Fresh off the heels of his ninth studio album, Breathe In, Armin van Buuren shares the inspiration behind the release and more.
Although 2024 is slated to be another eventful year for Armin van Buuren—with festival appearances at EDC Mexico, Ultra Miami, and Tomorrowland—the Dutch legend is tackling a new approach to making music and touring. Last week, he sat down with members of the press to chat about how the message of his latest album, Breathe In, represents his changed perspective on life and how his daily-life commitments are channeling this new vision.
The 12-track project paints the producer in a well-balanced light by blending pop and newer sounds with classic trance. This self-composure is intentional, and Armin van Buuren shared that every element of the album has a purpose, saying, “The first [track] from the album, “Forever (Stay Like This),” was chosen for a specific reason because the lyrics refer to, like, try to enjoy the moment. We’re constantly on our phones, we’re always busy [thinking about] tomorrow, or next week, or next year…. So, that’s what [the song] is all about, and that’s what the album is about.”
The path to this stay-in-the-moment mentality was not a straight one. The EDM boom in the early 2010s propelled his touring, and his 2012 pop-hit single, “This Is What It Feels Like,” pushed his career to new heights. The lucrative deals, rush, and excitement of EDM’s mainstream success always had Armin thinking about the next thing, though the passing of Avicii and the birth of his daughter in 2011 were key moments that made him consider taking life in a new structured direction.
Amid all the success in his career and personal life, Armin shared that he struggled to find happiness on a day-to-day basis. It wasn’t until 2020, before the pandemic, that he planned on taking a sabbatical to address an aching question: “Do I still want to make music?”
When the world was forced to shut down, Armin said that he was able to reset and rediscover the kid who was happy making records in his parents’ house. He was able to reconnect with the fun of producing a track rather than looking at music as “a product.” And it was through meditation that he was able to find this self-discovery.
During the conversation, Armin van Buuren, dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans, appeared very relaxed for someone with a busy schedule. Aside from touring and music, Armin also leads his popular radio show, A State of Trance, and his label, Armada Music, and spends quality time with his family. The key to juggling a layered lifestyle, he says, is meditation, therapy, gym, sleep, and no alcohol, which he revealed that he quit years ago.
He also said that meditation is the catalyst of his new life. As he puts it, it is the reason why he feels productive, balanced, and energized, which is why Breathe In acts as an affirmation. It’s this composure that has allowed the artist to embrace new sounds and technology, including AI.
Armin detailed how the track “Make It Count” features his voice, which was created with AI. When asked if the dance community should embrace this technology, he replied, “I’m seeing the positive sides of it. I think it’s another tool, actually.” He then added how the discussion of AI reminded him of similar conversations when sequencers started making a rise in music in the late 1980s. The fear then: it would make music soulless.
What is clear about his future is that he’s prioritizing his mental health by pulling back on touring, placing boundaries not only to prevent exhaustion but to make his shows fresh and unique for his devoted fans. And while the next album will be his tenth, a historic milestone for him and the scene, Armin says that his definition of success has also changed. “I’m proud of my kids, my wife, and being at home, and being a father because that’s what I am first and foremost,” he shared. “The rest of what I do is—I absolutely love music, and I’m crazy about it, but it’s my job…. [My family] is the best thing that’s happened to me.”
The quotes from Armin were edited for length and clarity.