Amsterdam Dance Event: A Tale of Two DJs

On Top Again: Armin van Buuren basks in the glow.

On Top Again: Armin van Buuren basks in the glow.

Amsterdam—Over 3,800 DJs and dance-music pros attended Holland’s Amsterdam Dance Event this past Oct. 17-21. And, as always, DJ Times was there to monitor and participate in the conference portion of the show, attend the evening events at 75 area venues, and network the week away outside ADE’s two main hotspots—the Felix Meritis Centre and Dylan Hotel.

It was an exhausting, but fruitful week catching up with all the global DJs, managers, promoters and agents. As is always mentioned, ADE is an industry conference that finds all the major players involved, so connecting with someone important to your business is relatively easy. The “festival” portion of ADE—with clubs like Studio 80, Escape and Air, for example, all within a short walks of each other—is also a pleasure to navigate.

After catching superb performances in the evening from a variety of top jocks—Martin Butterich, Loco Dice, Ferry Corsten, Dubfire, Dave Clarke, Davide Squillace and Sander van Doorn among them—the biggest takeaway from ADE was relatively simple. For us, the conference portion broke down to “a tale of two DJs,” one perennially voted at the top of the international DJ rankings, the other someone still considered “the DJ’s DJ.”

The Legend Speaks: Danny Tenaglia with Tommie Sunshine.

The Legend Speaks: Danny Tenaglia with Tommie Sunshine.

We are, of course, talking about Holland’s Armin van Buuren and America’s Danny Tenaglia—both of whom offered engaging Q&A sessions at ADE. Some Armin highlights:

Two days before he was honored for the fifth time as DJ Mag’s #1 DJ, van Buuren essentially repeated what he told DJ Times in the September issue. “When you get older you don’t have to prove anything—I have all the awards and the gold records,” he said. “At this point, it’s just not the money or the fame or the private jets or other things that keep me going. It’s still the music.”

On running Armada Music, his imprint: “At Armada, we invest in new talent,” he says. “But every artist is responsible for their own success. I just give them a platform and a spot on radio. But look at Sander van Doorn or Hardwell—they have genuine success stories because they’ve created music that people want and they deliver as DJs.”

On his popular A State of Trance radio show:

“Everything broke for me with the radio show. The Dutch DJs I know thought I was crazy—‘You mean you’re going to play two hours every week!’ Now those very same DJs are doing radio shows themselves.

“And not every track on my radio show is something I like right away—I use it as a platform to test new music. The audience can be smarter than you and tell you what’s good. Sometimes it works that way. Trance fans are very loyal, very dedicated.”

On his audience:

“Is the audience always right? Maybe, but I don’t always have to agree with them. I’m getting older and my tastes are changing—I’m getting more into progressive and ambient sounds. I might make a track that may lose some fans, but I might gain some as well.”

Advice for young DJ/producers:

“Become yourself. Develop you own sound. Make your own productions. Get it out there. The quickest way to the top as a DJ is to make music.”

Interviewed by a gushing Tommie Sunshine, a popular global DJ/producer himself, Tenaglia talked past and future. Some Danny highlights:

On his evolution as a DJ:

“Travel changed me,” he admits. “I learned from Larry Levan how to make people feel music. But going to Ibiza really opened my mind in 2000. It’s like visiting a family once you go there. And I’ve embraced the musical changes over the years. For example, I really love techno—I’m addicted to the sounds and patterns.”

On his legendary Miami sets:

“I did those long sets at Winter Music Conference because it’s a special environment. In the early days, especially, there weren’t that many parties, so everyone came to my party. For example, the 2000 party at Space was really special. We had Yoko Ono performing and all these DJs out in the crowd. I mean, Carl Cox was dancing on the bar. It was crazy!”

On DJs today:

“DJs now don’t have that much history—two, five, 10 years. That isn’t enough. Beatport has changed things. You buy the music and you think you’re a DJ, just like that.”

On technology:

“With Traktor, it’s like having a studio in the booth. It’s a matter of ‘what can i do?’ DJing still requires a lot of preparation. There are lots of musical folders. Considering the range of music I play, I still wear a lot of hats. Sometimes I have to ask myself, ‘Am I Louie Vega or Richie Hawtin tonight?’”

On Tenaglia’s 2011 Facebook announcement that he was “resigning”:

“I had no intention of retiring. I just needed some time off, so I could learn some of the new technology like Traktor. In fact, I just did my first Traktor set in Ibiza. In my career, I’ve been to 35 countries and I have no intention of stopping—I love it too much.”

 – Jim Tremayne


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