Paul van Dyk: Speaking His Mind …

By • Oct 8th, 2006 • Category: Interviews

Paul van Dyk is a busy man, and arguably the greatest living force in electronic music. Whether it’s boarding an estimated 250 airplanes per year or cramming his countless interviews into one marathon day, the German DJ extraordinaire keeps up a rampant pace. Sometime between whirlwind flights to and from Berlin to perform at some of the world’s largest festivals, the 34 year-old superstar found time to relax and chat with us while driving his car — even if Chicago Innerview was on speakerphone.

It all comes with the territory for the man who topped the DJ Magazine “Top 100 DJ List” in 2005. With a new album slated for a spring 2007 release — his first since 2003 — the pioneer of progressive trance and acid house production has somehow also found time in his jet-setting ways to start an online radio station, set up residencies all around the world and take a strong stance against the war in Iraq.

Chicago Innerview: You just wrapped up two shows in New York’s Central Park.
Paul van Dyk: Such a very special location with so much history, it was one of the most intense shows I have ever been a part of. But I put the same amount of me into everything.

Chicago Innerview: Like your Internet radio station,
Paul van Dyk: I don’t want to be a part of the downloading Internet age. The entire music industry has suffered from illegal downloading, and a lot of people want to blame the kids. But nobody has explained to them that if they download the music of one artist, they hurt all artists. That is where the record companies made a mistake. I don’t want to speak for other kinds of music because I just know electronic, but before, a lot of things came only on vinyl. So if a kid wanted to listen to that music on a computer, it had to be ripped illegally.

CI: Doesn’t the Internet make it easier to be a semi-star, but harder to be a superstar?
PVD: The only global artists we have right now were made in the ’80s — Madonna, U2. Robbie Williams is a huge artist here and you don’t really care for him in the States. At the same time, a lot of bands you have there we don’t know anything about. And the bands that won the MTV Music Awards recently I have never heard of in my entire life…We don’t have college radio here. Obviously the bands that won those awards were marketed on college radio.

CI: But electronic music is extremely global. Is that because it is less about the performer and more about the audience?
PVD: When I perform, I don’t sit down and think ‘I’m going to do this,’ or ‘I want to say this tonight.’ It is all about the music, not so much the performance, like with a band. In my head I guess I’m just still a raving kid, and if I wasn’t up there I’d be on the ground jumping around. I feel the same as I always have and I don’t want to distance myself. Sometimes at festivals I want to be off in the corner jumping up and down.

CI: So the experience is why so many electronic acts translate worldwide?
PVD: Well, there are a lot of really horrible electronic bands, too. I’d say the good bands are the global ones…You have to approach listening like an experience. That is why it can connect with people with different cultural backgrounds. It’s like with lyrics, you don’t want to use them to tell the whole story. You just want to use them as punchlines toward an issue and let people fill in the rest. That way it can apply to whatever people want it to and [they can] feel more connected to it.

CI: You’re very political. Ever want to interject more of your opinion with more lyrics?
PVD: Not at all. I think in the club, using a specific line about how what George W. Bush is doing in Iraq is wrong would turn some people off. There are other avenues to speak my mind. Like during interviews.

CI: So speak your mind.
PVD: Speech is the basis for democracy. I am going to speak my mind and if you don’t like it, my response to that is ‘I don’t care.’ Sometimes people say I should say a certain thing or act a certain way, but every part of me touches my music. So when you hear my music you have to know my beliefs are in there, even if I don’t use lyrics or say things about them in my songs. I’m a complete package and my beliefs are a part of my music.

Chicago Innerview Magazine, October 2006

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