It has been revered as a pinnacle of success for burgeoning trance artists – a coveted spot on this radio show has been known to catapult relative unknowns into superstardom. For fans of the genre, the show has become a weekly congregation, a sacred place to escape the turmoils of reality and succumb to the melodic, euphoric productions. As for the creators who have been broadcasting to their audience for twenty years, A State of Trance has emerged as not just a radio show, but a global phenomenon – the quintessential symbol of all things trance.
Spearheaded by trance legend Armin van Buuren in 2001, ASOT consists of not just its namesake radio show but also encompasses a record label, music festivals, and annual compilation mixes. The brand dominates the dance music landscape with a loyal following, who are integral in the production of the show.
The fans were a key component in the show's 1000th episode celebration. The seven-day-long radio show gave listeners the opportunity to vote for their top 1000 trance tracks, ultimately giving the top spot to label-head Armin van Buuren's track "Shivers." Alongside this colossal list of records, he released the A State of Trance 1000 Celebration Mix and announced the dates of the A State of Trance 1000 Festival.
Breaking from its format of a January date, the milestone festivities had to be scheduled back due to the pandemic. However, the team at ASOT managed to create a noteworthy and engaging 1000 episode celebration. Alongside Armin van Buuren was the longtime ASOT producer and co-host Ruben de Ronde, as well as Ferry Corsten, who recently joined the ASOT team. The trio concocted a jam-packed agenda consisting of broadcasts of mixes from years past, ASOT events, and of course, the live broadcast of the top 50 trance tracks.
The three opened up to EDM.com about not only the landmark occasion, but also, their views on the evolution of the show, their dedicated fan base, and the future of A State of Trance.
EDM.com: First and foremost, congratulations are in order for this massive milestone. How are you feeling after this week-long celebration?
Armin van Buuren: Exhausted and super happy at the same time. A great deal of effort went into preparing all these festivities, and I couldn’t be any more proud of how it all panned out. The team did amazing and the response from the fans will keep me smiling for a long time to come.
Ruben de Ronde: Feeling great, to be honest! We have been working for months with a full team behind the scenes for this episode. Since we gave ourselves the mammoth task to create a top 1000 in video form, we could only go all out on it.
In the end, we had over 800 video items throughout the 7 days non stop the broadcast, so we have to thank all of the artists involved as well. After a few days of rest, it is time already to focus on the next shows, because we don’t take weeks off with A State of Trance!
Ferry Corsten: Thank you, I feel honored to be a part of this milestone show. It was amazing to see and feel the love from the fans for this show and the music.
EDM.com: Ferry, you recently became a part of the team, what's been the most difficult thing about producing a radio show for you?
Ferry: It's been a great year for me with this team. It's always a great vibe and fun. Having done 700 episodes of Corsten's Countdown as a pre-recorded show where any mistake could be corrected before airing it, it was quite a challenge to do this live. Come in, plug-in, and go. But after a while, you get used to the flow and things get easier. More fulfilling to be honest.
EDM.com: Armin and Ruben, you have both been integral in the production of the radio show, what's been the most rewarding thing about hosting the show over the years?
Armin: Definitely the tireless support of the fans. The whole reason I started A State Of Trance twenty years ago was to share the music I love with the world. So when I get to see everyone lose themselves in the music as they did during these celebrations – and pretty much during every episode or event, really – makes me the happiest man alive.
Ruben: The most rewarding part is, without a doubt, the interaction with the listeners. Going through the thousands of amazing stories and emails every week, and speaking with listeners in the chats is really what we do it for. You hear and see the most amazing, most sad, and happy stories. People really have the radio show as a lifeline in their lives sometimes. I am happy we can make a change in that way. Especially in challenging times like these. I hope we can go out again soon, and meet all of you!
EDM.com: Ruben, you are just as much an integral part of ASOT as Armin is, what have you enjoyed the most about co-hosting the show?
Ruben: From 2007 until 2017, I was mostly behind the scenes producing the show. Ever since we started on video I have had a bigger role in the show. In 2020 I started hosting hour number two every week, and that has been really awesome! It is great to meet some of the producers and DJ’s again, after not seeing them for ages and playing tunes for the show. What I enjoy the most is absolutely working with Armin and the team. A big shout to the studio team Ramon, Kian, Jack, Riccardo, and Tim!
EDM.com: Armin, the radio show has been a platform for emerging artists to showcase their tracks and has helped launch the careers of many trance producers; who's trajectory have you enjoyed seeing develop over the years?
Armin: There have been so many throughout the years. Names such as Andrew Rayel or MaRLo come to mind, but also AVIRA most recently. Again, there are so many others though. It’s so nice knowing that the show has meant a lot to people in that regard too!
