On One With Paul van Dyk

We run around festivals, touting pony beads and promoting PLUR, but how many of us actually live by the credo of Peace, Love, Unity and Respect? And if we do, wouldn’t it be better to run around in shoes and shades created for a good cause? Legendary DJ/producer Paul van Dyk has a new charitable partnership that will make you want to up your style game—plus, you’ll look cool while doing so. Though you should definitely nab his latest single, “Come With Me” (with Ummet Ozcan), prepare for his Politics of Dancing 3release this fall, and check out one of his fantastic live sets for Awakening Fridays at Exchange L.A. on August 29, it’s his heart of gold that we’re currently hot on. Insomniac.com goes On One with Paul van Dyk about why giving back is a big part of his mission—and hopefully will become part of yours.

Here’s Paul van Dyk in his own words:

“It doesn’t really matter if someone has an endorsement deal with a big commercial retailer, as long as they do something good with it somehow.”

There are so many issues that need to be solved on the planet. Through personal experience and contact, [there are] a few things that I’m very heavily involved in. One is a charity organization in Mumbai [called The Akanksha Foundation] that supports kids that live in the worst countries in the slums, as well as Rückenwind in Berlin, on the same level focusing on the poverty that we have in Berlin. It’s the poorest kids that come from an unfortunate family background and something that basically doesn’t give them the possibility to have a proper opportunity in their life. We try to make up for that and give them the support needed to basically have a future.

To me, it’s about democracy. I grew up in East Germany, so I know what it’s like to not have the freedom of speech and a possibility to actually develop into what you want to become. Democracy is very basic: It’s about tolerance, it’s about respect, and it’s also about the fact that democracy and the democratic system are only as good as people getting involved. It can be little things, like helping a granny over the road, stuff like this, and it continues toward responsibility. I then see for people that have the financial ability or have time or the knowledge to get involved to make the world—I know it’s a bit like a statement—but make the world a better place. We’re all responsible for what’s going on here, and this is what I believe in. It’s not that much to do with DJs having a bigger responsibility than the people that go to the clubs. I think we all share the same responsibility—of course, it’s according to the ability of how we help—but I think we all have to, and we all should.

Since I’m involved in a few charity things, apparently people from TOMS heard about it and thought it was a good combination. We had a meeting, and I agreed. We started to work on it. It was very simple: They reached out, and we loved the idea and made it happen.

We tried to keep the uniqueness of the TOMS shoe as well bringing the Paul van Dyk element to it. My logo is quite a unique feature, so we thought bringing this in would work. Since electronic music is kind of spaced out, we started working around with this universe/space background to it, and there were different versions. It was a combined effort to find what we like the most. I’ve been to their offices in L.A. and to their design place a few times to sort everything out and get everything ready, and the same goes for the sunglasses.

I think the business concept they have is absolutely phenomenal; it’s almost distributing wealth from people that have enough to buy shoes to people that don’t even have the possibility of buying shoes. The same again goes for the glasses for sight. This one program, I believe, is one of the most clever, most innovative ideas. It was a no-brainer, really. They asked, and I knew about TOMS, and it was very clear it was something that could work very well together.

For me, I had endorsements with big companies for commercial reasons as well; but I take the money I gain from these things, like record sales and touring, and give back with it. It doesn’t really matter if someone has an endorsement deal with a big commercial retailer, as long as they do something good with it somehow. Something like TOMS is just an ideal concept where it’s not just about selling a product; it’s part of the business process whenever someone buys something. You give the same thing to someone who needs it.

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Originally published on Insomniac.com

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