The New Mr. Las Vegas: Tiësto takes up residency in Sin City

Wayne Newton, Celine Dion and Elton John will simply have to make room: Tiësto is moving to the top of Vegas’ marquee. Quite possibly the most famous man in electronic dance music, the Dutch DJ/producer is slated for a whopping 40 dates, including May 3, 5, 18 and 24, at the recently opened Hakkasan and an additional 20 gigs at Wet Republic.

What kind of experience will you bring to your nights at Hakkasan?

I want the Tiësto “Club Life” night to be different than the other nights. There are a lot of big DJs playing at Hakkasan, so I want to make it special. As soon as people enter the club, they feel like, “OK, I’m in Tiësto Land now, Tiësto’s ‘Club Life.’” It’s life as a clubber, and I want it to be glamorous—but not too VIP—still fresh, sexy, lots of energy and people coming together and meeting each other. A ‘social clubbing scene’ is how I try to see it. It’s like those things you have to go to where even if you don’t know the music, you still go to the ‘Club Life’ night to experience it. Of course, the music and the DJ set is most important, but I want it to be a ‘Club Life’ thing where people come party together.

What about the custom DJ booth that’s being built just for your nights?

I’m working on a special DJ booth, yes, but I can’t really say anything about it yet because we’re still working on it.

Any hints as to what people will see as far as performers, visuals and the like?

I have custom-made visuals especially for the night, dancers and performers in special outfits, and we’ll decorate the place completely different. My night is more fashion and art driven—not only high-end Dolce & Gabbana/Gucci fashion—but just dressing nice. You don’t have to wear $500 T-shirts. Everybody’s just looking great.

Do you think you’ll incorporate some of the creative fan art people have been making?

Yes! I’m definitely going to do that. I want people to bring art and show it, and I’m definitely going to look into seeing if we can set it up somewhere—when you enter, you can see the art people made, but people can also tell their story in the club. Also the fashion part is very important; they have designers coming in and designing clothes for the staff and for people so they can buy stuff inside.

With the current club culture in America, do you think fans sometimes feel isolated because they aren’t part of the VIP crowd?

That’s what I try to prevent on my nights. I really want the VIPs to have a good time, but for me the GAs [general-admission clubbers] are just as important, if not even more important. When I go to Latin America the GAs are all the way in the back and I don’t like that too much. It’s very important that everybody who comes to a Tiësto show should feel the same.

Some super fans might make it a goal to be at every gig of your residency. How will keep it fresh for them?

The music is always changing. You get new tracks in, and other DJs will be playing with me as well. I’ll bring in a lot of talent from Holland—even talent people have never even heard about, some young, new DJs—not just from Holland, but also Sweden and America. Musically, I’ll try to change it up every week. Obviously the hits are the hits, and my hits are my hits, so people expect me to play those. I’ve seen fans coming to 20 shows in a row and I play the same hits 20 shows in a row and they still love it, so I guess they’re happy. But between the Tiësto hits and the fresh new remixes there will be a lot of new stuff. It’s very difficult to say now how it’s going to be because we haven’t started yet. I think every club has to find its energy and character so it’s hard to know how it’s going to be. Maybe for the last hour of my sets I’m only going to play deep, exclusive tracks if the people are really into that. It has to be an interactive thing and I think every night will be different because of that and I always try to find the balance between what I like to play and what they like to hear.

On the music front, you’ve done Las Vegas and Miami installments of the Club Life series. What’s up next for Volume 3?

It might be too early to give away the title yet, but what I have in mind is a very good mix of what I stand for today. Club Life 1 was still a little of the more trance-y, old school Tiësto stuff. Club Life 2 was very up-to-date with all the biggest hits at that time—right before they came out actually, like the Gotye remix, the Coldplay “Paradise” remix, a lot of great new tracks. Club Life 3 is very inspired by a European city. The music is a mix between the Dutch house inheritance I have in me and the Swedish I have in me because I lived there for so long, and some old-school Tiësto from the ’90s as well from when I started DJing. I got inspired by a couple of tracks that I used to play in the ’90s, that sound, so I made a couple of tracks sounding similar to that, but still fresh for 2013. The end of the CD is a lot harder than the first and second one. This CD is more a journey that starts off very dreamy and slow, and then takes off and the end is very high energy. The release date is going to be the first week of June.

It’s been a few years since your last artist album. Is there another one in the works?

Yeah. The thing is, people think an artist album is just your own tracks, but if you look at the Club Life albums, I think like 75 percent of the tracks have been mine, so it’s pretty much an album. On Club Life 3 there’s 16 tracks and 11 are produced or remixed by me. So it’s kind of an album, but I know what you mean, so I’m also working on an artist album. I have some great songs I’m working on, and some are already finished. I’m going to work a lot in Vegas this summer in a studio there and hopefully finish it in May or June, then release it probably at the end of the year or beginning of next year.

Out of curiosity, with your brand partnerships such as Guess, are you only allowed to wear their fashions?

[Laughs] No, I can wear whatever I want, but they like me to wear their clothes of course. I always look for organic collaborations when it comes to endorsements, and with Guess it was a really fun thing to do. We’re going to release the second collection soon, and it’s a bigger one with more items. I can only do that stuff if I really believe in it; I couldn’t do something like a soup brand, for example. [Laughs] No matter how much money they want to pay, I don’t care about that too much, I want it to be part of Tiësto’s Club Life and part of me. I wear Guess clothes, so why not do something with them? It has to fit you.

Now that those big foam glow batons are popular, have you made amends with glow sticks at shows?

[Laughs] I actually always liked glow sticks, but the thing is if you keep getting hit in your head all the time with those—one time it hit me in the eye and I was just like, “I’m so done with this.” But I know that people don’t do it on purpose, they just get excited and throw them in the air and they fly around, but I felt like if I get hit in my eye or somebody in the audience gets hit in the eye—I’m just a little too cautious or something—that’s the main reason why I banned them.

What’s it like having a wax figure in your home country?

[Laughs] People post pictures on my Twitter page with it sometimes: “Hey, I’m here in Amsterdam, and I just saw you!” I think a couple of years ago the statue came to Las Vegas as well, so that’s pretty cool.

Maybe they’ll bring it back now that you’ll be here all the time?

Yeah! We should call them up!

You’re active in the (RED) campaign against AIDS. Since you’ll be in Las Vegas so much, do you have plans for any community-based charity partnerships, maybe a Las Vegas outpost of the Club Life Foundation?

I would love to set up something in Vegas for the foundation, because I know Vegas is very glamorous on one side, but there’s also a dark side. I’m going to move there in a few weeks, so I’ll have time to explore Vegas, get to know the city, meet people and try to absorb into the city and get my head around everything, and I would love to figure that stuff out.

Are there any myths swirling around in the EDM blogs out there that you’d like to dispel, perhaps about not playing Ibiza or the sizable residency contracts here?

People in Europe are very disappointed that I’m not playing there [too often] all summer; I’ve been going to Ibiza for the last 12 years, so to not go back there this year is shocking to a lot of people. But I’m just really excited about Las Vegas and a new chapter in my life, and really try to build something special there and not just coming in there to cash a paycheck—that’s the biggest myth at the moment. People are like, “Oh, you’re just going to Las Vegas to cash in,” and I think that’s the worst thing that people can say. Obviously we’re all getting paid good money, but it’s not just about that: It’s about giving back and investing also in the future and like you said about the Foundation and doing something there. I really want to make it more than just “cashing in on Vegas.” That’s not my goal.

Originally published in Vegas Seven.

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