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German DJ's music remixes electronic genre's meaning

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Paul van Dyk may never live down his association with trance music, which has stuck like gum to the bottom of his shoe for years.

In a 2003 interview, he told me, "The worst electronic music that's released is always getting labeled 'trance.' This is really painful in a way, especially when people associate me with that music."

Speaking last week from his Berlin studio, the DJ confessed that he's given up fighting the misperception.

"Nobody can give me a definition of what they mean by labeling music with the term 'trance.' If you ask 10 people, you get 10 different impressions. That's a problem," he said. "Somehow I'm in the middle of that, too. So I kind of gave up. All I can say is that it's definitely for sure that I play electronic music, and everything else is down to the mood of the crowd."

Van Dyk, who performs 8 p.m. Monday at CityWalk in Bricktown, started mixing music shortly after the wall came down, allowing the East Berlin teen to explore clubs on the other side. While obviously inspired by the emotional roller coaster of house music, he's always been interested by a variety of sounds that range from techno to rock acts like The Smiths, The Go-Betweens and New Order, an act he reworked on one of his first remixes, "Spooky," released in the early 1990s.

TWO DOZEN TRACKS
That track is one of two dozen featured on "The Best of Paul van Dyk," which features remixes of Britney Spears, Timo Maas, Depeche Mode, U2 and Justin Timberlake, alongside the DJ's biggest dance hits, like "Another Way," "For An Angel" and "Forbidden Fruit."

Revisiting the tracks was an experience in itself for van Dyk, who said he often asked himself, "'How did I create this weird phasing effect?' Back then, I didn't even have the machines to do it. There were moments where I thought, 'That's pretty cool.' There were also moments where in my memory, the track sounded so much better than it actually was."

Of course, time changes everything, an aspect readily apparent not only from his new release, but also his last studio album, 2007's "In Between." It's a nuanced, subtle, suppler release than his career-making second disc, 1996's "Seven Ways," which moved more like a lazy-river inner-tube ride than a raging roller coaster.

"When you grow a little bit and mature, you get a clearer idea of how to do things. It's not necessarily a clear idea about what to do, but how to do," van Dyk said. "So I think 'In Between' is by far my best album, because it stretches all over the musical globe that I enjoy."

Not only has his music matured, but it's grown more sophisticated in the live setting, thanks to leaps in technology. Five or six years ago, he was still spinning vinyl records. These days, van Dyk composes and creates onstage with a bevy of computers, synthesizers and electronic effects, which means every track varies from night to night.

"I could play your favorite track, but it would sound probably completely different. Maybe different drums, different bass line, just some key elements of the track, but it would sound so much better and so much more intense," he said. "I have actually remixed, compiled, created and played a lot of things from scratch when I play. This is where it kind of comes together " the skills of a DJ and being a musician and a producer. So it's not so much about trying something new; it's a natural evolution into the next thing, into enhancing the experience of electronic music."

Van Dyk is further broadening his appeal with a month-long U.S. bus tour that will bring the DJ to places that rarely, if ever, have hosted him.

"Instead of doing all this flying in and out and back to Europe, I'm staying the whole month of June and traveling on a bus," he said. "This enables us to do all these places in a month which would've otherwise taken me a year to do." "Chris Parker

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