Exclusive Interview: Tiësto on his tour, collaborations and importance of young talent
He’s the undisputed king of dance music. A superstar who will forever be known for paving the way for future generations and a brand recognized far beyond the borders of EDM. His talent and ambition catapulted him from a small town in the Netherlands to playing to thousands of music fans all around the world. In the ever changing world of music, remaining relevant is just as difficult as achieving initial success and few stars can take claim of this achievement. The star in question is none other than Tiësto and his accolades in the last few decades are too numerous to mention.
The high-energy sound that dominates today’s dance music is indebted to Tiësto, who started out experimenting with sounds in the early ’90s, before moving on to trance and progressive house. From being a first DJ to host a solo concert in 2003, to selling out stadiums, playing at the Olympics, winning a Grammy award, creating hugely successful dance music labels and compilations – Tiësto seems to have done it all.
At age 49, Tiësto is still embracing the challenge of remaining relevant in an increasingly competitive industry. He’s still as excited about performing as he was when he started DJ’ing at clubs in 1994. We caught up with Tiësto during his Australian tour after his Sydney show at Hordern Pavilion to find out more about the star.
How is the Australian tour going so far?
“I love it here. I played in Melbourne last weekend which was amazing. It was a great crowd and I played a 2.5 hour set. Before that I was in Sydney for a couple of days and now I’m in Hamilton Island for 5 days in a nice resort so I’m really enjoying it.”
Talk to us about your huge hit “Boom” with Gucci Mane. You released the track last year but decided to do a vocal version. What was it about Gucci that attracted you to this idea?
“The original instrumental version was big around the world. Almost every DJ played it in his set. It’s a really cool track. It was always a cool track for a rapper to do something on. I played it for Gucci and he was like ‘Yeah I would like to give it a shot’ and he came up with the rap on top and it actually suits the track very well. It fits very nicely in there so that’s how it all came together.”
Your AFTR:HRS imprint has proved a hugely successful side venture to your iconic Musical Freedom label. What was it that inspired you to set up this project, with more chilled and deep-house sounds?
“I always loved the really warm melodic tracks even back from the ‘In Search of Sunrise’ compilations and I always felt like dance music is so big and diverse. I love all kinds of dance music. I love the hard stuff but I also like the melodic soft stuff but I never really had an imprint to put it out on and that’s why I discovered AFTR:HRS because it’s great music to listen to in your car or on the plane. Not necessarily to play out in a club. It’s almost like listening music for me but it still has a bit of an energy to it. It doesn’t put you to sleep. Great music to listen to when you’re not in a club – that’s why I call it AFTR:HRS.”
You’ve performed a lot of collaborations in recent years, helping thrust the likes of Oliver Heldens, Don Diablo, The Chainsmokers and Mike Williams into the spotlight. What is it about those artists that made you want to collaborate with them?
“I always discover them before they really break through. That’s what I think is fun about it. I see those guys and then we get in touch and we agree to do something together because they always have fresh new ideas. I’ve been in the business for a long time so it’s nice to reset your own ideas and work with younger artists and upcoming artists who give something different to your sound. It’s been the biggest influence on my own career in the last 5 to 6 years that I’ve always worked with young upcoming artists and new talent. That gave my sound a different direction and that’s what I really like about it.”
With such an abundance of dance music out there is it harder or easier to discover new talent?
“It’s definitely been harder in the last year or so. Before that it was a little bit easier. Now there is so much overwhelming music online on Soundcloud so a lot of stuff gets drowned in the pile of average music. They’re still out there. There’s still amazing music but it’s harder for them to stand out.”
Tiësto is one name that has graced and will continue to grace the headliner list on every major music festival in the future. There is no doubt that the music powerhouse will continue to consistently push boundaries with a relentless drive to provide his loyal fanbase with even greater shows and music. The Tiësto phenomenon is a story that continues to unfold, and will ensure that the superstar will leave behind a legacy of incredible music that will go down in history. The only question that remains is – is there any quest left for the superstar to conquer?