Apr 05, 2022
Armin van Buuren Talks Massive Ultra Music Festival Weekend
On Friday, ahead of his sets on the A State Of Trance Stage at Ultra Music Festival we sat down with Armin van Buuren for an inspirational talk. 2022 marked a special occasion, not only for the return of the festival itself for the first time in three years, but also as ASOT celebrated it’s 10th anniversary at Ultra Miami. We talked with Armin about the milestone, his one of a kind b2b set with Reinier Zonneveld, continuing to push the boundaries of what is trance, and of course, his ID loaded Mainstage set! Enjoy!
Armin, thanks so much for sitting down with us here at Ultra! How does it feel back to be on site at Bayfront Park after three years away?
It feels awesome! I don’t know how you felt, but when I was really in the pandemic, it felt that every Ultra past was like a dream. I’m filled with gratitude to be here. I’ve created so much new music. Found a whole new balance in life. I’m just really, really grateful.
This year is even more special for your as you’re celebrating 10 years of A State Of Trance at Ultra Music Festival Miami. What does that milestone mean to you?
It’s crazy right?! In 2011 we came here for a special reason, to celebrate episode 500 of my radio show. At the time, that felt to me like maybe the right moment to end the show. Of course, I didn’t.
What has kept you going over these subsequent 10+ years to continue with the show?
As long as I keep feeling the trance movement, as long as the fans keep loving the show and I keep getting the feedback, I’m willing to invest in A State Of Trance. It’s been a blessing to see the development of trance music from 2001 to 2021. A lot has changed over the years, the way I stream the show, the way I record the show, but the formula is still the same. It’s still a two hour set showcasing the latest in trance and progressive. The same goes for my Ultra set as well.
Today before your signature solo set on the A State Of Trance stage, you’re going back to back with Reinier Zonneveld for the first time. Each year at Ultra it seems you pick a really unique special guest for ASOT outside the traditional trance realm – tell us some more about that.
Every year together with Ultra, we try to do something special. We had a GAIA set here once, deadmau5, Eric Prydz, so many special moments. And now to be here b2b with Reinier Zonneveld who is a techno guy – I think it’s super exciting! I’m all about continuing to push the boundaries of what is trance and what is not trance.
Your constant drive to push the boundaries and drive trance forward is super inspirational. There are certainly some people who feel that trance has past its golden age, so what do you think about the development of the sound?
There’s a big pitfall I feel in trance and that is to go back to classics. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with classics. I love a good classic now and again, but if we just focus just on classics, that would be the end of it. There’s so much new music and new ideas coming, a flirt between techno and trance is going on too that’s really exciting. So many new fresh talents coming up like Craig Connelly, Ahmed Helmey, you name them, as long as that keeps going, I really want to support them and the trance movement. And of course with an eye towards the classics, I love a good rework, but I don’t want to be stuck in the past.
How did you pick Reinier for this year?
Well I’m a techno guy myself. I have a lot of love for trance, it’s my number one of course, but if I had to pick a number two it would be techno for sure. I went to a few Awakenings Festivals as a guest and I love a good techno set.
With Reinier it went so easy. He visited the ASOT studio while we were doing the Amsterdam Dance Event special. And he was like, “Oh dude I love your show, you’re such an inspiration.” And I was was caught off guard as I really wasn’t expecting him to say that.
What I really like about him is that he is breaking boundaries. Techno for a long time has been a 126, 128 crowd, but he's pushing that limit back to old school techno which for me in 1999, 2000 was hard. Like the Rotterdam sound, it was fast, like 138. So for me I’m loving all the energy he’s bringing!
How did you go about the preparation and track selection for this set?
We didn’t, it’s completely freestyle. We’re both playing live. It’s going to be very exciting. We have an intro idea and we know that we will play our song, but other than that, we’ll see. Obviously I’ll play some tracks and he’ll be playing full live, not really playing tracks so a mashup between some known techno tracks, some trance tracks and his live stuff.
Switching gears, how’s your excitement heading into your Mainstage set on Sunday?
Basically a full album of new material, I don’t think I’ve ever played so many new tracks in one set. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, I don’t want to alienate the people who just want to hear a good Armin set. Expect a very eclectic mix with everything from deep to commercial to psy trance. I’m really curious to see what people's response is to the new music because that helps decide which music makes it into the album.
I’m going to play seven or eight tracks for the first time. There’s a big difference between hearing something in the studio that sounds great versus seeing it actually resonate with a crowd. It’s tradition in Miami to step outside your comfort zone a bit so new intro, new outro, new collabs, everything, no comfortable ground so to say.
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