Phoenix – Three shows into his current North American tour and nearly 15 months after a life-altering accident, Paul van Dyk hit The Pressroom stage this past Cinco de Mayo and the Arizona fans made sure he knew how much they appreciated his Stateside return.
“PvD! PvD! PvD!” they chanted. The most serious fanboys lurched forward, some waving old-school vinyl records. The legendary German DJ was all-smiles – he knew how fortunate he was to make it back so soon after falling through a Dutch festival stage in February, 2016, and incurring serious spinal and brain injuries.
The recovery has been tough, but van Dyk certainly hasn’t forgotten how to rock a room. At The Pressroom, he offered crowd-pleasing classics, like “For an Angel,” of course, but also strong new material, like his new single, “Touched by Heaven.” By the end, he fittingly had the crowd singing along to 2016 entry “Together Again.”
As van Dyk prepared for a pair of weekend dates – tonight at Opera in Atlanta and Saturday at New City Gas in Montreal – we caught up with the Berlin-based DJ/producer.
How has your post-accident rehabilitation been?
It has been a long process, but fortunately I’m doing much better today than I was a year ago. My doctors have told me that it’ll be several years until I get over the long-lasting effects from my injuries – and even, then I may never return to 100-percent. But I’m very pleased that I’ve recovered to the point where I can tour again, even if it’s more difficult and stressful than it was before.
In late 2016, you did a show at The Brooklyn Hangar and the fans were really up for it – you still have quite a loyal following here in America. Considering what you’ve been through, what was that energy exchange like?
Playing for a live audience is truly one of my greatest passions in life. During the first few months of recovery, I was itching to get back to touring and that show at The Brooklyn Hangar certainly meant a lot to me. I missed the energy of the crowd, and when I was finally playing live again, that energy was rejuvenating.
Your new single, “Touched by Heaven,” is a real stormer, a genuine return to form. We understand that you have an album in store. What’s the next batch of material like?
This forthcoming album is certainly one of the most personal projects I’ve made in my career. When I was making songs for this album, I only worked with people I truly believed in, who share a mutual love of electronic music. In the past, label A&Rs have made various suggestions to try to improve the commercial viability of the record, but with this album, I retained control of the entire creative process. This album will be out sometime later in the year. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.
How has DJing changed for you over the years? Your approach to a set? Your evolution of DJ gear?
I have a great deal of pride for my live sets. Instead of simply playing one song after another in a fixed setlist, I try to do everything live. Normally, my set-up consists of my laptop, two MIDI controllers, two external sequencers and an audio mixer, which allows me to read the crowd and play the right song at the right time. Twenty-five years-plus of experience has helped me learn how to read the crowd, so I know exactly what song to play next to sustain that positive energy.
This is a fairly extensive North American tour, playing some great venues for a month of dates. What can PvD fans look forward to on the rest of this tour?
Like all PvD shows, you can expect a truly uplifting and positive experience. Some of my most loyal and devoted fans live in the U.S., so I’ve always loved touring here.
5/11, Atlanta, Opera
5/13, Montreal, New City Gas
5/18, Albuquerque, El Rey
5/19, Salt Lake City, Complex
5/20, Calgary, Marquee
5/25, Denver, Beta
5/26, San Diego, House of Blues
5/27, San Francisco, Dreamstate