EDM.com: The elephant in the room is the global pandemic, how did this crisis alter your plans for ASOT 1000?
Armin: It goes without saying that the global pandemic put a dent in our original plans; we had to postpone the ASOT event that was originally scheduled for January/February like all other ASOT milestone celebrations that went before it. The safety of the fans will always be our foremost concern though. I’d rather wait a long time and do things right so that we can all celebrate in the best possible way. That’s what the fans deserve.
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EDM.com: And speaking of waiting a long time to celebrate, you recently announced a celebratory show this September in Utrecht, what can you tell me about that?
Armin: It’ll be a two-show weekender in the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The first show is more of a throwback to the past two decades of ASOT, focus on the classics and the evolution of the show throughout the years. The second show, on Saturday, will be one for the future where we look ahead and lay the foundations of all that’s still to come for A State Of Trance.
EDM.com: The week-long radio show saw fans partake in voting for their top 1000 tracks. Were either of you surprised by the results? Specifically the top 10?
Armin: Yes and no. To be honest, there were probably about 200 or 300 tracks I personally considered to be worthy of a Top 10 spot. That pretty much sums it up. There are so many amazing Trance tracks out there that it’s next to impossible to create such a list on your own. This fan-voted list is the most accurate representation we could’ve gotten. It truly shows which tracks have resonated with the global fan base the most and how much they’ve impacted these people’s lives.
Ruben: I was definitely surprised! I mean, there are some evergreens in the Trance scene, but I really thought Tuvan was going to win this one. Super happy that Shivers won it. A well worth winner, and one of the tunes that always came back during the celebrations.
Ferry: It's always amazing to see what resonates with people, what they pick as their favorite track. Of course, there are the tracks that you expect to be in there, but there are always the odd ones that come as a surprise. As you get closer to the top 10, the pool of options dries up and you can almost predict the outcome. But still, in what order those tracks appear in the final list, will always be a surprise till the very last second.
EDM.com: Ferry, the fans voted for 23 of your own tracks in the Top 1000, what does all of that love for your music feel like?
Ferry: It's just an amazing feeling. The idea that the music you produce and have produced over the years touches so many people is more than you can ever imagine when you are in your own little bubble in the studio. Having that amount of tracks in that list is mindblowing and I want to thank everyone who voted for those tracks.
EDM.com: Speaking of fans, the Service for Dreamers segment in your radio show has allowed fans to share their stories on their favorite trance tracks. Have any of those stories moved you, if so which ones?
Armin: Wow, that’s a tough question. I think the most heart-warming ones are the stories where a track has brought people together and became the anthem to their marriage or the birth of a child. And touching in another way are the stories of tracks helping people through life’s most challenging situations, such as the loss of a loved one. It shows that music goes way beyond just something nice to listen to. It really has the ability to mean the world to all those people listening.
Ruben: There have been many stories that were moving. Coming from people that nearly committed suicide, but listening to A State of Trance lifted their spirits, to people that met each other at our events and proposed to each other on-air. I can’t wait for the moment we can actually have Dreamers in the studio again, instead of video shouts. In the last years, we have had people flying in from Brazil, South Africa, Japan, and Canada for one day, just to be on air with us. How awesome is that?!
EDM.com: Producing a radio show is a big undertaking. Do either of you have a favorite behind-the-scenes task?
Armin: Selecting the tracks for the show, of course! Sure, you can only put so many tracks in a two-hour show, meaning you have to kill your darlings at some point. But running through all new releases can be really inspiring. I absolutely love it. Reading all the messages from fans is a very close second though! It really warms the heart!
Ruben: Most of the activities of the show are actually behind-the-scenes. From scouting new music to getting guests on the show and check out all of the trends. My favorite part is the interaction with the listeners and listening to new music. In the end, I am a music lover, and being able to share world premiers is a rush!
Ferry: I just love going through all the new music for the week and putting the playlist together. Making sure that it flows nicely etc. But sometimes there are so many amazing tracks with only so much time. That can be a real challenge.
EDM.com: Finally, the show is twenty years old and still going strong. Why do you think A State of Trance has been so successful?
Armin: Due to the insane loyalty of the listeners of the show. It’s the fans that helped shape the show into all it is today and their continued support has been driving it since it all started back in 2001. For instance, the show first went global because several fans recorded the episodes and shared them online. The fans helped build the community that’s now at the core of all things ASOT. The show’s success is as much theirs as it is mine, maybe even more so.
Ruben: We always try to stay on top of things, bring new styles and sub-genres into the show, but most of all I think it stays successful because of the success of Armin. It is very rare that someone can stay on top of their game for two decades, and bridge generations of fans. I am super excited about the celebrations, and even more excited about what is to come!