Interview With Tiesto: We Call Him Cheesesto, But Not To His Face
Dance music has infiltrated deeper into pop than ever. From Lady Gaga to the Black Eyed Peas, the sound of electronic grooves is unavoidable. And yet when the globe goes out and dances all night, it goes to see one performer more than any other: DJ Tiesto.
While he's still not a household name in the United States, the Dutch star's grip on DJ culture and its glow-stick masses is tighter than ever. If anything, pop and hip-hop's move toward all things electronic has only solidified Tiesto's vast market share. It's as if people see their friends getting into Gaga and whisper into their ears, "If you like that, you'll love this."
Of course, not everyone loves Tiesto. He's been the focus of a backlash against the symphonic strings and spikey haired masses of trance music. We've been partial to calling him Cheesesto, if only because he attracts a bridge-and-tunnel crowd. Pitchfork recently called his latest album, Kaleidoscope (featuring Sigur Ros, Nelly Furtado and Dizee Rascal) "a master class in half-assed dance-meets-pop 'songwriting.'"
You can shoot all the arrows you want at this guy, however, and he could still laugh all the way back to his luxury hotel room with an entourage of half-dressed women on his arms. Tiesto is a rock star. And next week he's DJing three - count 'em - three shows at the Shrine Auditorium. And despite our telltale snarkyness he was kind enough to answer a few questions.
LA Weekly: You're playing three nights back-to-back in L.A. By the third night, are you tired of the routine? Do you try to play different sets each night?
Tiesto: I never get tired of performing, and by the third night I usually have more energy. I love what I do, and I'm happiest when I'm connecting with my fans. Each night I always try to change things up and make each performance something special that the crowd will never forget
You had reportedly been living in L.A. for a spell?
I love L.A., but I don't live there. I spent some time there when I was recording Kaleidoscope, mainly working with some of the artists I collaborated with. The city and people in L.A. have a great vibe and the weather is always beautiful.
How does L.A. measure up on the global DJ circuit?
I always have great performances in L.A and it is on my list of top places to play around the world. The crowds are always massive and bring a lot of energy to the shows
As a spinner who happens to be a pop artist, you're joining a growing group of people (Will.i.am, Kanye West, Lady Gaga) who have been blurring the line between pop and dance. Is this a golden era for the popularity of dance music? How does it compare to the boom of the late 1990s/early 2000s.
It is very exciting to see more mainstream artists embrace and draw inspiration from electronic music, but I wouldn't call it the golden era just yet. I think dance music is going to continue to grow and get bigger. At the end of the '90's and into 2000 electronic music was still an underground phenomenon, especially in America. The mainstream acceptance that is starting to happen now is a result of that early boom 10 years ago,
You've done some fairly accessible pop on Kaleidoscope, but when you DJ, people still expect trance. How do you satisfy them?
When I perform it's all about connecting with the crowd through the music and I incorporate something for everyone into my sets. I have also done special edits and mixes of the songs from Kaleidoscope making them fit into my live show.
Critics, including Pitchfork's, have been hard on you. What do you say to them?
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just keep doing my own thing.
A lot of dance floor trends (minimal, progressive, tribal, nu electro, nu rave) come and go, but trance still seems to draw the biggest crowds. What do you think is the key to its power?
Trance is a very emotional and uplifting form of dance music. It appeals to many people in this way having such a strong connection with emotions. It makes people happy and ready to party
How has trance changed in the last five years?
A lot has changed. Like myself, many of the producers today are incorporating different sounds and textures from other genres of dance music like techno and electro. It's very important for me to always be pushing the boundaries exploring new territories musically. Very exciting times.
Have tech-trance sounds like those of Deadmau5 infiltrated your box? Are there any artists who are really "it" for you in terms of your DJ sound?
I like the new Deadmau5 album and have been playing his song "Strobe" recently in my sets. For me, it's about drawing from many different influences in my production and DJ sets and it would be difficult to name just a few. Artists like Crookers, Laidback Luke, MGMT, Santigold, Dada Life and Avichii are making amazing music right now.
What's next for Tiesto?
Right now I am concentrating all my energy on the world tour. The show I have created is the biggest and best one to date. I will be finishing the North American leg of the tour with the three shows in L.A and then I'm off to South America, Australia, Asia, and Europe for the next 10 months.
Tiesto DJs Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the Shrine Auditorium, 665 W. Jefferson Blvd., Exposition Park. 18+. Doors at 9 p.m. Tickets start at $55. Info: insomniac.com.
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