© GLOBALSOUND - 11-06-2004 -


The last five occasions that TiŽsto honoured Montrealers with his presence behind the decks, each has been an event, with every one of those magical performances living up to expectations. In fact, they all went beyond expectations, way beyond! However, when Our Man From Amsterdam spun his magic at the Molson Centre (now Bell Centre) for the very first Oasis, his first visit to Canada's cultural capital, few had a clue who this gentleman behind the turntables actually was. For that very special evening (July 15, 2000), Paul Oakenfold, a close friend and believer of TiŽsto's, convinced 514 Productions to book his protťgť as his unbilled "special guest". The gig worked out even better, as TiŽsto followed Oakenfold with a masterful four-hour set right in the middle of prime time. Soon after, "Silence" by Delerium featuring Sarah McLachlan - first the Sanctuary mix, then TiŽsto's own version - exploded across dancefloors around the world. And as they say on Cheers, everybody knew his name.

But TiŽsto was not an overnight success because of one single remix; his success was the culmination of years of hard work in the music industry. This is a man who laboured in clubs in his native Holland for years, picking up the art of producing and remixing along the way while releasing a number of successful mixed compilation CDs under his name. In fact, as late as 2000, before becoming a hit this side of the Atlantic Ocean, his sets were featured in the United States on DirecTV's digital dance music channel (813). For dance music lovers in the U.S. and those with "illegal" hookups in Canada and elsewhere, this was the initial introduction of TiŽsto on our shores, especially in regions where import CDs were unavailable.

Now, touring in support of his newly-released "Just Be" CD, ten tracks of nothing but original material (his first) released May 16, 2004 (June 1 in Canada), he is proving to skeptics around the world that he can be more than just a DJ and remix specialist. As a matter of fact, he has become more than just a producer - try taking a listen to the powerful tech-trance version of Barber's "Adagio For Strings", a remake of a classical masterpiece, without having your jaw drop in awe. Furthermore, "Love Comes Again" (featuring BT), "Just Be", "Traffic", and "Nyana" (originally released on his "Nyana" mixed double CD - with the "Outdoor" CD probably the best officially-released set of 2003) are all poised to become instant classics, joining such TiŽsto standards as "Lethal Industry", "Flight 643", and "Suburban Train".

No wonder this Cowboy has had a lock on the world's number one spot on DJ Magazine's best in the world listings as well as The DJ List since 2002! Very well earned, my friends, very well earned!

We met up at his hotel room in Old Montrťal on June 11, 2004, about nine hours before his set at Aria, his seventh DJ appearance in the city (he has also played Sona on October 5, 2001; Forza at the Forum on June 8, 2002; Aria on December 13, 2002 and June 13, 2003; as well as Living on November 2, 2003). By the way, if there is any other world-class DJ-artist as down to earth, cordial, and accessible as Our Man From Amsterdam, I have yet to make his or her acquaintance.

Max: You're touring like a maniac! You've been doing this for quite a long time, especially since 2001. Would that be correct?
TiŽsto: Yeah! Well, touring - it depends how you look at it. Like in the U.S., in North America, I tour like twice a year for a month, and the rest of Europe I play a lot of gigs, but not really like a "tour", continuously away. Most of the time I play only Fridays and Saturdays - it's not as crazy as everybody thinks, actually.

Max: It's the third year in a row that you are (in Montrťal) for the Grand Prix. Are you here to watch the Grand Prix as well?
TiŽsto: Actually, I am playing tomorrow in New York (at Avalon)...

Max: But are you coming back?
TiŽsto: Yeah, I'm coming back...

Max: I knew it! (Laughter)
TiŽsto: ...I'm coming back on Sunday to check it out.

Max: So you're a big Grand Prix fan.
TiŽsto: No. Actually, I'm not that big a Grand Prix fan, I just like to be here on this weekend because it's so nice, you know. The place is so packed, nice weather, and everybody's outside - I just like the environment.

Max: It seems you're here every six months or so.
TiŽsto: Yeah.

