Tijs Michiel Verwest is a Dutch DJ and record producer now known simply as Tiësto, which is a play on his childhood nickname.
In 1997, he founded the label Black Hole Recordings with Arny Bink, where he released the Magik and In Search of Sunrise CD series. Tiësto met producer Dennis Waakop Reijers in 1998, and the two have worked together extensively since then. In 1999 and 2000, Tiësto collaborated with Ferry Corsten to create Gouryella. His 2000 remix of Delerium’s “Silence” featuring Sarah McLachlan exposed him to more mainstream audiences.
In 2001, he released his first solo album, In My Memory. The title track is a remix of an original song written by and featuring Nicola Hitchcock. This album gave him several major hits that launched his career. He was voted World No 1 DJ by DJ Magazine in its annual Top 100 DJs readership poll consecutively for three years from 2002 to 2004.
Just after releasing his second studio album Just Be he performed live at the 2004 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in Athens, the first DJ to play live on stage at an Olympics. In April 2007 Tiësto launched his radio show Tiësto’s Club Life on Radio 538 in the Netherlands and released his third studio album Elements of Life. The album reached number one on the Belgian album chart as well on “Billboard Top Electronic Albums” in the U.S. and received a nomination for a Grammy Award in 2008. Tiësto released his fourth studio album Kaleidoscope in October 2009.
He won the Grammy Award for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical for his remixed version of John Legend’s Top 40 Hit All Of Me at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.
In late 1994, he signed to Basic Beat where he met Arny Bink. 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 where 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. He also collaborated with Benno de Goeij from 1998 to 2000 under the name Kamaya Painters. Since November 1999, he performed monthly as a resident at Gatecrasher in Sheffield, and played a 12-hour set, his longest, in Amsterdam.
Late in 2000, Tiësto decided to concentrate on his personal work and left Corsten to write and produce Gouryella’s next single with John Ewbank. 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 US. Summerbreeze featured his remix of Delerium’s “Silence”, which spent four weeks in the UK’s Top Ten chart and 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.
In My Memory (2001–2004)
Tiësto’s popularity 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 alongside Junkie XL, the instrumental tracks “Dallas 4PM” and “Suburban Train” with “Urban Train” as its 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. 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 number 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 PlayStation 2 Dual Play tour. Tiësto and Noel’s appearance began on April 13 and ended on June 6.
His fame continued to increase for then known he has 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 new. Tiësto was the first DJ to hold a solo concert in a stadium; on May 10, 2003, he performed for 25,000 people in Arnhem’s GelreDome. This concert was later called Tiësto in Concert. 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 attained the #1 poll position in the DJ Magazine (UK) Top 100 popularity poll in 2002, 2003, and 2004.
Just Be (2004–2007)
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. The track “Sweet Misery” was originally written for Evanescence but it did not meet the deadline for the release of their album. 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.
2004 Summer Olympics
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, where he played 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. The first rehearsal was on Saturday August, 7, for an empty stadium; the second rehearsal was on Sunday August 8 with 35,000 volunteers. The last rehearsal included almost 60,000 people in the stadium which was on Tuesday August 10, and there were some technical problems.
During the course of his performance at the Olympics, 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 specially composed for the occasion, entitled Parade of the Athletes in October 2004. In the liner notes, he noted the IOC requested that the music not contain any lyrics as they could be inadvertently misinterpreted.
In late 2004, he began his touring across Latin America, with his release of In Search of Sunrise 3: Panama in which he gained influence from the sun and sand in summer 2002. The tour continued in 2005, and Tiësto performed live at Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Panama, Peru, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia. Following the tours, In Search of Sunrise 4: Latin America was released in 2005, featuring a second CD for the first time in the In Search of Sunrise series.
In 2005, his Perfect Remixes Vol. 3 compilation was released through Warlock Records, containing ten tracks which were created during the beginning of his career, between those is Junkie XL, Mauro Picotto and The Roc Project. On August 20, 2005, Verwest took Tiësto in Concert to the US when he played to 16,000 at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena with Cirque du Soleil dancers. For the second year in a row he performed live at a New Year’s Eve/New Year’s concert in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Orleans Arena to a sell-out crowd. His four-city US tour was postponed due to the hurricane damage in New Orleans and Miami. BPM magazine has an annual poll in the US which is unveiled in the WMC, in 2005 Tiësto took the No. 1 spot. The influences of Los Angeles remained with him and would later influence his In Search of Sunrise compilation.
