German producer/DJ Paul van Dyk has always used electronic dance music to break barriers and bring people together, shaping the way his We Are One festival presents diverse sounds in an open-air festival in Berlin. If you follow him on Twitter and YouTube, he brings you into his world with PvD Tv. Though with more than 20 years experience as one of the original international superstar DJs, he questions where the scene is going with domination of EDM. Are DJs becoming lazy and just playing the same records as everyone else, like a top 40 radio station? Isn’t it up to the DJ to find music that is unique for their crowd, and not just to throw cake at them?
RS: We are so excited about Politics Of Dancing: Volume 3, how is the production coming along?
Paul van Dyk: Great, we are in the final stages of setting everything up in terms of the release date itself. There are a lot of collaborations with people that I admire and respect and that have something unique about their production and musical approach.
RS: Can you say any of the people that you work with on the album?
Paul van Dyk: Next time.
RS: With your We Are One Festival coming up, how do you choose the DJs for that festival?
Paul van Dyk: We look at the people that actually have something unique to bring to it. The vibe and the location of the festival is very unique and something that you don’t find. It is an old fortress in the middle of Berlin that is surrounded by water and looks like an old castle. It is surrounded by nature, so it really feels like being in the old ancient times. We try to bring something that actually has meaning and not just the latest Top 40 songs; it needs to be something that delivers more than that.
RS: Speaking about that, you had new talent working on a mix of your “Crush” record that just came out. How did you choose that mixer for your record?
Paul van Dyk: Well we had been working with the guys of Las Salinas for quite some time and they came up with the idea and they loved the track so much and decided to do it. They came up with something that I really enjoyed and we decided to release it.
RS: Last time we spoke you had just started distributing your label through Armada Records, how is that working out?
Paul van Dyk: Well, it didn’t work out in the way that we had hoped, but we took everything back into our hands and feel much freer now.
RS: What did you learn from the situation?
Paul van Dyk: A lot of things..
RS: Okay then... You had an amazing set at Ultra during the Winter Music Conference. As a veteran, how do you think the scene has changed at Ultra Fest?
Paul van Dyk: In the past it was all about electronic music and the origin of it, but now, especially in the US, you have a term called EDM which is basically a marketing term for people throwing cakes. There is not much substance to what people call the core of EDM. This is happening a lot at the festivals in the US these days, and all I can say is that it is my responsibility when I perform- to do something that actually shows what the substance of electronic music is. I show my little part and people like Carl Cox and many others show their element of what electronic music is. This EDM part to me is kind of like a version of what pop music is these days.
RS: That is one of two things that were spoken about a lot at Winter Music Conference, one of them being about everything starting to sound the same. How do you make yourself different than that and what do you do to stand out?
Paul van Dyk: You just need to be creative. Do you really think that somebody thinks about creativity when the most important thing is when to throw the cake? Do you really think that it is important to figure out what track is playing when you throw it? It isn’t, and that is the point, it is about music at the end of the day and it needs to come back to that.
RS: With that being said another major issue that was talked about at the Winter Music Conference was the health issues with Afrojack and Avicii going down. How do you keep a healthy lifestyle and balance between your touring, production, and family etc.?
Paul van Dyk: I had a very interesting talk with Carl Cox about it which very private, so I won’t reveal anything here, but the fact is that there are people that have been doing this for 10, 15, and 20 years that have never cancelled because of issues like this. I think it’s a mix between living a healthy lifestyle and trying to be responsible, and if you play on Friday there is going to be a show on Saturday and you have a responsibility to deliver the next day as well.
RS: With everything sounding the same right now, where do you see the sound going next?
Paul van Dyk: Not everything sounds the same, that is the point. I think that what is extremely pushed on the Top 40 radio stations and what is pushed on the mainstages at festivals is what sounds the same. There is so much fantastic electronic music out there and I think that it is my responsibility as a DJ and yours as a journalist to push that music and to find that music. The majority of the people don’t have the time to listen to as much music as we do, and with the experience and knowledge we have and the love and passion that we have for electronic music, we need to filter what has substance and what is special and not just a copycat or a free set of a software synthesizer that everybody else uses.
RS: I love everything that you are saying. Who are a few people that you think we should be following right now?
Paul van Dyk: Maarten de Jong has a very unique, banging, and straightforward sound if you are looking for something that is big room and has substance and not the same copycat of something else. Las Salinas has more of a progressive feel, and I love the way that they approach things. There are so many more people, just check them out. This is what we did 15 years ago, it wasn’t just available on the radio, it actually meant something to us and that is why we are so passionate about it.
Interview conducted May 2014.