Paul Van Dyk Talks About New album, Changes in Music Industry

Quite possibly the world’s most successful DJ, Paul Van Dyk has in a 21 year career notched up over 67 awards, DJ’ed to possibly the largest crowd ever (approx 1 million people on Barra Beach, Rio De Janeiro, New Years 2008/9) and more or less single handedly put Trance into the spotlight.

His latest album, Evolution was released on the 20th of August. Music-News caught up with Paul shortly after his appearance on his own Evolution Stage at SW4 Festival.

You’ve just released a 19 track album, Evolution, after 5 years in waiting - It's had positive reviews from as far away as India. Tell us a bit about how the album came about?

Well, I’ve not been lazy! I’ve been pursuing a few other things that I’ve always wanted to do - I’ve been composing music for video games, I’ve been doing work with classical orchestras. The music industry has changed so much over the last few years that I felt it was time to restructure my brand’s set up so all that took a bit of time. Once all that was done and I felt it was complete I went back into the studio.

It took 10 months to make - did you sit down and plan the album out end-to-end or was it just a case of experimenting with different tracks and pulling the right ones together?

The way it works is when I play live I actually have my studio on stage, I have two computers, custom made mixers, keyboards, the works, if it’s not on stage it’s in my hotel room -it’s always travelling with me, so I always have the possibility of making music and creating layouts. This made this last album very interesting because I sort of involved my audience in the composing process. In particular tracks ‘Symmetries’ and ‘Verano’, i had the drums, I had the layout I had the basic synth keys and I played the hook line in front of the crowd, and I made some variations until I found the one that stuck the best with the crowd. So parts of the album have been composed, tried and tested in front of live audiences. That was an interesting process and now means I in effect produce new music every single day, live or in the studio.

You’ve got quite a comprehensive, live set-up. Do you think that’s becoming increasingly the norm for DJs as audiences become more demanding?

For me, over these years I’ve developed the same passion for production as I have for DJing. As soon as technology was at the point that it was possible to bring production elements on stage I did that. I think for at least 10 years I’ve been doing that. As technology became more and more advanced over time, my sets have become more and more ‘live’ than conventional DJing. But, for now, I think the majority still travel just with a USB stick!

You’ve DJ’ed all over the world. How do you feel the British Trance scene compares to the European or the US one?

For Britain, all I can say is I had one of my best ever times at SW4 this year! It was absolutely phenomenal - thumbs up to the UK crowd, thumbs up to the festival, thumbs up to everyone that made it down. You guys as a crowd really stand out!

As an international act, you’ve had huge support from places as far away as Mexico, India. Aside from the traditional powerhouses of central Europe and the US, where do you feel the next scene will be?

The thing is, from a touring DJ’s point of view - Electronic is already absolutely everywhere. Everywhere I land people love this music. I think what we in Europe will dub ‘the next big place’ is probably already an established, happening scene its just our focus will shift to that place maybe they’ll be more news alerts from this place, more people flying out to festivals there, but in effect it’ll be somewhere already happening that’s just not on our radar as of yet.

Dubstep, drum and bass, bass music have all recently, dramatically cracked the mainstream. Trance perhaps arguably was one of the first electronic genres to do that - largely due to your own contributions. Do you feel Trance ever will return to the charts?

The first thing I want to say is I never actually called the music I make ‘Trance’. It’s not something I suddenly invented for my own music. I’ve said this right from my first interviews back in 1994. I think for the whole genre of electronic music there are common elements. I feel in my own music there are as many elements of drum and bass, of dubstep, as there is house. This is what makes electronic music so exciting. Just doing one thing would be really boring for me. This is why my music is the way it is. Even looking at some of my work like “Time of Our Lives” or “For An Angel” or “Another Way” they’re all songs that crossed over into the mainstream and they’re not what’s traditionally called Trance. You’ll always find stuff I’ve done or played in my sets which has nothing to do with what people call Trance. I remember doing interviews with presenters in Mexico who asked about my new album having house influences, and asking if this was new. I said: ‘Listen to my previous album, Seven Ways - there’s clearly house influences there” I feel these terms are obsolete - it’s about creating music that’s exciting and if there’s a track that features more trancey elements and it’s really good - then it’ll get played on the radio, it’s no more complicated than that.

Right now however, particularly in the UK, the dubstep/ bass sound, it’s the new ‘urban-culture’ theme which resonates well with the likes of Radio 1 and other radio stations and its a good ‘festival sound’ which is probably why it’s so popular right now.

You’ve won a string of awards for various DJ magazines - at the moment these magazines are in trouble to an extent - from your angle, do you feel music coverage will all move online or will magazines remain?

it’s a difficult thing really. Modern society is very digital. People read newspapers online. At the same time I still believe its necessary to have proper music journalists who really are experts and can summarise and inform people who just don’t have the time to listen to tons and tons of tracks every day. Music journalists do carry a massive responsibility, even more so these days than before as you need have some proper expertise against the general blogosphere to inject back into the music press.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists?

You have to do what you feel is right for you. There’s a mass of productions out there, you need to go out there and be individual to make your mark. You need to like what you make because at the end of the day you need to go out and play in front of people and you need to convince them that what you’re doing is really good. So you need to be authentic and believe in it yourself.

Paul Van Dyk's new album Evolution is available on Itunes, Amazon and at other retailers now. For more info head to Paul Van Dyk Official Site