The Politics Of Dancing w/ Paul van Dyk

The Politics Of Dancing w/ Paul van Dyk

With well over twenty years of unbridled dance music knowledge, two consecutive years at number one in DJ Mag’s top 100 and over a decade, thirteen years to be exact, in the top ten: Paul van Dyk is a global trance deity.

Travelling around the globe an average of sixteen times a year Dyk is no stranger to the world’s largest and most famous venues—meaning—June 19th show at Celebrities is going to be something special for dance music diehards. Freed from any fleeting sense of musical confinement Dyk simply wants his music to transcend worldly barriers and speak the indelible truths that bind humanity together. To some this may sound lofty, near impossible, but if anyone is up to the task its Dyk.

In preparation for Dyk’s highly anticipated return to Vancouver we sat down with the legend in search of a little perspective;

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Blueprint: In 1994/95 you were playing shows in major North American cities to crowds of between 10,000-15,000 people—how has such a long and prolific career affected your perspective on today’s North American dance music scene?

Paul van Dyk: I have a pretty clear perspective on it – I view the time periods as two completely separate entities. You have electronic dance music and electronic pop music. With each day that goes by, the dividing line between the two becomes wider and more noticeable to an ever-growing percentage of the combined audience.

Blueprint: The Politics Of Dancing 3 tends more towards the traditional studio album than it does a regular compilation: this is largely due to your desire to present your fan base with a unique experience full of previously unheard material. How important is it to push your audience to discover new material?

Paul van Dyk: Very important, certainly, but as with most things in life, there’s always a balance to be struck. People will come to my shows and be excited to hear tracks like Home, Time Of Our Lives, For An Angel, etc. I love playing those tracks and, of course, I love the crowd’s reaction. To the greater extent though, my audience is looking to be introduced to tomorrow’s music today. As such the feeling of playing Lights, For You, Come With Me — or really any of the tracks — from ‘The Politics Of Dancing 3’ for the first time in a city or country, it’s pretty hard to beat. To me, introducing new music you’ve personally created is a cornerstone of being a DJ.

Blueprint: Do you disagree with new DJs playing all known tracks in their sets?
Paul van Dyk: If there’s a desire for that amongst a certain sub-section of the world’s gig audience, then those DJs are filling a gap in the market. I wouldn’t do it myself. I’m very happy that no one is expecting or asking me to do this.

Blueprint: In reference to those you collaborated with on Politics Of Dancing 3 you told Ministry of Sound the following: “…an outsider perspective that sound is more trancey than fair enough, to me it’s electronic music – to me this is what electronic music should sound like.” How would you define electronic music proper?  

Paul van Dyk: Electronic dance music is a genre within music. Of late, EDM is a sub-genre broadly within electronic dance music. To put that into perspective, if you’re making music that is predominantly techno, drum & bass, leftfield, electro or any other of electronic dance music’s more established styles, you’re not making EDM. In that respect, it’s arguably an oxymoron (and most certainly a paradox) that what was once an abbreviation for Electronic Dance Music is now a sub-style within it.

Blueprint: Certain trance DJs are consciously pushing further towards the mainstream and the commercial pop culture ethos at festivals in hopes of garner more widespread appeal. Is this going to crop up as an issue within the trance community in the future?

Paul van Dyk: “Mainstream” is a subjective (or at least highly-interpretable) expression and thus debatable. Commercial pop culture ethos, I wouldn’t agree with myself. There’s certainly been a shift in tone, but the scene’s tone (along with a dozen other major electronic music sub-genres) has been changing day-by-day, week-in and week-out for upwards of 20 years now. Nothing’s changed in that respect.

Blueprint: “The politics of dance music are subtle—they are about creating a positive energy, and taking it back to your everyday life.” Can you explain a few ways in which you have seen the politics of dance music effect change around the word?

Paul van Dyk: Well, I became interested in the politics across a wide range of areas fairly early in my life. It had to do with being raised in East Berlin during Communist times. There was a natural crossroads where the worlds of dancing and politics met which I sought to highlight through the title ‘The Politics Of Dancing’.

Tomorrow is set to be an experience the likes of which are few and far between: a ground breaking dance music legend in one of Vancouver’s premiere clubs, on a Friday night. Advance tickets are selling quickly so make sure your grab yours today before it is too late.

– Ryan Hayes

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