Earlier this year, Paul van Dyk flipped the script via The Politics of Dancing 3. It’s been 15 years since the first installment and 10 since The Politics of Dancing 2, both presented as mix compilations. PvD has now returned with his seventh artist album, in the form of The Politics of Dancing 3. Collaborating with 23 other artists, we dig into the 14 tracks with PvD to get the stories behind the songs.

1. Paul van Dyk & Mark Eteson ft. Tricia McTeague “Heart Like an Ocean”

Tricia McTeague is providing the beautiful vocals—a vocalist I worked with on another track on the album, “Only in a Dream.” Mark Eteson was part of the lineup of We Are One, the festival we do in Berlin, where we decided to do a track together. With most of those ideas, with the new possibilities of the modern world, you send music and elements back and forth, working together in real time. Then you finally come up with something that is a piece of music, and that’s what I did. I sent it to Tricia, and she came back with this amazing vocal. I had explained to her the strongest element of being human is the fact that we hold on to things, and the heart has the power and the will to bounce back. It’s a very hopeful love song, in a way.

2. Paul van Dyk ft. Sue McLaren “Lights”

Sue McLaren obviously provided the vocals here, and she’s another one of my favorite vocalists. I’ve been working with her for a long time already, so when I was getting everything together for The Politics of Dancing 3, she had to be on it. With the track itself, I was actually writing the music for quite some time. I was bringing things together—all sorts of different elements—because I liked the feel, I liked the vibe of what I had, but I couldn’t really finish it. I talked to Sue and I explained the feel, the vibe, the mystical elements the music has. She came back with the lyrics, and I just heard it and was like, “Yes! That’s it!” It took another two hours, and then the track was actually finished. Sometimes it needs that extra element. It’s what I like about collaborations. Sue looked at the whole musical idea from a very different angle and came up with something that I could have never come up with. Together, we made this track, which I really, really like.

3. Paul van Dyk, FKN & Mohamed Ragab ft. Jahala “My World”

The guys I’ve known for a long time, because we released music from them on VANDIT Records many, many years ago. You know how sometimes there’s a difference of perspectives about what the life of a DJ is like, and so on? I feel this is a very personal one. I remember when Depeche Mode did the song “Walking in My Shoes.” This is something where we all have our own lives, and this track is about the challenges of my life.

4. Mino Safy “Around the Garden” (Paul van Dyk Remix)

When I heard it, I loved it. It was really, really, really great. It didn’t fit into where my musical agenda is, so I took all these elements. When I play live with my keyboards and computers, making all sorts of adjustments and basically playing things live, this is what I actually did. I played the song a very different way in my set and realized, “This is what it needs to be on Politics of Dancing.” It was inspired by my live performance of the track and ended up being the remix on the CD.

5. Paul van Dyk & Michael Tsukerman ft. Patrick Droney “What We’re Livin’ For”

Patrick Droney was introduced to me by Jon Bon Jovi. He has this amazing voice, and I’m pretty sure he has a massive career ahead of him. But we’d been talking about this element of the track that’s really uplifting. It’s that thing when you enjoy yourself and you’re at a festival or in a club—those magical moments. This is “What We’re Livin’ For”—the excitement, this energy, being there with your friends and having a great time. It’s sort of the answer for that moment.

6. Paul van Dyk & Giuseppe Ottaviani ft. Fisher “In Your Arms”

Fisher is one of my favorite vocalists as well, and he’s been doing amazing things for a long time. We’ve worked together before. Obviously, it’s another collaboration on the music side with Giuseppe Ottaviani, and we go back to the times when he was part of Nu NRG, of which we released some tracks. It couldn’t really be Politics of Dancing without another collaboration. He came up with something that was really techy in a way… and quite dark. I kind of swooshed it all around. It’s euphoric and is another track on the album that is influenced by the feeling of loving someone.

