It has been almost half a year since the release of Armin’s road biography in Dutch. The english version came out a few months ago, and I ordered it promptly from Armin’s website. The writing itself is not very hard to read, but this is probably due to the language differences lost in translation. Here are a few interesting points that I read about:
– Armin’s manager, Dave Lewis, started off managing Ferry Corsten and Marco V. His next big success was managing Tiesto, who then introduced him to Armin van Buuren. Together, Tiesto and Armin produced: Major League – Wonder.
-Armin attended the University of Leiden, the Netherland’s most renowned law university, and received his law degree in 2002.
– Armin’s First piece of hardware was an old Atari computer, a used keyboard, and a mono Akai-S01 sampler when he was 14 years old.
– The first official release of one of Armin’s tracks was Deep Inside the Mother, followed by Push and Blue Fear in 1995. Communication was the breakthrough track, produced in 1998.
– Ferry was the first Dutch DJ to become popular outside of the Netherlands, followed by Tiesto, Johan Gielen, Marco V, and eventually Armin. In the UK in 2000-2001, Ferry was three times as big as Armin and Tiesto put together. He paved the way to international stardom for his fellow Dutchmen. Ferry and Tiesto would always be at Armin’s family’s house, working on music and sometimes even staying for dinner. Armin lived with his family until 2002, at the age of 26, until he moved out with his girlfriend.
– On October 26, 2002, Armin spun his longest set at the ‘O’ (in the Hague), which lasted more than 12 and a half hours. He did the entire thing nonstop, without taking a bathroom break.
– Starting in 2003, Armin started spinning at Armada nights at Club Amnesia in Ibiza every Tuesday.
– On Paul Oakenfold: ‘…a man whom I hold in great esteem. Don’t forget, Paul Oakenfold was the very first superstar DJ. He played all over the world, even before that became the standard. He made trance what it is today. He is the Godfather. And, when he’s in the mood, he is still amazing; even though I have to admit that he can get a little sloppy from time to time.’
– Armin wrote the song ‘Control Freak’ to describe himself. He pokes his nose into everything that has to do with Armada and his career.
– The musical form of Gabber originated in the Netherlands, and it means friend in Dutch.
-Armin’s first car was a VW Golf.
– In 2002, the first Dutch DJ won the DJ Mag Top 100 DJ award, and that was Tiesto. He hung onto his title from 2002-2004. In 2007, Armin became number one, with Tiesto at second and Ferry at eighth.
– Regarding gigs at the beginning of his career, Armin would ‘never want to know beforehand what I’ll be earning. I want to prevent, at all costs, that I’m doing it just for the money.’ It seems like the love for music was always the driving force behind Armin’s career. He and his brother Eller were never big party animals, they preferred to be on the other side of the dance floor, the entertaining side.
– The Armada label consists of three people: Armin as the artist, Dave Lewis as the manager, and Maykel Piron as the man in charge of record distribution. Armada now manages 21 labels and represents dozens of artists. Armada can exist without Armin, but it doesn’t change the fact that Armada was build around the success of him.
-Armin has always had a fear of flying. He even took flying lessons in an attempt to curb this fear, but it did not work.
– 2001 was the first year of ASOT, which was originally titled ‘Into Trance’. It was originally only aired in the Netherlands, but spread internationally due to internet radio. Now, there are on average 25 mllion people who listen to the program.
– Between Armin and Tiesto: Armin has a lot of respect for Tijs, but their record labels don’t see eye to eye and don’t get along very well. Tijs introduced Armin to his current manager, but afterwards, Tijs split from the group and formed Black Hole Recordings with one of his friends. Armin hopes to never get bitter in the DJing industry. “I would never want to become one of those DJs who is always talking down others. That would be the worst thing that could happen to me. You see that happening with colleagues whose career is past its prime; they start criticizing their new colleagues. I hope someone will warn me if I ever threaten to go down that road!” says Armin. When Armin won number 1 DJ for the second time, Tiesto came in a close second and lost by only a few dozen votes. It was the closest race to number 1 in DJ Mag history.
– If you go clubbing in Argentina, you will notice that everyone is dancing, including all the waiters and waitresses. Another interesting thing about partying over there is that during the break on a record, everyone just sits down on the floor. I guess people need to take a break from all that continuous dancing sometime.
