I’ve been listening to Armin van Buuren for around 20 years. Every Thursday evening tuning into his A State of Trance radio show – smashing out the latest in Trance and Progressive every single week. Armin has risen to become one of the world’s most well-known DJ’s, every year features very highly (usually in the top 5) in DJ Mag’s poll.
Armin’s tour schedule is gruelling, travelling the world to the biggest festivals and largest events and bringing joy to hundreds of thousands of revellers at every single one. It’s fair to say I’m a die-hard fan, I’ve seen him in London numerous times and my first international trip to Amsterdam to attend his ‘This is Me: Feel Again’ event. The event was originally scheduled to take place in 2020 but with the rise of COVID the event had to keep being pushed back but it turned out that may have been some sort of divine intervention. It’s fair to say the event was spectacular with the greatest production and sound as you’d expect from such a prominent musician. But on the face of it, this was the event that was going to revive Armin in a way that we didn’t expect.
Prior to this tour and behind the scenes, Armin was struggling. He was doing more tours than ever, and this was taking a massive toll on his mental health. COVID and the lockdowns were a time to reflect, to rest and to take stock of what was important and this is when ‘This is Me’ was devised. A deeply personal set of albums culminating in the event in Amsterdam that I attended.
It wasn’t until I was at the event that I realised quite how personal a show it was going to be. With loads of VTs of Armin talking frankly about how he felt, how difficult he had been finding life and how much of a toll this was taking on him in his day-to-day life. During the gigs he was living off the energy (there’s a good track if you haven’t heard it!) from the crowds and then when the gig ended, dropping to very low lows.
This Is Me was a cathartic event that Armin needed in his life, to be able to move on from the old way of life and to somehow move forward. The event was no doubt an eye-opener for all around him to see that he couldn’t carry on in the way he was.
Now, two years later, This is Me: Feel Again has been released digitally for us all to experience. It’s one of the most frank, honest and vulnerable events I’ve ever been to and I’m so pleased it now gets to be shared with the world. I got to interview Armin for the release which you can see below. As you’ll see, it’s again a very vulnerable account of how he felt in that time two years ago and how things have changed since.
Thank you Armin for being so vulnerable during This is Me (and ever since). Was it hugely cathartic to put on a show so personal to you where you were so honest about your feelings?
Definitely. These shows, and especially those of such a personal nature, are an extension of who you are and what you feel. It’s an outlet too of some sorts; to be able to express all of that emotion through the things you love is so powerful, and sometimes even healing.
Since ‘This is Me’, have you felt that your work / life balance has improved?
Absolutely, although that has more to do with my recent album, ‘Feel Again’. It tells the story quite clearly; I needed to find myself and my love for music again and had to flip my routines to make that work. One of those things was reshaping my work-life balance. So definitely, yes.
I travelled from the UK to go to This is Me but my journey was short compared to the distances people come to travel to see you perform. Music brings people together and Trance seems to do it more than any other. What is it about Trance that you love so much and why do you think it resonates with people?
I get this question a lot, but I always find it hard to pinpoint what there is about trance music that connects people on such a deep level. For me personally, it’s the melodies that always get me. I find that they sweep me off my feet and amplify the emotion within. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way.
I struggle to remember the names of songs but end up singing the melody to friends to help me remember the titles. How often do you forget song titles or is it engrained in your brain?!
I think I remember a large majority of them, but there are surely a few where the melodies sticks with me more than the title does. I guess this is most often the case when a track changes titles a few times before release, haha.
Can you remember all the lyrics to Mr Navigator and can you sing it flawlessly in time with the music? (I can’t!) 🙂
I think I’d have to practice again. I actually could while we were creating the track, but I fell out of the habit of using the lyrics as daily affirmations as soon as I wake up in the morning. Sorry! 🙂
You’ve recently done collaborations with Sia and for a second time with Jean-Michel Jarre, who else would you most like to work with?
I’d love to work with Brian Eno one day!
The team around you is no doubt world-class and the production on your shows is always next level, how much involvement in the production do you have?
I like to be as involved as I possibly can, but I’ve learned to let go sometimes as well. I am blessed with a VERY capable team that I trust fully, and that truly is a gift.
How proud were you to get not just a ballerina in your show but also a didgeridoo?!
I love these little details. It adds extra personality to the shows and, as shown by this question, gives people another reason to remember my shows. So I’m always happy to include these things and proud when we pull it off!
Not really a question but as someone who has listened to ASOT for over 15 years, a massive thank you to you, Ruben and all your team for bringing incredible music to our lives for so long. You’re a truly gifted artist but more importantly, a wonderful person who wears his heart on his sleeve. Thank you so much for the joy that you bring to me and so many every single week!
Thank you so much for the kind words and support! I hope I can keep doing this for a long time to come and would love to have you all with me every step along the way.