Max: Is it just the luck of the draw or do you love Montrťal to that extent?
TiŽsto: Yeah, I love Montrťal. The parties I've played here have all been good. I've never had a bad party - at Aria, the big hockey stadium one...

Max: I want to talk about that one, which was Oasis...
TiŽsto: Oasis, yeah!

Max: You were playing; I think it was with Paul, Paul Oakenfold.
TiŽsto: yeah.

Max: You weren't exactly billed at the time, is that correct?
TiŽsto: Yeah. I was like the "special guest".

Max: How did that work with Paul, because I heard he does that quite a bit? In 2001, I knew your music, but a lot of people hadn't exactly discovered TiŽsto yet. How did it become that were Paul Oakenfold's special guest?
TiŽsto: Paul is a good friend of mine. He helped me a lot in the past. He got me gigs in England and he used to be the one who always believed in me, that I could become a big DJ. So I think, that night, he asked the promoter if I could play after him. Excellent! I had the best time, I think, because I played from 4 to 8 (in the morning) - and everything in Montrťal starts late!

Max: Absolutely!
TiŽsto: From 4 to 8, it was like prime-time!

Max: For us it's prime-time…
TiŽsto: Yeah, for you!

Max:'s also the beginning of the night!
TiŽsto: It's crazy!

Max: Now, as well, if I remember properly, I don't know if it was yourself or Paul who played "Silence" (by Delerium featuring Sarah McLachlan), but it was the Sanctuary Mix. Is that correct?
TiŽsto: No.

Max: No. You were playing your own version...
TiŽsto: I was playing my own version. I think Paul played it as well, maybe. It was on his mix album, "Travelling".

Max: Let's start from your beginnings. You're from Amsterdam, correct?
TiŽsto: Yeah.

Max: You started DJing (in) what year?
TiŽsto: I started to DJ in the beginning of the 90s - '91, '92, bubbling a bit. But the real breakthrough I had (was) after 1997, 1998. Then, I broke through in Europe, and in 2001, I broke here (in North America) as well.

Max: And you were still underground. In '98, '99, you were still underground. People knew you, which is why you were just a special guest for Paul at the time…
TiŽsto: Yeah.

Max: ...and everything just broke wide open for you...
TiŽsto: Yeah, and after that it blew up!

Max: What do you think really did it for you? Is there one particular thing? Obviously it's all your hard work over the years...
TiŽsto: It's like a snowball effect. You start small and you continue going. But, it's also because my productions went up. My productions (became) better and better... I've always been a good DJ, (but) you need more than just being a good DJ. So, I was lucky that I had a few hits like "Silence", and I did a lot of remixes for everybody. The combination was really strong, and that's what made it...
Max: Good for you.

Max: How old were you when you realized, yourself, that you had this love for music?
TiŽsto: Since I was 5, I think. At home, I'd always listen to music ... music has always been important to me, and I always enjoyed playing music for other people and see that they have a good time - that's what it's all about.

Max: Which is pretty much the same story as every DJ. We love music and we love to play music. When did you yourself start, as a DJ, or, just starting to play with vinyl, starting to mix, buying equipment?
TiŽsto: Yeah!

Max: You don't get that question a lot?
TiŽsto: No, a couple of hundred times! (Laughter)

Max: Okay!
TiŽsto: When did I start? In '88.

Max: You were how old then?
TiŽsto: 19.

Max: How did you start?
TiŽsto: I started at home, actually. I always used to listen to the radio and there were DJs playing music - and I enjoyed that. That's why I wanted to be a DJ as well. That easy!

Max: So you started buying vinyl, you started buying turntables...
TiŽsto: Yeah.

Max: ...and how did you learn how to mix? Was it by yourself (or) did you have somebody teach you?
TiŽsto: No, I did it by myself! I only had one tape recorder and one turntable - I couldn't afford two turntables. So, I had to record everything from the radio, and I had vinyl - it was very hard, there was no pitch control on the turntable either. It was very difficult in the beginning, to pitch without a pitch control...

