Paul Van Dyk
The story of Grammy-nominated DJ, producer and scene-starter Paul van Dyk’s doesn’t begin in the ’91 techno incubator of Tresor, a ’95, Twilo-era Manhattan or the superclubs of Ibiza or London in 1997… It begins in 1985, in his mum’s kitchen. It was there in communist East Berlin that Paul van Dyk first caught the sounds of synthesised music coming over the radio waves from the West. It was among the most propitious of meetings and its effect, in shaping the course of 20+ years of electronic music history, difficult to overstate.
From the earliest ignition points of ‘For An Angel’, ‘Perfect Day’ and his ‘Age Of Love’ & ‘Love Stimulation’ remixes, through to 2015’ singles like ‘Guardian’ & ‘Louder’, PvD’s gone from trance music’s standard-bearer to its most abiding & respected influence. Throughout its course, his career has provoked the use of expressions like ‘musical pioneer’, designations ranging from ‘originator’ to ‘icon’ and descriptions including ‘humanitarian’, ‘pacifist’ & ‘altruist’.
A performer with a natural and instinctive stage touch, PvD circles the globe 16 times a year, entertaining club & festivalgoers numbered in the millions. On Barra Beach in Rio de Janeiro, during the 2008 New Years celebrations, he performed to an unprecedented, then record-setting audience totalling nearly 1.5 million people. Over the last five years he has moved away from being a conventional ‘mixing-two-tracks’ DJ towards a hybridized live-on-stage, concert-like approach to his shows.
Now in their 16th year, his shows at the Cream nights @ Amnesia in Ibiza constitute one of club history’s longest standing residencies. In 2010, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, van Dyk staged the We Are One event at the O2 World Berlin arena. It drew a capacity 17,000-strong crowd and featured Armin van Buuren, The Blueman Group and Underworld on the bill. Van Dyk has subsequently hosted We Are One one-day outdoor festivals in 2013 and 2014 at the city’s historic Zitadelle Spandau venue. The 2015 edition will take place at Berlin’s unique beach location Rummeslburg on July 4th, with a sunset-to-sunrise concept experience.
As a music producer Paul’s achieved comparable success to that of his onstage career. In 1994 he produced ‘For An Angel’, a track that two decades after it was recorded was hailed by Mixmag as the 8th Greatest Dance Track of All Time. In 1997 he remixed ‘Age of Love’ – a record that also regularly tops the lists of electronic music’s greatest-ever. Of late, the UK’s DJ Mag described his ‘Guardian’ release as “a surprising, listen-without-prejudice milestone”, rating it 9.5/10. ‘Come With Me’ – the anthem for the 2014 edition of his We Are One Festival (recorded alongside Ummet Ozcan) met with similar praise from Mixmag. The electronic music bible said the track had “natural note arrangements”, featured “straight-to-the-heart-pianos” and (giving it 9/10) a “lightning strike of a riff”.
Paul’s also continued to build upon one of electronic music’s most outstanding remixographies. His highly recognisable hallmark sound has been used to club-interpret the music of mainstream superstars like Madonna, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. He’s also remixed releases from acts like metal rockers Rammstein, timeless bands including U2, Depeche Mode & New Order and cult electronic music artists like Deep Dish, BT, Faithless and Underworld. Van Dyk has been, and continues to be, a regular film & game score contributor, which has resulted in numerous notable OST credits. They have included his rework of Hans Zimmer’s ‘A Poor Choice of Words’ for The Dark Knight and ‘Still Alive’ for EA’s ground-breaking Mirror’s Edge game.
