DJ Randy Paulson is one of the author’s favourite trance DJs. He met him at the infamous ‘Technoclub’ in Frankfurt-Offenbach to get to know the man behind the perfect facade.
Randy is one of my most favourite trance DJs – of whom I, by the way, know that he likes to visit a very expensive Ayurveda hotel twice a year. “To stay fresh and keep a young mind“, he recently told to the German weekly newspaper ‘Welt am Sonntag’. I came up with questions about the early days of trance, his recent EDM production, how he remembers the specific trance and techno sound from Frankfurt – the Sound of Frankfurt. Though as he walks in I immediately realize that he might not be up for a chat about the past. This is a fifty-year-old man and DJ who has seen a lot, but still looks ahead, one eye always directed into the future. As I get up to greet him, I almost fall down – probably because Randy’s superb energy made me panic. He looks younger than me. I’m 29.
“I kind of hate it, but also wanted to be part of it, you know, cash in on the whole thing.”
Congratulations for your recent success. Your single “The (Health) Anthem” went up US top 40. What a great success, it was your first EDM production as far as I can tell?
It’s virtually nothing, I just wanted to see, if I could do EDM. Do you look at YouTube videos? I mean every one of them uses EDM to show off their success. The message is always the same, it doesn’t matter if it’s a compilation of the best goals of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, a body transformation of a fat kid into a young Adonis or just a video about how to fix your bike: It’s always: work hard, then you succeed. I kind of hate it, but also wanted to be part of it, you know, cash in on the whole thing. I see it more as an experiment. It’s a kind of meta-comment on the self-fulfilling prophecy of success.
Yes, I know exactly what you mean. So this EDM production will be a one-time thing for you?
To tell you the truth, it was just a bet between Tiësto and me. We were backstage at ‘Nature One’ during a set of Armin [van Buuren] and I was talking about the downfall of “the Armin“ and his show ‘A State of Trance’. The show became such a regulatory force in our genre, but then at the same time wasn’t playing real trance, I just couldn’t take it any longer. Tiësto said I wasn’t going with the times and that I probably wouldn’t even be able to produce a simple EDM track – that’s really what he said. And so I did ‘The (Health) Anthem’. It’s as basic and straightforward as it gets. Apparently that’s what young Americans want. I heard they don’t take drugs at their festivals – they only drink beer…
“The first thing I’ll do tomorrow is to buy a ‘Funktion-One’ for my living room.”
I’ve been to ‘TomorrowWorld’ last year. If you think ‘TomorrowLand’ has become shit, this is the real horror!
The horror, the horror.
Yes, thank you.
Let me think for a second about the first ‘TomorrowLand’. (Closes his eyes)
What did you see?
Well, I saw me, David [Guetta], Ferry [Corsten], Sven [Väth] and Armin [van Buuren]. It was the time when DJs like us became superstars. I knew in this moment, it was the end of the summer of 2005, when we were all standing on stage on a Sunday evening just before sunset, with thousands of Belgians partying and screaming. I knew in this moment that this would become huge.
Now these festivals have ridiculous themes.
I know… ‘The Elixir of Life’ or ‘The Secret Kingdom of Melodia’. God!
‘The Book of Wisdom’ or ‘The Key to Happiness’.
Kill me, please!
I’m sorry, enough of this. Let’s talk about something else. What’s your newest project? Will you produce trance again? Maybe even uplifting trance again?
I don’t know yet. I only decide when I sit down to produce. Trance feels kind of dead at the moment. But there’s so much potential… you know what I miss: the utopian quality of trance. That’s also why I probably won’t return to uplifting trance. Enough with the boring realism already.
How does this utopian trance sound?
I don’t know yet, but I just realized I’ll have to find out. The first thing I’ll do tomorrow is to buy a ‘Funktion-One’ for my living room. My girlfriend probably won’t agree, so maybe a small one. I really have to get into producing again. Try out new things.
Mainly it will all be about bass. Did you know that certain bass notes make your system release adrenaline, because your body is hardwired that way? Up until the 1960’s the only time you heard and felt such bass was when the situation was potentially dangerous. Say a thunderstorm. But the great thing is, in the context of the club the adrenaline gets you excited, makes you more into it. And that’s why I need the ‘Funktion-One,’ to really figure out the mystery of the bass.
“Most of my fans probably don’t read anything at all. Except for self-help books…”
I read in an interview recently with Armin van Buuren…
Oh god, these interviews make me angry… but please, continue.
Well, this is what he said: “I really, really, really, really want to give people a good time. I take that as a very serious task. I just want to blow people’s minds with giving them an energetic uplifting performance.” What do you think of that?
I don’t know what exactly, but I think something went seriously wrong after 2005. I don’t want to play music in a therapeutic way; I also don’t see it as a serious task… I mean, good, if art is about healing people, that’s fine, that’s okay, but for me it’s rather about ideas, you know…
If I may say so, you are really different from what I expected you to be.
I know, a lot of people have this image of me… you know, I have white teeth, I take care of myself, I smile a lot… but I don’t want to have anything to do with this simplistic way my “colleagues“ present themselves to the world, you know, work hard, love what you do, have passion for everything… Wait, are you recording this by way?
Yes, of course.
Oh, of course.
Well, you know… I probably shouldn’t talk like this. My fans might not understand. Or misunderstand.
I don’t think a lot of your fans will read this interview.
That’s true. Most of my fans probably don’t read anything at all. Except for self-help books… They’re all escapists. The world is too much for them.
(Closes his eyes again) You know what, I just realized what I have to do. Of course I can’t tell you what it’s going to be. But it has something to do with the bass and the melody… The one has to be realistic, down to earth, and the other has to be… Ok, enough. You’ll see. I have to go now…
Later Randy’s manager told me not to release this interview. He didn’t imply anything, but I immediately thought the whole thing had something to do with a missed medication. I will never know, but it was my duty as a journalist to publish this interview.
Text by Max Link
Photo by Norman Palm
This interview was also released in the Off-Kultur fanzine “It’s tomorrow’s future“.
Do you want to improve your very existence with trance? Go to Half-Life Vienna on September 9, 2016.