Friday 28th Oct, 2016

Tiësto's career is punctuated by landmark achievements – the first DJ in the world to sell out a solo stadium event for over 25,000 people 2 nights in a row, he scored a number one hit with his single Traffic, the first instrumental track to reach the top spot in his homeland of Holland in 23 years. His remix of Delerium featuring Sarah McLachlan's Silence was the first house track ever broadcast on daytime radio in North America, (it became an international dancefloor anthem and also spent eight weeks in the UK top 10 chart). He played live in front of billions of people during the Parade Of The Athletes at the official opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Athens. But despite his meteoric success, Tiësto remains grounded about his achievements and clearly loves making and playing music above the accolades it brings. 

Born in Holland, Tiësto became a DJ because he "liked to share music with other people. When I was younger, I'd listen to a radio show called the Soul Show, and to Ben Liebrand's mix show, where he would remix and cut up different tracks, and I just thought - I wanna do this!" Starting out with a mobile show around the country, he progressed to student parties, and then to three nights a week in a club, learning and perfecting his craft. "music was always my first love but back then I didn't know it was possible to make a living out of being a DJ… If I wasn't a DJ now though I'd be a chef. I love cooking – it must be because of the mixing element!" The productions came later, in 1995. "I really wanted to produce music that I could play in my sets, because it brings much more fulfilment to the process. I bought some samplers, some computer programs, and just started working on it." He makes it sound easy – indeed, he makes it look easy as 10 years down the line his productions consistently bother the charts and frequently reach number one around Europe.  

In 1997 Tiësto, along with Arny Bink, formed Black Hole Recordings, the label that launched the hugely acclaimed Magik. In Search Of Sunrise, and Nyana mix compilations. The label grew to such proportions that in 2001 Tiësto started a sub-label, Magik Muzik. "It's the home of records of mine, or of people whose work I really believe in," he enthuses. "Everything on Magik Muzik is what you'll find in my sets, which makes it more of my own little project." Some of the gems from Magik Muzik include 2001 anthem Flight 643 and his artist albums In My Memory and Just Be. 

Though known primarily for his pioneering contributions to the trance scene, Tiësto's style is now a mix of everything: "trance, house, techno - it's the best of all that the dance world has to offer. In 1998, I was really a trance DJ, but now I've travelled round the world so much, different influences have seeped in and I play a bit of everything. I think the only way forward for DJs now is to play a diverse mix of sounds." Indeed, his brand of trance was always pushing at the constraints of the genre anyway, featuring soaring vocals from the likes of Sarah McLachlan and Kirsty Hawkshaw, spine-tingling breakdowns, and euphoric melodies at every end of the spectrum. His productions, sets, and releases range from peak time club heaven to the sort of perfect chill out that could reduce a grown man to tears, and have at times owed as much influence to classical music as to dance. 

The many high profile gigs and shows have now taken Tiësto away from exclusively playing clubs, and propelled him to become more of a mainstream artist. "Often at my shows now, half of the people are die-hard clubbers, but the other half are people who know me from the radio, or from more mainstream gigs," he says. "It's more like they're going to a concert, so now I get a great mix of both worlds."

Describing the last few years as "a journey of defining moments," (as well as the usual club successes, his shelves are groaning under the weight of numerous awards – TMF-Awards, MTV, Dutch DJ - and gold discs…) his favourites include the second night of the Tiësto In Concert show in Holland in 2004: "I was really aware of what was going on, the music was just right – a mix of all my big tunes and new tunes, everything just felt perfect that night. I played for nine hours straight, and it was my favourite gig ever." And, of course, being voted by the readers as the number one DJ in the world for the third time. "The first time it happened it was so amazing, I was overjoyed. The second and the third time were great as well of course, but the first time you're on the cover of that magazine that is so respected by other DJs – it's like winning an Oscar!" 

In May 2006 Tiësto decided to become the worldwide ambassador for Dance4Life, and to invest considerate amounts of his time and efforts to the one charity in which he could really find himself. Immediately the production of a Dance4Life anthem was discussed, which resulted in an a song with Faithless' Maxi Jazz, where Maxi's words and Tiësto's music perfectly intertwine into a dynamic piece which could not better suite the Dance4Life vision. 

Continuing to explore fresh avenues, Tiësto is currently experimenting with new sounds in the studio, and writing more vocals himself. "I'm not looking for any big collaborations right now, I'm more interested in a burgeoning talent – someone whose voice is good, and that really touches you. A voice should sound like an instrument to me. I've had a spell away from the studio, relaxing and travelling, but now I'm really enthused about getting back in there. I'm more open to doing remixes again. I like to hear a track and right away know what I want to do with it, what I can make different, and whether it'll work for me in my sets – all my remixes have to be tried and tested." 

The future for Tiësto promises yet further success, both as the solo artist he's become and the DJ we know him to be. "Another album, more remixes, definitely," he agrees, "but it's hard to look too far into the future. Every couple of months it seems that something new, unexpected and exciting is happening!" 

Sally Learmouth

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