Q&A with Tiësto
According to the DJ magazine Mixmag, Tijs Michiel Verwest, better known as Tiësto, is the greatest DJ of all time. And judging by his massive Facebook following and growing success in the mainstream (especially in the States), the world agrees. Ahead of his August 3 gig at the W Hotel, the mega Dutch DJ tells Andrea Yu about filling stadiums, dubstep music and Paris Hilton.
You’ve been ranked at the top of so many DJ lists and were named the ‘greatest DJ of all time’ – do these types of accolades still have meaning to you?
For me these accolades aren’t very important. I’m obviously honoured by the support my fans give me when voting, but I don’t pay a huge amount of attention to them. Selling out my shows around the world to fans that really care about the music is much more important and satisfying to me.
Most of your highest-ranked YouTube songs are collaborations with some pretty varied artists like Nelly Furtado, Three 6 Mafia, Tegan and Sara… and then some people closer to the electronic field like Diplo and Hardwell. Can you tell us how these collaborations usually come about?
I think collaborations are a hugely important part of growing as an artist. Working with each artist that I have in my career has expanded my creative process and it is something I really value. Collaborations come about by many different routes, whether it is a vocalist getting in touch via twitter or perhaps stopping me in the street (as happened with Luciana who’s vocal appears on my collaboration with Wolfgang Gartner We Own The Night), or another DJ/producer talking to me at a show I’m playing at or hitting me up online. In terms of artists I’d really like to collaborate with in the future, I’d say Arcade Fire for sure. I’d also really like to work with The Naked & Famous, who I recently remixed with Hardwell. They are definitely one of my favourite bands.
Where do you see the electronic music field going in the next five years?
It's very hard to say, but I think the level to which dance music has broken through in the US particularly means that it will be a strong part of mainstream music culture for many years to come.
What do you think about a genre like dubstep breaking into the mainstream in such a big way? Have you dabbled in the genre before?
I haven’t played a lot of dubstep in my sets, but there is the occasional track that has worked well with my sound. Dubstep has been very good for dance music in my opinion. It has brought a new kind of fan to electronic music and has definitely contributed to its rise in popularity over the last few years.
How do you keep up the energy of a crowd for such a long time when you're playing marathon sets? Do you prefer these types of gigs as opposed to shorter sets or festival gigs?
It has been a while since I did a really long set. A few years ago that was a lot more common, now it's only occasionally. Generally I find that the music and the crowd give me the energy to keep going on and on. I’m pretty open to different kinds of sets. I love playing long ones, festival sets or more intimate club shows like in Ibiza at my Pacha residency this year.
Can you describe your sound to someone who’s never listened to a Tiësto track before?
My sound has elements from a lot of different dance music genres - electro, progressive and house music.
You’ve been quite good with marketing yourself through social media and YouTube. Do you this type of marketing will soon be vital for the success of electronic DJs in the future?
Definitely, I think it already is vital. Social media allows you to have a much more direct level of contact with your fanbase and that has be really important for me on many different levels, from the communicating what I am up to, to getting feedback from my fans on new tracks and my live show. Social media is also extremely important when communicating with other DJs and producers.
What do you think about the recent rise in the popularity of dance music in the US? And do you see a big difference between the audiences in the US compared to Europe?
The rise in popularity in the US has been amazing to watch. Things have changed so quickly in a market that I wasn’t sure would ever really get behind dance music on a mainstream level. The audiences in the US are quite different to Europe. They are very young, incredibly energetic and very knowledgeable about dance. The most striking difference is that they are not focused on one genre in the same way they are in Europe a lot of the time. One guy may be into dubstep but also really enjoys house as well. It is very interesting to see.
What were your impressions of Hong Kong and our audiences last time you were here?
I have great memories of coming to Hong Kong, I wish I could come over more! The audiences there are really focused and passionate about the music.
What do you think about Paris Hilton becoming a DJ?
I think it shows how far dance music has come in American culture.
There’s a ton of great electronic DJs that have come out of the Netherlands. What is it about the country that makes it so conducive to great DJs and tunes?
I think it is down to a lot of factors, but mainly because Holland has embraced dance music for a very long time, with dance tracks doing well here and being played on the radio regularly. The younger DJs who have emerged from the scene here have grown up with dance music so have been quick to embrace it. I also hope mine and other established Dutch DJs examples of being successful DJs has had some impact on their confidence in what can be achieved.
Click here for advance tickets to Tiësto's W Hotel gig. Read our preview here to find out more about Tiësto.