Tijs Verwest, known as DJ Tiësto, was born in Breda, the Netherlands. He started DJing professionally at school and house parties in the early 1980s, and then moved on to become a resident DJ between 1985 and 1993 at several clubs in The Netherlands. It was at a club called ‘The Spock’ where things really picked up for Tiësto. He stopped producing hardcore/gabber tracks and started to produce his own sound from 10pm until 4am on weekends. In the mid 1990s, Tiësto started to produce trance and he hasn’t turned back since.
He had an interest for music since the age of twelve. When he was fourteen he decided to dedicate more time to it and began DJing professionally at school parties and then moved on to become a resident DJ between 1985 and 1994 at several clubs in the Netherlands after his manager and friend Wilfred encouraged him. However, it was at The Spock, a small club in Breda, where he was able to fine-tune his own style by playing in a separate room from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. on weekends.] In the beginning of his career as DJ he mostly played new beat and acid house, and many Madonna songs because her music shows that she likes to dance. Before the release of her album there were already dancemixes like “Vogue” which was one of the songs of Spock.
In 1994 he began releasing material on Noculan Records’ sub-labels Chemo and Coolman. During these years, he produced hardcore/gabber tracks under aliases such as Da Joker and DJ Limited.He was later discovered by the general manager of Rotterdam-based Basic Beat Recordings. In late-1994 he signed to Basic Beat were he met Arny Bink, Tiësto released records on the sub-label Trashcan, founded by Arny, and later created the Guardian Angel sub-label with Arny in which they introduced the popular Forbidden Paradise series. Meanwhile from 1995 to 1996 he released four extended plays on Bonzai Jumps and XTC, sub-labels of Lightning Records. In 1997 Tiësto joined his friend Yves Vandichel on his sub-label, DJ Yves, a division of the now defunct Human Resource label XSV Music. In the fall of 1997, both Arny and Tiësto decided to leave Basic Beat and create their own parent label, now known as Black Hole Recordings, Trashcan was discontinued and Guardian Angel continued releasing music until 2002. Through Black Hole, Tiësto released the Magik series and also created two major sub-labels in 1998; In Trance We Trust and SongBird. From 1998 to 1999 Tiësto released music on Planetary Consciousness were he met A&R Hardy Heller and invited him to release some records on Black Hole. Tiësto later included the In Search of Sunrise series on SongBird. In 1999, Tiësto joined forces with fellow Dutch deejay Ferry Corsten to create the trance based duo of Gouryella. To highlight the importance in the expansion of the trance environment at the time, there were 20 different CD releases of the 4 Gouryella tracks from 9 different labels. Since November 1999 he performed monthly as a resident at Gatecrasher in Sheffield, one of the most popular clubs in England. In 1999 he also played in a 12-hour set, being his longest lasting concert in Amsterdam.
2000–2002: Rise to fame and In My Memory
Late in 2000, Tiësto decided to concentrate on his personal work and left Corsten by himself to write and produce Gouryella’s next single with John Ewbank, the record company was demanding more tracks and neither Tiësto or Ferry could work together at the time. Tiësto introduced Armin van Buuren, Johan Gielen and Ferry Corsten to the mainstream with his first compilations and the In Trance We Trust series. Summerbreeze became Tiësto’s debut DJ mix album in the United States with the help of a contract signed to Nettwerk. Summerbreeze featured his remix of Delerium’s “Silence”, it spent four weeks in the United Kingdom’s Top Ten chart, it reached number three in the Billboard dance chart.In Search of Sunrise 2 was released in 2000. Tiësto decided to create a sub-label, known as Magik Muzik. The label began releasing Tiësto’s own releases, but it has also released tracks for the Filterheadz, Oliver Lieb, Mark Norman, Mojado, Phynn and Jes Brieden. The label became a trademark which stands for high quality electronic dance music which was due to the release of Tiësto’s classic dance anthem “Flight 643” in 2001.
