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Paul Van Dyk: Some English DJs Don't Realize They're Nobodies in Germany

Author: Skrufff
Saturday, August 25, 2001
Starting his DJing career in 1988 at Berlin club Turbine, the former New Order and Smiths fan rapidly became one of the city's most popular jocks, becoming the resident at E-Werk's Dubmission Night and rapidly building his production capabilities. Helping pioneer Germany's first wave of techno and trance (alongside the likes of Sven Vath, Oliver Lieb and Pascal F.E.O.S.) his big international break came when he took on a Gatecrasher residency in 1997(though from 1993, his records were increasingly crossing over). Becoming (briefly) synonymous with the Gatecrasher's cyberkids and their beloved melodic trance, he simultaneously continued his recording career and these days is arguably a bigger brand than Gatecrasher or it's famed musical sub genre (trance). In fact, Van Dyk has always been an innovator rather than a follower, which explains why for 13 years he's remained at or near the top of the DJ pops.

Paul Van Dyk is one of the world's most popular DJs, currently conquering worldwide club culture as easily as he first stormed the UK in 1997. He also remains a massive star at home in Germany, where he began his career just before the Berlin War came down. However, while UK clubbers have welcomed German DJs since Sven Vath and his Harthouse posse first crossed the channel, back in Germany, the story's been different. Most British jocks in fact, remain unknown and invisible in what remains the second biggest dance market in the world. "No one really knows Sasha outside Berlin and the only reason they know him here is because we had him play a couple of times at our parties," Van Dyk told Skrufff's Manila correspondent Twinky Lagdameo this week. "If we brought Paul Oakenfold here, we wouldn't get one more person."

Skrufff: Why do you think dance music has become so popular worldwide over the last few years-
Paul Van Dyk: "I believe people actually like going out and enjoying themselves. I don't think they like to go out just to get drunk or whatever. Dance music has such positive energy and that is what people are looking for when they go out. When we started, it was like a sub-culture, it was something we had to look out for. Nowadays, it's a whole youth culture. Imagine if you were 18 years old now, there wouldn't be a time when there was no techno. They are growing up with I so it's much more natural for them than it was for us ten years ago. They're not listening to the big pop stars of the 80's like Michael Jackson or The Smiths because those people are not around for them anymore."

Skrufff: What are the principle positives and negatives behind your success-
Paul Van Dyk: "I'm pretty sure that people would say that the good side is the travelling and the bad side is that people are always looking at what you're doing which puts you under pressure. I'm absolutely not like this. For me, as a person, I'm just Paul. I don't really care if people refer to me as 'one of the most famous DJ's or whatever' so when I'm in the studio, I feel absolutely free to do what I want to do. Obviously, I'm very fortunate that people like what I'm doing, but the thing is, I wouldn't change a note if it wasn't that way. What people don't really understand, is that to play a role in this part of the scene, on this level, involves a lot of work. It's not just travelling around and playing a couple of hours somewhere. There's always a lot of work that needs to be done in the background."

Skrufff: You recently DJed in South Africa, how are you able to engage with a place when you spend such little time there-
Paul Van Dyk: "The thing is, people like what I play. That's why I'm there so they're expecting that I play the same thing that I play in Europe or the States, They don't want me to adjust my set to wherever I am.

Skrufff: What have been some of the unexpected benefits of success-
Paul Van Dyk: "Many people think 'Oh, he's famous' and that it's all good benefits but in fact, there are many negative effects too. Some p