It might have been a few years since Tijs Michiel Verwest knocked over the odd DJ Mag #1 award, but to millions of punters around the world, he still remains number one. Indeed, years on, he remains one of the finest exponents of the Dutch trance scene the world has ever known; and to think that this decade also marks another important milestone in his life: he’s turned 40. Yet, all of this stands for naught; what is important though, is that Tiësto possesses the same energy and vigour that he always has – and he continues to spread his message across every corner of the globe. We talk to him on the eve of his return to Australia.
“I never actually planned it like this,” chimes Tiësto, straight from the get-go. “Music is my life and my hobby and always has been; so one day, I just started collecting music and making tracks for my friends. We would record them or mix them on very basic tape mechanisms – this is how it was back in the day! I must say, it was much more difficult to do things back then, compared to the way we do now. I suppose the idea remains the same and that is whatever you do musically you are just trying to please people. After that, I spent some time working in a record store and from that, I got the opportunity to work for a record company. Eventually they let me mix my first compilation and I sold a thousand records and I made a couple of big remixes like Silence and in that year I felt like that was when I was really getting known – that was probably around 2001 I think.”
By 2010, Tiësto has unequivocally become to electronic music what Madonna is to pop; and yet he is a smooth talking, polite bloke, who, years and years on, remains humbled and touched by his success. Indeed, it has all been written about him before and as such, having a conversation with an artist of this calibre is always met with some trepidation. Regardless, the man is as level-headed as he is accomplished; an ambassador for EDM and music generally – I mean, he played at the opening ceremony of the Olympics – and he is no stranger to putting people at ease first; and then whipping them into a frenzy, second.
Never scared to push boundaries either, he pioneered ideas like working with artists beyond trance to allow punters outside the electronic spectrum to appreciate his music. That remix of Delerium’s Silence featured Sarah McLachlan and further increased his exposure. By the time the new millennium rolled around, he’d released his solo album, titled In My Memory, and was already on the way to being named the world’s number one DJ. That happened – in the end for three years running – when he was awarded #1 by DJ Magazine from 2002 through 2004. So what does he put that success down to? Well the answer isn’t simple: “I’m very spontaneous with stuff; I take it as it comes – I never really think about the future or the past, I’m very lucky and very happy with the way my life is going. As I say, none of these things were necessarily planned, they just happened and turned out that way.”
“Right now though, it’s summer over here in Europe,” says the great man, “so I’ve been at my Ibiza residency every Monday night and travelling pretty much all over Europe every other night! Another really funny story that I came across recently was that, according to an internet rumour, I apparently died in July! I also played in Spain on the same day that they beat Holland in the World Cup Final – so that wasn’t completely ideal!”
I suppose that comes with the territory. How quickly we digress; back onto the music though, he recounts the recent work he did with the Kaleidoscope album and the world tour that followed it. “Well, with Kaleidoscope I wanted to make an album that brought together all the different musical influences that I was listening to at that moment in time. This included a lot of indie rock, electro, techno and house – and I drew from all of these to create the album. I am continuing to bring in new genres and influences into my work but it still has the essence of what makes up the Tiësto signature sound, but it takes it in a whole new direction.”
Kaleidoscope was the fourth studio album from Tiësto and contained collaborations with Nelly Furtado and Calvin Harris amongst others. The album also contained the smash hit I Will Be Here which was co-produced with local supergroup Sneaky Sound System and achieved critical success in almost every market worldwide. Yet not to be outdone, he remains busy not only with his gruelling touring schedule, but also his other projects, an important one of which is his label Musical Freedom.
In terms of studio work, Tiësto has a track coming out with Mark Knight on Toolroom, which he says will surprise a lot of people; as well as a bunch of other collaborations in the works. “I have also been working on the Kaleidoscope World Tour DVD,” he says. “It is going to look and sound amazing! I have already started to think about A New Dawn, my new mix album that will be released in early 2011. Other than that, I’m really excited to get back to Australia for this festival tour, so it will be a little different to my Kaleidoscope tour. Expect it to be large!”
Catch Tiësto at Foreshore 2010, held on Saturday November 27 at Commonwealth Place. Tickets available through Moshtix.