Armin van Buuren is a happy man, and with good reason. Holding firm at Number 3 in the prestigious public-voted DJ Top 100, he's making the transition from talented young upstart to leading light in the echelons of trance. But it's not just Armin who's growing. Like a fine wine, trance is also aging nicely, leaving behind the awkward uncertainty of its teens to become more confident, self-assured and widely informed. Affronted by the cheesy tag that dogged it for a brief time, real trance has continued to grow unabated, and Armin's output reflects the quality tracks on offer to those looking further than the mainstream chart racks. "I think trance is becoming a broader term for a lot of different genres; it's no longer a specific kind of music within the dance scene," says Armin, widely credited with creating the blueprint track for the genre, Blue Fear, at the tender age of 19,. "Trance has elements of all different types of music. I play a lot of tracks that are labelled as progressive, tribal progressive, techno, trance, euphoric trance, vocal trance, melodic progressive These days it's really hard to label a specific sound. 2004 especially has shown that a lot of styles are mutating and evolving into this all-over new sound, which is basically dance music going back to its roots. There's so much good music out there and I don't want to limit myself to just one style."
Born in Leiden, Holland to a musical family - his dad had a serious penchant for a diverse range of genres including punk and electronica "to get rid of the stress of everyday life", whilst his brother is a prodigious guitar player - Armin indulged his passion for music from a young age, blowing all the money from his paper round on records. His mum won a computer when he was 10, "So as a little nerdy kid I was writing my own Basic programmes, and learnt about the technology from there." He progressed from making the usual tapes for his friends, put together on a cheap set of decks that he wore out learning to mix, after discovering his uncle experimenting with different sequences on his computer. "I was so amazed at what he was doing, since that moment I've been addicted to creating music!"
Armin's Blue Fear, a Sasha and Digweed staple, previewed his signature style: divine layering of sounds, lush chords and a continuous driving beat with that intangible added extra, the unique essence that sets quality tunes apart when you hear them in a set. His subsequent productions and remixes (too numerous to list here - chuck him into a google search if you've got a day to read the resulting titles), include Communication, Sound Of Goodbye, Burned With Desire, Touch Me, Free, Wamdue Project's King Of My Castle, Solid Sessions' Janeiro, and Madison Avenue's Don't Call Me Baby, as well as high profile collaborations with his peers Tiesto, Paul Van Dyk, Ferry Corsten et al.
After four years of fronting his own weekly radio show, A State Of Trance, Armin is taking a break from the airwaves with a view to doing something more international. "I think trance is a universal experience; it's one of the first musical genres that really showed its power through the internet, and I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for downloads!" Watch this space for news
Add to that his current status as No. 3 in DJ Mag's Top 100 Poll - behind Paul Van Dyk and Tiesto, with whom he regularly shares the bill at clubnights around the world - and it seems things couldn't be looking rosier for the trance scene or its young protégée.
Armin honed his sound on his debut artist album, 76, for which he scored a prestigious Dancestar Award 2004 nomination (Best New Artist Album). "I'd always wanted to do an album, but there'd never been the time or the money. Scoring the number five position in DJ's Top 100 poll the previous year helped to get labels interested, and I finally got to go into the studio. Now basically everything I've learned in the past 10 years fiddling around in my bedroom with equipment has culminated in this album - it's a great feeling!" Undaunted by the stir that his first offering caused, he's nearly finished the 'difficult' second album, due to drop in Winter 2005...
This nomination will do nothing to harm his already huge following in the States, where he tours regularly rocking sold out clubnights. Not that he's likely to get intimidated or burnt out by his initial success, mind.
"This is just what I want," says Armin. "It's not love for music, it's a passion, and it goes beyond liking, and beyond a hobby, it's about a way of living. Music is essential for my life".http://www.arminvanbuuren.com
1. Radio Edit
2. Rising Star Mix
3. Tribal Feel Mix
4. Birth Of An Angel