Tiësto’s fame started to rise in the early 2000s after his set at the first ID&T Innercity party (Live at Innercity: Amsterdam RAI),]and the release of In My Memory, his first solo album released in 2001 which contained 10 singles and 5 major hits; The singles from the album were: “Lethal Industry” which was actually produced in 1999 and had only 3 copies released at that time, the track was officially released in 2001 which was remixed by Richard Durand in 2006 along with “Flight 643” which was another leading single that was later adapted with vocals by Suzanne Palmer and released as “643 (Love’s on Fire)”. Other tracks were “Obsession” in which Tiësto worked along Junkie XL also known as Tom Holkenborg, the instrumental tracks “Dallas 4PM” and “Suburban Train” with “Urban Train” as it’s B-Side which contained some vocals. The last singles to be released were “In My Memory” which is the title track for the album as it only received high ratings in the United States and the opening track “Magik Journey” which opened Tiësto in Concert (2003). On February 2, 2002 Tiësto played nine consecutive hours during the second edition of the Dutch Dimension festival. On February 27 he was awarded a Zilveren (‘Silver’) Harp music award. The same year he also received a Lucky Strike Dance Award in the category Best DJ Trance/Progressive. In August he became part of Moby’s Area2 Tour. For eighteen days he travelled through the United States with artists such as Moby himself, but also David Bowie and Busta Rhymes. After Junkie XL’s chart topping success with the Elvis Presley remix “A Little Less Conversation”, Tiësto releases a remix of the Elvis track “Burning Love”, he was then nominated for a Dance Award by the UK’s Muzik Magazine in the category Best Radio 1 Essential Mix. In January 2003 Tiësto received the annual Dutch Popprijs (‘Pop Award’) during the Noorderslag festival. After touring with Moby, Tiësto remixed two songs from him, “We Are All Made of Stars” and “Extreme Ways” in the same year, having “We Are All Made of Stars” reach #13 in the Hot Dance Club Play. In 2002 he released his first In Search of Sunrise mix to feature a place on its name, In Search of Sunrise 3: Panama. On March 28, 2003; Tiësto, Dieselboy, Bad Boy Bill, and Noel Sanger joined the PlayStation2 Dual Play tour. Tiësto and Noel’s appearance began on April 13 and ended on June 6.
2003–2004: Just Be and Olympics
His fame continued to skyrocket in the early 2000s following his six-hour “Tiësto Solo” sets which he performed without other DJs or opening acts. This idea, of one DJ playing alone to a large crowd, was brought to its pinnacle when Tiësto was the first DJ to hold a solo concert in a stadium; on May 10, 2003, he performed for over 25,000 people in Arnhem’s Gelredome. This concert was later called Tiësto in Concert, the event was an enormous success. He repeated the same type of concert the following year during two consecutive nights in late October. In addition to holding these two concerts for 35,000 of his fans, he held another concert for a crowd of 20,000 in Hasselt, Belgium the following week. DVDs of both his May 10, 2003 and October 30, 2004 concerts have been released, having the other DVD titled Tiësto in Concert 2. The DVD’s show the journey from the first idea to the main event, it features live performances by Andain, Dinand Woesthoff, and Jan Johnston. The event includes live music and dancers performing at different times throughout the set. The theme of the event is a mystical, musical journey around the world based on the theme of Magik.It consists of 200+ minutes of performances with a second disc with special features, It includes a behind-the-scenes looking at The Making Of the event, the music video for his song “Traffic” and TV Commercials for the event. The second DVD has performances from Aqualung and violin player DJ Mason, Micha Klein and the Bulgarian Children of Orpheus choir. During this period he was crowned as “No. 1. DJ in the World” by DJ Magazine (UK) in 2002, 2003, and 2004. In 2004 he released his second artist album Just Be, which featured his first single “Traffic” which is the first non-vocal track to reach number one spot in the Dutch national charts for 23 years. Tiësto and Kirsty Hawkshaw’s production and single “Just Be” appeared in the Nip / Tuck: Original TV Soundtrack, and “Love Comes Again” was used in a Coca-Cola commercial in Holland. The track “Sweet Misery” was originally written for Evanescence but it did not meet the deadline for the release of their album. Tiësto’s remix of the Kane song “Rain Down on Me” is featured in the game FIFA Football 2004. In support to his Just Be album, he played at Breda, Eindhoven, Utrecht, and Amsterdam; these stops were later named Just Be: Train Tour. On May 20, 2004 he was appointed Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
The Athens Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (ATHOC) asked Tiësto to perform at the Olympic Games, making him the first DJ to play live on stage at an Olympic Games at the 2004 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in Athens for 90 minutes.
Tiësto flew to Athens in January 2004 to have a meeting with the ATHOC. His Tiësto in Concert DVD caught their attention, after which he was asked to write more tracks based on his opening tune “Adagio for Strings” which could fit in with the Olympic spirit and combine the classical with the modern age; They also request him to play his own produced music. The first rehearsal was on Saturday 7, August for an empty stadium; the second rehearsal was on Sunday 8 with 35,000 volunteers, a lot of the people recognised some tracks like “Traffic” and “Adagio for Strings”. The last rehearsal included almost 60,000 people in the stadium which was on Tuesday 10, there were some technical problems, the mixer broke down, the monitors dropped out a couple of times and the music in the stadium was not continuously on the right volume.
