Religiously remixing

By Michael Leung

Throughout all of his efforts, fame and music, DJ Tiesto stays dogmatically close to his mantra of keeping things real. Hard work, a little luck and a lot of love for music are his themes in the church that is the club. The sermons of house and trance he delivers through the tables have congregations around the world swaying and grooving to his beats.

"All I do is natural. I’m not an actor," he explains summarily, concisely capturing everything he is about.

While the modest Holland export would never use such faith-based terms to describe himself or his audiences, it’s hard not to see it that way. He is internationally recognized with a religiosity only a select few enjoy in the scrappy DJ world. Most Canadians might recognize him from a remixed version of Sarah McLaughlin’s "Sweet Surrender." The track appears on Sarah McLaughlin Remixed.

"Nettwerk asked me if I’d like a track," says the soft-spoken DJ with a slight Dutch accent. Speaking from a U.K. office, his experience of working with McLaughlin was professional. "I spent almost three weeks on that mix. It was very difficult to get the vocals right."

He further explains that the vocally-strong McLaughlin actually sent the first mix back, with comments that her voice just didn’t sound right. Nonetheless, two drafts later they were both satisfied with the result. Tiesto’s work has followed much the same path of starting small, working hard and then tasting results. When he plays for audiences of up to 40,000, he notices people seem to know him with the same fervour he puts behind his music.

Tiesto mainly earned celebrity status through the Internet, and in previous interviews he repeatedly states that he’s happy if his music reaches audiences–regardless of how it does so. This has also changed the celebrity dynamic for Tiesto internationally.

"It’s kind of cool to be a DJ celebrity, but I won’t get recognized on the street in Toronto or Calgary," he says. "As soon I get into a club I’m famous. I’m like a part-time celebrity and that’s the best way really. I can still swim naked and I don’t have the photographer following me around."

Now that his hard work has paid off, some wonder where he might take his evangelistic presence.

"I’ve been asking myself that same question," he replies knowingly. "Things for me went so fast. I’ve remixed Dave Matthews and Sarah McLaughlin. I’ve had to refuse a U2 remix because I was too busy.

"At the moment I just don’t know. I just want to stay on this level and explore myself a bit more," he says. "For the next two years I want to stay DJing."

As for his upcoming rave in Calgary? Unsurprisingly, Tiesto replies that you should come as you are–forget the sermons.

"Come with an open mind, that’s the most important thing, expect the unexpected."

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