MTV News took great pride in heading down to Florida for Miami Music Week, the annual dance-music get-together. We particularly cherished the opportunity to catch up with Paul Van Dyk, fresh off a smashing set at Ice Palace; the highly decorated Grammy-winning German electronic-music producer is among EDM's first true legends.
"Stuff like 'Home,' 'Time of Our Lives,' also 'For an Angel' — people always request me to play them," Van Dyk said of his past catalog of hits played for fans. "But I'm really excited because people already knew the new stuff from the album. They went really wild, so that was good!"
The album Van Dyk speaks of is the veteran producer's latest studio effort, his sixth, titled Evolution. It is not only a reflection of the renaissance he seeks to deliver with every new project, but also a sign of the times we live in today.
"Look at electronic music," Van Dyk said. "[It's gone] from a small subculture 20 years ago to the biggest music culture in the world these days. Also, the way we communicate these days with each other: We didn't have Facebook five years ago.
"Or the way we actually listen to music: iPads, iPhone," he continued. "How we buy it: iTunes and all that. We didn't have that 10 years ago. So there's a massive evolution in how we live together, how we basically enjoy each other. And this is what I tried to bring across with the album, in a way."
Van Dyk is quick to point out that Evolution is not a concept album, with tracks directly connected, but rather that the underlying cohesion comes from a main source of inspiration.
"My inspiration is life in general: everything I see, everything I experience," he said. "So when I go to the studio, every single track is based on that work ethic. And in terms of working on the album, for me it was very important to collaborate with people that share the same passion in music that I have."
Indeed, the project features a fine group of collaborators: The exceptional Austin Leeds appears on album opener "Symmetries" and "Verano." One of the stand-out collabs comes from Owl City's Adam Young on "Eternity," born of their meeting three years ago.
"It was long before 'Fireflies,' " Van Dyk explained. "So there was this guy that was insanely creative. And we just decided, 'Yeah, let's do some music together.' A few weeks later 'Fireflies' blew up. And I was like, 'Holy crap! That's Adam!' "
Versatile EDM rising star Arty, championed early in his career by Van Dyk, is featured twice on the project, the second time in a compelling, untraditional way.
"There's a song on the album called 'The Sun After Heartbreak,' " Van Dyk said of a track that also features vocals from Sue McLaren. "[It] is a pure example of what I always say: It's not about 'This is dubstep. This is house. This is electro. This is trance.' It's about electronic music, because otherwise how would you explain two people coming from the trancey world of things doing a track that is clearly influenced and driven by drum and bass? It's purely because the creative process was leading us that way."