Oliver Heldens is the latest Dutch wunderkind DJ/producer to go global. Charting at No.8 in the latest Top 100 DJs poll, the future house star has been going from strength to strength on his own terms since his breakthrough hit 'Gecko' was first picked up by Tiësto a few years ago. Broadening out his main stage sound and even dropping some techno these days, Heldens has solidified his place in the new wave of clean-cut, pop-leaning Netherlands talent changing the face of mainstream rave culture.
The Republican party has long been closely associate with country music, with former presidents George Bush and Ronald Regan both citing the genre as their favourite. So it was something of a shock to hear that one of the party’s 2016 presidential candidates, Marco Rubio, claim he listens to EDM.
Asked what music he likes in a CNN interview, the socially conversative Florida senator, who is opposed to legalising weed and gay marriage, cited '90s hip-hop and EDM. He was only able to name one DJ, however, praising Dutch producer Tiësto.
Tiësto is still riding high off married life, having tied the knot in 2019, and this year has learnt “that there’s actually also a life outside the DJ touring life!” That said, the enduring Dutch titan has continued to evolve and adapt his sound, worked on various remixes as well as start a new project VER:WEST, “which has allowed me to explore the deeper melodic side of my musical interests.”
From: Breda, Netherlands
DJ style: “Eclectic dance music.”
Best known for: “Switching it up.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Loud Luxury ‘Body’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Louis Bell.”
“I just had the biggest hit of my career with Post Malone,” says Tiësto of their electrifying ‘Jackie Chan’, which is no mean feat given the amount of music the EDM overlord has released in his long and storied career. The secret to it, and much of his music, is its ability to uplift and energise crowds around the world, no matter the language they speak.
As much as the ‘Jackie Chan’ track was a successful collaboration, Tiësto admits they don’t always work. “I must have at least 100 tracks that never saw the daylight,” he explains. “It happens, it’s nothing personal, but I will only release something when I am 100% happy with it at the moment I want to release it.”
Once again this summer he has toured endlessly, while tending to spend the winter months making music and “trying to come up with records that sound different than everything else out there”. He has another big one on the horizon already in ‘Grapevine’, and says that despite having produced for more than 20 years now, there is “nothing better than making dancefl oor and festival bangers!”
By now, Tiësto has played just about every major club and festival in the world, including Creamfi elds every single year since inception. “It’s always a great crowd and they love everything I play,” he says. “It never gets old and I feel I can really get away with playing anything there, which is the best position to be in while DJing!”
As someone who is at home playing stages to thousands upon thousands of people, Tiësto still fondly remembers the sets he played before he was a global superstar. As such, this year he has played the likes of Bootshaus in Germany, “an amazing small intimate club” and also Opium in Barcelona. Having previously turned his back on trance music in favour of a spell making deep house, Tiësto has rather gone back to his roots recently, at the same time as noticing a few more general trends.
“You can feel the scene is changing again or, I must say, as always,” he tells DJ Mag. “Groovier records are back and deep house made huge progress. Guys like Chris Lake and Fisher made a real impact, but I see myself as a really spontaneous DJ, so I take the best of what’s out there and mix it up with my own stuff. Keep it all together and uplifting. I think the concept of ‘break, big drop, break, big drop’ is getting old, and I am trying to slowly make progress to take things in a new direction.”
Another big change for the Dutchman is the album format. He strongly believes long-players are dead and that they don’t get the attention they deserve anymore. “People don’t take the time anymore to listen to a whole album,” he reckons. “So you put in months of work and people will only listen to it once or twice. But I will make a new album next year, just because I still like to listen to albums and I have a good idea for a new one now.” Despite being 50 in January, Tiësto continues to fire on all cylinders. He speaks quickly and passionately about his continued love of DJing, the joy of discovering new sounds and playing to his adoring fans all over the world.
Words: KRISTAN CARYL