By Scott T. Sterling
A quick look around the world of EDM reveals a prevailing trend: youth rules. From teenage dynamo Martin Garrix to the fresh-faced brothers of Disclosure, one is hard-pressed to find acts over the age of 25, let alone a dynamic, scene-dominating veteran who’s been around long enough to have been Garrix’s idol growing up.
Such is the case with 45-year-old Tijs Michiel Verwest, better known as Tiësto, who has stood tall at the top of the ever-expanding dance music universe since the turn of the century. While sub-genres and public tastes have shifted wildly, Tiësto is the bridge between dance music’s underground past and its current status as the sound of young America.
With the release of his new album, A Town Called Paradise, Tiësto seeks to elevate his stratospheric career beyond EDM and towards becoming a household-name. Marrying his hands-in-the-air trance euphoria with finely crafted pop forms, the album has already generated the hit single “Red Lights,” which has had a major impact on the Billboard charts as well as American pop radio, a first for the Dutch DJ. The follow-up single, “Wasted,” looks to follow suit.
“I never thought that would happen, but it’s definitely for me one of the icings on the cake of my career,” Tiësto explained during an interview with Radio.com about the success of “Red Lights.” “I’m so proud to have a song on the radio, because I’ve never had that kind of music. It’s not that I try to make something that fits the radio, I just like to write songs which I really like myself. And then the radio picks it up, it’s like a mega-bonus.”
The influence of Las Vegas is stamped all over A Town Called Paradise, a city that Tiësto helped turn into America’s current dance music capital.
“When I used to come there, I was the only DJ that played house music and EDM,” he said. “For the rest, it was all hip-hop and open format. Las Vegas is always moving, it’s always transforming into something new, there’s always new stuff bubbling up. Every week you have fresh, new people in who want to party.”
The annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show provided some eye-catching inspiration for A Town Called Paradise in the form of song “Calling All Angels,” which came about after the DJ attended last year’s event.
“I always wanted to write a song for that show, because it’s so amazing,” he revealed. “It’s the most beautiful women in the world parading there. I was at the show here in New York, and it was just mind-blowing to see all these beautiful women. If you want to go out at night, who do you want to call? You want to call some girls to bring out, right? So that’s how the song got inspired.”
Tiësto has happily served as a mentor for such emerging EDM stars as Hardwell and Martin Garrix, offering them opening slots on tours as well as dispensing sage advice on navigating the murky waters of the music industry. He’s especially proud of having been the catalyst for Garrix’s exploding DJ career.
“He’s very talented. He can make anything. He played me 20 different tracks, and they all sound completely different,” Tiësto raved about Garrix. “Everybody knows him from ‘Animals,’ of course, which is amazing, but he can make different stuff. I love the fact that he was watching [me perform at] the Olympic Games in 2004 with his mom and dad and he was like, ‘I want to be like Tiesto.’ Four or five years later, and he’s already there. It’s pretty incredible.”
When he’s not immersed in music, Tiësto catches as many soccer games that he can. He feels good about his home country’s chances in this year’s World Cup.
“I always support Holland, of course. I’m from Holland, and before the tournament started I was like, we still have a good chance. Not a crazy chance, but a good chance,” he explained. “But I never thought we’d beat Spain 5-1 in the first round, so now I really think we’re going to be world champions, of course. The pressure’s on.”
(Interview by Brian Ives)
Tiesto’s 2014 tour includes stops at the upcoming Thank You Festival in Columbia, MD, on June 26 and HARD Summer in Los Angeles on August 3. See his complete itinerary here.