Dutch DJ Tiesto Traffics in Hits on ‘Paradise’

A consistent presence near the top of Forbes’ rankings of the most fiscally successful DJs, and a tireless performer at fests and residencies, Dutch veteran Tiesto released “A Town Called Paradise” this summer, his first proper album since 2009’s “Kaleidoscope.”

On the importance of albums: An artist album five or 10 years ago had a lot more impact than nowadays. Nowadays I feel most people just do one-off singles all the time. No one really seems to be making real albums anymore, and people don’t take the time to listen to them either. That’s hard to fight against, when you have people who are surrounded with music all the time now. I just try to make the album as interesting as possible, to make every song the best song I can. When I think of this album, there’s 14 hits on there. It’s not a journey like the old albums used to be, it’s more like every song can be, or should be a hit.

On audience expectations: Some people are surprised when I don’t play “Adagio for Strings” in my set, and some other people are surprised when I do, like, “what the hell is this hard, fast techno sound” that they had no idea I did. That song is 11 years old; if you’re 20 years old and going to a festival now, you’ve probably never heard it. It’s a tricky one. I think that’s the beauty of being in that position as a DJ. I change my style, change my sound, and if I play things nowadays, it has the same surprise reaction as 10 years ago when I first made it. It’s a great position to be in.

It all depends on what kind of gig it is. When I play Las Vegas, people just want to party, they just want to hear great happy music. And I’m fine with that, of course. And then a lot of festivals like Outside Lands … it’s a very indie-based audience, and I feel like there I can go a lot deeper and play some really weird stuff. But I’m not sure where I can go super deep anymore, because people expect Tiesto to play the sound of Tiesto. So even when I play a deep festival — a deep house festival in Germany or something — people still want me to play my own style. So you’re kind of stuck in that world.

On mentorship: I’ve worked with a lot of people over the past few years; the biggest would be Avicii, who used to open for me in Ibiza. The problem with a lot of the other guys is that they have their own agenda. A lot of DJs are not in the situation I’m in. For me, it doesn’t really matter if someone (I mentor) gets big or not. But there are a lot of DJs out there that want themselves to be the biggest, and the younger guy has to be the warm-up act and that’s it. That’s what I see sometimes, and that’s the problem with DJs fighting other DJs. I don’t really have any ego in that sort of way, so I just like to help these guys and if I might see one of them turn even bigger than me, I wouldn’t really care about that, I would only be proud.

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