A quick Q&A with Armin van Buuren about headlining Ultra SA and his career

2018-01-19 15:39

Cape Town - After more than two decades in the industry his name is synonymous with trance music, and despite his iconic reputation Armin van Buuren remains one of the hardest-working artists around.

The five-time Top 100 DJ winner hosts his weekly A State of Trance radio show – which broadcasts to an estimated 38 million listeners – every week, and is a mainstay of music festival stages around the world.

Tune in to a new @asotlive episode! #ASOT847 #ASOT #Trance

A post shared by Armin van Buuren (@arminvanbuuren) on

We chatted to the electronic music legend ahead of his headlining appearance at Ultra South Africa, which comes to Cape Town Stadium on Friday, 9 February and Johannesburg’s Expo Centre on Saturday, 10 February.

You’ve visited South Africa numerous times over the years. What are your best memories from your first trip to SA, or any other visits to our lovely country?

I know that whenever I visit South Africa, I always get such a warm welcome. Everyone here is just so loving and caring and really supportive of everything I do. And as a crowd during my shows, everyone is just really into it, going all out from start to finish. It gives me so much energy and it’s exactly why I keep coming back to South Africa for more. 

What are you looking forward to doing here this time?

Most of all, I’m looking forward to giving my fans from South Africa a show they’ll never forget. That’s my main purpose. Apart from that, I’m really looking forward to taking in the culture, because I find South Africa to be really inspiring on that front as well as on others.

You’ve travelled all over the world. Other than your hometown of Amsterdam, which is your favourite destination and why?

You know I won’t be able to choose just one. In all of the years as an artist, I’ve been to so many amazing countries and cities and I just lost count, let alone am able to pick one as my favourite. Every place in the world has its charm and that’s exactly what I love.

What can South African fans at Ultra SA 2018 expect from your performance?

A smashing live set that should blow everyone away. That’s what I’m hoping for and I’m confident my fans in South Africa will really enjoy it.

Which of your songs do you most enjoy playing when you’re performing?

At the moment, I’m really digging the club mix of Sunny Days. Plus, there’s always room in my set for Great Spirit, simply because it gets the crowd roaring every single time.

Who were your musical influences and heroes when you were growing up?

I’ve had tons. My parents were into a lot of different kinds of music, so I grew up with everything from classical music to jazz to The Beatles. As far as my musical heroes are concerned, I’d have to go for Jean-Michel Jarre and, on a more personal level, Ben Liebrand. I have a lot of respect for Jean-Michel as he’s the grandmaster of electronic music, and Ben helped me out a lot during the early stages of my career. They definitely were – and still are – my heroes.

When it comes to making music is there some kind of process you follow or a specific place or mood you need to be in?

I try to keep an open mind and to let inspiration guide me in whichever musical direction it wants to go. I’m the kind of guy who needs to get inspiration to really get in my zone, and for me a big part of that’s exploring uncharted musical territory. That way, I get magic.

SA duo Goldfish is signed to your record label, Armada Music. Are you good friends with Dominic and David?

I think Dominic and David are doing an amazing job. They’ve really nailed it in the signature sound department and I’m really happy to call them my friends and colleagues at the same time.

Which artists are on heavy rotation on your playlists?

A really diverse bunch of artists, that’s for sure. But if you’re looking for an answer involving trance artists, I’d have to say Davey Asprey, Radion6, Protoculture, KhoMha and Neelix are most definitely on my shortlist.

You have two kids, right? When you’re on tour for long periods how do you stay in touch? 


What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever done or sent to you?

Oh, that’s such a tough choice. I’ve had fans bake me cakes or draw an almost life-sized portrait of me. No matter how big or small it is, I really appreciate what my fans do for me. They’re the ones who make this job the best in the world.

Is there anyone you’d still love to collaborate with?

I’d love to work with anybody who has a good idea or great vision when it comes to music. I always try to stay open-minded and to go in some kind of musical direction I’ve not explored before, and collaborating with other talented individuals is the way to do so for me.

Tell us something interesting we wouldn’t know about you.

I’m a sucker for a good game. Whenever I have spare time, I like to lock myself in my man cave with a game that sucks me right in. Uncharted 4, for instance, was a game I genuinely enjoyed playing some time ago.

If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you’d be? Did you ever want to be anything else?

Back when my career was still in its early stages, I knew I had to have a backup plan in case things didn’t work out. So amid all the touring and making music I was also busy trying to obtain a degree in law. By the time I got one I was already earning my living with music, so I never did have much need for it afterwards. And frankly, I couldn’t even imagine a life in which music wouldn’t play an important part. I’m happy it worked out this way.

Click here to see the full line-up for Ultra South Africa 2018

Read more on:    music

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.