During EDC Orlando last weekend we caught up with the legendary trance king, Armin van Buuren, to catch up and talk about his set, the evolution of trance, his side projects, his best sets, and what he’s got in store for us in the coming months (psst a new album). Read on for the full interview.
EDMTunes: What’s up guys? I’m Scott from EDMTunes and I’m here with Armin van Buuren at EDC Orlando 2023. So, tell us how it feels to be here for….well, how many times have you played EDC Orlando?
Armin van Buuren: Oh honestly, I can’t remember. I think this is the third time or fourth time. Okay? Yeah, big difference since then. It’s amazing.
EDMTunes: What is it about the Orlando scene that you find interesting and brings you back here?
Armin van Buuren: The massive crowd. I mean, honestly, when when I heard first heard about it, and EDC East Coast, I was like, is that gonna work? Because, you know, it’s so big on the West Coast. But it brings kind of a similar vibe and apparently, there are many people who just want to enjoy this music. There are a lot of fans of EDC here, so just excited to be here.
EDMTunes: Absolutely So, the trance scene has been going through a lot of change over the past few years. There’s been a big shift towards the melodic and techno sounds. As somebody who’s a front-runner in terms of the trance sound, tell us what you think about the evolution of trance and where you think it’s headed.
Armin van Buuren: I think it’s exciting that a lot of techno guys are embracing melodies again. Honestly, I don’t really care too much about the whole what is trance what is techno discussion. For me, it’s just a breath of fresh air to finally be able to play higher BPMs again and to hear that sound. You know that we’ve always been supporting this and now it’s being accepted again….and it’s great, it feels great. I mean it just feels like I’m coming home again. During the Amsterdam Dance Event, I did a b2b set with Kiki, one of the new Dutch up-and-coming DJs. She’s super famous in the Netherlands and I played a set with her and didn’t go below 145 bpm and it was just hard trance, but it really reminded me of the early days when I was playing vinyl and I played clubs like Gate Crusher in the UK, and Godskitchen and Cream Liverpool and stuff like that, it really reminded me of that age are for me, it’s like coming. And I really, really enjoy it.
EDMTunes: So along those lines, something I’ve always thought about is that the GAIA project kind of lends itself to that kind of sound. So, do you have any plans to bring the GAIA project back and really dive into that trance world?
Armin van Buuren: I’ve been teasing a few ideas, rough ideas, but I don’t know. if it’s going to be GAIA yet or something else. But I definitely want to do something with the GAIA project for sure. But you know we haven’t made up our minds yet so we haven’t made any final decisions but I hope to announce it soon.
EDMTunes: Okay awesome. So if somebody wants to hear an Armin van Buuren set init’s purest, tranciest form, where would you recommend they go?
Armin van Buuren: Oh, I guess I whould say a longer set because if I play a longer set it gives me more, you know, more space to experiment if you will, you know, like what I did with Untold Festival or playing in A State of Trance when I did a six-hour set on the Friday in February this year. For the occasion because we celebrated 1,000 episodes I went back down memory lane and played a lot of classics, which the fans absolutely love. So it was great, you know? And but I take pride in the fact that I’m still supporting a lot of new talent. I mean, I love classics stuff, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a good classic, but I think I want to stay away from playing just classics. I mean, I’ll definitely play the off classic in my sets and I’ll keep doing that because I love it, but there’s so much new talent at the moment. There’s so many new guys coming through; Guys I support on my label and on my radio show. We have a guest every week who flies into the studio in Amsterdam to play a set for us, and the response to that has been great. The Discord community is growing. There’s a lot of fans every week that tune into the show. So really excited!
EDMTunes: Who are some of those people that you want to plug that are like really hot and up and coming in trance, house, techno scene that you want to bring into the fold?
Armin van Buuren: So many, like I don’t even know where to begin. We’re just working on the lineup for A State of Trance in Rotterdam next year. It’s going to take place on the 23rd and 24th of February. It’s going to be Europe’s biggest trance festival indoors. We found a new home for it and, you know, we have some really really exciting names. You know, we have veterans, like, Ferry Corsten and those kind of people, but we also have like, brand new names like people like AVIRA from Canada, who I think is super amazing. Absolutely. I really like, guys, like Maarten de Jong, who’s doing amazing, XiJaro & Pitch, you know, they’re like the new guys, guys like Daxon. Many many guys and I’m really excited as well for like the more proggy kind of sounds like Miss Monique. Uh she’s amazing Waikiki and that whole sound is coming up. It feels finally like there’s a real big wave of new trance art is coming through. The guys from Superstring in the Netherlands. They play classics, but there’s hugely popular in the Netherlands and they bring a special atmosphere which again reminds me of the early days of DJing. So I think it’s exciting. I think, you know, for the trance people. You know it feels like the genre’s being embraced again and we never left.
EDMTunes: So what can we expect for your set tonight?
Armin van Buuren: So it’s a short set. An hour, 15. I’ve done my homework so I know kind of what people want to hear. It doesn’t mean I’m going to play everything, that people want to hear, but yeah, I have some new tracks I want to test out tonight. I’m gonna play my big hits of course, but short and it’s only an hour 15.
EDMTunes: So it’s going to be high-energy set, right?
Armin van Buuren: Exactly. And normally I play two or three hours which is more of a comfortable setting, but i enjoy it. I enjoy playing short sets because it’s like a different approach.
EDMTunes: The showcase.
Armin van Buuren: Yeah.
EDMTunes: So what can we expect from you for the rest of 2023 and into 2024?
Armin van Buuren: Just finished the State of Trance Yearmix. Actually, I’ll be announcing the tracklist soon. Still mastering it, But it’s another big addition. 20th edition can’t believe it. Wow. So it’s more than 100 tracks in the mix of less than two hours and showcases all the highlights. So that’s going to drop early, December and we’re going to do the Top 50 broadcast. I’m announcing my new album soon which is something I’m really excited about. That ‘This Is What It Feels Like’ remix that I’m opening with, is coming out end of the month, I think. ‘God is in the Sound Waves’, just doing extremely well. Happy to say. ‘Make it Count’, my new single is coming in December as well. And there’s a special edition of my album, Feel Again, coming around Christmas for all the special versions edits and remixes that we have lying around. So that’s the kind of the Christmas gift. And then next year, my, my big new single is already planned for early January, I won’t announce what it is yet but that’s already done and uploaded so it can’t go back on that one. And then yeah, it’s a fast-forward to the event in Rotterdam.
EDMTunes: All right, thank you so much.
Armin van Buuren: Thank you. Great Talking to you