One of the most iconic DJs and producers in dance music history, Paul van Dyk has been synonymous with trance since the mid-’90s. With early productions like his 1993 remix of Humate’s “Love Stimulation” and the 1994 classic “For an Angel,” he blended minor-key melodies with ecstatic beats, helping to establish the progressive trance sound that would become inescapable by the end of the decade. As dance music increased in mainstream popularity throughout the world, and the phenomenon of superclubs emerged, van Dyk became immensely successful, regularly selling out venues around the globe. Around 2000, van Dyk began collaborating with vocalists more frequently, resulting in his biggest pop hits, including the U.K. Top Ten-charting “Tell Me Why (The Riddle)” featuring Saint Etienne. He continued to infiltrate the mainstream through his remixes of pop stars like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. He also became more politically active, speaking openly against war and initiating a series of releases titled The Politics of Dancing in 2001. By the mid-2000s, he was regularly receiving high-profile recognition in the form of a Grammy nomination and awards from various dance publications. He remained highly productive throughout the 2010s, releasing albums such as 2012’s Evolution and 2017’s From Then On, in addition to hosting his weekly VONYC Sessions mix show and remaining an in-demand club and festival DJ.
A native of a German town near Frankfurt, van Dyk first heard house music on the radio during the mid-’80s. Soon he was experimenting with a rudimentary turntable setup, and after hitting Berlin, he gigged around the city. By 1991, he had appeared at the legendary Tresor club; he later set up his own E-Werk club, and debuted on record as Visions of Shiva, with fellow trance wizard Cosmic Baby. He remixed for New Order, Humate, Sven Väth, and others, then signed to the German MFS Records for his first album, 1994’s 45 RPM, which included the original version of the perennial club favorite “For an Angel.” By the midpoint of the ’90s, van Dyk had become a globe-trotting DJ and remixer. His second album, Seven Ways, resulted in British and German dance chart entries for the singles “Beautiful Place,” “Forbidden Fruit,” and “Words” (featuring Toni Halliday of Curve). While both of his albums were issued in America during 1998, van Dyk added two remix collections, Perspective and Vorsprung Dyk Technik, to his discography.
The year 2000 saw the release of third full-length Out There and Back, which contained some of his most popular songs, including “We Are Alive” and the Saint Etienne collaboration “Tell Me Why (The Riddle).” As a follow-up to global club dates in support of those releases, van Dyk released the EP Columbia in 2001, in addition to his first mix album, The Politics of Dancing. After a relatively quiet 2002 (on the recording front), van Dyk returned with a mix-album/greatest-hits/DVD (Global), the soundtrack to a film (Zurdo), and a new production album (Reflections, which reached the Top Ten of the German album charts). He released the second volume of his Politics of Dancing mix-album series in 2005 and returned with another guest-heavy, pop-minded studio album, In Between, in 2007. The remix effort Hands on In Between followed a year later, and live DJ gigs, remix work for others, and his own mix albums kept van Dyk from releasing a studio effort for the next four years.
He returned in 2012 with the album Evolution, along with the single “Eternity” featuring Owl City frontman Adam Young. A year later he issued the (R)evolution: The Remixes collection, while 2015 brought The Politics of Dancing, Vol. 3, a proper album rather than a mix CD. After issuing the collaborative single “Berlinition” with Chris Bekker and Chris Montana in 2016, van Dyk released the full-length From Then On, which arrived in late 2017. Music Rescues Me appeared one year later, and the single “Shine Ibiza Anthem 2019” was released in conjunction with van Dyk’s weekly residency at Ibiza’s Eden club. ~ John Bush, Rovi