The lobby of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Brickell Key has an air of prestige that is breathtaking. Known for housing Miami’s most famous and influential tourists, our anticipation with the knowledge of who we were about to meet was palpable. It seemed almost strange that within the walls of such a pristine and peaceful haven was Paul Van Dyk – known for house music that would blow the roof off the very structure we were in. In Miami to give the closing performance for WMC 2011 at Mansion nightclub, PVD walked into the lobby with an ethereal demeanor that has undoubtedly evolved over the past two decades. Known as one of the founders of electronic music, Paul Van Dyk is a music legend, an international icon, and a beacon of creativity and innovation in the music industry.
How did you decide to be a DJ?
It wasn’t as much a choice as it was a coincidence. Growing up in East Germany I would listen to West German radio. I always wanted to go to the clubs in Berlin but the wall [The Berlin Wall] prevented me from going. When the wall came down I went to the clubs I had heard so much about and was disappointed by the one-dimensional music they were playing. I went to the record store and picked out my favorite records and started making mix tapes for myself and my friends. My friend passed one of my tapes to a promoter and that was how I got my first gig. I had never wanted to be a DJ but when I played my first club I knew that this was what I wanted to do.
How have you seen electronic music change in the past twenty years?
It developed from a very small subculture to the biggest youth culture in the world.
It’s me. As much as I grow and experience life my music becomes more intense and direct. I want it to mean something to you [the listener]. It’s not about being cheesy and melodic; it’s not trying to be anything. The music is the manifestation of how I feel at the moment I make it. The inspiration for my music comes from everything I see and do. I’m pretty sure the shocking pictures of Japan will somehow end up in my upcoming music. Music is how I deal and process my own feelings.
How do you feel about the new relationship between electronic music and the internet?
It’s a very complex relationship. On the one hand as an artist it is positive because of my ability to connect and communicate with my fans. For instance, on my Mexican tour we went on facebook and asked the fans what they wanted me to play. The direct and immediate connection gave me the ability to play what my fans wanted to hear and that way they get the best concert experience possible. On the other hand illegal file sharing is obviously a problem especially for the new and emerging artists. People don’t realize that these young artists need every penny they make off their music.
Where do you see yourself in 10-20 years?
Hopefully I can work with music until I retire – which I would like to do at some point. I’d like to travel less but still foster new talent.
As he jets off for his sound check at Mansion Nightclub, we are left reeling from the demi-music god we have just encountered. Luckily we’ll have his new album Evolution, dropping soon, to keep us busy until his next visit to Miami.
Contributions from Katherine Ferolito