This is a man driven by an unbridled and relentless passion for music. Armin van Buuren is a born perfectionist, striving to stay on top of the scene he’s helped build. As the flag-bearer of the trance movement, he’s one of the most influential figures in EDM worldwide. Even though he lives an extraordinary life as one of the world’s most popular DJs, he has always remained a down-to-earth guy. Armin van Buuren is constantly on the move, whether creating music in his studio or en route to his next high-end club or festival show around the globe.
Armin: “It’s not just love for music, it’s my passion. It goes beyond liking, and beyond a hobby. It’s about a way of living. Music is essential to my life.”
For more than 20 years, the Grammy-nominated Dutchman has been living to the rhythm of his own international success. His five-time number one position in the critically acclaimed DJ Mag Top 100 DJs Poll has been the result of his loyalty to fans, his creativity in the studio, the perseverance with which he hosts his weekly radio show ‘A State of Trance’, and the energy he brings to the crowds in front of him. Despite the heavy pressure that comes along with being one of the world’s most popular DJs, Armin has always kept his focus on the music. And that’s exactly what keeps him going.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Born in Leiden, The Netherlands (December 25, 1976) to a musical family, Armin indulged his passion for music from a young age. He spent all the money he earned from his paper route on records. His mom won a computer when he was 10, piquing Armin’s interest in technology. “So as a little nerdy kid I was writing my own basic programs and learnt about the technology from there.” Armin progressed from making low-profile mix tapes for friends to higher profile mixes when he discovered experimenting with different sequences on his computer through his uncle. “I was so stunned by what I saw him doing on the computer that I got addicted to creating music right there and then!”
“I loved dance music immediately – this great rebellious sound that was so different to the ‘beautiful’ songs of the years before.” Armin cites electronic pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre as a major influence, as well as Dutch producer Ben Liebrand, who later mentored him in his mixing and producing.
In the early days, Armin thought it was wise to have a back-up plan, and so he studied for a law degree. The final year of his course was inevitably stretched out as he juggled his studies with his increasingly hectic schedule; his rise to fame included lots of productions and remixes, as well as playing in front of packed clubs every weekend. It took him three years to graduate, but his determination made him succeed.
Despite having a Master’s degree in Law, the main ingredient in Armin’s life has always been music. Armin: “I see it as my responsibility to promote trance as a genre, and I want to support it in every way I can. Music should connect us. As long as the music keeps evolving like it is, I will continue and I don’t see any reason to slow it down.”
No matter how many hours Armin van Buuren has travelled to get there, as soon as he enters the DJ booth, the Dutchman puts his full focus on the music, the crowd, and how those two will combine. Once the beats of his first record have kicked in, the room lights up and chanting starts to fill the air. To witness a set by Armin van Buuren is to be blown away — to lose yourself completely in the music and become one with the people around you. Mixing seamlessly, he has created his own sound and style, making his DJ sets a truly unique experience. He unites millions, not only through the gigs in his challenging schedule, but also through his ‘Armin Only’ and ‘A State of Trance’ world tours.
His busy life as a DJ has inspired countless people both personally and professionally. In 2009, Dutch author Coen Bom presented his on-the-road biography of Armin, called ‘Eén op één’ / ‘Armin Only’, in which he reported on the hectic life of Armin and tried to find the secret behind the grand success of the humble Dutchman. In October 2012, the official documentary ‘A Year With Armin van Buuren’ was released, in which Armin was followed during an important year in his life, offering a unique look behind the scenes and inside his personality. Again and again, his life as a superstar DJ continues to inspire others.
Armin has had the privilege of performing at some of the world’s biggest and best festivals, clubs, events, and shows. One of the highlights of his career was Armin’s performance for the newly crowned King and Queen of The Netherlands in 2013, Willem-Alexander and Máxima. Together with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, in front of the monarchs and 15,000 fans, he performed both ‘The Bolero’ as well as an orchestral version of the title track from his ‘Intense’ album. During the ‘Koningsvaart’ (a special, cultural boat-trip through the city of Amsterdam), the King and Queen surprised both the crowd as well as Armin by getting on stage and dancing along with him.
Without question another memorable highlight of Armin’s career was his DJ set at the Museumplein in Amsterdam in July of 2010, during the ceremonial honoring of the Dutch national soccer team. Even though the national team lost in the FIFA World Cup final, they partied like they were the absolute winners with a crowd of 200,000 strong.
In 2013, Armin’s career hit another milestone when he was the first solo dance artist to play in Madison Square Garden. The event was completely sold out, representing another crowning achievement for the DJ.
