Tiesto on His Next Album, "Red Lights," and Why He'll "Never Stop Challenging" Himself
Photo by Guy Aroch
Whoa, bro. The world's biggest DJ is finally about to drop a new studio slab?
That's right. And though he has continued to let loose a steady supply of Club Life mixtapes (not to mention a full-length as Allure), it's been almost five years since Tijs Michiel Verwest, best known to EDM fanatics as Tiësto, put out 2009's Kaleidoscope, his last proper artist album.
Now, he won't tell us the upcoming record's title ("I don't even know it," he jokes) or its exact release date. But Tijs does admit that he's growing just as impatient as his most obsessed fans. "I'm going crazy!" he laughs. "I can't wait."
Last week, in the run up to Winter Music Conference, Miami Music Week, and Ultra Music Festival 2014, the $32-million-per-year man chatted with Crossfade about being immortalized in wax, prepping the next album, and why EDM isn't pop.
Crossfade: What's it like knowing that people actually pay money to see a wax statue of Tiësto in a museum?
Tiësto: Well, I don't think that anyone pays to only see me. [Laughs] But it's really cool. And when the statue was just finished, I went to check myself out. So if you look on the Internet, there are photos of me standing next to myself, and we're both wearing the same shirt.
He's been around since, like, 2007. He's even traveled all the way to Las Vegas and then back to Amsterdam. So he's almost as well traveled as I am.
Of course, though, the wax Tiësto isn't gearing up for the release of his next studio album. And the real Tiësto recently dropped the first single, "Red Lights," off that new record.
Yes, I did. The original version of that track is actually already almost two and a half years old. It all started one night in Sweden when I met up with producer Rami Yacoub, who also does a lot of pop stuff, and he played me the chorus. I was like, "Wow, this is so uplifting and euphoric! This is so me!" And I knew that I wanted to work on the track. It was a very long process, but it was definitely worth it.
Interestingly, "Red Lights" opens with some acoustic guitar work. And like you, Avicii recently toyed with a singer-songwriter vibe on "Wake Me Up." Is mixing acoustic or live instruments with synthesized sounds something that'll characterize much of your new album?
It's not a one-off. But the whole album isn't completely like "Red Lights" either. In fact, it's a nice mix of both styles. There are some songs that have acoustic elements, maybe half of them. And then the other half of the tracks are denser, more layered EDM songs.
How close are you to completing the record?
Very close. I've actually completed pretty much all of my work on the album. But I'm waiting to find the right vocalists to nail some of the songs. It is all written and the instrumental tracks are finished. I am just being patient, trying to find the people who can sing the vocal parts the way I want.
See also: Ultra 2014's Five Best Live Acts
Photo by Guy Aroch
In a lot of ways, it seems as though what's been recently called EDM has become the new paradigm for pop music. Do you think producers like you and Avicii are setting the future for pop?
I just do what I like and what I feel is right. There are other people who get inspired by some of the work I do and then they might borrow my approach for a pop song.
In a way, I think pop producers are something different from EDM producers, because they take elements from every genre and create songs that are sometimes very stylistically different from one another.
So producers like me might be inspiring certain pop producers. But I wouldn't say that we are setting the future for pop.
So you would never want to think of yourself as strictly belonging to that pop world?
Maybe some of my tracks are more poppy than others. But I can always stand behind my work. That's the important thing -- I have never forced myself to make a song just to be in the Top 40. Everything that I've ever done, I really like.
Yes, "Red Lights" is a much lighter, poppier track than some of my earlier stuff. But it was not made for the radio. It was made for my sets. I love the vocal and that's why I made it. I'm proud of it. So if certain people choose to call it a pop song, I don't think that's a bad thing.
Is that one of the keys to your longevity -- staying true to yourself while also being willing to evolve?
I believe so. In order to stay relevant and continue to do work that matters, we all have to evolve. You know, I used to be one of the leading figures of trance until about 2009. But then I decided to try to do something completely different and I am completely happy with that decision.
It's an incredible challenge to switch your sound in the middle of your career and remain on top of the game while competing with all of the newer star DJs like Martin Garrix and David Guetta and Calvin Harris. But it worked out. And it's just been an amazing run for me.
I'll never stop trying new things and pushing boundaries and challenging myself.
Crossfade's Top Blogs
Tiësto's Club Life. With Moti and Mednas. Thursday, March 27. LIV, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. The show starts at 11 p.m. and tickets cost $125 to $250 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-674-4680 or visit livnightclub.com.
301 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33132
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