arty’s house sound, Sue McLaren’s piano-shaded breakbeats and the fat bass of Guisppe Ottaviani. How important was demonstrating your love of total dance music on this album…?
“I think that is what making an album is all about. A different variety of sounds, a broad spectrum of music which you can spread out. I am a firm believer in releasing artist albums, always have been. You are able to show your creativity rather than just going down one musical route which unfortunately so many artists do these days. When you release a single with one main song and a couple of mixes, you can’t show what you are capable of doing. And if I had brought out say ‘The Sun After Heartbreak’ as a single, everyone would have gone…’why has Paul Van Dyk brought out a breakbeat record as a single?’. It may be a cliché, but part of an album is taking the listener on a journey of sounds and that’s what I love doing.”
I admire and agree with the way that you look at the recent dance music take over of America. You see it as three key areas – one of which is the electro, rock infused music from the likes of deadmau5 and Skrillex. You said in an interview recently that you are a little unsure of the longevity of Skrillex’s career as dubstep came and then disappeared in the UK ten years ago…
“I didn’t say it had disappeared, what I said was that it became the big new thing in the UK and then something else came along and took away the limelight. Dubstep simply merged into perhaps the electro house sound. But yes, I see the scene in America going down three paths; the electronic sound with people like Sven and Richie Hawtin, the cheesy pop dance stuff which you see on MTV that I want no part of and then the rock electro crossover with people like Skrillex. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts and what new artists come through to support it.”
I interviewed John Digweed last week and asked him about EDM in America. He said he finds it so frustrating that most DJs in the States are expected to be jukebox DJs playing the big records to what is looking more and more like a danceable pop music crowd. What are your thoughts on that…?
“That’s an interesting point. It must be so frustrating for the originators in America from cities like Detroit and Chicago to see all this happening now. The kids who are now making dance music so popular in America right now have no idea that these cities were where all it started in the 80s. They also have no idea that the scene in America was big in the 90s too. Most of the people coming to these festivals and clubs have no relationship with EDM at all, it’s a pop music relationship to be honest. And sure, there are a lot of DJs who play up to that, it’s up to people like myself, John and Sasha to try and educate.”
What is the current top 10 you are spinning…
01: Paul van Dyk ‘The Ocean’ Feat. Arty (Las Salinas Remix) (VANDIT)
02: Heatbeat ‘Chow Mein’ (Captivating Records)
03: Stoneface & Terminal ‘Here Comes The Sun’ (Euphonic)
04: Lang & Yep ‘Matador’ (Air Up There)
05: Tom Fall & Ben Nicky ‘Hammer’ (AVA Recordings)
06: Answer 42 ‘The Lemon Effect’ (Proff Remix Edit) (Anjunadeep)
07: Ali Wilson ‘The Quest’ (Enhanced Music)
08: David Nadz & LeBlanc ‘Haamiah’ (Liquid Vision Pres. Likwid Remix) (Decon)
09: KhoMha ‘The Dark Knight’ (Coldharbour Recordings)
10: Orjan Nilsen ‘Endymion’ (Armind)
Where have been some of the big festivals that have stood out in 2012 for you?
“The one that really springs to mind immediately is SW4 in London, that was seriously amazing! I was also due to play at one of my favourite festivals Creamfields that weekend but unfortunately I was playing on the Sunday that got cancelled which was such a shame. Nature 1 in Germany was a very good festival as was Tomorrowland in Belgium.”
What about over in the States?
“I was really amazed how good the Identity festivals were this summer. They did 15 cities around America and I was pleasantly surprised with the crowds they were getting. Really young but really open minded. They didn’t want to hear cheese at all and it allowed the DJs to present them with new music, which at the end of the day is the core of what this is all about.”
How has Cream been this summer at Amnesia – it just seems to be getting better and better, a lot of respect has to go to the management at Cream for continually putting on the best night on the island...
“It has been a fantastic season Dan. We just closed up last Thursday and I think it has been the busiest one yet. It just proves that straightforward electronic dance music presented in a straightforward way to a crowd who are up for it still works really well in a club. It doesn’t have to be a dark, warehouse style club as Amnesia proves time and time again, the venue is really colourful, is open plan with loads going on around you and the atmosphere is amazing. Cream deserve a lot of credit.”
Why have you never wanted your own night on the island, there have been rumours flying around that you and Armin may one day team up as a superforce…
“Is there? That’s the first I have heard of it. Rumours will always fly around Dan. The thing is about Cream is that Nick and his promotional team in Ibiza are the best on the island – why would I want to be second best? I am very happy at Cream. ”
And finally, what has been your summer anthem?
“The thing is Dan is that the way I am playing at the moment doesn’t allow me to have just one big record or one big anthem, I take elements out of each track and piece them together. And it seems to be working very well right now!”
Paul van Dyk – Evolution (2012) Album Tracklist:
01. Paul van Dyk feat Austin Leeds – Symmetries
02. Paul van Dyk feat Arty – The Ocean
03. Paul van Dyk feat Adam Young – Eternity
04. Paul van Dyk feat Austin Leeds – Verano
05. Paul van Dyk feat Plumb – I Don’t Deserve You
06. Paul van Dyk feat Sue McLaren & Arty – The Sun After Heartbrake
07. Paul van Dyk - Rock This
08. Paul van Dyk feat Ummet Ozcan – Dae Yor
09. Paul van Dyk feat Tyler Michaud & Fisher – All The Way
10. Paul van Dyk feat Caligola – If Yyou Want My Love
11. Paul van Dyk feat Michelle Leonard – Lost In Berlin
12. Paul van Dyk feat Fieldwork – Everywhere
13. Paul van Dyk feat Giuseppe Ottaviani – A Wonderful Day
14. Paul van Dyk feat Sue McLaren – We Come Togheter
15. Paul van Dyk feat Sarah Howells – Heart Stops Beating
16. Paul van Dyk feat Michelle Leonard - Love Ammunition
17. Paul van Dyk - Senses
18. Paul van Dyk feat Kyau & Albert - Open My Eyes
19. Paul van Dyk feat Daniel Nitt - The Falling