Armin van Buuren: "I don’t want to be a jukebox at a festival"

Image for Armin van Buuren: "I don’t want to be a jukebox at a festival"

Regardless of where you stand on his musical output, you can’t help but admire the tenacity of Armin van Buuren. The Dutchman never seems to stop moving, and he manages his punishing schedule with a kind of superhuman enthusiasm. Tune in to the A State Of Trance radio show and you never sense a crack in his professional zeal. See him DJ and no matter how many shows he’s played that week, he’s still unmistakeably Armin: bouncing around, beaming and, yes, Jesus posing like it’s all new to him.

It tends to be the same for interviews, too. In the seven-odd times I’ve talked to Armin van Buuren, he’s always presented a polished demeanour, thanking inthemix for our support and answering each question with ease. There are a couple of recurring themes in how he speaks to journalists: the phrase “don’t be a prisoner of your own style” invariably comes up and he’ll almost certainly use food as an analogy (twice, actually, in this interview).

Inquire in the right way, though, and he’ll divert from the well-scripted path. Recently, he’s started to speak his mind more freely on some of the topics that bother him. As you’ll read here, we discussed what he sees as narrow-mindedness from some fans and also a trend towards easy wins by “these new DJs” he now shares festival mainstages with.

You can understand Armin’s occasional gripes. The ‘narrow-minded fans’ observation followed the response to his football anthem We Are Here To Make Some Noise, which had some devotees declaring their hero was now a ‘trouse’ defector. Away from the insular world of keyboard warriors, though, he’s still one of the world’s most bankable, and loved, names in dance music. Not to mention the busiest. We had just eight minutes to talk this time, but it was an illuminating back-and-forth.

Did you expect a bit of backlash to We Are Here To Make Some Noise?
You know, it’s a gimmick track. It won’t fit on my new album. Let me tell you the story. I’ve been working on the new album, and I have 40 or 50 layouts for the tracks, and the first three singles are done. The album’s going to be more trance-y.

I had this track lying around and my publisher said, “Radio 538 wants you to do an anthem for the European Championship”, so I played him that gimmick track that I had, and he said, “This is exactly what they’re after.” I said people are never going to believe it’s me, but I like it. Overall, the reaction has been amazing; it’s number 32 on the charts in Holland, and in Russia and Poland it’s doing really well.

My motto has always been, “Don’t be a prisoner of your own style”. I love steak, but sometimes you want to have fish. I miss the days sometimes when Sasha and John Digweed used to drop everything from deep house to trance-y stuff, and everything was possible. I think sometimes people are too narrow-minded for their own good. I’m not becoming a prog-house DJ by the way, not at all!

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angy said on the 30th May, 2012

Whether he's your cup of tea or not, Armin is a "proper" DJ and a genuine craftsman, no doubt about it.


Stocko12 said on the 30th May, 2012

agreed angy. will go down in history as one of the best.


josh_goods said on the 30th May, 2012

"The essence of DJing for me is a %u20181 plus 1 equals 3%u2019 rule: by playing those two records at that time, in that order, you%u2019re adding something extra. It%u2019s all about timing."

i guess if anyone was going to put it perfectly...


DeJaN27 said on the 31st May, 2012

That's why he's in a league of his own..


beanbagdan said on the 31st May, 2012

"I guess people don%u2019t have the patience for that anymore. We live for the quick fix" sadly so true Armin


katiecunningham said on the 31st May, 2012

Mmm now I feel like a steak

special ed

special ed said on the 31st May, 2012

yeah, i dont like the music Armin plays at all, but he is definitely the most down to earth and genuine DJ of his calibre. He does what he does brilliantly and authentically. And really that is what its all about at the end of the day.
great interview too jack


gowmesh said on the 31st May, 2012

Me and Armin grew up together... but then one day I finished school and got a job and while he was doing nothing and playing with his computer.... Look where is he now... Moral of the story... education ruins ur life and pink floyed backs me up on that


asadi said on the 1st Jun, 2012

top interview, can't help but admire him


joelfullstop said on the 1st Jun, 2012

It's good to see people speaking out like this.. Fatboy Slim at futures was definately a jukebox and all I wanted to hear were more of his own creations..

It's DJs like Armin that actually make me want to see their set because, well like he said "The essence of DJing for me is a %u20181 plus 1 equals 3%u2019 rule: by playing those two records at that time, in that order, you%u2019re adding something extra."


djpractice said on the 1st Jun, 2012

Lovely interview - I still have so much respect for the man (Even more so after discovering his Gaia - J%u2019ai Envie De Toi release!!)


Progrez said on the 4th Jun, 2012

All of the track this guy has produced over the past 4 years has been shit.

Cosmo Cater

Cosmo Cater said on the 5th Jun, 2012

"I think the scene has moved away from DJs being DJs to being an %u2018artist%u2019 just playing their own tracks." Nail on head, Armin.


JulesPLees said on the 6th Jun, 2012

armin van buuren was one of the main instigators in the path (commercial) festivals have gone down. he has never done anything other than PLay anthem after anthem - even when he was kind of half decent back in the early 00's.

he may not want to PLay like a jukebox to festivals but he does. and now instead of only anthems - he now just PLays all his own Armada stuff and not much else.

then he cries about the kids only wanting a quick fix ! maybe if he could get himself booked at a good festival (boom or something) he may have a chance to get all existential on our asses ala sasha n digweed (the old days - yes because in 10 years humanity has really, super, changed and evolved more than over the last 3million) FOR FUCKS SAKE!

thing is back when sasha and diggers were peaking they were doing it in an underground environment to underground peoPLe.


so yeah keep doing your Arthur Fonzerilli impersonation armin - knock that jukebox, pull your jesus pose and rock around that fkn clock bitch. (armada sublabel mix)

Holy shit the humanity - my brain hurts.


djherckass said on the 6th Jun, 2012

Sadly Armin's dug his own hole with the music he pushes.. He hasnt the taste nor "construction" skill to not play like a Wurlitzer. He and 99% of all other trance dj's (J00f being a major exception) have made a name for themselves by pushing predictability, so everyone knows what theyre getting, just as if theyre pumping the coins in themselves.. Which in turn shapes and labels the crowd as well.. (no offence) Respect (imo) comes from the journey the dj takes you on, the twists and turns, the peaks and valleys, and the consistent solid groove driving it.

Just one douches opinion. Dont fry me kuhnts :)


caner1995 said on the 8th Jun, 2012

Of course trying new songs doesn't mean that you have chanced your style and it mustn't. it is more creative and that makes you popular.


rubbishtalk said on the 9th Jun, 2012

Can someone tell me what skills this guy actually has? He's playing records for fucks sake!!! And a laptop does most of the mixing for him.