After the 2013 summer season ended (along with his residency at the world’s biggest club, Privilege in Ibiza), Armin kicked off a new ‘Armin Only’ world tour based on his ‘Intense’ album, in collaboration with theatre director Jos Thie. More than 33 dates were set, with shows landing in cities such as Kiev, Mumbai, Saint-Petersburg, Helsinki, New York, Toronto, Mexico City, Sydney, Johannesburg, and more. With the ‘Armin Only’ tour, Armin brought out a unique and exclusive show format, which unfolded like the many layers of his ‘Intense’ album. In total, more than 500,000 visitors attended, spanning 5 continents. A ‘Road Movie’ series was also created, documenting behind-the-scenes footage of the entire tour as it took place.
In 2014, Armin began a highly successful weekly residency at the famous Ushuaïa Beach Hotel in Ibiza, playing every Thursday night from June 26th to September 11th alongside top DJs from the Armada Music roster. After the residency, he released a compilation entitled ‘A State of Trance at Ushuaïa Ibiza’ to commemorate the season.
As if to underline the success of the residency, Armin returned to the Ushuaïa Beach Hotel a year later for another ‘A State Of Trance at Ushuaïa, Ibiza’ summer. His performances in the center of the Ushuaïa pool were met with widespread passion and enthusiasm amongst his fans, subsequently leading to the release of the second volume of his Ushuaïa compilation series: ‘A State Of Trance at Ushuaïa, Ibiza 2015’.
On January 26th, 2016, Armin van Buuren brought elation to his worldwide fan base by announcing the first two dates of his brand-new Armin Only Embrace world tour, to which even more dates were added later on as announced live at A State Of Trance Festival Utrecht on February 27th. So far, Armin Only Embrace will bring a spectacular offering to the cities of Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Gdansk (Poland), Dubai (UAE), Sofia (Bulgaria), Minsk (Belarus), and Mexico City (Mexico). More destinations are to be announced soon.
THE RADIO HOST
What started as an obsession for radio has turned into a weekly highlight for more than 37 million listeners, broadcasting to over 100 FM stations and fans from over 84 countries. In June 2001, Armin van Buuren aired the first episode of ‘A State of Trance’. Fourteen years later, he still hosts the weekly 2-hour show, where he presents the biggest tunes of the moment and provides an interactive way for fans to discover new music. Regular features of the show are the ‘Tune of the Week’, ‘A State of Trance Radio Classic’, and the ‘Future Favorite’, which is based on an online voting poll.
Celebrating each milestone, Armin did an extensive world tour based around the 650th episode of ASOT in early 2014. The ‘New Horizons’ world tour landed in the cities of Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Almaty, Utrecht, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Miami. The 8-week tour took place in January, February, and March of 2014 and included nine shows in countries all around the globe, with events broadcast live on the A State of Trance website.
In continuation of the success of ASOT, Armin kicked off his A State of Trance Festival tour. ASOT Festival was a new concept developed for 2015 in conjunction with ASOT Episode #700. Armin van Buuren became the first DJ to have his own festival: the biggest trance festival tour in history. The tour invaded Utrecht, Buenos Aires, Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Sydney and Melbourne, Mexico, and other destinations worldwide. Episode #700 was also the first time that an entirely fan-created show was used, with fans being given the chance to present their favorite tracks on air. Fans were asked to submit voice recordings of themselves introducing their favorite trance tracks of all time, and the resultant songs and recordings were used to create an entirely fan-made episode — it marks the first time in the world a major dance radio show has ever done this.
Reflecting upon the ‘A State of Trance’ world tours, Armin says: “I’m deeply honored by all the positive things that are happening for the show and for the sound in general. I’ve always said ASOT is not only a show for, but also a show by the fans. The show wouldn’t be where it is without the fans, so it feels amazing to see so many people celebrating along. It’s crazy to see groups of fans going crazy to the same music that we’re playing on the other side of the world. People wearing banners, flags, and making their own private party. This is what I meant with ‘turning the world into a dance floor’.”
Each year, the listeners of the show are asked to vote for their favorite records of the year, with the ‘A State of Trance Top 20’ as the official result. Each track on this list ends up in the ‘A State of Trance Year Mix’, released at the end of December. Weeks of editing and mixing come together in a two-hour mega mix showcasing over a hundred tracks and countless memories. Several hundred thousand copies of the series have been sold to date, and the series has been going strong for over ten years. Another series that Armin has linked to the radio show is the ‘A State of Trance Classics’ compilation. After years of providing some of the most essential classics and all-time favorites in EDM, the series continues to commemorate the early days of dance music. Furthermore, Armin was awarded 4x certified Platinum for his ASOT Year Mix series in late 2014.
