DJ Paul van Dyk says music brings people together and transcends barriers
A veteran of the electronic-music scene who was dropping records when Avicii was still at nursery school, the German producer Paul van Dyk scored one of dance music’s first crossover radio smashes with 1998 re-release For an Angel.
Quickly promoted to one of the emerging genre’s first poster boys, he held tight at the top for more than a decade, heading the first two editions of DJ Mag’s influential Top 100 DJs poll in 2005 and 2006.
On record, he has continued to make increasingly intelligent, organic electronic music over six artist albums and numerous mix discs.
Live, he remains ranked among the world’s busiest decksmiths, racking up numerous visits to Dubai, including a gig at Zero Gravity in February last year, and two huge 2012 shows, at Dubai World Trade Centre for Peppermint’s eight birthday and Sandance NYE.
We caught up with him ahead of his latest performance, at Pacha Ibiza Dubai on Thursday, February 26.
It’s great to have you back in the UAE. I’ve lost count of how many times you’ve played in Dubai – eight?
Thanks. Truth be told, I’ve lost count myself. I’m sure someone out there’s been keeping a better count than we have.
This time it’s a more intimate affair at Pacha. Does that excite you?
Yes, it certainly does. Festivals such as Sandance are fantastic for spreading your music to a massive audience, but you often miss – as you say – the intimacy. You miss catching the reactions on the faces close-up and that’s what club gigs are great for.
Are you a fan of the original Pacha in Ibiza?
I am, certainly. I think you’d find it hard to find anyone who’s been to Ibiza who hasn’t experienced the club. I would say, though, that for someone who travels to Ibiza as often as I do – eight to 10 times a year for the past 15 years or so – it’s a club I’ve spent a disproportionally little amount of time in. Amnesia, on the other hand, I probably know better than my own living room.
You’re not fond of categorisation, but my mum asked me what kind of music you play. What should I say?
I play electronic dance music. What I don’t play is electronic pop music. That, I think, is the most important dividing line these days.
Everyone seems to think Berlin is the heart of the electronic-music world right now. Do you agree?
I think the electronic-music world has at least three or four hearts – capitals, maybe – existing at any one time. In terms of clubbing, yes, I’d agree.
When was the golden era of Berlin’s music scene to you?
Personally, probably around the time I first started DJing. It’s inevitable that I’m going to feel that way, just as it is that any DJs who are cutting their teeth in the city’s clubs now would, in 10 years time, answer 2013 or 2014.
Which producers do you admire today?
I find as much to admire in the younger or newer generation of producers as the older ones. They have a tough line to walk. On one hand, producing music is much easier today than it was when I started out, both in terms of the availability of tools and the costs involved. However, that ease of access means that there are far, far more people trying to get their music heard. So when you do hear producers creating really engaging music that works on the floor – and for me right now, that is people such as Maarten de Jong, Genix, Ben Nicky, Las Salinas and others – the appreciation is that much stronger.
Have you ever been tempted to do a big, EDM-style single? It worked for Armin van Buuren ...
Tempted? Not even a little bit.
What was the first record you bought?
The world is experiencing troubled times – you’re known as a politically conscious musician – what role can music play in bringing people together?
Music will always bring people together and transcend barriers. I learnt that lesson early when I saw Arabs dancing alongside Jews in Ibiza in the 1990s. It’s a lesson I’ll never forget, and it sometimes makes me wonder if there’s really any stronger force in the world than music.
• Paul van Dyk is at Pacha Ibiza Dubai, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, on Thursday, February 26. Doors at 11pm. Advance tickets Dh200 from platinumlist.ae
Updated: February 25, 2015 04:00 AM