One of the first DJs to explode into mainstream stardom, Paul Van Dyk won the first-ever Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Album in 2003. Van Dyk didn't stop there: He was named No. 1 DJ in the world for two consecutive years as he went on to sell over three million albums.
Westword caught up with Van Dyk during his tour through Asia, just before he set off across the United States, through Denver, on his way to Europe to play Ibiza and a few music festivals this summer.
Many, but Ibiza is uppermost at the moment. I’m resuming my summer residency at Cream, Amnesia, playing the opening party on the ninth of June.
Wow. Ibiza in the summertime. How many shows are you playing there?
There are eight more shows throughout June, July, August and September. Aside from that, there’s the whole summer festival season, including shows at Creamfields and Nature One, just to name a few.
What do you think about the fairly steady growth of music festivals and nightclubs in the U.S.?
Mainly positive thoughts and feelings. I think clubs and arenas are great places for genre-specific events. There’s an increase in so-called boutique festivals that focus on a specific genres instead of a mishmash, which I like.
You constantly play Ibiza and have risen to the zenith of European clubs. What's it like to play a club like Beta?
I love playing at Beta. It’s a very intense, almost intimate venue, and the audience comes for the music. I like that a lot. I hope to see Denver’s electronic-music family at my show there. I’ve a feeling it’s going to be one to remember.
What do you like about coming to Colorado?
I’ve been coming over to play in Denver since the late ’90s. Colorado’s a beautiful state. I’ll never get tired of visiting. The only wish I have is that I could spend more time there and experience more of it.
Do you think dance music has securely embedded itself in pop culture?
It depends on your definition what pop culture is. If your definition is it being straight-out popular, then it’s a clear yes. Trance music has, over decades now, inspired and excited millions of people. Hence, the ongoing success of this genre. It also shows, though, that you don’t have to be meaningless as an artist to sustain a career.
I hear you have a charity that promotes political discourse in Germany. How do you think politics are shaping the way people seek electronic/dance music and will shape future listeners?
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Electronic music’s primary capability in the political field is diplomacy. Dance floors break down barriers. It brings people together who otherwise would be unlikely to do so. As a first step toward getting people in the same room as each other, its use cannot be underestimated.
Do you think this is something new with the current climate?
I saw this for the first time many years ago in Ibiza, and it left the most profound of impressions on me. I saw Arab friends dancing alongside Jewish friends with only happiness, acceptance and love of music in their hearts. It’s a lesson I’ll never forget, and — love aside — I wonder if there’s any stronger unifying force in the world than music.