– Blake Jarrell is one of Armin’s favorite up and coming producer/DJs. He completely lost his house to hurricane Katrina in 2005, moved to Chicago, and started to produce music. He is now signed to Armada and opens for Armin regularly.
– Armin and his wife Erika have been together since 1999. She states that Armin’s favorite TV series is the Sopranos and favorite films are the Star Wars movies, but his ultimate interest lies in music. He listens to all genres, ranging from classical music to Amy Winehouse, to hip-hop battles. Together, they spend every Christmas together at Armin’s family’s house along with her parents as well. He proposed to her in Australia by the Sydney Opera House with the message “Will you marry me” written on the side of a boat and dropping down to one knee.
– It took Armin two months to complete his Imagine album with the help of Benno de Goeij from Rank 1. The release was celebrated with the Armin Only tour, starting on April 19, 2008.
– On his US tour in 2007: “I also noticed that my audience was changing; there were people who only came to the show to see who this ‘number one DJ actually was’ and that didn’t have a positive effect on the atmosphere. Suddenly fights were erupting during my set – that is something I had never experience before; which is one of the good things about trance. To put it briefly, it’s because of such things that I began to notice how everything around me was changing. And I was confronted with it head-on during my tour of the USA. I thought to myself: How can this be happening? A gig at the Vanguard in Los Angeles, which is usually a club where I have a very close fan base with lots of Asians who are crazy about trance, didn’t really come off. I remember that it had been a very hot day, but that evening I actually started to feel a little panicky. I was running on automatic pilot and tried to put on my best smile, but I suddenly felt completely lost. I was leafing through my CD folder and thinking: I need to put on something hot; and I couldn’t find a single CD that was right. I saw the record that was playing running out of time and just sat there leafing through my CDs. No matter which record I put on, it wasn’t the right one. I could feel people thinking: is this the best DJ the world has to offer? It was not a good experience.” Sorry for the bad experiences, Armin. I hope he realizes that he has some really great fans out here and that the bad experiences he had shouldn’t prevent him from returning for another show.
– On trance music: “Over the years, trance audiences have been growing more and more critical. Of course, there are certain records you really can’t play, ones that people really have an aversion to. It wasn’t like that in 1999. There were fewer rules. There are more established lines now, although I try to break free of them… At the same time, the experience of trance has grown to take on almost religious proportions comparable to the gothic scene: people feel a mutual connection through the music. I have seen people standing in front of me, their hands raised up in the air, tears streaming down their faces. Just because of a record I put on! That has nothing to do with me, it is the music speaking.”
– On the internet: “It’s a universal experience. a lot of that can be attributed to the internet. There are a lot of forums where the scene is more or less happening. The most important are trance.nu and tranceaddict.com. I don’t always check them out, because these forums often propogate a lot of negative opinions. Ruben reads it for me and shares some of what he’s found with me, including the critical reactions. If they reach me through him, I can take it, but if i read it directly, I can get so upset that I can’t work properly all day. I get angry at their reactions and think, how do you mean that segue didn’t work?”
-On the new generation of DJs: “I try to convince younger DJs that a career doesn’t just take off by itself. Any twelve-year old boy these days who is interested in dance music will think, without a doubt: I want that too! Become a DJ! Limousines, hot chicks, and ecstatic crowds dancing in front of your nose.. what more would anyone want? To be honest, you have to give up everything else to get there. Or rather, you have to want to give up everything else to get there. If you want to make it to the top, there’s no such thing as working at it on a part-time basis. You have to hunt for new music throughout the week, because you’ll fall way behind before you even know it.”
The chapters are organized in two categories: events and people. The author, Coen Bom, interviewed Armin’s closest circle of friends and followed Armin through some of his biggest performances around the world, slowly putting together information for his biography. The book is also filled with tips from Armin about how to properly spin, including technical help, hardware tips, and different techniques. There is also a very comprehensive discography which documents every piece of music that Armin has touched, as well as a picture section with some very cool shots of performances, friends, and other interesting things from Armin’s career. I learned a great deal from this book about how the trance scene developed, and reading about the path that Armin has taken has really given me a good understanding of how music can really change a person’s life. After reading the book, I was in awe of what Armin has accomplished, and even though I would never attempt to emulate what Armin has done, I am glad that I can just share the same love for music that he has.
Click here to buy the book.
*All quotes/information was taken from Armin Only, Coen Bom. Uitgeverij Carrera, Dutch Media Uitgevers bv. 2009, Cloud 9 Music B.V.