© GLOBALSOUND - 11-06-2004 - www.globalsound.ca
INTERVIEW BY DEEPJ MAX
- MONTR…AL'S SPECIAL GUEST
|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
|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
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.
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
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
Max: It seems you're here every six months or so.
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
Max: You weren't exactly billed at the time, is
TiŽsto: Yeah. I was like the "special
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
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!
TiŽsto: From 4 to 8, it was like prime-time!
Max: For us it's prime-time
TiŽsto: Yeah, for you!
Max: ...it'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
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,
Max: Let's start from your beginnings. You're from
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
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
Max: ...and everything just broke wide open for
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?
Max: You don't get that question a lot?
TiŽsto: No, a couple of hundred times! (Laughter)
TiŽsto: When did I start? In '88.
Max: You were how old then?
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
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
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.
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
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...
Max: ...you 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,
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
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
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
Max: That's basically where you got the motor
Max: How did you feel that first night when you
TiŽsto: I was excited, I was very excited.
Actually, the first time I played for an audience was in
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
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
Max: Still today? Even when you play?
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
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
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
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.
Max: I think it was a perfect evening.
TiŽsto: Yeah, I really enjoyed that night. It was
Max: Now, was I mistaken or did you throw on a
nice, clear, house track in there with some beautiful
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)
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!"
TiŽsto: So I had the Sunday off, so I flew in for
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".
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!
Max: Which is perfect!
TiŽsto: When the beat kicks in, it's just,
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?
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.
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!