The Trance legend on the making of The Politics Of Dancing 3, ATLANTIS and who inspires him the most.
The story of Grammy-nominated DJ, producer and scene-starter Paul van Dyk doesn’t begin in the ’91 techno incubator of Tresor, a ’95, Twilo-era Manhattan or the superclubs of Ibiza or London in 1997… It begins in 1985, in his mum’s kitchen. It was there in communist East Berlin that Paul van Dyk first caught the sounds of synthesised music coming over the radio waves from the West. It was among the most propitious of meetings and its effect, in shaping the course of 20+ years of electronic music history, difficult to overstate.
Earlier this month, the trance hero released ‘The Politics Of Dancing 3’ containing Beatport chart-topping singles ‘Come With Me’, ‘Only In A Dream’, ‘Guardian’ and ‘Louder’ and 10 other incredible new-gen ‘POD’ productions. We caught up with Paul in an in-depth phone interview that took place last week in our Sydney office and fired away with questions on the making of ‘POD’, the secret behind having a successful career, the ‘ATLANTIS’ concept and he opened up about who inspires him the most.
We first asked Paul about what excites him when visiting our shores and how does our scene compare to the rest of the world.
“Australia is a fun place and it’s very exciting, very energetic and this is what I’m looking forward to. Everyone is always friendly and it’s such a great place – it’s always fun to be Down Under.”
“I never try to compare crowds with each other. To me, it’s about the fact that I have a really good idea on what I want to do on the stage and what I want to bring across, and that’s different everywhere. I could play in the same city in two different clubs, and they will both have different vibes. So, I never really compare but I’m really looking forward to be in Australia very soon.”
Paul van Dyk has played at some of the biggest electronic dance music festivals across the globe and we wanted to find out if he preferred playing at these larger events or smaller club nights.
“One of the things I’ve learnt this year, is that there is no such thing as the best club or best festival and therefore there isn’t the best place to play. If you go somewhere and you really enjoy yourself, the next event will be different. There are many components that make a perfect club night, so there isn’t just one place really.”
Best way to stay sane on the road?
“Eat healthy and sleep as much as you can! That’s the only thing you can really do. I’m really passionate about what I do, so I always have the energy, the excitement to go on stage and play but you also need to kind of the get the surroundings right, in terms of getting enough sleep and try to eat healthy stuff.”
The trance legend opens up about the making of the newly-released album, ‘The Politics of Dancing 3’ and what made him decide it was time to release another album in the series. Purchase the album here.
“Well a lot of people were always asking if there would be another Politics of Dancing, so I thought yes let’s do another one! And of course, as you have probably already realised, it’s a very different album compared to the two previous Politics of Dancing.”
“The reason it took somewhat longer than expected, was really much more the fact that the concept, the creative process of the album changed. You have to take into account the whole music industry has changed, the way music is made, how the music comes through these days is completely different.”
“Nobody is sending me music any more like 9 months in advance, and the only way for me to guarantee that the music is brand new when the album comes out is to take other peoples music, go in the studio and actually make music with them. So therefore, it’s much more of an intense process, much more production and creative work. It is an artist album rather than a DJ mix compilation and it took longer.”
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We also asked if any of the tracks on the album have a significant meaning or a great story behind it.
“All the tracks actually have an important meaning and also one thing I like to point out…the whole project of The Politics of Dancing involves much more music than just the tracks you find on the album right now. Starting in a few weeks, there will be a lot of other tracks that will be released, that are just as important. The album is the ‘kick off’ to much more ‘POD’ music that will come in the next few months.”
“Every single track that is part of the project is important because the people that I’ve worked with had something very special in the way they create music and how they bring everything together…all of this is part of The Politics of Dancing concept.”
Paul collaborated with some of the biggest names in the scene today for ‘POD 3’. We found out how he choose some of these artists to feature with on the album.
“For me it’s really important that I have something in common with the people that I work with. With Jordan Suckley, he has the same passion, he has that same drive. Giuseppe Ottaviani is obviously someone that I’ve been working with many times before in the past. In terms of vocalists, I’ve worked with Tricia and Sue McLaren before and working with Betsie Larkin was actually great, she is a fantastic vocalist. Making music is one of the most fun things in the world and making it with friends and people you share the same passion with is even more fun.”
A blast from the past…Paul mentioned how one of the greatest trance tracks of all time, ‘For An Angel’ came about.
“Pretty much I went to the studio like I always do. I’m not going in the studio and thinking, oh today I’m going to write a hit, I had a vibe in my head and I’ve always worked like this. In the end, that track became successful and had such a great impact to many people. It makes me really happy as an artist. I’ve worked on it 21 years ago and people still love it and request me to play it every single time.”
“It’s great to achieve that as an artist, but at the same time to me, all the other things that I’ve done, all the other music that’s not as popular, is also important me.”
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What’s the secret to staying in the music business for the long haul?
“The thing is…in a way, if I look around with some of my colleagues both from the past, and the ones that are around now, I’m interested in the people who have some sort of artistic integrity. If you listen to a Jordan Suckley track you know it’s Jordan, if you listen to a Genix track, it’s Genix. If you hear Giuseppe, your hear Giuseppe. They need something that’s unique about them. This is something that is absolutely, massively important in the substance of a long career. All these guys that are doing all that EDM stuff these days all sound the same. Nobody will actually remember their names.”
Paul shared some great advice and tips for Australia’s upcoming trance producers.
“Do what you believe in and find their own unique take on music. These days, there’s all sorts of different genres going on, and you also have this kind of cheesy-EDM-dance-pop thing going on. You need to stand out, you need to find something that makes you unique! That makes people remember you and your music, then u have a chance to have a career and have something that lasts, otherwise you will be forgotten.”
We asked what his all-time favourite album was…any genre!
“That’s difficult…there’s an album by Depeche Mode called ‘Some Great Reward’ – that is one of the albums that really has influenced both myself and probably everyone who is somehow involved in electronic music. I really think it would be that one, despite of many others of course.”
“I don’t like that wishy-washy stuff, something that I’ve heard hundreds of thousands of times before.”
Craziest thing that has happened during one of Paul van Dyk’s set?
“If you look at my career, the whole thing’s crazy. I’m travelling the world, seeing the world, experiencing the world, having friends all over the world, and having the possibility of playing my favourite music to my audience, it doesn’t get any better! This is how crazy it gets.”
“What I really like about ATLANTIS, is that it’s focused on our genre, on the specific elements that make us so excited about electronic music. It’s driven by the pure sense of what electronic music is, and that’s what I like about the whole idea.”
“I came to Australia many many years ago for the first time. Whenever I come – I know it’s not as often as I would want to – but whenever I do come, I feel very welcomed, the people greet me warmly, and I get a lot of support from Australia all the time with my music. I’m really really thankful for that and I don’t take it for granted, and I’ll do the best I can to make it all worthwhile next month.”
We finished the incredible interview with a question from Des Riny, a fan in Perth, Australia…he wanted to know who was Paul’s biggest inspiration when first making music and who inspires him today.
“The biggest inspiration for me is my mum. She kind of didn’t have the easiest life and tried to raise me as good as it was possible under the circumstances, and so she is my biggest inspiration. Life and the view on life and what’s important in life is far beyond than just music. Everything that inspires me comes from even a world outside of music.”
“My biggest inspiration of music is life in general.”
Time to start the countdown to what is set to be one of the biggest trance events in Australia…Get ready to experience ATLANTIS, a truly special evening with Paul van Dyk and fellow trance hereos MaRLo, Mark Sixma, Driftmoon and the incredible Roxanne Emery.
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