What brings you back to the UAE so often?
I really like Dubai as a place. It’s a cool place to play, the crowd are really open and easy. Electronic music requires a lot from audiences and in Dubai I find them very responsive.
You’ve won more awards than any other DJ – do you know what’s the secret of your ongoing appeal?
Electronic music has taken itself from [being] a small subculture to the [most] popular music in the world in the last 20 years. I think my audience appreciate that I’m not playing the next trend because it’s a trend; I’m trying to do electronic music in my own way. I interact with the audience and together we make for a great electronic night out.
How much of your set changes each night?
The major elements are composed but I establish everything live on the spot. It’s not about the right track at the right time; it’s about the right elements at the right time.
When did you decide you had outgrown the label of playing ‘trance’?
I never was a trance DJ, and if you compare to me the guys that are happy with that label my music is very different. You find elements from all genres of electronic music in what I do and this is what makes it interesting. Focusing on just one part is very boring.
But surely electronic music has been diluted by all this commercial amalgamation…
I don’t really call that electronic music, I call it ‘danceable-sounding pop music’. Some of these younger artists, they just feel the moment, they want to be rich and famous. This is one of the reasons they all sound the same; they’re not feeling, there’s nothing new, they’re copying something that’s already been done. There’s hardly any of these new guys that are outstanding. But I still think electronic music is the most creative and expressive art form.
How long do you think it can it stay on top?
It always will be for me. There will always be something new and interesting. A guitar will always sound like a guitar. You can’t manipulate it. If you take a synthetic bass sound you can discover many things, there’s endless possibilities.
You’re known for your political activity – can music have any real effect on the world?
The popularity I’ve enjoyed because of my music enables me to be outspoken about things [I care about] and may enable me to inspire people to go ahead and do things. I really believe democracy is the best chance we have on the planet, but it’s not perfect and we all have to be part of it. If you can do something in your own neighbourhood to help somebody, you should.
Paul van Dyk plays Peppermint Experience’s 8th Anniversary at World Trade Centre on Friday June 1, 9pm-3am. Tickets Dhs150 from www.timeouttickets.com