We had the chance to have a little chat with both Eller van Buuren & Mr. Probz minutes after their performances at the AUC SU Homecoming last Friday where they shared their sheer excitement and gave us some exclusive updates.
The name van Buuren is probably familiar to a lot of trance ears out there, but this time it’s not about Armin, it’s all about his younger brother, Eller, who chose to take a different path, and instead of DJing, he plays the guitar, and is now a songwriter and a producer as well. He played in Sharm El Sheikh before but described the crowd at the AUC last Friday as “way more uplifting and drawn at it”.
The musical talent runs in your family, but how do you feel about taking a different road than your brother’s?
I always compare it to sports, you can have two brothers; one playing football and another playing tennis.
You were a guitarist on the Armin Only Tour, tell us about your best moment on stage during this tour..
I don’t know, there are so many different elements because I started with an acoustic guitar, then I went to something called the tri-base, and then I went to electric guitar and all those different moments have different feelings, but one moment I really enjoyed was at the end of the night when I played together with Armin and we hugged, it was such an intense moment.
How is the experience of teaching different from being on stage? And when did you feel you had an impact on any of your students?
It’s more intimate, on stage there are like four or five thousand people and everybody is going really mental, but face to face is a very intimate situation.
I’ve got a couple of really young students, and they’re really going for it, and it’s not like they say something in particular, it’s just that they enjoy the guitar. It’s not about me, it’s not about the guitar lessons; it’s about them.
If we’re going to ask you to name one track of yours that you’re proud of, which one would it be?
It would be a track you’ve never heard, because it’s not out yet. It’s one of my new tracks called Brand New, and it’s a pop song and I’m really proud of that song.
Seconds later, we were informed that we had only 5 minutes to talk to THE Mr. Probz.. We got backstage and into a blue tent where we hung out.. For a little longer than we thought!
But first, let’s take a moment to appreciate the voice behind Waves, Birds Fly, Another You, and many others! Dennis Princewell, aka Mr. Probz..
How is your first visit to Egypt so far?
We had some food yesterday, which was amazing, we had everything on the menu, I tried everything that was there; we got the meat, we got the kebab and kofta. My favorite dish was the lamb. After that we went to bed early and tomorrow we’re going to see the pyramids, we’re going to do the whole tour. We just came in yesterday, we didn’t have much chance, but we took an extra day.
So instead of going back home tomorrow I’m going to stay till Sunday so hopefully I could see most of the city. I love culture, if I touch the ground I really want to make sure I soak up the culture and not just pass through. There are so many countries that I go and I’m just there for a couple of hours, and then I go to the airport and I’m gone and I have no real feeling; I really want to create memories and that’s what I’m doing right now, hopefully tomorrow I can see as much as I can.
How did you find the crowd today?
There are no words for that at all!
Sometimes we announce that I’ll perform somewhere and there’s a big lineup and a couple of people are like “I’m also looking forward to see him”, but this time it was me posting a picture on Instagram of a hallway and all the comments were Egyptian, and that was the first time I really felt that the excitement was really strong.
Sometimes on Facebook I post something and there are three hundred thousand likes and I’m like “tell me where you’re from and I’ll put pins on my world map” that’s a usual thing that I do, and there are always people who ask me to come to Cairo, so now I’m here and I’ve felt the love, and I’m really happy that I could give something back. The energy was great and I’m really looking forward to come back hopefully, you know, if you guys let me.
You introduce yourself with the name “Denise”, so where exactly did Mr. Probz come from?
I started out in hip hop, I started out as a rapper. I haven’t been even singing for that long and I’m not one of those artists who knew from childhood that they’re going to be performing on stage, for me it was like I’ll rap a little and I’ll produce a little and at a certain point I just started singing.
Waves was the first full song that I sung and I just put it out just to see what people would say. But before that I was just Mr. Problems and when I would write down lyrics, my problems would disappear, like if I had something that was bothering me, I would put it on paper and it’s gone.
I put out a hip hop album called The Treatment, I was working on that for a long time and I had Waves and I put it out. I was working on a hip hop album first, and then I chose to just put it online for free. Waves was so successful, it reached number one in like 51 countries, so I was like “and you know what? Here’s the album, here you go, thank you”.
And now, I’m a singer, and it’s like a big change. So, if I was a rapper, and I would call myself Mr. Problems, everybody would be like, oh yea, that makes sense, but now I’m a singer and it’s who I am.
It suits you in a good way..
Thank you! If you know my story, if you know my history, last week, somebody broke into my house and took everything I had, two years ago, my house burnt down, two years before that, something different happened. It keeps on happening. In Holland, where I’m from, everyone knows that there’s a lot that has happened, and that “Mr Problems” is not a weird choice, if you know the story, then it makes more sense.
You collaborated with Hardwell and Armin separately and did two amazing tracks, are there any new collaborations with other DJs?
Well, the thing is, being in Holland is like a really small pond. The Hardwell collaboration for example, that took like 15 years to happen, I’ve known him since he was really little, and even though we were friends and he was the world’s number one DJ, I didn’t feel the need to forcefully work with him, it had to be organic.
It came naturally, one day he just called me and he was like “I’m finishing my album and I’ve got this song, I want you on and let’s do it”, and I was like “okay”.
Same thing with Armin, we bumped into each other at an award show in Holland, and he was like “we should work” which is what a lot of people say, but it doesn’t always happen.
So for me the click is more important than anything, I don’t care about nothing else, if the energy is not cool, then it’s not happening, I don’t care. If you know how many calls I’ve had, and how many emails I get, people would call me crazy to turn them down, but if I don’t know you, why would I share something really personal with you?
To me this makes sense, but a lot of people think differently. For me, music comes first, and then everything else comes later. Music is the most important thing, and I don’t do concessions.
To me, as soon as you’re an artist and I think that you’re a good artist, I put everybody on the same page, doesn’t matter where you’re from. I’ve got Dutch artists that I respect equally, as the biggest stars in the world, for me it is no difference at all.
We’re all people, like at the end of the day we’re all people who make music. One more successful than the other, but at the end of the day we’re all people.
Special thanks to Omar Gamal, Maged Samie, and MS Managements.
Photography by: Hatem Reda