The wooden confines of the five star hotel’s boardroom, has a massive window, providing a fantastic view of the dark grey silk of the Arabian Sea, heaving gently to the whims of the wind. Inside, the crowd is fastidious, oblivious of this wonderful view, and not without reason – Armin Van Buuren, here on A State of Trance errand for Sunburn, is a musician that critics and contemporaries have proclaimed, The God of Trance. And sound-bites from God would always take precedence over a view of paradise. The fan interviewing him that day, Aarti Kukreja, is notorious for being unabashedly thirty, heads an educational firm with an iron resolve and can deadlift a hundred kilos. Giddy with a school girl’s euphoria and with legs as firm as molten wax, the Aarti Kukreja who awaited her turn in our midst, might as well have been her doppelganger. While being introduced to Armin, her body shivers in the chill of excruciating midsummer heat. If the real Aarti is reading this now, our condolences on a missed opportunity.
Her first question, a curious enquiry of what keeps a man who has achieved so much, invokes a compliment straight away, leaving journalists, winding their wares, and making shuffles to the exit, pause slack jawed and goggle eyed. “Interesting question” he says rubbing his ginger stubble gingerly, while Aarti spasmed a sigh, before resuming “I can only make music that I get excited about. Some people like my older tracks and they wish that I could do a similar track but I can’t do that. I can’t repeat myself. As much as I love what I did in the past, I just wanna keep evolving myself creatively. So every time I work on a track I approach it in a different way and I look at it from a different perspective. I try to work with different people, different recording techniques because I wanna be inspired. Because if I am not inspired then why would anybody else be.” Aarti didn’t seem to have heard much, past the ‘interesting question’ bit.
Her next question was mundane, a simple query about Van Buuren’s favourites as far as the countries he had played at were concerned. Except, as a precursor, she rattled off the names of his last twenty venues as if performing a rite of passage, a tribute that demanded more than the politically correct version of the answer “Honestly, I had for example in Argentina some of my most favourite gigs, and also a gig where it rained. It’s really hard to tell you one specific party or one specific country that was really my favourite because there is none.Personally, of course, I’d like to play in Ibiza because I like the weather and the atmosphere there. But again, I had good and bad parties in many countries. I don’t have any top countries, I am sorry if I disappointed you.“ Kukreja bows her head, as if allowing the apology to be placed around her neck like an Olympiad’s medal, while actually trying to consult her phone for her next question.
They now begin to discuss artistes that have earned his attention, trading names like punches between old friends sparring in a boxing ring. Andrew Rayel, Marlo, Orjan Nielsen are all appreciated in varying degrees as warm vibes build up to the soundtrack of the photographer’s frenetic click clack.
The next question from Kukreja is about Van Buuren’s most important songs. “Not favourite…important“ she reiterates, as she cites how personal so many of his songs are. “If you really put a gun to my head, the three I would mention are, Communication, which was a big track, In and Out of Love did really well, and it is my most viewed video clips on YouTube. This is What it Feels Like got me my Grammy nomination.These tracks meant a lot for my career, but honestly it’s like asking a father who his favourite child is.“
At this point there is a growing impatience from Van Buuren’s entourage to scoop him away, driving Kukreja to beg information off him, about his future plans to which he replies guardedly, “I am trying to finish my album, after which I have a tour planned to promote it. I have some new ambitions for this album. It will all be revealed very soon.“
Van Buuren’s connect with her was flimsy, another one of the thousands of faces that a global electronic music superstar sees every day. But a 30-year-old woman, had been rendered a child, until long after he had left, screaming incessantly at whichever anxious soul was at the receiving end of her phone calls.“He liked my question! He liked my question!“ was all that she wailed at them.