Is Tiësto dance music’s most underrated tastemaker?
Is Tiësto dance music's most underrated tastemaker?
Maybe we throw around the term “tastemaker.” Maybe we shy away from giving Tiësto this title because of his grandiose status. Whichever way you slice it, Tiësto has, somehow, gone under the radar as someone who arrives first at what’s due to become hot and sets those trends accordingly. He’s broken artists, sounds, and records that have defined their time and, ironically, hasn’t received such credit — at least in comparison to today’s more talked about curators. Musical Freedom is responsible for much of what EDM has shaped up to be, time and time again, over the past four years and — with its diversification and willingness to change with the time — has been literally just that: musical freedom.
So, is Tiësto the most underrated tastemaker in dance music? Decide once and for all; here’s where he’s hit those home runs with Musical Freedom…
Now, we’re not to say that Tiësto discovered Diplo, or that he gave him his big break. However, the first Musical Freedom release came as a collaboration between Diplo and Tiësto — the everlasting “C’Mon.” Tijs put early faith in Diplo, before he was one half Jack Ü, pop’s go-to producer, and all around electronic music poster boy and status symbol of its generation.
Before he was Avicii, Tim Berg was, well, Tim Berg. He also went by stealthy aliases such as Tom Hangs. This was before “Levels” made Avicii. One of Tim’s earliest records was co-signed by — you guessed it — Tiësto. It was “Blessed” as Tom Hangs, featuring Shermanology. A track that would define his early years and pave the way for that melody-based, euphoric dance music that initiated a new era in EDM.
If there’s any artist you can say with all confidence that Tiësto had “broke,” it would likely be Hardwell. Before Hardwell was your number one DJ on the planet, he was a young Dutch artist beneath the wing of Tijs Verwest, where his early sound was coined as Trouse (trance + house). Together, they produced “Zero 76,” Hardwell’s first claim to fame and likely still his unanimous fan favorite. It was from the outside and inside that Hardwell had a little brother-big brother relationship with Tiësto as his career launched.
Early releases on Musical Freedom, coinciding with the earlier days of dance music’s mainstream popularity, made for some of the first large-scale tracks that would be referred to as anthems. These were your BIG records; the ones that sounded big, felt big, and worked in the new, bigger live event climate; the ones that are still being replicated today. Which Musical Freedom releases are these? Try Bassjackers’ “Mush Mush,” a room filling electro-house staple. Take “Epic,” an inarguable festival anthem of the past decade if there ever were one. This new energy in music caught on among the genre and became a trend by the time Tiësto released his own of the sort with “Maximal Crazy.”
Tommy Trash ushered in a new wave of electro house when making his way to relevance in EDM. His frenetic approach to producing dance music, fit for the new event-geared styles, became one of the earliest trademarks of its kind. These productions from Trash have become nothing short of in-demand and have remained that way, through each of his instantly recognizable anthems. Where did this begin as a trend? Musical Freedom, when Tiësto released “Future Folk” in 2011 before most of his impressive catalog had ever been heard.
The Remix As We Know It
Remixes have always been a part of dance music; they’ve likely been one of the most important pieces to dance music’s relevance since day one and can be pointed to as the avenue for the genre and its artists to shine prior to commercial recognition. As far as the remix, look no further than Tiësto as a pioneer of this era. Beyond making tracks more dance-able throughout his career, Tiësto created the bedrock for remixing pop hits that outshine their originals. Looking back, the new wave of remix tradition began with Club Life Vol. 2, Tiësto’s versions of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” or Coldplay’s “Paradise,” for starters. Even today, he leads this trend, only months off a Grammy win for his take on John Legend’s “All Of Me” — an initial free download that took a turn for the best on radio airwaves.
Oliver Heldens current streak of success kicked off with “Gecko.” It’s the track that caused Heldens to heat up — that’s undisputed. It’s also the track that opened the floodgates on the modern spin on deep house. The catalyst for neo-house, the demand for new sounds and new styles began with “Gecko” even before it had been re-released as a radio-tailored version featuring vocals from Becky Hill. “Gecko” dropped on Musical Freedom days before we rang in 2014, and shaped that year as we knew it for 365 days.
Carnage is as hot as any young live act in EDM. Dating back to 2013, however, Carnage was another act looking for his big break. That’s when Tiësto threw his support behind the heavyweight (no pun intended). Carnage’s earlier work began catching on when Tiësto took hold of his ‘Festival Trap’ remix of “Spaceman,” sporting it in his biggest sets and embracing him personally enough to bring him on stage for a true introduction to the world. Tiësto soon gave him the space to release an original record on Musical Freedom with “Krakatao.” Carnage refers to Tijs as his father to this date.
MOTi? He’s been getting much of the label’s attention of late, most recent releases consisting of solo production “Lion” and Tiësto collaboration “Blow Your Mind” following a handful of Music Freedom releases last year. On the horizon, his original “Valencia” is set to drop this month.
Dzeko & Torres? Frequently sharing the stage with Tiësto, whether they’re the guest appearance or vice versa, Dzeko & Torres seem to be in Musical Freedom’s lane for the long haul. Support has come consistently since 2013 as the label paves the path for the young pair out of Canada to climb the ranks of festival fever.
Lucky Charmes? The newest name of Musical Freedom’s catalog, this producer is one the brink of his breakthrough with the impending debut release of “Skank.” If his first single signed off by Tiësto is any indicator, there’s a fresh new style en route.