In addition to the radio show, Armin started the weekly ‘A State of Trance Podcast’ with a selection from the previous episode of the radio show, ensuring that listeners never miss out on any highlights. Every Sunday, Armin also hosts a 24-hour radio day called ‘A State of Sundays’, broadcast on one of the biggest radio stations in the United States: Sirius XM Satellite Radio. In addition to the A State of Trance shows, A State of Sundays also introduces its listeners to the sets and radio shows of other popular DJs and talented artists.
Whenever he’s not on tour or having a daddy-day with his daughter Fenna and son Remy, Armin locks himself up in the studio. Giving meaning to his famous quote “Don’t be a prisoner of your own style”, he explores the boundaries of EDM through his originals and remixes. Some of his most beloved works, such as ‘Communica-tion’, ‘Burned With Desire’, ‘Blue Fear’, ‘Shivers’, and ‘Yet Another Day’, have grown into highly revered classics, withstanding the test of time.
Armin van Buuren can now look back on the success of his ‘76’ (2003), ‘Shivers’ (2005), ‘Imagine’ (2008), ‘Mirage’ (2010), ‘Intense’ (2013) and ‘Embrace’ (2015) albums. ‘Intense’ was nominated for the Dutch Edison Pop Award for ‘Best Dance Album’. The follow-up to his ‘Mirage’ album featured collaborations with Israeli violinist Miri Ben-Ari, Australian duo NERVO, and singers like Trevor Guthrie, Emma Hewitt, Laura Jansen, Fiora, and more. ‘This Is What It Feels Like’ ft. Trevor Guthrie (the first single off the album) was nominated for the Grammy award for ‘Best Dance Recording’ and also received a nomination for a Canadian Juno Award. It became a world-wide hit, reaching A-List rotation on radio stations all across the globe and receiving silver, gold, platinum, and double platinum certifications in countries such as Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, Australia, and Italy. The video has reached over 64 million views to date.
After presenting his fans with a fresh Armin van Buuren presents. Rising Star record (‘Safe Inside You’ feat. Betsie Larkin), an official remix of the ‘Game Of Thrones Theme’, and a collaboration with Electronic Music pio-neer Jean-Michel Jarre (‘Stardust’), Armin announced the name of his forthcoming artist album during his ASOT radio show on Thursday September 3rd of 2015.
‘Embrace’ emerged as Armin’s sixth full-length artist album on October 29th, filled with remarkable collabora-tions with the likes of Mr. Probz (‘Another You’), Hardwell (‘Off The Hook’), Cimo Fränkel (‘Strong Ones’), world-famous Dutch Jazz trumpeter Eric Vloeimans (‘Embrace’) award-winning Dutch band Kensington (‘Heading Up High’), and fellow Grammy nominee Gavin DeGraw (‘Looking For Your Name’).
Said Armin of the stylistic diversity of ‘Embrace’, “Each of the instruments you see on the album cover – which was shot by Anton Corbijn – was an instrument actually used on the album! I thought it would be a real challenge to myself to try to create dance music using all of these disparate instruments. I really wanted to push myself past my comfort zone and create something very exciting not just for me, but for all the lovers of music out there. I hope you enjoy it.” Judging by the ecstatic reaction of audiences whenever Armin plays his album cuts onstage, he has, once again, succeeded.
THE LABEL OWNER
In 2003, plans emerged to set up a record label: Armada Music. Together with Maykel Piron and David Lewis (Ar-Ma-Da), Armin built the foundation of one of the most successful record labels worldwide. Armada Music (voted ‘Best Global Record Label’ five years in a row) is home to more than 20 sub-labels and releases productions by some of the industry’s biggest names and rising talents. Armin’s very own ‘Armind’ and ‘A State of Trance’ labels have found a safe haven at Armada Music, as well as his ‘A State of Trance’ compilation series and artist albums.
With imprints such as Armada Trice, Armada Deep, Armada Captivating, and The Bearded Man as the main pillars of the record label, the biggest Trance label in the world has branched out to a whole array of different styles and genres, with Lost Frequencies’ hit singles ‘Are You With Me’ and ‘Reality’ (feat. Janieck Devy) as prime examples of ensued success.
Within the twelve years of its existence, Armada Music has become one of the most diverse record labels in Electronic Music, with over 50 employees working their hardest to ensure the prolonged growth of Armada.
Despite his ambitious and hectic schedule, Armin still serves as A&R of the Armind, WAO138?!, and A State of Trance labels.