More and more DJs are coming forward to share the intimate and dark side of the Music Industry. This time it is the Trance legend, Armin van Buuren who brought the topic to the table again at the Dutch talk show Jinek.
This happened while the DJ is on a promo tour for the release of his new album ‘Balance’, expected on October 25th. He surprisingly opened up about his problems.
“I’m really thankful for the life I lead…But there is a dark side that we are beginning to see more of.”
The struggle for superstar DJs might have been hidden long enough. Today, it is no longer the case, especially after big names like Avicii and Hardwell helped highlight the problem. It turns out it touches everybody in the scene.
“Secretly everyone is not doing so well at all”
The DJ lifestyle, high expectations and intense touring are identified today more than ever as sources of mental health issues, including stress, anxiety, and depression.
“Everyone puts on a brave face and says it’s going fine, but then you hear through the grapevine that they are actually seeing a coach or psychologist.”
One of the issues Armin mentions is him being a pleaser. He admits that just one single negative feedback out of many positive ones could ruin it for him. That is why at the starting of his career, he fell victim to wanting to please every fan.
“Yes, I still want to please every fan. Every fan is important to me. I can’t stand it when one fan says he didn’t like it at all. Somewhere it is also good because that also triggers you to get better and there is always some truth in it”.
When asked about him being on top of the charts, and the number 1 DJ in the world, he said:
“Yes, of course. At the end I became a top 40 DJ. I was against that in the beginning but secretly is of course cool to have that place”.
“I suffered a lot from it. In 2010, I was the number 1 in the world, but the most unhappy person on earth.”
Armin talks about his position and how being number 1 caused him a lot of struggle. He admits that the pressure from being number one took away the pleasure. As he explains, people were coming to see the number 1 DJ and no longer to see Armin.
“You are just as good as your last show; you are just as good as your last single, and I started producing only for those few fans who were critical. That felt like a straitjacket, but since ‘This is what it feels like’, I actually got rid of that, and I am still very loyal to my fans, and the new album also has a bit of the old Armin sound. I also like that sound and I still embrace that, but I noticed that I have to take those creative steps to keep developing myself.”
The balance between DJing and family is one of the hardest ones for DJ. For Armin who’s also a father of two, he says :
“This is a daily discussion. It may look all shiny for the outside world, but we are daily on top of that agenda and then there is the temptation because then you have to say yes or no to a very large festival. If you go you get offered a huge bag of money and a show for 40,000 people, but yes, your son must go to football. You have to make those kinds of weird considerations.”
For big DJs like Armin who made to the top, money and fame couldn’t seem like a high priority. But that’s not what we see. There is some kind of a performance addiction that makes the DJ go touring, sometimes obsessively.
“There is a book written about that by Ian Robertson, ‘The winner effect’. It is exactly about that. The kick that you get from standing on stage, from the attention, from making television… that kick that you get… he compared the endorphins that are then released in your brain to a drug. In fact, under the influence of that drug your brain changes, according to his theory, and he has proven all that scientifically. That book has become important to me. I now understand how that works, that’s why Mike Jagger is still on stage after a heart operation.”
Unfortunately, the full interview video is in Dutch. But you can check out Armin’s interview with DJMag on the same topic from May 2019.