By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
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By Hans Morgenstern
The cyberlife of Dutchman Armin van Buuren, one of the biggest DJs in the world, began in the early Eighties with a Grundy NewBrain computer his mom won in a contest. "I loved it. You could program your own games in BASIC," he says wistfully. "I made a bowling game that was pretty cool."
Alas, the NewBrain wasn't up to scratch for his attempts at writing the early versions of the trance songs that would later enrapture the dance world. "Two years after the NewBrain, I got an Atari and wrote some bare-bones music on it; then it was on to other things."
Other things. Sure. Like the number one spot in last year's DJ magazine poll. Like his "Armin Only" shows in Europe, where he plays to audiences numbering in the tens of thousands. And like his Ultra Records State of Trance albums, yearly collections considered vitally important to the genre, and their companion weekly radio show, which is available on iTunes following each broadcast.
Read that again, trance-heads: that's a new State of Trance LP every single week. Kind of. "For legal reasons I had to cut it down to highlights only, the best parts of the radio show," van Buuren says. "I introduce some of the songs, tell the audience where to get a hold of them. Either way, in 20 minutes you'll know exactly what's going on up to the minute in the world of trance."
Gotta love that très-Euro humility, even more prominent when he discusses his upcoming studio LP, Imagine. "I can honestly say it's the best thing I've ever done," he beams. "It's very song-based, an album album, something you'll want to keep listening to from beginning to end.
Imagine, due out in April on van Buuren's own Armada imprint, will figure prominently in what you'll hear at his two WMC performances. The first takes place the second day of Ultra Music Festival. The second goes down at the recently opened Parkwest, where he goes on at midnight Saturday. "We were there before and loved the venue so much we decided to come back," he says.
Note to stalkers: You might run into him if you stake out Ocean Drive. "I like the clubs along the shore," he says. "That's where I usually go. I love the vibe in those places."