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"It's the best music that I've ever done": Paul Van Dyk on new album 'Evolution'

Ahead of his return to Gatecrasher this weekend, Paul Van Dyk takes time out from his busy schedule to talk to Ramis Cizer about evolution, authenticity and some other things PvD.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 28th Sep 2011

Paul Van Dyk takes time out from his busy schedule to talk to Ramis Cizer about evolution, authenticity and some other things PvD.

Seasoned international circuit DJ Paul Van Dyk is back on tour and restless to continue pushing electronic music boundaries;  Evolution being the name of his world tour and upcoming album.

With two DJ Magazine world’s best DJ awards in 2005 and 2006 and a shared Grammy for in 2008 for his contribution to the Dark Knight, Van Dyk really doesn’t need any introduction.

Gatecrasher, Birmingham is his next stop on 1 October 2011, and the DJ looks back fondly at the now legendary 6hr sets that he played at Gatecrasher, Sheffield in the late 1990s. Back then he had a residency, now he’s touring the world and Gatecrasher was always going to be revisited. 

You’ve had many accolades since the 1990s, what’s the secret to your longevity?

I guess it’s probably because I’m authentic you know, I’m not running around and trying to be the next big hype, and playing what’s trendy. I’ve basically developed my very own idea about electronic music, what a lot of people have called PvD style. I’ve developed that and I suppose people know what they get and people actually appreciate that there’s not some fake image up on stage, but actually a person who really likes what he’s doing.

So there’s an introspective element to what you do? You’re introspective in your work before you present it to people?

Umm…I wouldn’t really use that word. When I write my music I have a very clear idea about how everything should be. I’m doing it without any compromises, exactly how I think it should be. On the other hand when I’m on stage I’ve a very clear idea about my sound, about the music I want to bring across, down to the interaction with my crowd. So it’s more open ended, and I’m really interacting with them, like taking the vibe of the venue and incorporating it into what my music is going to be like. I think it’s a mixture.

Electronic music is being stretched in quite a few different directions. How do find your place in that? How do you keep pushing the boundaries? Do you look at different types of music in order to bring things together or…?

I think it’s a different approach. It’s more other people that actually try to find a template and call it electronic music and say that 'this is house music, this is trance music'. The problem is that everybody has a very different individual definition of what this is. I’m pretty sure that even you would have a different opinion of what is minimal techno, what’s minimal house; what’s techno, what’s minimal techno; or what’s trance, what’s progressive - where’s the borderline? Nobody can actually define that. This is why I call it electronic music. I’m not really looking around for the next big hype or something, as I said. And of course I’m listening to so much music all the time, not only electronic music and somehow all this inspires me. This is how my music always develops and includes elements which I may never have discovered before. But it’s not that I’m kind of looking for 'x, y, z had a big hit with that sound so I need to make a track that sounds like this'. I’m not like that.

You’ve once again teamed up with Gatecrasher. What does this partnership mean to you? Is there a poignant memory that you back to in that partnership.

I really have to say with their club in Birmingham they’ve set another benchmark for clubbing in the UK. If not the best then it’s probably one of the top three clubs in the UK. Also, of course I have a past with Gatecrasher. I was one of the residents in the old Sheffield days and we did those 6hr exclusive sets and things like that. You know, I carry some passion for that club or that brand. On the other hand once again it’s not just some historical positive thought. They deliver something, they deliver one of the best clubs, a phenomenal club with a great setting and they always manage to get a really up for it crowd. So this is why it’s so exciting to play there.

You’ve got a much anticipated album coming out called Evolution, do tell us about it.

The album now is definitely scheduled for the 21st February 2012. I think if I reveal everything about the album now then it’s not really interesting when it's coming (laughs); besides of the music of course. I’ve had the great chance of working with phenomenal artists, from the known ones and to some unknown very talented up and coming people. It is an album that I’m really, really, proud of. People that know me and know my music say it’s the best music that I’ve ever done. I’m really proud of it and I can’t wait for it to be released, to see what my audience thinks about it.

So, there are no tracks that we might have heard snippets of anywhere?

Oh, no, no, the thing is when you hear me on tour, of course, I’m playing quite a lot of the new stuff. So when you see me playing you may have heard a few pieces. And then as well, there was kind of a track that we gave a sneaky preview before the Ibiza season, it was called “Rock This”, which become quite a big hit our there. It’s a really punchy, “electro’y”, “trancy”, piano anthem.

The concept of the album is “evolution”. Your stage show follows the concept of the album - you’ve mentioned three phases to the live show. Does this evolution have a final destination or is it an open ended journey?

Well it is an open ended journey, this is the interesting thing. Evolution as I understand it is that everything develops for the better. Everything can be done better at one point. So in a way evolution is an open ended thing. So when I start playing my set I’m already excited about my next set. This is the thing - things are going to get better and are going to progress. And I think this is what evolution is in all areas; in nature as much as music or even us humans in a way.

Moving to a different element of your work: You’ve had a couple of Politics and Dancing compilations out. Are there any plans to visit these types of theme in the future?

Politics and Dancing was the name of the DJ mix series, you know, me mixing and remixing other peoples music. With Evolution this is my artist album, this is music that basically I created myself as a musician. I’m pretty sure that at one point I will feel inspired to make another DJ mix CD that could very well be part of the “Politics of Dancing” series. The thing is, I don’t think music itself can politically change something, it is the impact that music has on people’s lives that inspires people to change something. It’s sort of like a through the backdoor sort of approach. It’s not really the music that’s changing the world, it's either the artist that gains popularity through the music that then speak out and change something or people inspired by the music. It’s a slightly different concept.

In the making of the album, was there a piece of equipment that you couldn’t live without?

Pretty much everything to be honest (laughs). I don’t know, I have a big apply machine in my studio which is somewhat the core centre piece. I have a big programme control that sort of brings it all together. It’s like asking a band, what’s your favourite instrument? It’s a mixture of all things together that creates the music in a way. I need everything in order to make the music, so it’s the entire studio.

Catch Paul Van Dyk's return to Gatecrasher as part of his Evolution World Tour on Saturday October 1st. Tickets are available here

Find out where Paul Van Dyk is playing


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