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Armin Van Buuren interview: Armin Only

Author: Clare Dickins
Friday, March 3, 2006

Armin ain't happy. When you're chatting to him about his recent nine and 1/2 hour 'Armin Only' concert, don't go comparing it to 'Tiësto in Concert'. Armin thought of that idea first, ok.

"I've seen his DVD, but the 'Armin Only' concept started in 2001, which was way before Tiësto did his one. It's been the plan for a long time to bring 'Armin Only' to the big stage," he corrects.

So he copied you!

"No no no… the whole idea of doing back to back sets during 'Armin Only' and the whole idea of playing non stop for nine and 1/2 hours is totally different to what he did. I understand that people like compare our work because it's dance music and it's sort of a similar approach. But from my point of view it was the next logical step. It wasn't like I went 'Oh I'm going to copy Tijs' or something."

Ever since he burst onto the scene in 1996 as a 19 year old with the laser-kissed anthem Blue Fear, the boy from the Dutch city of Leiden has been making more of an impact than most. If Paul van Dyk and Tiësto are bona-fide trance kings, then everyone agrees the 29-year-old is heir to the thrown. Although with anal purists keen to throw the 'cheesy sellout' tags at his rivals, Armin holds firm as the underground's favourite.

In 2003, he released his debut album, the mediocre 76. The vastly improved Shivers was to follow - a credible LP considering the trance scene's hardly renowned for producing quality artist albums. Still, chat to van Buuren and his recent 'Armin Only' concert has been his resounding career highlight. He rejects the idea that the concert arose, in part, due to boredom with doing regulation three hours sets.

"I still like doing them, it's back to basics. What I did with 'Armin Only' was to try and integrate different DJ performances with a 9 and 1/2 hour DJ set, which was something different. The cool thing about being a DJ is, it's never the same," he enthuses. "If you're a rock artist you always play the same 30 songs and always play the same kind of venues, but being a DJ, one day you might be playing a room full of 700 people, but the next day you're playing a 35,000 people stadium.

"We worked on it for about a year and had a lot of rehearsals. You don't even want to know what went wrong! But because it's live on stage people don't even notice it. We re-rehearsed it so well that only the little things could go wrong," he explains. "The crowd was really great and everyone stayed to 7.30am in the morning, so that was a really emotional moment for me."

In recent times Above & Beyond's Tony McGuiness has become a vocal critic of Tiësto, suggesting that the Dutch star would be giving up club appearances to focus on corporate gigs. McGuiness also fuelled the widespread belief that Tiësto doesn't produce his own tracks and said that he "better watch out" with regards to the DJ mag Top 100 Poll, 'cause Above & Beyond aimed to be the best trance producers in the world.

Armin isn't impressed. "As much as I respect Tony, I think he crossed the line there. I think we owe a lot of respect to Tiësto because of what he's done for us; he's meant a lot to the scene and done a lot for me too," he says.

"I've made records with Tiësto, and yes I know, he can't play any keyboards, but him being there and his ideas were absolutely essential for the production. So I think it's a bit childish of Tony to say this and I didn't really expect it from him. I respect Tony a lot and I know him personally very well. But Tiësto is trying to take things a bit further; I haven't seen Above & Beyond sell out a football stadium on a two occasions, all within a few hours! I just think it's a lot of jealousy coming from him, which I think is a bit of a shame."

Still, Armin understands the tall poppy syndrome that comes with the territory of being an A-List DJ. It doesn't