We spent the afternoon with Paul van Dyk ahead of the release of his latest full length, The Politics of Dancing 3
Hot on the heels of a massive headline slot at The Gallery, German legend Paul van Dyk has just released his hotly anticipated The Politics of Dancing 3, I went to meet him at his hotel before The Gallery gig to talk about everything from flights to Mars to The Big Bang Theory.
A lot of people who have gotten into dance music have done so in the past 5 years with the explosion of this genre in North America. Many new people don’t know about your early days as a DJ/Producer. Could you briefly tell us how PvD has evolved over the years?
PvD: There was actually a huge following for my music in the United States before the 'EDM' influx around 5 years ago. I remember playing huge shows in Los Angeles as early as 1994 or 1995 with around 10,000-15,000 people! I think what is happening right now is very different, we are now seeing a very marketing and corporate approach to that type of music and basically artists are moving away from the artist integrity for pop stardom. In terms of how I have changed, I think people should check my music out online and make their own judgements on its evolution. It’s hard for me to say, I love so many different facets of this music. My music has certain elements – it has melodies, a unique drive/energy to it and over the years it has definitely matured. As you grow more self-confident as an artist, you know how to bring the sound, and vibes, and feel of your music more effectively and I can say this has happened to me and many other artists as well.
Is there anything you miss dearly about your early days?
I’m not really somebody who looks back too much but there are definitely moments that nobody can take away from you. I remember going to clubs in Berlin and having 50-60 people there, being part of that sub-culture. This sort of memory is definitely a part of me however I am looking forward towards the next challenge and moving forward as an artist.
This album appears to be a studio album while the other two editions of The Politics of Dancing were compilations with different artists. Can you explain this change in direction for the series?
It’s purely down to how the music industry works these days, it’s much faster. Nobody is sending out music 7-8 months before for me to mix into a compilation that has totally new music. It just doesn’t work this way anymore especially with all the work that it would have taken to do a Politics of Dancing compilation. In the other editions I was remixing every track and those special remixes would be on there. Rather than taking other people’s music I said: “let’s go to the studio together and create brand new music” - that was the only way we could guarantee that brand new music would be on there when the album was coming out. It’s a much more intense creative process as it includes song writing, producing, all that kind of stuff. It’s a much more intense PvD project – sometimes you have to follow the creative path and just not intervene!
Often artists draw influence from those who came before them. For this particular album are there any early influences who our readers wouldn’t necessarily know about?
The biggest inspiration for me is life. Whatever I see, whatever I experience ends up in my music. In this album I got to work with some fantastic artists and ended up absorbing their influences as well in the album. I believe it’s more about the here and now in terms of influences for this particular album.
This album has a lot of collaboration with well-known ambassadors of trance music. While you don’t identify yourself as a trance DJ, what has caused more of a trance focus for this album compared to your past album Evolution?
The thing for me is that I picked all those artists not because they are in the trance field but because they have this fire and passion for the music. This is how I pick the people I work with and not necessarily the musical genre they are affiliated with. For me it’s about finding some common ground as well – when you make some art or music you need to have some commonalities for the collaboration. I love what Jordan Suckley, Ben Nicky, Alex MORPH or anybody I’m working with are doing and if to an outsider perspective that sound is more trancey then fair enough, to me it’s electronic music – to me this is what electronic music should sound like.
The rise of streaming services such as Spotify has resulted in declining record sales over the past couple of years. Would you support streaming services as the future standard for music distribution even if it means less money is earned by yourself and other artists?
It is the format by which a lot of people choose to enjoy music and it’s not down to me to judge. However, what’s important to understand is that if you buy a CD, the music or money that comes from that stays in the music industry. New artist development is financed and done by that money, if you spend that money on Spotify, that money goes to a shareholder company and that music is not entering the music industry in the same way. I like to go on Spotify and listen to music just like everybody else, I like the convenience, that’s how things are done these days.– I don’t think the way Tidal is the way to go just in case that was going to be the next question!
We’ve seen a number of artists who were previously involved with more mainstream forms of dance music disassociate themselves with it (at least on the record). Are you at all surprised?
Not really, I just see these artists seeing themselves being on a ship that is sinking and calling themselves “progressive house” to fix this but not doing anything to improve artist integrity.
Do you watch any of the major TV series right now such as Game of Thrones or Walking Dead?
I am actually more of a Big Bang Theory kind of guy!
What character from Big Bang Theory do you associate yourself with?
I do a perfect Sheldon smile but my girlfriend says it looks horrendous! I would love to say I’m not like Sheldon but the way he describes everything in an overly scientific manner is very much like me… minus the weirdness.
With the privatisation of Space travel looming in the horizon, people have begun to sign up for a one-way trip to Mars. Is this something that would interest you if you were provided with the opportunity?
No, there are too many people on this planet that are more than essential to me. I couldn’t leave them all behind and still be happy in life!
Some fans will get their favourite artist’s logo tattooed onto their body. Are you honoured or horrified by Paul van Dyk tattoos?
Honoured is not the right word, I am amazed that people put these permanent forms of art on their body. I don’t really have a word for it, imagine the word appreciate in a lyrical way – they do that because the music I make which means so much to me means so much to them that they are putting those elements on their bodies and I am not just their musical fling. I really don’t have a word for it!
Words: Jon Davidescu
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