Tiësto at Lush! in Portrush, Northern Ireland on March 5, 2005
A wax sculpture of Tiësto was placed behind a turntable at Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam where visitors can mix Tiësto’s music together. Stops were made in Ukraine, Slovakia, Serbia, Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Croatia, Poland and South Africa. The United States tour that was part of Tiësto in Concert was dwarfed by his appearance at Sensation White in 2006 where he performed to over 45,000 people in Amsterdam.
The compilation was launched in the Winter Music Conference at Mansion in South Beach Miami to support his release, Tiësto went on his In Search of Sunrise 5 Asia Tour for more than three weeks.
In September 2006, Tiësto was admitted to hospital after experiencing pain in his chest. He was diagnosed with pericarditis and subsequently had to cancel a number of shows. With the diagnosis, he was invited to support Dance4Life to help teens who are not aware of the risks of HIV/AIDS.
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. Later in the summer of 2007, he played at the large South American beach rave where thousands danced on Ipanema Beach, Brazil.
On April 16, 2007, Tiësto released his third studio album Elements of Life, the album moved 73,000 units in its April release, according to Nielsen SoundScan. During the production of the album Tiësto in several cases sent a demo with the music to certain artists, and they replied back with the lyrics and vocals and other duration times. In the case of Christian Burns from BBMak, Tiësto met him through MySpace and got in contact with him and the production of the single “In the Dark”.
The album consists of rock, trance and experimental music, which shows the style Tiësto has grown throughout the years since his previous albums which contained lyrics, In My Memory and Just Be. Producer Brian Transeau collaborated with Tiësto in three tracks, he composed “Bright Morningstar” and “Sweet Things”, he also performed the vocals in the single “Break My Fall”. Together, they produced more tracks which were not released in the album, Tiësto has mentioned they would work again during the coming summer.
In December 2007 it was announced that the album was nominated for a Grammy Award, in the category “Best Electronic/Dance Album.” The album also received gold certifications in Belgium, Hungary, Netherlands, and Romania. In support of the album, he embarked on the worldwide Elements of Life World Tour, and released the Copenhagen: Elements of Life World Tour DVD in 2008.
Tiësto announced his residence at Privilege. He played in Ibiza every Monday, from July 7 until September 22. The gigs consisted of sets in the style of his In Search of Sunrise series. In 2007, he had released In Search of Sunrise 6: Ibiza which was inspired by the island.
On April 28, Tiësto released Elements of Life: Remixed, a recompilation of the Elements of Life album with all remixed versions. In mid-2008, Tiësto announced his In Search of Sunrise: Summer Tour 2008, which was presented by Armani Exchange in May in support of his In Search of Sunrise 7: Asia compilation and the previously released In Search of Sunrise 6: Ibiza.
On October 6, 2009, Tiësto released his fourth studio album Kaleidoscope, which featured artists such as Priscilla Ahn, Calvin Harris, Tegan & Sara and Nelly Furtado. Unlike his earlier albums, which were all mostly trance, Kaleidoscope explores other electronic genres, and is considered Tiesto’s most experimental album. The first single “I Will Be Here” featuring Sneaky Sound System being released in July 2009. It reached number three on the much acclaimed Driscoll 5, and lasted there for 24 weeks in the beginning of 2012. In its first week, the album reached the Top 10 chart on iTunes.
To release the album he has set up a new record label called Musical Freedom after parting ways with Black Hole Recordings. Tiësto felt that his music was evolving in a new direction and his focus as an artist was moving away from what Black Hole was set up to support. His new tour, sharing the name of his new album, called Kaleidoscope World Tour commenced in late September.
Tiësto contributed songs to both the DJ Hero and DJ Hero 2 video games and is a playable character in the second game. He contributed two exclusive mixes to the second game, and used content from DJ Hero 2 to create the official video for his single “Speed Rail”, the world’s first music video to be created entirely using in-game footage.
Tiësto has produced a trance-flavored song for Memphis rap duo Three 6 Mafia’s upcoming album called “Feel It,” which features Sean Kingston and Flo Rida.
Club Life: Volume Three Stockholm was released worldwide physically on June 25, 2013, and it hit #16 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart.
Tiësto followed up his third “Club Life” installment with the 2014 effort, A Town Called Paradise. The album, featuring an assortment of guest stars, produced two Billboard top 100 singles before its release. The first two singles off of the album were entitled “Red Lights” and “Wasted.”
The DJ has accepted increased corporate sponsorship as the private sector has taken interest in the Electronic Dance Music scene’s audience. His 2014 tour was sponsored by 7up Brand, which Tiësto defended by saying it was a brand that he grew up with and believed in to support the EDM community.