2007 alone has brought us PvD remixes of Depeche Mode's "Martyr" and Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around." PvD received a Grammy nomination in 2005 for Best Dance/Electronic Album for his original album Reflections – this marked the first time NARAS recognized this category. His original productions from Reflections have been synced into major motion pictures such as Into the Blue, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, television's Entertainment Tonight and MTV's Cribs, and international ad campaigns for Motorola, HBO, Land Rover, Ski Vail and most recently for Jeep. This year he won the International Dance Music Award (IDMA) for Best Euro DJ.
Paul Van Dyk: Very good! I've been to a lot of places, a lot of great events, and yes, it is great so far.
Beat Factor: So how long will it still take?
Paul Van Dyk: I'm constantly touring, but the promotional tour for the album will probably take another two or three months.
Beat Factor: You've recently released a new single from the album "In Between", called "Let Go", which features Rea Garvey's voice. How come you got in touch with the pop-rock singer?
Paul Van Dyk: First of all, this is not the first time when I'm doing something like this. I did remixes for U2, New Order and many other rock bands. Especially with Rea, a few years ago there was a record called Be.Angeled by Jam & Spoon, and he was singing on the record as well. And my record label Vandit Records released the record then, so ever since we have known each other we have always wanted to do something together. And it happened to work out for the album.
Beat Factor: Was it your idea to combine elements from rock music with electronic music?
Paul Van Dyk: It's not my idea to combine rock music with electronic music, it is basically my idea to incorporate interesting elements of other musical styles as well. Because it's not just about one thing, it's about music in general, as long as it's interesting.
Beat Factor: This single comes with a solid package of remixes. Do you anticipate a big success, after the previous "White Lies" EP?
Paul Van Dyk: The thing is I'm not making remixes because I anticipate a big success. Basically this track has a lot of different artistic angles to it. And exploring these angles means a lot of different remixes and this is how they came along. So if you take the two remixes, they are completely different each other, and also completely different from the original track.
Beat Factor: With this new album on the shelves, do you think it will change the global vision upon the electronic music scene? Since this album has this big mainstream attitude, what underground elements your music still features?
Paul Van Dyk: Well, first of all I don't think this album actually has a lot of mainstream elements. The thing is that the roots of my music are definitely within the basement techno clubs in Berlin. This is where my music comes from, and the thing is that I'm not closed off and I'm not actually limiting myself, like not to do things. For me it's interesting to involve different elements into music and create something unique. That's much more important than any commercial or underground value. For me it's all about the music, and at the end of the day this is what counts. I'm very proud of the album, and in term of commercial success I could have done something which is really commercial, if I really wanted to. I didn't do it, because I didn't want to, so that's the underground value.
Beat Factor: So this album defines you as an artist..
Paul Van Dyk: I guess everything I do defines me as an artist, because I am an artist.
Beat Factor: You have reached the fourth position in this year's DJ Mag Top 100, after being in the top of the list for two year. How do you think this will affect you as an artist? Are these results still relevant for you?
Paul Van Dyk: This is not going to change anything for me, because it didn't change anything for me before. Even when I was number one I said it's totally irrelevant, it didn't mean much. And the other thing as well, with all the cheating going on this year, I don't think how much of an honor it is to be part of that list, to be honest. So, I don't really care.
Beat Factor: In the past did you have a different attitude than now?
Paul Van Dyk: In the past I always said that there wouldn't be number one without number one hundred. We all are equally important in this thing and I also said it's an honor to be on the top of that list. At the same time, with all the cheating and bullshit that went on this year, I don't think it is an honor to be on top of that list. Because the question still is "did the people who are in top of that list cheat or not?"; because you don't really know. So therefore, I don't think it's much of an honor to be part of that list anymore, that's one thing, and the other thing is that especially in the last year one thing changed very drastically. It's not about working in the club, playing good sets anymore, having a relevance to your crowd; it's more about working and doing marketing within certain check boards in the internet. And I don't think this is what it's all about.
It's actually about making music, playing music which is relevant to the electronic world, and presenting that music in a way that you would interact with your crowd. This is actually what's going on. I'm very enthusiastic and passionate about what I do, I have always been and I always will be. And that list actually doesn't really reflect any of those things. As an example, some of my favorite DJs are even in the top 30 or top 40 of that list. At the same time, whenever I play they play with me, to the biggest crowds in the world; and they play the best sets ever.
Beat Factor: May I ask what are your favorite DJs?
Paul Van Dyk: Some of the guys that I really like, such as Austin Leeds, Santiago Niño...there are so many..
Beat Factor: Maybe Alex Morph? He will play before you in Bucharest in December..
Paul Van Dyk: Alex Morph yes! Also Sander Kleinenberg, there are so many names, so many fantastic DJs, and they are not even featured on that list. That list doens't feature almost anything that I enjoy.
