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Paul Van Dyk On George W, Cannibals & Living in A Dictatorship

Author: Jonty Skrufff (
Monday, March 8, 2004
"I don't think anyone seriously believes that all of us in Germany are potential cannibal killers. That guy was one geek, one freak; every country in the world has its weirdoes. And in some countries those weirdoes are even President."

Germany's biggest superstar DJ Paul Van Dyk paid little attention to the recent court case of infamous cannibal killer Armin Meiwes, though stories about Presidential weirdoes are a different matter. Recently installed as the first non-American to join voter registration drive Rock The Vote, he's as politically astute as he's gloriously outspoken, revelling in using the opportunities his music's brought him, to express himself as much as he can.

"I still think you're able to say what you think in The States though it's a little bit more dangerous than it was five years ago," he tells Skrufff.

"But at least you still can and that wasn't possible in East Germany in the past."

Growing up in Communist led East Germany in the 80s (under a regime he unequivocally brands a dictatorship), the teenage Berliner experienced life under tyranny first-hand, particularly after his Mother applied to leave the country in 1986 (some three years before the regime collapsed as the Berlin Wall fell). Branded subversives and placed under Stasi (secret police) surveillance, the 14 year old enjoyed cat and mouse games with the police, simultaneously developing a genuine appreciation of democratic values, notably the importance of freedom of speech.

"Maybe I'm outspoken about my political views and about my stance as a democratic person because I saw what a dictatorship was like as a teenager," he suggests.

"Because I saw what life was like, living with no basic rules of democracy; when you couldn't vote and everything was done the way the authorities said it should be done, you had no choice."

15 years since the Berlin Wall fell, he's become one of the world's most popular (and successful) DJs, enjoying riches and acclaim far beyond his wildest dreams, though he attributes his mammoth success to his abiding passion for music.

"When it comes down to music, I'm a total geek, I love electronic music and I give everything for my music, I think this comes across and lots of people appreciate it, " he says.

"To do something with substance you always have to put your heart into it."

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): You're shortly re-releasing your latest album Reflections with a new remix bonus CD included, how pleased are you with its performance so far-

Paul Van Dyk: "I'm very pleased, on the one hand it's already my most successful album, it's been top 10 in Germany and has been very well received in the US too. People also seem to have appreciated the fact that I took elements from other genres and incorporated them into my music as well the fact that I included more serious issues with my lyrics."

Skrufff: You're one of the world's biggest name DJs, is the goal to replicate that level of success as a producer-

Paul Van Dyk: "I wouldn't complain with where I'm at now, because I'm one of the few people that can go anywhere in the world and find at least a few thousand people there that are interested in what I do. This is something that I find amazing and major. But I don't really define success by how many people recognise me on the street or by what kind of chart position I achieve. Success to me is when I'm able to translate my ideas into music and reach people with it. From that perspective I have to say I'm very successful in what I do because obviously there are quite a lot of people on this planet who enjoy electronic music, and also enjoy in particular, the kind of electronic music that I make."

Skrufff: Does the term 'underground' have any meaning for you-

Paul Van Dyk: "Underground means underground (chuckling). At the beginning of the 90s there was this weird separation between those being called underground and others labelled commercial but n