Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren promises to light up ZoukOut

Electronic dance music DJ Armin Van Buuren has been to Singapore more than 15 times.
Electronic dance music DJ Armin Van Buuren has been to Singapore more than 15 times. PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren promises to light up ZoukOut tonight

For Dutch electronic dance music (EDM) maven Armin Van Buuren, his albums are more than just compilations of tracks that he releases every few years.

"It's not just an album, it's a piece of me, a piece of my artistry," he says.

Van Buuren's sixth studio album Embrace, released in October, took two years to be released and he admits he was anxious about getting it out.

For the 38-year-old DJ who plays multiple headlining sets around the world, putting together a DJ set and an album are worlds apart.

"An album I make for myself, but a DJ set I make for the crowd," he tells The Straits Times ahead of his keynote panel discussion at the International Music Summit Asia Pacific at W Hotel yesterday.

"Of course, you hope your fans like it, but when you make an album, the fans are not there," he adds.

Other big names in EDM such as fellow Dutchmen Hardwell and Mr Probz also feature on the LP, with many tracks coming together organically in the studio with his collaborators.

"It's not like I sit with my management and make a plan on how I can sell the most records," Van Buuren explains.

"I just go into the studio with somebody and 'vibe off' each other. That's the reality."

The DJ, who has been in the industry for more than 20 years and is considered one of EDM's pioneers, is on a whirlwind trip to Asia and Australia.

He will headline day two of the annual dance festival ZoukOut in Sentosa tonight. It is the fifth time he is performing at the event, after stints in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.

He credits the crowd here as "one of the best in the whole of Asia".

"It's really one of the most important festivals in Asia, maybe in the world even," he adds.

It is high praise coming from someone who has been voted No. 1 on DJ Mag's Top 100 list five times and whose weekly radio show, A State Of Trance, draws 33 million listeners.

Van Buuren, who is married with two children, has been to Singapore more than 15 times and has also played at Zouk several times.

He says that Zouk founder Lincoln Cheng, who sold the business to conglomerate Genting Hong Kong in October, "has done a great thing" with the 24-year-old club and treated both his customers and DJs well.

"It's not just about booking a famous DJ and cashing in," he says. "As a DJ, I want to work with someone who has a vision like that."

He believes that "people deserve the best because they spend a lot of money for a show like this".

"The days where you just show up with your records and start playing are over. People expect a show," he admits.

He has an impressive stage set-up, complete with lights that move according to how he waves his arms on the climactic track Ping Pong.

His set at ZoukOut will last 11/2 hours and he wants to make sure that "people get the maximum" from it.

So how do you cram the best of Van Buuren into 11/2 hours?

He quips: "It's difficult. I always have too much music to play."

• The second day of ZoukOut will run today from 8pm to 8am at Siloso Beach. Tickets are available at $198 from www.zoukout.com or Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to sistic.com.sg).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2015, with the headline 'Van Buuren: People expect a show'. Print Edition | Subscribe