Photo: Christoph Koestlin
When I reach Paul van Dyk he is back in his hometown of Berlin packing his bags getting ready to depart for Canada the next morning. The Grammy winning DJ and producer is playing six North American shows in the coming weeks including a return to Flames Central on Saturday night.
For someone who has spent the majority of the last two decades on the road this trip is of special significance to the trance superstar after recently releasing his sixth album Evolution on April 3.
“It took such a long time to finish everything and have everything ready and now it’s finally out so it’s a really exciting time for me.”
Fans of PvD have been waiting nearly five years for this release. In that time much has changed in the world of electronic music and in the life of the man twice crowned the No. 1 DJ in the world.
“Life in general and my own personal experiences have changed and so it made sense to call the album Evolution . I wanted to explore different elements of evolution not just in a biological sense but it’s also the society we live in” he says.
“You can see evolution in the way in which we communicate. A few years ago we didn’t have Facebook and Twitter. The way in which people listen to music has changed. People now listen on their iPhone iPad and other devices. I think this is something that has changed our lives dramatically. If you look at the evolution of electronic music it started as a small underground culture and has now become the biggest music culture in the world.”
Evolution is essentially a trance album and not a complete departure from his previous efforts Reflections and In Between . However each track on the album explores a wide range of sounds referencing a number of genres and styles that have gained popularity in the world of dance music over the last few years.
The album could have easily failed by trying to do too much but Evolution succeeds at being the most complete and well-rounded album of van Dyk’s career. It’s a success that is owed in part to his genuine talent and range as a musician and to the number of top-level collaborators including Arty Austin Leeds and Ummet Ozcan.
“I enjoying collaborating with other musicians on a creative level it is part of the fun of making music. It’s sort of like playing in a band if you just play your instrument the whole time it can get really boring. But if you play with your band and you interact and influence each other this creates a space where it is interesting and fun.”
At a time when many artists are releasing new material as single releases on Beatport and iTunes van Dyk believes the process of producing full-fledged albums is crucial to ensuring the continued success and growth of electronic dance music.
“I am sort of afraid not as a musician but as a fan of music seeing single after single being released. Obviously if someone is successful let’s say in January with a certain kind of track then he is probably going to do the same thing in February March and for however long he can keep it going. It’s not really exploring music anymore it’s basically just redoing whatever is trendy at the moment. At the same time you will find a lot of people copying whatever is popular.
“With an album you have the possibility of presenting a much wider range of music and you are actually able to develop your own sound and individual creativity as an artist.
“For example I have a track on the album that is very drum and bass influenced if I would have released this track as a single in the monthly releases people would be like ‘What the fuck is going on what the hell is he doing?’ But it works fantastically well in the middle of the album people love the track and appreciate that fact that it is somewhat different.”
PvD recently made headlines by supporting Canadian DJ deadmau5 in condemning pop icon Madonna following her performance at the Ultra Music Festival last month. She made a reference to Molly during her set a commonly used slang term for MDMA (the primary chemical of the club drug ecstasy). Madonna responded to the criticism on Twitter saying she was referring to a song from her new album and not about doing drugs.
“I really think it was an unwise thing to do. It was just straight fucking wrong. She has so many fans and people that look up to her and she came out with a very clear statement about drugs and the surrounding problem of drug abuse. For her to come back and say that she meant it in a completely different way makes her look even more stupid because her album is called MDNA .
“Electronic music has always struggled to be understood and supported as real art form. For a long time people had a perception that we were all massive drug heads and it took many years to get people to realize that this is an area where there are real creative artists making music. And then Madonna comes along and fucks it all up by saying something stupid like that it’s really counterproductive.“
Paul van Dyk plays Flames Central on Saturday April 21.