Van Dyk has a career-long history of putting out acclaimed albums. In 1994 he released his debut ‘45 RPM’, which was followed by ‘Seven Ways’ in 1996 and ‘Out There And Back’ in 2000. ‘Reflections’ in 2003 saw him become the first artist to be Grammy nominated in the then-new Best Dance/Electronic Music category. ‘In Between’ followed in 2007’s and ‘EVOLUTION’ in 2012 saw him personally re-categorize his studio work to the stylistically more inclusive “electronic music”. The album went on achieve significant critical success. It was rated 6/6 by Raveline, with the magazine commenting, “this evolution seems to be almost perfect”. Mixmag scored the release 9/10, observing that van Dyk had “achieved evolution in both name and nature”, whilst DJ Mag called it “impressive” and “multidimensional”. The release was another commercial success for van Dyk - his albums to date collectively having sold in excess of 3 million copies.
PvD now stands on the threshold of his seventh full-length album ‘The Politics Of Dancing 3’. The musician describes it as “a ‘heritage’ album, which “closes the first ‘Politics’ loop” (started by the release of the first Politics of Dancing mix-compilation in 2001) and is a release that is “collaboration-centric” in nature. Van Dyk himself has long been politically active in many fields. Paul clarified in an interview in 2006 that the ‘Politics’ referred to in the albums titles were “the politics of diplomacy”. He had previously observed at his shows “Palestinians dancing with Israelis, Lebanese people dancing with Israelis – without war, without anything in their minds other than treating each other respectfully. To me, only dance music has this power to reconcile the historic divisions of the planet like this”.
Van Dyk was brought up in East Germany, an experience that left a profound impression on him… “Behind the Iron Curtain, I felt that everything that had to be strived to be achieved in difficult circumstances, I value that much more now. That’s nevermore the case than it is with music. Growing up, I listened to radio stations transmitting from West Berlin. It became the only way to connect with the outside world and a freer society. As such, music had, and continues to have, the greatest possible resonance for me, and on my life.
After a brief spell residing in Hamburg, van Dyk returned to Berlin at the start of ‘91. He made his first behind-decks appearance in March of that year, during the opening month of the soon-to-be-illustrious Tresor. From there he began to build an onstage and studio career, which, by 1997, had seen him reach dance music’s highest echelon. As the twin phenomena of superclubs and the DJ-as-a-Rock-Star arrived, he found himself not only synonymous with them, but also held up as a figurehead for the trance scene at large. Van Dyk has since held sway over floors in every dance music-speaking country in the world. He holds the record for the longest unbroken run inside the ranks of the world’s Top 100 DJs chart; has twice reached the no.1 position (a feat achieved to-date by just three other spinners) and in 2013 was aggregated, vote-for-vote, year-for-year as the poll’s single most successful and enduring DJ.
As the owner of VANDIT Records, the last 15 years have seen Paul use his label dais to break the productions of those musically akin. In its early years it released music by Armin van Buuren, Giuseppe Ottaviani, Agnelli & Nelson, Thrillseekers, Alex M.O.R.P.H., Nu-NRG and others. Currently it’s focused on the breaking of newer talent, with acts like Genix, Maarten de Jong, Las Salinas and Ben Nicky part of its A&R roster.
PVD RADIO SHOWS:
A child of the radio generation, Paul was one of the first DJs to recognise and fully harness the medium to spread his sound. His long-running VONYC Sessions show is now broadcast on over 70 terrestrial and digital stations around the world, including iHeartRadio’s Evolution channel.
Throughout his career van Dyk has garnered in excess of 60 international awards, for a wide range of activities. Among those are the illustrious Landesverdienstorden (Berlin’s Medal of Honour, given in recognition of his work towards social justice), a string of IDMA awards and Mixmag’s Man of the Year accolade. In 2014 he received MTV’s prestigious Chiuku award, previous recipients of which have included Shakira, Nelly Furtado, Eva Longoria and Morrissey.
POLITICAL & SOCIAL CONCERNS:
Van Dyk dedicates considerable energies to several charitable endeavours. Among them are his Berlin-based Rückenwind (Tailwind) charity, which seeks to maintain a thirst for knowledge in underprivileged children, the Indian-based Akanksha Foundation, the FEED project and the Peace One Day movement. He is also well known for his longstanding political involvements, specifically his work with anti-war movements and organizations including Rock The Vote.
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