In conversation with Armin van Buuren & Sander van Doorn
Recently we had a pleasure speaking with two amazing artists: Armin van Buuren & Sander van Doorn about their new music collaboration.
Please introduce yourselves to our readers.
Armin: I am Armin van Buuren and I make music in my spare time…
Sander: I’m Sander van Doorn, sometimes known as Purple Haze. I’m a Dutch music producer/DJ and proud father.
You both have been in the electronic dance music scene for more than a decade and now finally collaborated together. How was it working together?
Armin: I have always been a fan of Sander van Doorn’s work and a collab between us was long due since he so expertly remixed my track ‘Control Freak’ in 2006. I had a lot of fun with him in the studio and I’m very pleased with how this record turned out.
Sander: The crazy thing is it was probably one of the smoothest collabs each of us have ever done. Most of our time together was working on the melody, but after that it was just about finding the right sounds for the intro and it was pretty much ready to go. We both have a similar (broad) approach to music, and not to mention we’ve been friends for years, so it’s only natural for it to go like this.
Do you have any distinct musical memories from childhood that have shaped you as artists?
Armin: I first got in touch with dance music when I was still in primary school. A friend of mine gave me a tape cassette with short mixtapes Ben Liebrand, and I instantly fell in love with it. That’s when I caught the dance music bug, so I can safely say that moment shaped me as an artist.
Sander: Definitely listening to music with my dad. He introduced me to Jean-Michel Jarre at a young age and I was always fascinated by how he wrote and produced. I think a life with electronic music was inevitable at that point.
Your newest release „Jonson's Play“ was released on June 11th: What was the inspiration or story behind?
Armin: We just felt it was time to finally build a record together. So we sat down in the studio, inspired each other and made magic happen. That’s how beautifully simple making music can be sometimes.
Sander: People have been asking about a collab for years and now everything was in place that we could work together, so it just felt like the right moment. All those years of almost working together definitely meant we had a bunch of inspiration ready to go.
‘Jonson's Play’ is hypnotizing! How would you describe or characterize the sound of this trance track?
Armin: I think it’s really well balanced between power, impact and melodic intent, making it the perfect collision of the signature sounds of Sander and I. You could also say it draws from melodic techno slightly, mostly in the intro.
Sander: It didn't take us long to find a perfect blend between both of our styles so then it became about making sure it had power in every sense of the word. That’s why it opens a bit tougher, with the kick and bassline bringing some attitude to grab your attention early on. The melody also has that balance, which is mostly uplifting but with a few sad notes to give it a hint of melancholy. It really turned out perfect and I can’t wait to play it for a crowd.
What are some of the highlights of your career so far and what are you most looking forward to in the future?
Armin: The ‘The Best Of Armin Only’ shows are definitely among my latest highlights. It was so special to connect with the crowd through nothing but my own life’s work as a producer, with guest performances from some of the most incredible persons I ever got the work with. And I definitely look forward to connecting with my fans again, to see them and share music with them live on stage.
Sander: I’ve been fortunate to have many highlights in my career but I’d say the Purple Haze album is definitely up there. Being able to dive into the studio and write short stories based purely on what I felt at that moment without any boundaries, building a show around the story and then share it with my fans was such a great experience for me. It definitely shaped how I see the future of my career. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet and work with so many great people. I even met my beautiful wife with this job so you can imagine the list of highlights is endless.
What were your greatest/ most memorable gigs/ festivals/ highlights of your career and which festivals will you be performing at this Summer?
Armin: Some of the most precious memories I have are of Untold Festival in Romania (those epically long sets), Tomorrowland (sharing the birth of my son with the crowd) and the worldwide ASOT events. What we can and can’t due this summer is still a bit unclear, but I hope I’ll be able to reconnect with fans from all over the world again by playing sets in as many different countries as possible.
Sander: The bigger festival shows like Tomorrowland, Ultra and EDC all come to mind first, but it’s probably the hardest question for me to answer because each gig is special in its own way. I have so many fond memories of touring and meeting people from different cultures and can’t wait to get back on the road soon. It’s hard to say for sure what will go ahead this summer but my first confirmed gig will be Croatia in a couple of weeks and I’m beyond exited.
What have you missed most about performing live in the past year?
Armin: The fans, the energy and that feeling you get when you share a connection with someone through music. There aren’t any substitutes for that, so I’m really happy that most of the world is slowly opening up again.
Sander: The energy of a crowd and being surrounded by people who share the same passion. That combination is the ultimate source of inspiration for me and it’s exciting to see everything coming back to life.
Are you prepared for touring again and what are you most looking forward to with touring and performing?
Armin: I’m definitely ready to go on tour again. I didn’t miss the jet lags and being away from home, but traveling and visiting so many countries has its own charm. Touring can be magical and takes you to some of the most amazing places (and people) on earth, so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing my fans from all over the world again.
Sander: I’ve never been more ready. The break was welcome at first so I could spend more time with my family and work in the studio but I definitely miss my fans a lot. Touring can be such a great adventure and all those people on the journey have been a big part of my life so I can’t wait to see them again.
Armin tell us a little bit more about your „ A State of Trance“ project. Are you excited to be in Utrecht on stage again soon?
Celebrating the 1000th episode this year was (and is) such an incredible milestone. I’m really proud of everyone involved for helping me get there. I can’t wait to finally celebrate that epic career highlight with everyone in Utrecht, the Netherlands coming September.
Will you be performing at ADE this year?
Armin: I will, actually! At Amsterdam Music Festival (AMF)!
Sander: Nothing I can confirm publicly yet but I definitely won’t be missing one of the best weeks of the year right on my doorstep.
What are some of your general highlights during ADE each year?
Armin: Mostly how the entire city of Amsterdam just breathes dance music for a whole week. That’s just pure joy! I get to meet my industry friends, connect with fans and have a blast with the team. Always looking forward to that!
Sander: There’s so many good moments but it’s the overall vibe that makes it. Everyone coming together in the same setting, enjoying music, partying, catching up and connecting about potential projects we can all do together in the future. It’s really a breeding ground for inspiration and great stories.
What advice would you give to aspiring producers or DJs who are just starting their musical career?
Armin: It may be one of the hardest things there is, but standing out is also the most important part. You’ve got to stay true to yourself and try to create something that’s new and refreshing. Copying other artists can be great if you’re still learning in the early stages of your career, but you’ve got to spread your wings and fly on your own eventually. So don’t just blindly follow what others do; decide for yourself what kind of music you want to make and where this musical journey will take you.
Sander: To add to what Armin said, think about the “why” as much as the “how” when you’re looking to others for inspiration in those early stages. If you can figure out their motivation and inspiration behind specific creative choices on songs, you’ll learn much more valuable lessons that will grow beyond replicating their work. Also always keep pushing yourself to learn and keep an open-mind. Music is constantly evolving technically and creatively, so those mindsets will help you find your own path to create something unique and authentic. It won’t happen overnight but if you dedicate yourself to it and work from what you feel, the result will feel infinitely better because it’s real and something you believe in.
Magdalena Roe & Timi Letonja and Daniel Sars