Ex­clu­sive: Ar­min Van Bu­uren on Myan­mar, trance mu­sic and meet­ing the King

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - MYO SATT

ELEC­TRONIC dance mu­sic has ex­ploded onto the Myan­mar scene in re­cent years, with world-fa­mous DJs such as Afro­jack and R3hab play­ing sold-out shows around the coun­try.

But to­day, five-time No 1 DJ in the world Ar­min Van Bu­uren is set to head­line the We Are Con­nected mu­sic fes­ti­val at ONE En­ter­tain­ment Park in Thin­gangyun town­ship. A na­tive of the Nether­lands, the Grammy-nom­i­nated DJ ar­rived in Myan­mar on Novem­ber 21 to pre­pare for his set.

The Myan­mar Times had a chance to catch up with him yes­ter­day about his ex­pe­ri­ence so far in the Golden Land, as well as his thoughts on EDM’s re­cent boom in pop­u­lar­ity. (We also got him to talk about meet­ing the King of the Nether­lands.)

So how do you find Myan­mar?

I’m su­per-ex­cited to be here. I do a weekly ra­dio show, A State of Trance, and on the show, I en­gage with so­cial me­dia to check the re­ac­tions to mu­sic I’m pro­duc­ing. Nor­mally peo­ple are like, “When will you come to Aus­tralia?” or “When will you come to Ar­gentina?” But lately, more peo­ple have been ask­ing, “When will you come to Myan­mar?”

Now I’m here, and I’m very ex­cited that many of my fans are al­ready wait­ing. I think this is a re­ally great coun­try – peo­ple have been su­per-friendly and I feel very safe. So far, I’m en­joy­ing the fact that it’s so sunny.

You’re here now, and other DJs such as Hard­well, Yel­low Claw and Martin Gar­rix are planning to come in the next few months. Why do you think Myan­mar fans have em­braced EDM so tightly?

I think it’s re­ally great that the peo­ple em­brace DJ cul­ture and dance mu­sic. I think dance mu­sic, right now, is as pop­u­lar as The Bea­tles were in the 60s. It’s ap­peal­ing to a lot of young peo­ple, and even pop mu­sic on the ra­dio of­ten has dance mu­sic beats be­hind it. Hav­ing so many fes­ti­vals and DJs in Myan­mar is a pretty new thing, but I think it’s re­ally great – peo­ple have a lot to choose from. They can see which artists they like. We love the com­pe­ti­tion be­cause we have to do our very best if other fes­ti­vals are com­ing soon af­ter us. We want to be very spe­cial – I’m not just here to press play and throw my hands up. Peo­ple will see a com­plete show, with vi­su­als. Hope­fully we blow them away.

Who are the up-and-com­ing DJs fans should be look­ing out for?

I’m su­per-ex­cited about guys like David Grav­ell, Reuben de Ronde, Or­jan Nilsen, MaRLo and An­drew Rayel.

In 2014, your song “This Is What It Feels Like” was nom­i­nated for a Best Dance Record­ing Grammy Award, mak­ing you the first trance mu­sic DJ to ever be nom­i­nated. What was that ex­pe­ri­ence like, and what are your goals from here?

I mean it was a re­ally great mo­ment in my life. At the time, I was tour­ing in Aus­tralia. I was sit­ting in the artist wait­ing area and I saw some­body men­tion it on Twit­ter. I was like, “WHAT!” It’s still the high­light of my ca­reer. Win­ning a Grammy is ab­so­lutely one of my re­main­ing goals, but it’s also some­thing you can’t con­trol, ya know? So I just want to keep mak­ing mu­sic.

As a lead­ing pi­o­neer of trance mu­sic, what do you think the fu­ture holds for the genre?

What I’m see­ing in trance mu­sic right now is a lot of di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion. Trance mu­sic is not just one genre any more – we have up­lift­ing, psy­che­delic, vo­cal, tech … so many dif­fer­ent types of trance com­ing out. Ev­ery sub­genre has its own fol­low­ing.

One event we will hold next year in Fe­bru­ary will have four dif­fer­ent ar­eas with four dif­fer­ent types of trance. So the amaz­ing thing about this – in an­swer to your ques­tion – is the fact that trance mu­sic is grow­ing so fast. Not just one type of song, but many types that re­main very melodic and emo­tional. I’m su­per happy about that.

You had a chance to meet King WilemAlexan­der of the Nether­lands in 2013 at his in­au­gu­ra­tion. What was that mo­ment like for you, to meet your king?

It was in­cred­i­ble be­cause it wasn’t planned. I was play­ing in the cel­e­bra­tion af­ter his corona­tion, and they [the roy­als] were hop­ping on the boat. The idea was that they would stop by sev­eral of the events tak­ing place. So there’s 5 mil­lion peo­ple watch­ing the live broad­cast on tele­vi­sion, and I’m the last stop on their tour. I was ac­tu­ally play­ing with the royal sym­phony orches­tra.

So what hap­pened was, he ac­tu­ally got off the boat, he came on stage and he shook my hand. He did that un­scripted. To get a handshake from the newly crowned king in front of 5 mil­lion peo­ple watchin on TV and 25,000 peo­ple danc­ing in front of you … It was very spe­cial.

You earned a law de­gree in 2003 from Lei­den Univer­sity. Do you ever get to use it?

I’m not ex­actly de­fend­ing cases. But it’s re­ally good to know a lot about tax and copy­right laws when you have to read the con­tracts about the mu­sic that you are re­leas­ing. It’s also good to know a lot about in­ter­na­tional tax laws be­cause I have to pay taxes in many coun­tries.

Van Bu­u­ran will per­form tonight as the head­liner of a line-up that in­cludes Fire­beatz, MaRLo, Bass­jack­ers, Hus­man, Deuce and lo­cal DJ Ken­drick start­ing at 4pm. Tick­ets are avail­able for K35,000.

Photo: Facebook/Ar­min Van Bu­uren

Photo: Aung Htay Hlaing

Ar­min Van Bu­uren (cen­tre, black shirt) poses with or­gan­is­ers at a press con­fer­ence ahead of to­day’s show.

Photo: Aung Htay Hlaing

Van Bu­uren plays to­day at ONE En­ter­tain­ment Park in Thin­gangyun Town­ship.

Photo: Facebook/Ar­min Van Bu­uren

The Nether­lands na­tive has played shows around the world and been ranked the world’s No 1 DJ five times by DJ Mag.

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