Soundtrack Of My Life: Tiësto

Dutch superstar DJ and 2022 Grammy-nominated artist

The first song I remember hearing

ABBA – ‘The Winner Takes It All’

“My mum used to listen to ABBA all the time. Growing up, around five, six, seven-years-old, one of the first memories of music I have is listening to ABBA songs. She used to sit down with a glass of wine and her cigarettes, and she would put on the ABBA vinyl. She listened to everything they put out, but ‘The Winner Takes It All’ is the one I remember most.”

The first song I fell in love with

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Age Of Love – ‘The Age Of Love (Jam & Spoon ‘Watch Out For Stella’ remix)’

“I used to go out clubbing in Belgium a lot; you’d often find me and my friends in Boccaccio. Back then, those big, massive clubs in Belgium were the places to go. They’d play a lot of New Beat there, and it was the beginning of house, acid house, that kind of stuff. That’s where I fell in love with ‘The Age Of Love’ by Jam & Spoon. It’s been covered many times, but that to me, when I first heard it, I got butterflies in my stomach. It was so special to be there and be like, ‘What is this!?’”

The first album I ever bought

Iron Maiden – ‘The Number Of The Beast’

“I was a really big Iron Maiden fan when I was about 14. I loved Bruce Dickinson’s voice and I liked the lyrics back then, and the energy of their records. I used to go to a record store just to look through the vinyl sleeves, and one day I came across ‘The Number Of The Beast’. I thought the sleeve looked so cool, so I bought it. Seeing the beasts on the sleeve, I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do this’. I thought it was a really well put-together record.”

The song that reminds me of home

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2 Unlimited – ‘No Limit’

“2 Unlimited are a very Dutch act, and Holland always comes to mind whenever I hear ‘No Limit’. It was massive when it first came out. It was the biggest party record out there. It was definitely cool – not cheesy, which is how it’s viewed by a lot of people now. It’s funny to me how music can get stuck in a certain time period and then be viewed differently as the years go on.”

The song I play the most during my DJ sets

Tiësto – ‘Adagio For Strings’

“When people come to see me, they expect me to play a lot of my own records. I know that if I play Creamfields, which I do every year, I have to play ‘Adagio For Strings’. It’s my biggest record from back in the day, and it’s a classic. I would think that’s the Tiësto track that most people want to hear when they come to my sets, so it’s probably the one that I play most. It’s a lifetime Tiësto track.”

The first gig I ever went to

Iron Maiden, Van Halen and others – Monsters Of Rock, Tilburg, 1988

“My first concert was this all-star heavy metal show at the Tilburg football stadium, about 20 minutes from my hometown. I was a teenager and went with my older brother. He was already a big heavy metal fan, so I learned a lot from him about the music. The line-up was insane: Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Dio and loads more. It was like putting the top 50 DJs all together in one stadium, with them playing one after another.”

The song that makes me want to dance

ACRAZE – ‘Do It To It’ (feat. Cherish)

“I’m not really a good dancer, I’m more like a dad dancer. I move a little bit in the DJ booth, but I don’t really consider it dancing. This track definitely gets me going, though. When I first heard this a couple of months ago I was like, ‘Man, this is so cool’. And now it’s a global hit. It’s so incredible to see this guy from Orlando make this in his basement at his mum’s house, and now it’s a worldwide smash. It’s really, really cool to see.”

The song I wish I had written

Eurythmics – ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’

“The ‘80s was a really special time. You had Kim Wilde, the Eurythmics, The Human League and all that stuff. Everything felt special when I heard music on the radio back then. It moved me. The way ‘Sweet Dreams’ starts is just, wow. As soon as you hear the intro and the melody, it blows your mind. I think it’s incredible that you can write a song 30 or 40 years ago and it still moves people today. It’s a timeless record.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Fred Again.. – ‘Tanya (Maybe Life)’

“I feel like my taste in music is even more diverse than when I play – although my sets are a lot more diverse these days. There are so many songs that won’t fit when I play but I love listening to at home, and a bunch of them often get stuck in my head. Fred Again.. released a little snippet album a few weeks ago [‘Actual Life 2’] and there’s one song on it called ‘Tanya’. It’s so beautifully produced, and the way he uses the vocal and the vocal chops on it: it’s in my head and on a loop the whole day.”

The song I can no longer listen to

Carmen Twillie & Lebo M. – ‘Circle Of Life’

“The one song I always get annoyed at when DJs play it in their sets is the Lion King theme song. When I hear it, I always go, ‘Oh, my God. You’re gonna play that? That’s just embarrassing’. They just play the break and then something else, a different drop or something, and it’s just like, ‘Oh no’. You just don’t play that in a DJ set. Why would you?”

The album that changed my life

Carl Cox – ‘F.A.C.T.’

Carl Cox is a legend. When I first heard this album I was already a DJ, but I hadn’t broken through yet. I was DJing in my local bar in Holland, probably like in ’95 or something. It had such a big impact on me. I remember thinking at the time, ‘This is the music I want to play as a DJ. Every track on it is a banger’. From that, I evolved into trance music.”

Tiësto’s new single with Ava Max, ‘The Motto’, is out now.

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