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S1-E9: Armin van Buuren and Kaskade

Armin van Buuren a Dutch DJ and record producer from Leiden, South Holland. Since 2001, he has hosted A State of Trance (ASOT), a weekly radio show, which is broadcast to nearly 40 million listeners in 84 countries on over 100 FM radio stations. According to DJs and Festivals, “the radio show propelled him to stardom and helped cultivate an interest in trance music around the world.” Van Buuren has won a number of accolades. He has been ranked the number one DJ by DJ Mag a record of five times, four years in a row.

Dylan:
Featuring one of the biggest DJs around the world. He’s known for his State of Trans Show, his hit records. It’s our man van Buuren, plus Chicago’s own Kaskade.

Dylan:
First, though, Armin van Buuren. We’ll start the interview with just what is it like to be named, to be renowned as DJ Magazine’s number one top DJ in the world?

Armin van Buuren:
Yeah. Well, it’s like winning the Oscar. It’s a little bit, I think for dance music, you can compare it to that easily.

Armin van Buuren:
(music)

Armin van Buuren:
I have a really strong bond with the Chicago crowd. I think there’s not a lot of other cities in the US that I’ve played more than Chicago.

Dylan:
What is it about this city? The club obviously, but do you have anything else that when you’re here in Chicago, you love,

Armin van Buuren:
The people just party hard in Chicago. I don’t know. It’s just great. When you go to Chicago to any club, any bars, there could be two headline DJs playing in the same city and both clubs will still be rammed. There’s not a lot of cities in the world you can do that. Just so much energy in Chicago and then the people and I think it’s great and a very big honor to play for people that are so enthusiastic about the music.

Dylan:
I keep reading, not all the places that you’re going, but this special spot, Ibiza.

Dylan:
You laugh a little bit, Armin. What is Ibiza to you?

Armin van Buuren:
Well, I’ll try to be brief to you. First time that I went to Ibiza I was a little let down, I’ll be honest with you.

Dylan:
Okay.

Armin van Buuren:
Just a little. I was like, okay, so this is where all the songs go about this is what the Spanish island, this should be special. Right? And all I saw was an airport and some nightlife. I was like, I’m not really feeling that special feeling in Ibiza. Until a year later, I went to the island properly and was there for about a few weeks and I discovered the restaurants, the beaches, the night clubs, the after hours, the … In peak season, you can go to the North of the island and find a totally deserted beach and be there with your girlfriend or whatnot. So, it’s a magical place. And every year there’s people saying, “Oh, Mykonos is the new Ibiza,” or “Ayia Napa is the new Ibiza,” but let me tell you, there is no place-

Dylan:
Like Ibiza.

Armin van Buuren:
Nope. There ain’t no place like it. You have to take some time to really get to know why I’m saying this.

Dylan:
Has it been an influence in your music and stuff?

Armin van Buuren:
Yeah. Trans has always had a big love for the Balearic sound as they call it, the three islands on the coast of Spain are called the Balea and they create Balearic sound, which is sort of relaxed, melodic, a little bit of vocals. Like the Cafe Del Mar kind of sound and it’s had a huge mark on trans music in general. They’re great.

Dylan:
What influences your music when you’re doing this? Is it the places that you go? Is it the people? How do you come up with those tracks and what really influences it?

Armin van Buuren:
Well, I’d say romantic sunset. No, no. I kidding you.

Dylan:
Right.

Armin van Buuren:
No. I would really say, honestly, dude, it’s just like we’re listening in the studio to a lot of music and I get the most inspiration actually from the crowd’s reaction because if I know a crowd goes crazy for a certain record, when I’m in the studio, I take that record and I listen, what’s so special about this record? Why is this really working? And I think that’s really, really important. And other than that, I listen to every music. I think if you were a human being you … I don’t only listen to dance music. I love minimal techno progressive, all the dance genres, but for me, I try to buy all kinds of music, classical music, hip hop, R and B, you name it, but my core sound will always be trans. I get inspiration from everything.

Dylan:
Would we be surprised that you listen to? Name somebody that we wouldn’t think that Armin van Buuren listens to.

Armin van Buuren:
Well, in my time off, I’d love to spend time in the kitchen and cook for my girlfriend and my parents and when I’m in a funny mood, I always put on Frank Sinatra because he’s great to cook by.

Dylan:
That’s great. That’s great. Well Armin, listen, we want to stop real quick and play one of your tracks.

Speaker 1:
Real EDM.

Kaskade:
This is Kaskade. Good afternoon, Dylan. What’s up my man?

Dylan:
Big connection between house music, Chicago, and you.

Kaskade:
I know this, man. Yeah, I was born and raised, dude. Cook County, what’s happening? I was born and raised, man. I was born in Evanston Hospital. I grew up in a little town called Northbrook. Some people might’ve heard of it. I don’t know. Northbrook Court.

Dylan:
Oh my God. Everybody’s like-

Kaskade:
… Going shopping over there, but yeah, North side.

Dylan:
You are playing with people’s heads right now. They’re like, “Oh my God, this is not Kaskade from right here with all this that I’ve been hearing on the radio.” Some people don’t even know like Hot Mix Five and all of that, you know everything about this city.

Kaskade:
Dude, that was me man. The 80s were my time, that was it. Living in Chicago, going to Medusas, hanging out on Clark Street, all that. All that nonsense. Dude, Gramophone back in the day.

Dylan:
Oh no. All right, so tell me now with this stuff that we hear, there’s definitely got to be some influence in there.

Kaskade:
Oh, for sure. Dude, I get it all the time. When I play in Europe, they’re like, “Oh, you Chicago kids.” I’m like, “Wow. Yeah.” I don’t live in Chicago anymore, but they’re always like, “Yeah. We hear your influence in there. We hear it.” It’s cool. I think that’s part of being an artist.

Dylan:
You probably get this one, but describe yourself as an artist. What is your sound? What is Kaskade?

Kaskade:
My thing has been for a while now, just more kind of on the musical side. I’ve been Trying to bring music back into dance music. For a long there it just was all about programming beats and it just got … I think when I really sat down to write music, write dance music, I was like what can I bring different? All these guys are doing this and doing that and what’s going to set me apart? And I really wanted to just approach it from a musical side, write songs, be a songwriter, say something in the music. So, my stuff’s about dance floor tunes that actually kind of speak to people.

Dylan:
That’s awesome, dude. So Kaskade, it really sounds like a soothing name, it’s almost nature. Am I right on that? Is it like a nature influence?

Kaskade:
Yeah, yeah. That’s how I cam up with the name? Yep, yep.

Dylan:
And how did it happen?

Kaskade:
Oh man. No real story there. I was just super bored and so when I was working at home, when I was the coffee boy, like, “Yo, go get me some coffee,” that was my job when I was at Ohm Records and I was just on a lunch break with some guys. I was like, “Man, I can’t call myself Ryan Raddon, that’s my name. I’m like, yeah, it’s too boring, man. I need to come up with something. And anyway, I was like, what do you think if I called myself something like a waterfall, like cascade or something like that and spelled it different? And they’re like, “Yeah. That’s kind of stupid, but it works.”

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