Paul van Dyk released Reflections
As with any genre of music, there are those who perform it, those who create it and those who define it. Some do it all. Although PAUL VAN DYK is one of the top icons in dance culture as a revered global DJ, composer and producer, above all else he is an artist. For his fourth and latest artist album, REFLECTIONS, coming out on Mute Records October 7, PAUL VAN DYK takes a quantum leap, landing firmly in another realm of electronic music where no other artist has been.
Artist: Paul van Dyk
Release date: 07/10/03
Paul van Dyk
Buy at: Amazon
"For me, an artist is someone who is able to bring or translate whatever they experience somewhere-somehow into their art form whether it is a painting, a book or a piece of music," he says. "Every single piece of music I've ever done has its own little story and history behind it. There is always a reason why a track is a certain way. This is so important for me in this world, especially with this album." Lyrically, he possesses definite ideas about what he wants to say as words and music become so interconnected that one cannot exist without the other. This alone sets him apart from others in dance music who merely lay vocals over already existing instrumental tracks.
The beauty of the 13 tracks featured on Reflections is that each and every one is boundary-defying in their own right, yet ballads like the pop sounding "Time Of Our Lives" and meaningful "Like A Friend" are extremely accessible. So much so that they are sure to garner new admirers from all walks of life for VAN DYK's music, where a staggering balance between earnestness and buoyancy is found and where, above all else, emotional sincerity and optimism reign in the epic proportions of the electronics.
The first time PAUL VAN DYK ever heard the music that would shape his life, he was barely a teenager living in East Berlin behind the wall. It was on a West Berlin radio show that played early house and electronic music. From it, he learned of cool North American and English dance labels and producers. By the time the wall came down, just days after he and his family had at last achieved political asylum in West Germany, VAN DYK already had a great knowledge of dance music. So he began to frequent clubs in Berlin, "From then on I kind of developed my very own idea of what electronic music should be for myself. Then I got the opportunity to work in the studio and this is when I realized it was exactly what I wanted to do." He was 18.
PAUL VAN DYK soon came up through the ranks of German and British clubs from E-Werk in Berlin to Gatecrasher in the U.K., and finally Twilo in New York. His debut album of all original material, Visions of Shiva, with its timeless single "Perfect Day," came out in 1992. DJing around the world and remixes for bands from New Order to Inspiral Carpets followed, as did two more original material albums, Seven Ways (1998) and 45 RPM (1999). By the time he released his third album, Out There & Back in 2000, it became clear that the Berlin-based musician had far more to offer than his signature club sets and remixes that had already defined him as one of the most influential German DJs and producers of all time.
The beautiful Top Ten single, "Tell Me Why," with St. Etienne's Sarah Cracknell, was released in 2000 prior to his last critically lauded album, Out There and Back. VAN DYK's first compilation mix CD followed in 2001 with Politics of Dancing on Ministry of Sound. Next came the Global CD/DVD multi-media package in early 2003, a unique release that captured the visual and audio brilliance of his experience as a DJ traveling the world.
The first single from Reflections--"Nothing But You," with its haunting Norwegian vocals and the passionate (translated) line "I have nothing but I have everything when I have you"--became an instant club hit after VAN DYK introduced it at the 2003 Winter Music Conference in Miami, FL last March. "In my music, it's important for me to be as honest and direct and intense as much as I can," he explains. "The big step forward, and what makes this album different from previous ones, is the fact that I'm much more aware of some sort of responsibility we have for what's going on on this planet. I tried to incorporate it into the songs in terms of what a song is actually saying ... what it means beyond the musical interpretation. I've never been as outspoken, and I don't think many dance albums actually ever care about what's going on in that respect."
The best example of this outlook is the song "Like a Friend," recorded with British vocalist Jan Johnston (who has also collaborated with Paul Oakenfold, BT and Pete Tong). The track came together rather quickly when the two musicians went into the studio to work on lyrics and record a demo version that turned into a final version the next day. VAN DYK started writing the song upon returning from a trip to India where he was taken aback by the culture's overt poverty, especially seeing starving children in the streets. "I was pretty down because I couldn't believe what I saw. How could we let that happen?" In the song's lyrics, the situation is confronted as answers begin to unfold in the ethereal, lush vocals and pulsing instrumentals of this sobering and lovely track. "Be aware of the world and be true to your conscience/be aware of its needs like a friend you can hold ... Sending the winds of change to free another ... if we don't do a thing it will always stay/but there is a way." For more information on the Indian Children's Charity, Akanksha, that VAN DYK actively supports look for "Help to Help" on VAN DYK's web site: www.paulvandyk.com.
