Words by Josh Dare

Interviews with DJs are usually just the interviewer going through the motions of an actual, proper, interesting interview. I suppose it’s a testament to their professions that they don’t have anything original to offer and just regurgitate bland dialogue in the guise of party-talk. You ask all the right questions; the ones they want to hear like, ‘What’s the most satisfying thing about your job?’, and the answer usually some lame variant of ‘Seeing so many people peaking to my music at the same time’. You let ‘em wax lyrical about ‘choonz’, sometimes you’ll get a sound bite or snippet of something original, but mostly it’s just bullshit.

So when the job of interviewing the world’s number one DJ arose, I had to wonder whether the ranking included press savvies. With Paul van Dyk’s German office phone number in hand (along with my allocated timeframe, 8:45pm-9pm), I made the call. He greeted me in a very German matter-of-fact tone. Exactly the opposite to what I was going for with my questions.

For example, my opener: I note that, according to his bio, he’s worked with all the internationally famous DJs like BT, Sasha and Dave Seamen, so there must be some sort of out DJ mother’s club equivalent going on. In a sigh that kind of suggested he was sick of me already, he replied, “Well, we’re good friends really. We respect each other, we love each other’s music and we work well together. For me, Sasha is one of the most talented DJs and he has amazing musical skills, and someone like Brian [BT] is one of the best engineers I know. We’re friends, and we love each other – that’s actually it!”

Uh oh – better chuck a ‘right’ question in. After being voted number 1 DJ in the world so many times, it must be hard to not let it go to your head? “No, not at all – because this is not the reason you do it. I’m very passionate about electronic music and everything I do. It’s not about a list or something. It’s something more than feeling ‘hey, I’m the biggest show on earth’.”

Back to my original questions – the biggest show on earth must surely have so many groupies by now, I suggest. If he weren’t on hands free, I’m sure he would’ve dropped the phone before he flustered, “I see a few familiar faces in different places. I wouldn’t say I have anything to do with traditional groupies because they know I’m married and off that market.” – emphasising the word married, like a knife flung at me down the phone line. “I have some real loyal fans that travel to a lot of different places. There’s two guys, I believe they’re from Egypt, and I’ve seen them virtually all over the world – except for Australia!”

Which opens the door to discussions of Australia. He lets me know he’s always had absolute amazing experiences here, as we actually enjoy electronic music and educated about what’s really going on because so many DJs tour here. It’s a good yarn, except I bugger that up too by trying to invoke a bit of the old Australian rivalry by asking if he’s noticed any differences in clubbing styles in the capital cities. He clearly sees straight through my ploy and explains, “I have to say when I’m in Australia I have quite a hectic schedule so I’m not getting too much of local politics.”

I then ask about the fall of the super club, which in German apparently translates to ‘give me a lecture on what electronic music is to you’. “Well the thing is, I don’t label the music; for me it’s all electronic music and there’s different elements and genres of that that actually fit different sizes of venues. This is how it’s always been, and I’m pretty sure it’s how it always will be. In terms of what I play, I try to combine the best elements I like the most of electronic music to create a unique sound. You may listen to something that people call trance, you may listen to something that people call house or drum and bass or techno, and when all these elements combine it’s very intense and very energetic.”

At this point, I decided it’s not altogether unreasonable to ask what we can expect from his upcoming tour. But he decides that he already answered that. “Well aside from the kind of sound I just explained, right now I’m in the studio working on new material for an artist album so I’ll have five or six tracks ready that I’m going to include in the set – so you’re going to be the first ones to get those.”

The ever-present clock staring down at me, I ask my final, timely question: what would he be doing if he wasn’t DJing? He explains that he doesn’t just DJ; he runs a record label and has a music publishing company as well. Not only that, there’s an online radio station and download shop at “dub dub dub vonyc dot com, that’s V-O-N-Y-C”, so by all accords, he’s a busy little sauerkraut. “So there’s still so much to do, I hope I will be able to work with music until I retire at some point – and that doesn’t need to be in front of people, because to be honest, I’m rather shy person. I don’t like to be so much in the spotlight. When I started DJing, the DJ was the freak in the corner. Then suddenly it all changed; suddenly there was light in the corner and then the DJ wasn’t in the corner any more. I promise you, I will not miss the public appearances.”

Time’s up, the tape recorder flicks off, and I try to have one last joke with him – does the reference to ‘public appearances’ include interviews? He doesn’t get my little stab at myself, and goes on to say that interviews are great way to get his message across, spreading his word about charity and goodwill.

I just hope he kept that in mind for his next interview.