Armin van Buuren Biographie

Armin van Buuren is a happy man, and with good reason. Holding firm at
Number 1 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 . and beyond. 2005 has brought two new significant awards (Best
Radio Show, and Best Compilation for A State of Trance 2004 at the Miami
Winter Music Conference Awards), and a stunning new artist album, Shivers,
showcasing his debut as a songwriter.

Affronted by the cheesy tag that dogged it for a brief time real trance has
continued to grow unabated, and the WMC awards reflect Armin's success in
producing and playing quality tunes that both excite existing fans and
bring new people to the scene. "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. 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 (on December 25, 1976) 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", while 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!"

In the early 90s, Holland's upfront dance scene meant that although Armin
was too young to go clubbing, he knew the music inside out from listening
to the radio. "I loved dance music immediately . this great rebellious
sound that was so different to the 'beautiful' songs of the 80s". Citing
electronic pioneer Jean Michel Jarre as a major influence (famed for his
awesome visuals as well as his groundbreaking synth sounds), as well as
Dutch producer Ben Liebrand, who later mentored him in his mixing and
producing, Armin was soon cracking out consistently stand-out tunes that
graced compilations across the globe, and his DJ bookings were looking
pretty healthy to boot. But despite his music career taking off at such an
early age, Armin thought it was wise to have something extra in case the
DJing didn't work out, and studied for a law degree. He actually got a job
offer with a law firm but says it's not really his thing, though he does
acknowledge he'd look good in a suit...

The final year of his course was inevitably stretched as he juggled his
studies with his increasingly hectic schedule; his meteoric rise to fame
included a slew of acclaimed productions and remixes, as well as playing
out to packed clubs every weekend resonating with the vibe of thousands of
happy party people. He took three years to graduate, but with typical
determination saw it out to the end.

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 Solar Stone's 7 Cities, as well
as high profile collaborations with his peers.

While the remix offers now flood in, Armin only takes on tunes that he
really loves, and that "I wish I'd made myself!" His compilations strive to
follow that precedent, always comprising the cream of his current favourite
tracks and mixes. It's what keeps him one step ahead. His desire to
showcase more of the wealth of good music out there, along with the number
of people sending him tracks they wanted to release, led to the obvious
step of starting his own label, Armada, in 2003.

"Maykel Piron was head of A&R for Warner Music, and we always said we'd
start a label together, though there was always an element of bragging! I
took him to Ibiza for a weekend, and during the trip we sat on the terrace
and started talking. He felt like he wanted a new challenge, and so did I".
They teamed up with a third partner, David Lewis, who'd previously managed
Armin, and the venture flourished. "What we wanted was a company that could
offer everything for an artist: representation, a booking agency, and a
record company. Artists can choose full management, or to just release a
record or play out at gigs. Armada lets the artists choose what they want
without telling them what to do".

Freedom is something that Armin fully appreciates as an artist, and all the
tracks on his compilations are tried and tested. "Production gives you more
freedom 'cos you can experiment more, it can be less obvious than DJing.
Whatever - it's the best life there is! It has to do with taste. I don't
often get to hear other DJs' sets, but I like that I'm not particularly
influenced by anyone else. Some of my sets have influences of house or
breaks, but I still have a certain sound that's my own". He honed his sound
on 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. Basically everything
I'd learned in the past 10 years fiddling around in my bedroom with
equipment culminated in this album."

Undaunted by the stir that his first offering caused, Armin has pushed
himself further with his much anticipated second artist album, Shivers (out
summer 2005). The title track has already dented the charts, and the second
single is the anthem for massive Dutch party Sensation White. Armin jetted
round the world for collaborations with the likes of Gabriel and Dresden,
with whom he recorded in San Francisco and the honey-voiced Nadia Ali of
iio: "We recorded a track in New York, and I'm really really proud of it! I
wanted to take things a little bit further with the album . my definition
of an artist album is something you can put on at home or in the car and
really listen to . so it's 10 brand new tracks that are very diverse,
probably the most diverse things I've ever done. As a DJ you always have to
take the crowd into account, but as an artist you have the freedom to make
whatever you like, and I find that much more exciting creatively than being
bound to that four to the floor or break beat or whatever. Shivers will
appeal to a much bigger audience than 76, because it has a lot of rock and
pop influences in addition to trance influences. 76 was almost like a 'best
of' compilation because a lot of my earlier works were on there - it was
sort of ending an era. Shivers is the work I've done in the last two years.
It was also a real luxury as I had about 20 tracks by the time I needed to
finish it, and I only selected 10 . as I worked the album just got better
and better, so it was like drawing a line and saying 'that's it'. It's
really hard to let go to be honest, to stop the creative process!"

In fact, finishing Shivers has had the opposite effect and seems more of a
start than an end. Clearly on form for a third album, ("I'm already working
on it" admits Armin) the experience of making this one has opened a world
of possibilities. "It was particularly interesting for me as I've really
raised the bar this time in terms of song writing rather than purely
thinking technically. I think technically, I know everything about trance
and dance - I know how to make it, I know a lot about software and
computers, but what I hadn't had time to invest in enough was actual song
writing, song structure, arranging, composing, that's something a little
bit new for me. Fortunately I've found the right people to work with . I
know about dance music and they know about song writing - so it's been a
perfect amalgamation of the two."

After four years of fronting his own weekly radio show, A State Of Trance,
Armin signed a deal with The Radio Department (also home to John Digweed
and Carl Cox's shows) to distribute it internationally. Now online and on
fm stations, his website details who is already broadcasting it . and the
list is still growing. "There's more new listeners because more people can
access it now. 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!"

Post-album, Armin says he'll be "taking it easy for a bit". Taking it easy
Armin-style includes touring America (where he has a huge following) with
Paul Oakenfold, who will then join Armin at his Armada night in Ibiza, a
tour to promote Shivers, a huge event at the end of 2005 in Holland, and of
course, the radio show, as well as focusing on new songs "when I get the
time."

"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".