By: Forward Musiq
This Sunday we return with a bang and give you our weekly article on one of the finest pioneers of trance, Armin van Buuren.
It’s no surprise he is the best of the best when it comes to trance. Many have tried to usurp his title, but the talented Armin van Buuren has managed to be at the top of his game after almost 20 years DJ’ing. Only recently was he polemically stepped down as the world’s best DJ (By David Guetta, on DJ MAG’s Top 100 Dj’s), a title he had held since 2007. He’s head of the most popular dance radio show on the planet, A State of Trance, and well, frankly, without him trance would not be where it has been all these years, not to say he hasn’t had help from fellow trance lords such as Paul Van Dyk and Ferry Corsten. In short words, Armin could be described as a guru of Trance, a fierce defender of the genre and a god at what he does best, give our ears the magic of trance music.
Early Years: 1995-1999
He was born in Leiden Netherlands on the 25th of December of 1976 and he grew up in Koudekerk aan den Rijn. He started making music when he was but 14 years old, inspired by legendary French electronic composer, Jean Michel Jarre, setting out to become a great music composer just like him. While studying law at Leiden University, he became involved even more with music and with the art of DJ’ing, eventually working as a DJ in a local club called Nexus. He began to take more interest in electronic music and put his law studies on hold, coming back in 2003 to finish his degree.
Armin released his first majorly succesful track, entitled Blue Fear, in 1995, under the label Cyber Records. At 19 years old he soon began to make a name for himself. He then released another hit track entitled Communication, which became a hit in Ibiza during the summer of 1999. Before his eventual success in the Spanish electronic dance capital of the world, Armin learned the ropes of being a DJ in a the local club back in the Netherlands called Nexus. It was here where he frequently made sets that lasted from six to seven hours, and played more than four times per week on holidays. From here on, Armin’s fame only continued to rise as he entered DJ MAG’s Top 100 in 2001, reaching number 27 on the list. In 1999 he founded his own label, Armind, which is part of the greater label (also founded by Armin himself), Armada Music.
A State Of Trance
A State Of Trance is what can be described as one of Armin van Buuren’s top achievements in the EDM scene. ASOT, as it is often called, is basically a two hour weekly radio show where Armin himself presents to the world the newest in trance music, as well as commercial hits. Since it’s debut on June 1, 2001, ASOT has continued to grow exponentially and with might. in 2012, the show celebrated it’s 550 episode by doing a world tour presenting the best of the best of trance. Armin himself was caught saying he could have never dreamed of the show reaching this benchmark, since he had planned to stop doing it when he felt the show had reached it’s climax. The shows feature regular segments such as Tune of the Week, Future Favorite and ASOT Radio Classic. Armin has also released a compilation double CD mix titled A State of Trance, each year since 2004. This year (2013) ASOT is currently celebrating it’s 600 episode, with a massive world tour amassing cities from around the world such as Dubai, Sau Paulo, Mexico City, Miami and Den Bosch.
Armin’s 2003 debut studio album 76 (appropriately named for a seventy-six minute album) received positive as well as negative criticisms. On one hand, the album promised a revival—or a transformation—of Trance music as an EDM genre in line with other productions from producers such as Paul Oakenfold. On the other, it was given to be an obstacle of EDM and somewhat repetitive. Armin’s 2003 update of the hit single, “Blue Fear”, and a collaboration with Dutch DJ Ferry Corsten (then under the stagename “System F”), “From the Heart”, are the flagship songs of Armin’s debut. While the album per se doesn’t offer groundbreaking beats or a fresh idea of what Trance is or could be, conservative Dutch Trance fans and Trance fans, in general, can enjoy pure progressive EDM.
Gradually becoming a legend among trance fans and making a name for himself as a world-class remixer and live performer, van Buuren released his second studio album, Shivers, in 2005. In this album, van Buuren releases collaborations with singers such as Nadia Ali, Michael Burns and Julia Suissa, thereby emphasizing vocals mixed with his music. It also included a collaboration with American trance duo Gabriel & Dresden. The album pronounces Armin’s versatility as well as his limits more than his previous studio album; “Wall of Sound” looks to be Armin’s most versatile and fulfilling track. Shivers enjoyed more positive criticisms than his previous studio album and paved the way for more aforementioned world-class recognition.
In 2008, Armin van Buuren released his most musically versatile, energetic and popular album, Imagine. The initial track, “Imagine” takes its place as the headline track with entrancing basslines and near-perfected melodies and synths, “In and Out of Love” with Sharon den Adel and “Face to Face” stormed clubs with pulsating romantic beats and “Unforgivable”, “Never Say Never” and “What If” became House-like energetic tracks. This third studio album hit #4 in the US Billboard’s Top Electronic Albums Chart and #1 in the Dutch Albums Chart. It was no secret then that Armin van Buuren would be chosen as DJ Mag’s #1 DJ for three years in a row, from 2007 until 2009.
Armin’s latest full length album, Mirage is in short words, pure Armin van Buuren. No other musical piece can exemplify to what extent Armin’s musical genius reaches. Some tracks that stand out in the album are the powerfully epic Mirage, the romantic This Light Between Us and These Silent Hearts, the uplifting Feels So Good, and the pounding and astonishing Orbion and Minack wich featured Ferry Corsten. The album peaked at number 3 in the Dutch Albums Chart and second in the Russian Albums Chart. It also reached number 5 in the US Dance/Electronic Albums Chart.
Armin Only is basically a full night event featuring Armin van Buuren, where he plays for up to 7 hours straight, featuring vocalists such as Nadia Ali, Racoon, Ilse de Lange and Audrey Gallagher. The event regularly features dazzling light shows, laser and firework displays and many other features, making it one of Armin’s assets when it comes to being the best of the best in the DJ world. A notable fact that amounts to the affirmation is the fact that the man DJ’s for 7 hours straight, a feat not many DJ’s can acomplish.
Armin van Buuren
Armin van Buuren, the legend of electronic music, a titan of musical notes, the God of Trance. What he has done in only a 20 years, is worthy enough to include his name in the halls of the best musicians in the world. But talent alone has not lead him to his throne as the world’s best DJ, for his love in the art of DJ’ing has brought him there. No other man puts so much love and passion into what he does. And we are glad he does so, for this is the true meaning of what it means to be an artist. He once said that an artist should not limit himself to one genre, that he should be open to many others; words the man himself lives by, for his respect and love for all the other genres that compose EDM is well known. Armin represents to the world what electronic dance music really is, love and pure passion, and we are glad he stands proud as one of the select few who are honored to be called the greatest in music.
I would like to thank Fernando Lopez Ojeda for helping me write the article, specially on the paragraphs on the album’s 76, Shivers and Imagine.