Max: But it's probably best to learn like that because you learn instinct...
TiŽsto: Yeah, yeah, that's right. You learn how to correct the record. Then, after a couple of years, I had enough money saved to buy a turntable with pitch control, and then the world opened up to me.

Max: Pioneer?
TiŽsto: Actually, it was a Dual, I think. Old school! It had a real pitch wheel on the side...

Max: Oh yeaaaaaah! I haven't seen one of those in years! Wow!
TiŽsto: Yeah!

Max: What did you like to play in those days? What did you like to listen to and play?
TiŽsto: I had a very diverse taste in music, and I still have! So, at the time, dance music, like U.S.A. import records like Jellybean Benitez.

Max: New York style?
TiŽsto: New York style, yeah. Then, what else did I have? I had a lot of dance from Holland, actually, but also, I listened to a lot of rock music. Not to DJ, but for at home.

Max: That's one thing the kids today don't understand. In the '80s - I've been DJing since '84 - there were three styles of music: rock, alternative, and dance. As a DJ, you had to know it all...
TiŽsto: Yeah.

Max: had to; you had no choice, if you wanted to get work.
TiŽsto: Yeah, exactly, and that's the way it was - you play half an hour this, half an hour that. That's what I did, and then I started playing in the clubs, half-an-hour sessions.

Max: It's a good way to start.
TiŽsto: Yeah, because then you develop your own sound more, I think.

Max: And you get to learn the feel of a crowd as well.
TiŽsto: Yeah, that's important.

Max: It's very important! Instinct is the most important thing as a DJ probably. Would you say that?
TiŽsto: Yeah! Definitely, yeah.

Max: What was the name of that very first club you worked at?
TiŽsto: Very first club? That was the Delendte. It means like "The Spring". It was the very, very first club where I worked. Soon after that, I went to The Spock. That's where I dance, only dance music.

Max: That's basically where you got the motor running?
TiŽsto: Yeah.

Max: How did you feel that first night when you started?
TiŽsto: I was excited, I was very excited. Actually, the first time I played for an audience was in Spain.

Max: Really?
TiŽsto: I was on holiday with my friends. We went to this small bar and we had some records with us - because we were really into DJing already. I just asked the guy, "Listen, can we play some music." The bar was running really well, but he was all by himself, so he was happy that we could help him out. I just started playing there and every night was crazy - it went off!

Max: Over the years, you've obviously had different musical directions. What led you to trance and the techno family? How did you get there?
TiŽsto: I've just been always attracted to melodies and drama, you know? I just like a lot of drama. Trance music has all these melancholic feelings in there. I really like that.

Max: That's what you like...
TiŽsto: It gives me the goosebumps (Satisfied laughter)

Max: Still today? Even when you play?
TiŽsto: Yeah.

Max: Even when you play five, six nights a week?
TiŽsto: Yeah! Well, some nights more than others of course. But, I think, in general, the standard is really high so you can't mess up, you know? You have to be on top of the game every night. That's difficult sometimes, but as soon as you walk into the club and you see the crowd ... it's amazing! You just feel the (energy) there! ... People with TiŽsto shirts on, TiŽsto flags... you just have to play well, you just can't mess up.

Max: Before we talk about your new album, how did you come up with the name "TiŽsto"?
TiŽsto: Well, it's a nickname! My real name is Tijs (pronounced like "Dice", with a "T").

Max: How do you say your last name?
TiŽsto: Verwest. Everybody had to have a DJ name in the beginning of the '90s, and I just gave it an Italian sound...

Max: Ahhhh!!
TiŽsto: Ties-TO!!!!! (Big laugh)

Max: That's cool!
TiŽsto: It's not a real name, actually, it doesn't exist anywhere, except...

Max: ...except for you!
TiŽsto: Yeah! You've got to be very lucky with that name, actually. Everybody in the world can say, "TiŽsto", but nobody can say, "Tijs Verwest"! (Laughter) You see my name, you're like, "What's that?"
Max: No disrespect, (but) I'm not gonna try! (Big laugh)

Max: The last time you were (in Montrťal) was six months ago approximately, when you played in a small club called Living. I think there were like 300 peoples. My wife and I were there, and it was the most intimate setting, for you, that I could ever imagine.
TiŽsto: Yeah.

