The life of a Disc Jockey these days would seem to be more "Fame" than "Fortune". But Electronic Dance Music D-J's are making some major bucks.
Paul van Dyk was one of the world's first superstar electronic dance music DJs. Paul, from East Berlin still packs the house wherever he plays. The Grammy Winner recently performed at the Playhouse Nightclub in Hollywood and I got to go back stage and sit down with Paul and talk about his music and his new album, "Evolution".
We had exclusive access to Paul before and during the show. We also got to snap some cool pictures too. Feel free to share with your friends.
Music was the first significant window to the cultural vibrancy and important issues of the world for Paul van Dyk, who was raised under the shadow of the Berlin Wall, so he doesn't exactly have much patience for those who specialize in the disposable.
A virtuoso DJ, van Dyk circles the globe 16 times per annum, entertaining an average 3 million + music lovers along the way. He has twice taken the title of the world's no.1 DJ - a feat achieved to-date by just two other spinners. On Barra Beach in Rio, during the 2008 New Years celebrations, he famously spun to an unprecedented (and then record) audience totaling 1.5 million. As a producer Paul's achieved similar success. In 1994 he recorded ‘For an Angel', a track that regularly tops trance music's greatest-ever lists and 3 years later he remixed ‘Age of Love', which also frequently contends that title. He continues to build upon one of EDM's most outstanding remixographies. Artists who have received the Paul van Dyk hallmark remix have included mainstream superstars like Madonna, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. He's also reworked more diverse acts, like industrial metal rockers Rammstein, as well as timeless bands like U2, Depeche Mode and New Order. Van Dyk is also a regular film and game score contributor, which has resulted in many notable OST credits. They have included his rework of Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer's ‘A Poor Choice of Words' for ‘The Dark Knight' soundtrack and ‘Still Alive' for EA's ground-breaking ‘Mirror's Edge' game.
As the label owner of VANDIT Records, Paul uses the platform to break the music of likeminded contemporaries, as well as maintaining the rights to his own. A diehard radio devotee, he was one of the first DJs to fully harness the medium to transmit his EDM message. His revered, long standing Soundgarden show is now in its tenth year and he also produces and presents VONYC Sessions, which airs through the Trancid Channels of iHeartRadio / Clear Channel. Compilation-wise he's has been behind several mix-album series, including 2 editions of his celebrated ‘The Politics of Dancing' (2001 and 2005). Throughout his career he has amassed many international awards, for a wide range of activities. Among those are the illustrious Landesverdienstorden (Berlin's Medal of Honour, given in recognition of his work towards social justice), a string of IDMA wins and Mixmag's Man of the Year accolade.
"I grew up in East Germany and I always used to listen to the radio when I did my homework," he remembers. "The only way to connect with free society and the outside world was the radio. Music changed my life when I was 10-years-old. Radio DJs are the ones who opened up my connection to the world."
His sixth studio album EVOLUTION, is a product of extensive time in the studio— and far more time spent on the road traveling the globe. A great part of the album was developed and refined while performing and composing live in front of audiences worldwide. It's connecting threads build upon decades of watching the electronic dance music scene grow and change.
"Music, for me, was always the playground for something new," he says. "When I started nearly 20 years ago, the DJ was the freak in the corner while everybody else in the room had fun," he recalls. "Now, obviously it's a very different perspective on what electronic music is, and now I'm literally composing songs live in front of my audiences. I couldn't have done any of it without all of the other artists putting out their idea of what electronic music is, and that's what makes our musical genre so unique."
In a music industry landscape where albums are strategically marketed dispassionately with certain guest stars, this album's many collaborations were chosen without pressure of including certain names and only with the actual music in mind. "It's not a marketing-driven collaboration. There is not a single song where a manager said, ‘Oh, you should work with that person.' I don't believe in that. For me it always has to be about having a connection to the person I work with."
International boundaries were also of no concern thanks to the power of creating songs both in person and via the Internet with his collaborators. Among EVOLUTION's guests are Ummet Ozcan, a Turkish producer from the Netherlands who appears on "Dae Yor"; Sue McLaren, a British folk/dance vocalist who sings on "The Sun After Heartbreak" and "We Come Together" in a tone that van Dyk says will make "…you want to close your eyes and drift away"; Adam Young, a Minneapolis artist best known as Owl City; and Italy's Giuseppe Ottaviani, a trusted longtime collaborator.
"The reason why electronic music in itself is really the first global music culture is the fact that it is based on the latest in technology and technology doesn't have any boundaries," van Dyk explains. "Electronic music, for me, was always about breaking boundaries on the technology side as well as the music side. Whatever I do in Berlin has an impact in Singapore, Sydney, Argentina, New York, or Los Angeles at the same time.
"People are networking and this is the way to do it," he asserts. "When we work together, these worlds collide and something interesting happens that we can never predict."
Austin Leeds, a Miami-based DJ/producer who previously collaborated with van Dyk on "New York City" from his last studio album In Between, joins the album for the intense and punchy floor fillers "Symmetries" and "Verano."
"I think I came across Austin about six or seven years ago and he had a very special and distinctive sound," van Dyk says. "There's a sunny Miami bass vibe to it and I'm coming more from the darker, Berlin underground side, and when we work together you find both sides there but not in a separate way. It belongs together."
Arty joins for "The Ocean" and "The Sun after Heartbreak." The Russian DJ/producer's own tracks were making frequent appearances in van Dyk's DJ sets, and he came up early as a natural choice for collaboration. The two pushed each other into unexpected sonic territory. "Why can't two people who are usually pigeonholed as trance artists work together and come up with a drum and bass track?" he says of "The Sun after Heartbreak" "All of this stereotyping is not important when there's this magical, musical moment."
EVOLUTION is van Dyk's first major offering since 2007's In Between, but during the years since that album release the deep involvement in and commitment to recorded output has continued, including various DJ mixes, a comprehensive retrospective, and nurturing other artists on VANDIT, his now 12-year-old independent record label.
Paul van Dyk has spent more than half his life as a composer and DJ. This journey of art and passion has led him to perform in front of an estimated over three million people each year. Part of the secret to his longevity is that he is what he represents.
For van Dyk, a Grammy nominee, recipient of many superlative honors, and seller of millions of records worldwide, EVOLUTION is simply a statement of recording on his own terms, simply for the love of meaningful music devised in connection with the global pulse of his international community. With so much of the foundation of this album composed while interacting with audiences around the world, EVOLUTION is also an ode to interconnectedness in a fresh and exciting new way.
Looking for more information on Paul's Music and Tour Stops. Check out Paul's Website: www.paulvandyk.com . Also you can join his Facebook Page @ www.facebook.com/paulvandyk or on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/paulvandyk
LOOK FOR MORE OF PAUL'S RECENT PERFORMANCE AT PLAYHOUSE NIGHTCLUB IN HOLLYWOOD AFTER THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW
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