Beat Factor: Technical wise, I read on some magazines that you're also doing live acts recently. In what measure do you improvise when you're playing live on the stage?
Paul Van Dyk: Well, completely, because I have musicians with me, and you can never sort of know before what they are actually going to do. When I play, I have two computer systems with me on stage. Both of them are running Ableton Live, there's a lot of midi sequences and software synthesizers. I have a midi controller, a customized mixer, so when I play on my own it's actually more a live act than a regular DJ set. So that's what I'm going to do in Romania as well. And the other thing is happening sometimes: I have a drummer with me, a keyboard player and a vocalist from the album, and it's like a whole album presentation as well, that comes along with it. And this obviously it's even more live.
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Paul Van Dyk: The scene is big yes, but at the same time I don't think I have the attitude of a rock star. I can only speak from myself. First of all, I see myself as a musician and my favorite music is electronic music. And the most common sense of basically presenting that music in front of an audience is the DJ-ing. Then I develop the whole concept of DJing further, into one I actually enjoy; which is like playing live and being much more interactive with the crowd than I could be if I'll only play two CDs or two records. And this is what I do.
And the other thing is that electronic music grew from a little sub culture, into the biggest global music culture in the world. And off course, ends up having big festivals, with thousands people sometimes, just as much as a rock band. I mean if you see some of the big rock festivals, they have less people than some of the big dance festivals. I think electronic music it's an own style of music, it's an own following, we have our own festivals; it's difficult to make connections between those. It's music at the end of the day, and there are musicians presenting it. That's it.
Beat Factor: You'll be playing in Romania again, on December 22. How do you think the show will sound like?
Paul Van Dyk: Obviously I will play some of the things from the album, because it's the album tour, a lot of new things, I've been to the studio and done a few things. I'm looking forward to it, it's going to be energetic, it's just before Christmas, so it's going to be all good.
Beat Factor: What do you know so far about Romania?
Paul Van Dyk: Before it was really really good, I enjoyed myself. It was a very responsive crowd, very interactive, very powerful. This is why I come back; it's the third or the forth time already that I come back, so that obviously speaks for itself.
Beat Factor: Let's slip into the past for a little. Do you happen to remember any fantastic nights out as a clubber?
Paul Van Dyk: Off course! First of all I have to say that I'm still a raver, I love this music, and I'm a total freak when it comes about this music. If I wouldn't be on stage, I would be down on the dance floor, dancing. I'm still having the same enthusiasm for this. I remember all the early days at the big events here in Berlin, and the legendary clubs from here.
Beat Factor: Your history is pretty similar to the Romanians history, before the fall of the communism regime. Do you have any memories that marked you from that time?
Paul Van Dyk: Yes, off course, there are a lot of memories that I still have; probably in respect with music. It was probably the same in Romania, we didn't have any record stores, we couldn't actually buy any magazines and read anything about our favorite artists. So my musical education came from the radio, so that's something special, I believe.
Beat Factor: David Bowie, a rock super star, said that Berlin is 'the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.' What do you think about it?
Paul Van Dyk: Well, he actually said that in the 70s. The thing is that when David Bowie said it, you should not forget an isolated city with a very isolated unique scene, which it was very interesting from everybody who came from the outside. And he said that in the seventies. With respect of now and electronic music, I have to say that is nothing influential coming from Berlin since quite some time, with very few exceptions. If you listen to a lot of that minimal sound coming from Berlin, it sounds exactly the same like 15 years ago. There's no development, there's no improvement, doesn't sound any better from back then. To be honest, I rather listen to the old stuff than to the new stuff. In terms of influencing people, there's not much happening, and at the end of the day, even the early stuff, the early sound of Berlin was influenced by people like Richie Hawtin. He's still the driving force in that sound. So I don't think that so much artistic musical side was influenced by Berlin; not at all. If you really look at it, it's not the case.
Beat Factor: So Berlin is not a big source of inspiration for you..
Paul Van Dyk: No, not at all.
Beat Factor: Then what inspires you?
Paul Van Dyk: Well, life in general is an inspiration. As an example, Berlin is an inspiration as long as it goes never to be as boring and never to actually be as lazy as most of the things that are happening here; so it's kind of shows you how not to do it.
On the other hand, life in general is an inspiration. I will be amazingly impressed when I'm coming to Bucharest again, and see the crowd, and feel the crowd. That's going to impress me that will be an influence on me. This is what is going to inspire me to make music again. This is a global phenomenon, when you absorb the entire atmosphere, what you see and what you feel.
Beat Factor: In Romania there are many Paul Van Dyk fans. Do you want to say anything to them?
Paul Van Dyk: Thank you very much for all the support from the past, I have always had a great time when I came over, and I'm really looking forward to come back on the 22. So, see you there and we are all going to have a big Christmas party.