25 Nisan 2008 Cuma

Tiesto turns tables on ranking polls

HIGH-FLYING DJ Tiesto has taken his career beyond the confines of the night club and has made a reputation as one of the world's leading electronic dance artists, writes Aubrey Buckingham

IF there was any doubt that Shanghai attracts only the top DJs in the world, then Tiesto playing at M2 last weekend should have put them to bed.

Despite lacking boybandesque good looks or demonstrating sartorial prowess (his visit was in conjunction with low-end designer-for-masses brand A/X, which released a limited edition Tiesto T-shirt), the Dutchman has made a career based on being among the planet's finest on the decks.

While he no longer ranks at the top (he placed second in "DJ Mag's Top 100" last year) according to industry barometers, the mix master is a clear cut above his peers with mainstream commercial appeal.

His record speaks for itself - four studio albums, scores of awards (and a Grammy nomination) and gigs all over the world, including the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympics Games.

The Dutchman was especially pleased to visit the Chinese mainland for the third time.

"Every time it gets better," said the 39 year-old. "The crowds are more enthusiastic and there is more awareness of my name here."

The DJ/producer even went on the record to say: "There would definitely be an In Search of Sunrise album based on China."

The Sunrise series is an annual compilation inspired by specific locations; recent albums have been based on Latin America (2005), Los Angeles (2006) and Ibiza (2007).

With the spotlight on the nation's capital this summer, when the series is to be released and his love for the country (he has a club/restaurant, Cineac, that serves Chinese cuisine), it would be of little surprise if the astute businessman cashes in on the interest garnered by the Games and releases his China compilation at the same time.

Born Tijs Verwest, the Dutchman has been instrumental in raising the profile of trance music and leading it to shed the image of bubblegum-cheese.

Inspired by a love for sharing music with people, Tiesto's career began in the mid-1990s traveling his native land and eventually progressed into club gigs around the world.

As with a number of acts, the turntablist launched his own record label to support his career.

Black Hole Records was established in 1997 and assembled a stable of musicians that helped Tiesto further his vision of trance.

After years of trailblazing clubs in all corners of the Earth and shooting to the top of the DJ charts (Tiesto topped the "DJ Mag Top 100" three years running from 2002-2004), the electronic music maestro has evolved his career beyond the confines of his genre.

Styling himself in the mold of a rock star, Tiesto was the first solo DJ to sell out a stadium event to 25,000 people in May 2003. The event, in Arnheim's Gelredome in the Netherlands, was a massive success and was later released on DVD.

Tiesto went on to perform more events of such magnitude in Europe, releasing another DVD in 2005, before bringing his audio-visual extravaganza across the pond to the United States.

"Concerts are way better," he said, describing the sensation of entertaining tens of thousands of screaming, adoring fans. "Playing for a sea of people like that gives you a big boost and a big rush.

"A club gig is more comfortable and you feel like you are doing your own thing. If I play a club it could be the same as playing in someone's house."

Tiesto's popularity was further cemented when he was asked to perform as the athletes marched out during the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.

Intriguingly enough, as he noted in the liner notes for his subsequently released studio album Parade of the Athletes, the International Olympic Committee requested that the music not include lyrics as they could be taken the wrong way.

The Breda native described the gig as: "Amazing, one of the best in my life," and he would "definitely commit to another opening ceremony, including the one this August," if asked. However, he believed that the idea was kept as a one-off show. "It would be a great opportunity, but I think Beijing shouldn't ask me because they should do something original."

Despite this, local fans are still privileged to enjoy his music live. Tiesto has toured extensively around China's mainland, and has played at venues in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Beijing not to mention Shanghai. His latest trip, to promote last year's Elements of Life album, took him to Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai and will take him around Asia into May.

The globetrotter, who rates Privilege (Ibiza), Mansion (Miami), Ruby Sky (San Francisco) and Sven Vath's Cocoon (Frankfurt) as the best clubs he has visited, was impressed by local venues but found them lacking a key element.

"There's a lot more money here than in European clubs, and everything is so nicely decorated and detailed. The only thing is they spend a lot of money on furniture but not on the sound systems."

Besides his club commitments in Europe, which are a lot more selective these days, Tiesto will spend the summer working on his productions, further indication that his career has evolved and proving the DJ to be more "exclusive" these days.

"I do a lot of remixes; productions are more important to me than they used to be. I will always be a trance DJ, but if you use the word 'trance' it suggests I only play a certain sound. I think I play a diverse sound, and though trance is the main part of my DJ set there's also other stuff in there."