Exclusive Interview: Paul Van Dyk Talks Dreamstate And Matters Of Industry Vs. Artistry


As far as electronic music artists go, you’re one of the most outspoken about changes in the industry and how they negatively impact the music itself. What do you think makes you so impassioned about these issues?

PVD: As soon as you raise this question and use words like “industry” – industry is almost like the opposite in meaning to artistry. If you create a set or a track based on industry standards, you come up with something that’s just average and cheesy. That’s what you do, because if you try to find the common musical sense – you use something that already exists – you’re never gonna go and break the boundaries. You’re never gonna go and find something that just comes from you – because that you will not be the industry standard. Because when it comes from you, then you’re ahead of the curve. You are something unique, you are something special, and this is when it becomes tricky in terms of the industry.

I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years. I’m in the very lucky position that I’m actually able to do what I love and do it so much and still make money. At the same time I took a very conscious artistic position on many things, on not doing certain things – because I couldn’t live with it. I’m a musician, and electronic music is what I love. I cannot bastardize it. I just couldn’t.

It’s about the music, it’s about that straightforward approach between my audience and my music. I don’t like a marketing manager telling me, “You need to do this in order to sell more.” I know I would, but at the end of the day it’s much more satisfying to know you have that connection to your audience and to the people that enjoy your music – and even then, there are some things that I’m more proud of and some that I’m maybe a little less proud of, and I think that’s normal, but at the end of the day, I can consciously say that all of the decisions I made were very artistically driven rather than dictated by what you call the industry.

And you would encourage other people to do the same?

PVD: Everybody has to find their way, but to me, music means a lot. You know, when I was in East Germany, music was the only gateway for me to the free society, so music has a very important standing in my life. So if I have to listen to shit music, I feel offended. I’m almost, like, an extremist for that. I know that my positions towards certain things, certain artists, certain music are very extreme, but they come from that – they come from how important music is to me.

That’s how it should be, though.

PVD: Well just look around, look at the top ten Billboard charts and tell me the same (Laughs). It really is about music that comes from the heart, that comes from the soul – that’s what drives me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do what I still do.

Right now, “pure trance” is a big buzz word that’s surrounding this festival. I know you don’t consider your music trance, but what do you think of what’s being termed the pure trance movement as a return to more classical sounds?

PVD: It’s almost like another marketing perspective, so to me, I’m not looking at it like this. First of all, the music that has been labeled “trance” in the past has never gone away. There are always people that have liked the positive musicality of it, the energy of this music – and it’s just always been around. It’s been, maybe, a little bit left-sided by the mainstream media, but as I’m saying it I’m living proof. I’m touring around the world constantly, and I’ve got more booking offers than I can possibly play. The music that I represent is obviously very, very alive. I think it is a very clear sign behind the creative process that Insomniac, as an example, would focus on that music and create a festival scenario around it – I think that’s a very clear indication that this is something for the future.

This is nothing of the past; this is something that’s going to last. You’ll get a lot of those other sub genres that became popular, and a lot of the five-minute-fame pop stars of this world, and they don’t have any of the artistic impact on the future that this music has. The people you see here onstage, you will see them in five years, and in ten years, because they’re artists. They’re not just people that are being put in place by some management group or something. They’re here because they have something to give. People know that, and the audience knows that, and if you have up-front promoters like the Insomniac guys, they see that.

This concludes our interview, but we would like to thank Paul Van Dyk very much for his time.