7. Paul van Dyk & Ummet Ozcan “Come With Me (We Are One)” (Paul van Dyk Festival Mix)

Ummet and I have worked together before, and maybe that explains the idea of The Politics of Dancing. Instead of putting other people’s music, remixing it and them putting it together on the album, I like the approach of actually going to the studio with people. I wanted music from Ummet on the album anyway, but rather than taking something he’s already done and remixing it, we just went to the studio and did this track. It is very different from what he’s doing now, but it’s got that signature drive in the track, and this is what I love about it as the festival anthem for We Are One.

8. Paul van Dyk & Aly & Fila ft. Sue McLaren “Guardian”

In a way, you can conceive almost this creative musical circle. This whole collection is because I believe in collaboration. To me, it’s about making music, and therefore we need artistic ideas and a vibe. I’ve known Aly & Fila for a long time, so that’s very easy to explain… Over the last few years, they’ve delivered some really essential pieces of music. I think this collaboration is just another sign of how alive trance music at its core really is—how the soundscapes are and how much music there actually is, rather than just creating music that’s some sound effects and noise. At the end of the day, it is about making music, not just noise. Obviously, “Guardian” explains itself; I think the lyrics are very clear.

9. Paul van Dyk & Las Salinas ft. Betsie Larkin “Love Is”

“Love Is” is another interesting collaboration with the guys from Las Salinas. I was working on a remix with them of “Crush,” one of the previous tracks. I think Betsie Larkin is one of the best vocalists in the electronic music world. She came back with those phenomenal, beautiful vocals. It seems to be the theme of love is what the album’s about.

10. Paul van Dyk & Genix “For You”

To me, Genix is one of the best pop producers of the last two years. He was one of the first ones that said, “We should really put something together for this album.” Looking at the response of the track when I played it, I think we did a really good job putting this collaboration together the way we did.

11. Paul van Dyk & Stoneface & Terminal “Follow Me”

Obviously, some fellow Germans had to be on there! They’re fantastic guys. All the sort of melodic elements and the musical elements on the album and reflecting on what I do, there [had to] be a kind of straightforward, banging track on there. This is how “Follow Me” was actually created, in a way. It’s sort of unique and simple, and that makes it strong and powerful.

12. Paul van Dyk & Jordan Suckley “City of Sound”

[The goal of] The Politics of Dancing is always to know what sort of music is going on. The people I choose to work with are the ones that are known, and the ones that aren’t that well-known all have something very unique and inspiring. Jordan has that fire; he has that power music needs. I had to do something with Jordan for the album. We called it “City of Sound” because in a way, it sounds strange. But everywhere we go, it’s a bit like creating a city of sound—like when you play in Berlin and create a vibe and a feel in the venue—this… becomes a city of sound. This kick, whenever I play it, immediately kicks in and bangs, and people go for it. This is something I believe electronic music should do.

13. Paul van Dyk, Jessus & Adham Ashraf ft. Tricia McTeague “Only in a Dream” (PvD Club Mix)

It’s an interesting collaboration because it goes all around the world. I collaborated with producers from Columbia and Egypt at the same time. We’d been writing music, creating drum patterns, all sorts of elements. I was reaching out to Tricia because I really felt it needed that. I remember she said, “Making music with you is a bit like a dream.” In a way, it’s like mapping music these days. It’s almost a dream come true for a lot of people. I remember back in the day, it wouldn’t have ever been possible for me to give my records to my favorite DJs. These days, with all the multimedia possibilities there are, we have the chance of reaching out to each other and making music. It’s almost a dream come true.

14. Paul van Dyk & Roger Shah ft. Daphne Khoo “Louder” (PvD vs Ben Nicky Remix)

“Louder” was sort of an ongoing project. We’d been working on so many different versions of it, but the remix was actually inspired by a conversation that I had with Ben about his remix. So I called it the Ben Nicky remix because it features elements and inspirations from him. When you hear me playing out, “Louder” sounds completely different.

The Politics of Dancing 3 from Paul van Dyk is available now on Ultra Music/ VANDIT Records.

Deanna Rilling is a self-proclaimed trance addict. Follow her on Twitter.

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