Tiesto is a love-him-or-hate-him DJ, but if you look at his draw in the L.A. market and beyond, you have to think people really do like him. It would be hard to call the Dutch trance spinner polarizing. It's just that the trance sound is so Jersey Shore.
The man knows that. In fact he left most of trance behind years ago, yet he continues to attract record crowds with a polished evolution of vocal-infused house and pop-trance.
In an age when “house” DJs — Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, Dirty South, Afrojack, David Guetta, Kaskade, Deadmau5 — have ascended to the top tier of DJ stardom and put a new spire on the business, Tiesto continues to set the bar for “big.”
(And like a lot of the world's top jocks he lives in L.A. part-time.)
He was the main draw at Electric Daisy Carnival's two-day, 200,000-plus ticket-holder festival in Las Vegas last summer. At Coachella in 2010 a wave of young Tiesto fans descended on the Empire Polo Fields, producing the event's largest population to that point. And the Wall Street Journal estimates this professional record spinner's annual income to be a cool $20 million.
Still hate him?
Tiesto's coming to L.A. Saturday to cap his Clublife College Invasion Tour, a series of concerts intended to expose new, early evening audiences to his club-land vibe. His people say the party at Home Depot Center in Carson (tix) will be the largest single-DJ event in U.S. history, although he has invited some diverse talent, including Diplo, along for the fun.
The capacity for the show is only 26,000 (we say only because that's like a house party for Tiesto in Europe).
Why did you chose L.A. for this record attempt?
Tiesto: I like L.A. and I haven't been there in ages. I played Coachella last year, but I haven't played in a while and I wanted to come back.
Twenty-six-thousand people is not a big deal for you in Europe.
It is a big deal. This is so big and so new for America. In Europe I play bigger venues, but to finally achieve this after all these years in America. Finally dance music is blowing up.
It's blowing up on radio (David Guetta, et. al.), but that's not your style, is it?
I always try to stay away from radio. Sometimes you flirt with it. But I'm just not that kind of person. I feel I'm more connected to the indie world than the pop world.
That's a good way to describe a David Guetta compared to me: I'm more inclined to work with Sigur Ros.
What do you think of the controversy over raves in L.A. (they've pretty much been shut out of the L.A. Coliseum and Sports Arena after a 15-year-old died from an ecstasy overdose).
I think it's a little over the top how people reacted. I think if you organize everything well, people can die anywhere — at pop and rock festivals. I don't think I really play rave music anymore. Dance music in general has evolved to a mature sound. To call it rave music is so '90s. It's a mature sound like rock and jazz and hip-hop. And we draw a different crowd nowadays than just drug-releated people. That's the most annoying thing — that it's all about drugs. It's so much more than that.
You don't really play trance anymore.
No. It's definitely not trance anymore. It's more like electro house and eclectic combined with indie vocals and melodies. It's everything but trance nowadays.
There's a lot of competition at the top levels of DJing these days — Deadmau5, Kaskade, Guetta, Dirty South …
I see that as a good thing for me. It's nice to have competition and see others doing well. It keeps you in check and keeps you sharp. How can I be better and stay on top? They inspire me to change myself up. Swedish House Mafia and Deadmau5 and Skrillex inspire me to check my own game. How can I stay ahead on the evolution?
You're exposing yourself to a whole new generation of fans with your 'college tour.'
A lot of those college kids have never seen me live. Since dance music is blowing up now it's a great opportunity for me and for them to meet each other at a college tour and give them the full show. We've been driving around the country with trucks and everything.
We were surprised to see Diplo on the tour. He's not your typical up-tempo, main-stage dance-festival DJ.
I think in general Americans are more open to mixing styles together. There's a lot of people who like Diplo and who like me. A lot of dance music fans are very open minded, they listen to everything.
You're still living in L.A?
I've been on the road for two years I think. But officially it's one of my home bases. I'm always travelling to Europe, Ibiza, Sweden to produce.
How does the does the scene here compare globally?
It feels a little more fresh at the moment than London or Berlin. That generation grew older and found their own niche and are still very into Berlin DJs, very techno, very credible. But it's a very different scene.
At a Berlin festival you could never see a lineuep like Electric Daisy's — with Skrillex and Diplo and Tiesto. That would never happen. People in L.A. are fresh and so full of energy. It's one of the best audiences in the world now.
See Tiesto at the close of his Club Life Invasion Tour at the Home Depot Center Saturday. Info.