He is unlike any other.
It's a crisp, clear night as we ride in darkness to the venue. In the back of a stretch limo, Tiësto pours me a stiff drink before fixing one for himself, confiding that on nights like this, "I still get butterflies in my stomach." Bathed in amber light, quiet conversation tapers-off as we approach the main entrance. The line is four-deep and wrapped around the block. Standing six-foot-four, fit and slender, Tiësto emerges and flashes his radiant smile as a roar goes up from the crowd. The air is electric. We are led to a private balcony overlooking the happy hysteria of the main room and exchange glances that scream, "Yeah baby!" Exit, a cavernous club spanning an entire city block with 65-foot ceilings in the main room, is packed with 7,000 people tonight. The club has spent an extra $100,000 on the DJ booth just for Tiësto, and the crowd bellows a howl of desire as he takes control of the console. With deft dexterity, he calibrates the attributes of each sound with lightning speed before unleashing it on the house. The resulting symphony brings people to tears. Waves of melodic, techno-trance gradually build in volume and pitch, creating a sense of euphoria as the speakers detonate with a searing bassline. The crowd erupts. The audience is comprised of youthful club denizens of every nationality, as the smiling Tiësto orchestrates an epic concerto. Straight into the heart of an unrelenting techno cadence, Tiësto drops milky-smooth female vocals, as thousands of sweaty faces contort into expressions of rabid exuberance resembling agony. A tsunami of bodies rushes forward until flesh is pressed against the booth, Tiësto dangling a pair of autographed Sony headphones before tossing them into a sea of shrieking fans. "Twenty-four-hours-a-day: it's just music, music, music! It's my passion, and when I can share the music I love with 4,000 people, it's like, wow! When I play a live set, I feel like I play a journey, and afterwards, I'm full of energy. It's totally spontaneous, it's never the same."
A prolific original artist, Tiësto's "Flight 643" and "Urban/Suburban Train" grace the playlists of every self-respecting DJ the world-over, and in an endless sea of mediocre trance and techno noise, Tiësto's "Theme from Norefjell", "Gouryella" and remix of Schiller's "Das Glockenspiel" shine as massive classics. After having declined a remix for U2, Tiësto went on to remix Dave Matthews Band's "The Space Between", setting new standards for mixing rock and house music. Tiësto's breakout remix of Delerium's "Silence" saturated every club and was the first dance track to be played on North American daytime radio. Paul Oakenfold and Tiësto regard each other as respected friends and colleagues who often collaborate; Oakey entrusted Tiësto to remix the first track on Paul's debut album as a solo artist. Oakey's acclaimed "Perfecto Presents Another World" album contains both Tiësto's "Silence" and "Flesh" tracks, and Paul's "Traveling" album contains three Tiësto remixes as well. (Coincidentally, Oakey mixed my speaking voice onto "Another World" five times, and again onto "Traveling"). Tiësto's second Nettwerk release and first album of all original material, "In My Memory", is a testament to his breadth of musical genres. Each individual track is a treasure with distinct flavors that touches the listener in intense places. Rhapsodizing over "Lethal Industry", Tiësto likens the track to sex, "Sometimes you want it hard, and it's still good, ya know?" Aw, yeah.
Michaelangelo saw the art of sculpting as "liberating" human forms that were embedded in blocks of marble. As with creative talent of divine inspiration, Tiësto hears music in the world around him. "Sometimes when I've been to a party where I play, I might get an idea for a track. Or when I'm in a city and I hear a sound, or I'm in the studio just playing around with the knobs...I automatically get a melody, it's all so natural. It's very difficult to explain, it's just intuition."
Né Tijs Verwest in 1969 and hailing from Breda, Holland, Tiësto "was born a DJ" and started his craft at age 8. Playing records at drive-in disco shows in his native Holland, Tiësto's sound was focused on Dutch club and pop music. He was soon playing sets in Breda's famed The Spock club creating a distinctive style, and he held residencies in several clubs in Holland from 1985 through 1993. Together with his best friend, Arny Bink, Tiësto founded Black Hole Recordings, which distributes his music worldwide (Nettwerk handles North America) under his own name, as well as collaborative works under the names Gouryella (with Ferry Corsten) and Kamaya Painters. Tiësto first broke into the U.S. with top-grossing "In Search of Sunrise 1 & 2" (Black Hole) mixes and has continued with the highly successful "Magik 1-7" (Black Hole) mix series. "Summerbreeze" (Nettwerk) set the standard for compilation albums in the U.S., and Tiësto's all-original "In My Memory" (Nettwerk) is blasting to the top of America's best-seller charts with its masterful blend of orchestral strings, ethereal female vocals and uplifting synth patterns spiked with fat, syncopated techno basslines. Dance music never tasted this good.
Tiësto acknowledges that "It's very difficult to break into the UK;
they have their own heroes." All the more remarkable that Tiësto stormed
into the UK's DJ Magazine's "Top 100 DJs" poll at #6: behind Sasha-Digs,
Tenaglia, Paul van Dyk and Oakey. Tiësto enthuses, "My dream came
true...I always wanted to be a DJ." He is celebrated for www.tiestosolo.com,
an ongoing mini-tour in which he plays exclusive six-hour sets at exotic venues
around the globe. This past New Year's Eve, Tiësto played the top four
shows in the UK to a combined audience of 60,000 fans that night alone. Teasing
the manic crowd with an autographed record in each hand before eventually tossing
them out, Tiësto steps from behind the decks as people climb over one another
to get closer to him. Such is the scene in Israel and Japan (where Tiësto
is ranked #1), just as it is in New York. "I feel the energy from the crowd
and I try to give back, to create a unity." Jubilant and animated, Tiësto
alternately pumps the air, mimics synth melodies with arms extended and hops
in glee while performing. "I love touring, especially here [in the U.S.]
Every night a new city, a new club, a new crowd. The club scene is so healthy
here. Every club I play here, it's always big lines outside and it's very exciting.
Here, for me, everything's new...so fresh." Tiësto loves Americans'
enthusiasm, and youth culture embraces him wholeheartedly. Twenty-thousand fans
are still going strong under an indigo desert sky, distant mountains coming
into view as Tiësto's six-hour set barrels towards dawn. Tears stream down
the faces of fans as they strain to touch Tiësto's outstretched hand. Beaming
a luminous smile, he is soon off to the next city, but the melody lingers long
after the last amp has been unplugged.