Cheese-free music, now with less la-la? A candid interview with Paul van Dyk

scaled.Paul_van_Dyk-MAIN_PR_SHOT_t270Memorial Day weekend. Las Vegas. Famed German producer/DJ Paul van Dyk. ’Nuff said.

What can we look forward to hearing from you on May 24 when you headline the Love Festival at the Palms?

I’m always really energetic with what I do, so it’s going to be full-on. The other thing is that I have an upcoming release, which is a best-of … so I’m probably playing a little bit of greatest hits, plus a lot of new music.

Tiësto is also in Vegas playing another club the same night. Why should people consider checking out your set as opposed to his on Sunday?

I cannot really speak for someone else. The thing is, if you enjoy electronic music that has an intensity in terms of the energy that comes across, but also has those emotional, deep moments—and if you like the cheese left out—then you just come and see me.

With regard to your live performance, explain a bit about what will set you apart onstage.

I have two computer systems … midi controller keyboards … a custom-designed mixer … [and] several other controllers with me, and that enables me to basically merge what I do as a DJ with what I do when I’m in the studio making music … I’m a musician, and my favorite music is electronic music, and the most common way of presenting it is DJing. I have the possibility of remixing everything live … The whole experience of the track [and] the whole set is much more intense than just listening to somebody mixing two tracks into each other—that could be another reason why you should come and see me.

You’ve shied away from being labeled as a “trance” producer and DJ. Why is that, and what are your views on the genre as it currently stands?

I never called it trance. I never called it techno. I never called it this or that. It’s electronic music. And there’s good electronic music, and there’s electronic music that I’d rather not listen to. And it appears a lot of the music that actually is being labeled as trance in the year 2009 is something that I don’t want to hear … I don’t really have a problem with people labeling me “trance,” because I guess what I play definitely has a large momentum and elements of what trance music is … But I’m not a big fan of too much “la-la” [monotony] in there.

There are rumors in the industry that producers of your caliber and fame don’t create their own productions. What is your response to these accusations?

Well, [laughing] I’m in my studio right now working on something. Actually, I write my music, and I make my music, and I don’t have anybody producing my music for me. I never had that. I mean, I know that there are colleagues of mine out there who rarely see a studio and still release an album every year—which I find surprising as well.

I have a studio assistant … When you do a remix, you have endless amounts of vocal bits and pieces. What he does is put that stuff into the system. It takes me about two hours, because I’m not really good at that. But once the technicality of that stuff is done, I’m actually doing all the creative work. My studio technician is not there to actually engineer or produce my music; he’s there to update the studio and update certain software synthesizers and certain programs … To be really honest, I am just as pissed as everybody else. If it says, “This record is by so-and-so,” it should be by so-and-so, not by somebody else.

Do you have plans for your wife sing on any of your tracks again?

Actually, it’s quite funny, because “Together We Will Conquer” is on the best-of because many people asked for it… we probably will. I told her that she has such a cute voice and such a great voice that we definitely should do something again in terms of her singing.

You have a strong in interest in politics. Is there anything you’re particularly passionate about these days?

A lot of things, obviously. There’s the big financial situation right now that has an impact globally. I have to say that the foreign policies that Obama’s putting on and the way he’s handling that? I think he’s doing a very good job. At the very same time, he didn’t really have another choice than going around now and shaking people’s hands after you had the Bush administration. If somebody else than Bush comes along and smiles, that’s already a plus. So I think he’s doing a very good job in terms of actually painting a better picture of America and the Americans all over the world. In terms of handling the [economic] crisis, internally in America… I think he’s not as settled in his office yet as he should be in order to really do everything he should do. But… you cannot blame him. He’s only be in office for like 12 weeks or something. In order to actually really have an impact, you really have to run Washington and I think that’s not quite the way it is right now.

You’ve said your next artist album should be out in 2010. How is it coming along?

I’m going into the proper production phase and finishing everything off pretty much after the summer. The whole idea is fixed, so it’s just basically taking the time and doing it. It’s like, you know exactly what you want to paint, and all you need to do is get the colors onto the paper.

(Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly and at

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