The most surprising song on Reflections is the album's second single, "Time of Our Lives," which marks the producer's first collaboration with a rock band. Written with the British band Vega-4, the song will be an eye-opener for those who have reveled in VAN DYK's epic 14-hour sets at festivals like the inaugural Homelands in Britain, his unforgettable three New Year's Eve sets at Giant on Los Angeles' world famous Hollywood Boulevard, Miami's major draw ULTRA Fest or his NYC Central Park Summer Stage appearance.
"The song doesn't really have a normal pop song structure, it has sections that all belong together, and they get more and more intense until the end. It is a completely artist-driven collaboration," according to the producer who originally saw the band on German TV then immediately bought their album and started talking it up in interviews. Ironically, Vega-4 read one of his quotes in a Malaysian magazine and contacted his office. "We met up and instantly became friends," says VAN DYK. "We had the same idea of what art should be, even though we had a different idea of how it should sound. Johnny (McDaid of Vega-4) has this voice that you hear and you love."
What strikes VAN DYK most about the song is its deeper meaning about "opposite things" ("a time for peace / a time for fighting"). He hopes it will make people think about the opposing things in their own lives that they can influence and change to make their world a better place. "It all comes together at the end of the song when it says, ?These are the times our lives,' because nothing now is black or white--it is all gray. When I made my last album, the world was a safer place. Now you worry about even getting on a plane. There are always positive and negative sides."
Previous supporters of VAN DYK's work will delight in the epic, driving club gem "Connected," used for Motorola's latest international ad campaign which started airing in the U.S. in August. Since ads are a way of breaking electronic music in the States and can be far more effective than radio airplay, it made perfect sense for the producer to create a soundtrack for the major cell phone manufacturer's C350 campaign. Not only did he write the music and work closely with the commercial's director to fit the music in frame by frame ("each one is like a mini video in and of itself"), he also appears in the ad. "I just couldn't believe it, because the original idea for me when I did the demo of the track (before being asked to do the ad) was to get connected ... it was just like the phones," VAN DYK explains. "I would play it out and people would just immediately feel connected. The finished track is now available to purchase and download as ringtones from www.hellomoto.com. It also appears as a B-side for the next single version of "Time Of Our Lives."
PAUL VAN DYK takes his music very seriously because, as he states, "My character was obviously formed by growing up there (Eastern Europe), I don't really take anything for granted and I have a different understanding of what politics are. For me, politics is the responsibility we all have as individuals to be aware and when possible, to change things which are wrong--social aspects, environmental and so on--to try and make it a little bit better. I want to somehow remind those who listen to my album that there is something else out there and that there are things that are not right."
Other highlights on Reflections include "Spellbound," another song created with Jan Johnston. "It's a love song with a mystical side ... I definitely have a mystical connection with my wife. When I go to call her, the phone starts ringing and it is her. It happens to us all the time, so maybe we are spellbound." A chilled-out track with a subliminal energetic vibe, "Buenaventura," was taken from VAN DYK's original score for the independent Mexican film Zurdo; "That's Life" is a buzzing house track that merges his own chants with vocals from Vega-4's McDaid and drums by tabla player M.S. Maniam (from Singapore's world-famous Zouk Club).
With Reflections, PAUL VAN DYK has fully emerged as an all-encompassing songwriter--a musical (and humanitarian) visionary who transcends genres. Maintaining that it is not just about electronic music for him, he concludes, "It's about music in general that I love as long as it is honest and intense. Obviously, my first love and respect of music is electronic music because that is what keeps me going and drives everything in a very special way--no other kind of music can. But obviously there are so many very, very important elements of other musical genres that can lift the spirit of electronic music. I don't like rules and as long as you make some sort of music that means something, then its fine--break all the rules!"
2) Time of our Lives
3) Like a Friend
5) Nothing But You
8) Never Forget
10) That`s Life
"Reflections" by Paul van Dyk - release date: 07/10/03..