Interview:Electronic Superstar

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3




Paul van Dyk:

Electronic Superstar


Part 1: Making Personal Music / The Composing Process


Paul van Dyk is a true global electronic superstar. The German-born musician, who still lives in Germany and hosts a weekly radio show there, is one of the world's most popular DJs. Confirming his status, Mixmag named him 1999's "Man of the Year," just one of several accolades he received at year's end. DJ Magazine awarded him the title of "No. 1 Producer", while Ministry of Sound magazine dubbed him "Best International DJ".


As all of these honors indicate, van Dyk is a multi-faceted performer, with his mixing hand in multiple arenas. Currently still maintaining a very busy DJ schedule, van Dyk's main priority has returned to making his own music.


Out There and Back is an often dazzling two-CD set that van Dyk calls his most personal work yet. Radiating warmth and emotion throughout, the disc moves flawlessly from the opening "Vega" to such tracks as the moving "Face to Face" and the smooth "Tell Me Why (The Riddle)," featuring St. Etienne. Known as much for his strong anti-drug stance as his world-renowned DJ sets, Paul van Dyk stands out as one of electronic music 's most unique personalities. I was looking on your website at a list of your upcoming DJ gigs; you keep a very busy schedule.


Paul van Dyk: It looks like a lot but I fly in when I have to play and then I go straight back home again so I never really adjust to the time zone that I am playing in. I stay on German time, so it's not too exhausting. And I have so much fun with what I'm doing and I get so much energy back from the crowd that although sometimes I'm exhausted, the whole process of what I'm doing doesn't feel tiring or exhausting. Is Out There and Back the most personal album you've done to date?


Van Dyk: Definitely. Some of the ideas grew through some pretty tough times I went through last year and when I recorded them, I was sort of overwrought. So even when I went to the studio I never had a clear idea about style or whatever I had in mind. I had this atmosphere I wanted to bring across -- when I felt sad, and when I was really happy. Because the music really developed while I working on it; it is really intense and personal. I worked on a track until I felt what was coming across was where I was coming from. Tell me a little bit about the composing process. Do you have material before you record, or is it all created in the studio?


Van Dyk: Well, I have this feeling or this idea. Take the track "Pikes" as an example. When I play in Ibiza, I fly in Thursday nights and I fly out Friday morning, so I don't really stay there. Last year I stayed one day longer and experienced Ibiza, which was really warm and really cultural as well. When I came back, I went in the studio to work, and I had this warm, beautiful summer feeling. So I started trying to recreate the atmosphere. I put some strings out and created atmosphere with some big patch sounds. It just developed. It's not like there's a normal way I usually do it. Every way is different. For example, "Avenue" came by complete surprise when actually I wanted to do an ambient thing. I went into the studio and got really bored because it was not energetic enough. Suddenly I started speeding stuff up and putting sequences in and then it was "Avenue." It's really different all the time what can strike me. Are you surprised sometimes by what comes out?


Van Dyk: All the time. To make a certain style of music you have to be in the mood for it. If you're just thinking, "Okay I'm going to go in the studio and make banging techno," but you're feeling kind of down and into something more ambient, breakbeat-y or whatever, then you're never going to make a proper techno tune. This is why I said when I went into the studio the main thing was the mood I was in. Then I just started creating some music around it.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3