During the parade on Friday 13, all participating nations introduced their athletes which were over 10,500 in total and 80,000 in the public, only 75,000 knew about dance music. During the course of his performance the Dutch athletes started dancing in front of the DJ booth and had to be moved on by officials. The performance included new tracks produced especially for the Opening Ceremony and songs that were created to complement the spirit and theme of the ceremony. A condensed studio-recorded album of the songs played on the Olympic set was later released, including new songs especially composed for the occasion, entitled Parade of the Athletes in October 2004. In the liner notes, he noted the IOC requested to him that the music not contain any lyrics as they could be inadvertently misinterpreted. After some success an unmixed version was also released exclusively on iTunes; it featured full length tracks.
He has had many aliases over the years but is most known by the alias DJ Tiësto, although with his recent works he has been known only as Tiësto, dropping the “DJ” label. His other aliases include:Allure, Da Joker, DJ Limited, Drumfire, Hammock Brothers, Paradise in Dubs, Passenger, Roze, Stray Dog, Tom Ace, and Wild Bunch.
Other claims to fame
Tiësto has been named an Officer of the “Order of Orange-Nassau” by the Dutch Royalty, as well as being voted 40th greatest citizen of all time by the Dutch. Tiësto was crowned #1 DJ for three years in a row (2002, 2003, 2004) by DJ mag readers - a first for any DJ. Currently, Tiësto ranks as the second best DJ in the world, after Armin Van Buuren. It should be noted however, that Tiësto has been able to draw the largest crowds ever by an electronica DJ including 50,000 for an indoor event in Amsterdam and 200,000 for an outdoor event in Rio De Janeiro. In the April 2007 Coachella Festival in Indio, CA, Tiësto will take the main stage while Paul van Dyk performs in the smaller Mojave dance tent. Tiësto also accepted the position of being ambassador of the world for the charity Dance4Life in May 2005.
One of the most famous releases of Tiësto’s was a remix of Delerium’s song “Silence”, which was widely popular and still is to date; it was the song that lifted his career in Europe, and bagged him a contract with Nettwerk. Other famous songs by him include his remix of Adagio For Strings, “Flight 643”, “Traffic” and “Just Be”. “Flight 643” was voted as the second most influential dance track of all time by ID&T fans, while “Traffic” was the first instrumental track to reach #1 in the Netherlands in 23 years when it got there in 2004. In 2006, he created (together with Maxi Jazz from Faithless) the track “Dance4Life”. The track is now being used as the anthem for the organisation “Dance4Life”.
He is well known for his concerts, and his regular slot at the club Amnesia in Ibiza which he got in 2002. Tiësto also played at the 2004 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in Athens, Greece, and released the set on his album Parade Of The Athletes. He is also well known for his six hour “Tiësto In Concert” sets, of which he has released two on DVD, including “Tiësto in Concert” in which he became the first DJ ever to play to a sellout crowd of 25,000 people as the only DJ of the night, with no opening or closing act.
In 1997, Tiësto set up a record label with his friend Arny Bink on which his Magik series has been released, known as Black Hole Recordings. There is also a sub-label called Magik Muzik, on which Tiësto continues to sign trance DJs such as Cor Fijneman, DJ Ton TB and Mark Norman.
On April 6, 2007 Tiësto began presenting a new weekly two-hour radio show called “Tiësto’s Club Life” on Dutch radio station Radio 538. XM Satellite Radio in the United States later started broadcasting the show on Channel 81 BPM as part of their “Global Domination” lineup on Saturday nights. The show is broadcast on Radio 538 on Friday nights between 22:00 CET and midnight and on BPM on Saturday nights between 8:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST. The first hour is also available as a podcast on the Radio 538 website and on iTunes audio podcasts.
Tiësto has released four DVDs to date:
Another Day at the Office [Released: 12 August 2003]
Tiësto in Concert [Released: 27 January, 2004]
Tiësto in Concert 2 [Released: 15 February, 2005]
Copenhagen (Elements of Life) [Released: 11 March 2008]
Tiësto has released 6 artist albums to date:
In My Memory [Released: 15 April, 2001]
In My Memory - Remixes [Released: 23 June, 2002]
Just Be [Released: 15 May, 2004]
Parade of the Athletes [Released: 18 October, 2004]
Just Be: Remixed [Released: 27 September, 2005]
Elements of Life [Released: 6 April, 2007]
Elements of Life: Remixed [Released: 28, April, 2008]
Kaleidoscope [Released 6 October, 2009]