Max: I think it was a perfect evening.
TiŽsto: Yeah, I really enjoyed that night. It was great!

Max: Now, was I mistaken or did you throw on a nice, clear, house track in there with some beautiful vocals?
TiŽsto: I played a few house tracks, actually... I played a track from Red Carpet; it's called "Alright". I played that that night. What a memory I have! (Big laugh)

Max: Nice!
TiŽsto: I remember it because I thought it was a really great night because I always play big venues and big clubs. To play an intimate site, it was great! I could play a little bit different than I normally do. I do it in Holland as well sometimes. It's called "Invited". I play in a small club, three to five hundred people - it's nice to do something different sometimes, you know?

Max: How did you get that gig instead of Aria?
TiŽsto: Well, this is from the same promoter...

Max: That's what I thought!
TiŽsto: ...he said, "Well, do you want to come over on a Sunday, do like a small gig? I just want to do something different." I said,"Oh yeah, it's cool, let's do it!"

Max: Nice.
TiŽsto: So I had the Sunday off, so I flew in for the Sunday.

Max: From Amsterdam?
TiŽsto: No, I was touring in North America.

Max: Which makes sense!
TiŽsto: Yeah! I was already in the neighborhood, New York I think.

Max: Let's get to your new album. You were talking about melodies. Especially the first song, which is called "Forever Today".
TiŽsto: Yeah.

Max: The way it starts, three minutes and fifty seconds, I believe of just... it's very anthemic and classical. How did you come up with that concept?
TiŽsto: Well, I didn't make the classical piece myself (credited to Geert Huinink and Daniel Stewart), I only did the dance version of it. I know a guy in Holland and he's a very good classical composer. He was playing me this track (and) I really loved it. I said, "Can I use it for the album and I'm going to make a nice dance version out of it?" That's how I came up with it, actually. It's a nice opener. You don't expect that from me. You put the album on, you're like, "What the hell?"...

Max: But it's nice! It's very nice!
TiŽsto: It's like, the goosebumps, huh?

Max: Oh yeah! Yeah! You're just waiting for something big to happen, and it does!
TiŽsto: Yeah.

Max: Which is perfect!
TiŽsto: When the beat kicks in, it's just, "Ahhh!"

Max: You go all the way (to) your tenth song, which is the last on the album, "Adagio For Strings". You're not the first DJ-artist to do it; I think William Orbit did it...
TiŽsto: Yeah. William Orbit, and Ferry Corsten did a mix...

Max: Oh! Ferry did it also?
TiŽsto: Yeah, and Paul Oakenfold did it as well.

Max: Where have I been?
TiŽsto: The thing was..., it's kind of a fluke for me! I made the track especially for my big show in Holland, the "TiŽsto In Concert" show. I wanted to have a grand opening with a track people already know, but still in a different mode - that's why I made the track. Then, I released the DVD, and the track was on there, and I got so many e-mails from so many people, "When is the track going to be released? Please release the track!" That's why I decided to put it on the album, because it was not meant to be on the album actually.

Max: It wasn't meant...
TiŽsto: No. it WAS meant to be on the album but I made it exclusively for that "TiŽsto In Concert" show. But, you know, everybody liked it, and I still play it sometimes. Yeah, people go off on it!

Max: Now, do you have a remix coming?
TiŽsto: A remix?

Max: Yeah.
TiŽsto: Of that one, no.

Max: You don't want to play with it? You don't want to toy with it?
TiŽsto: No... It just stays like that.

Max: One last question. Euro 2004; any predictions? (Big laugh)
TiŽsto: Well, definitely not Holland!! (Bigger laugh) No, I think I could bet my money or something, it would be France, I think.

Max: Really?
TiŽsto: France has a very strong team. England is also strong, but they always... you know? Semi-finals... Portugal, maybe, because it's at home, in their home country. But Holland sucks!!! (More laughter)... But it's good I'm here, you know, I can't see it on television! I won't miss a thing!