Among the shifting sands of the electronic music industry, one name has remained steadfast. Tiësto (real name Tijs Michiel Verwest) has been producing music since the '90s, and his life's work has elevated dance music to where it is today. Without his influence, the electronic music and festival industry would have completely different DNA.
When Verwest is not producing super hits, it seems that he's following social media closely, always ready to extend his support to artists who catch his attention. In honor of Tiësto's discerning ear, we've compiled a list of some of the world's biggest DJs who all interacted with Tiësto early in their careers.
Having regularly toured through Dutch clubs since he was 14, Hardwell's career was already formidable at a young age. In 2010 Tiësto reached out via Twitter, and in 2011 they released the collaborative track “Zero 76.” The song has been billed as one of the iconic dance anthems of the 2010s, and no doubt helped contribute to Hardwell’s spot among the top electronic music acts in the world.
2. Sied Van Riel
Sied van Riel is said to have been discovered by Tiësto sometime in 2006. After van Riel released his first single, “Fearless,” Tiësto is rumored to have called him one of the “hottest producers around.” Van Riel would go on to release several singles the following year, and in 2008, his single “Rush” would be featured on Tiësto’s In Search Of Sunrise 7.
3. First State
Though First State have changed members a few times, the duo was comprised of Sander van Dien (the only current member of First State) and Ralph Barendse when they first caught Tiësto’s ear. Tiësto featured the track “Falling” from First State’s 2007 album Time Frame on In Search of Sunrise 6.
4. Oliver Heldens
In 2012, Oliver Heldens was completely unknown. In 2013 he sent a version of “Gecko,” written while in the back of his parents’ car on family vacation, to several labels. Tiësto replied by signing “Gecko” to his label, Musical Freedom. Heldens’ track would go on to take first place in the UK Top 40 in 2014, and remain in the top 5 of both that chart and the Beatport Top 100 Tracks for six consecutive weeks. Heldens’ career skyrocketed soon after, and he continues to tour all over the world.
5. Ryan Shepherd
Unknown before 2016, Ryan Shepherd’s music and skill found the limelight after Tiësto signed the track “Fill Me In” to his AFTR:HRS label. It was originally a collaborative track between Shepherd and Loud Luxury, and Tiësto is said to have reached out to Shepherd after being shown the piece by the latter act.
6. Mark Norman
Another Dutch trance artist, Mark Norman’s first releases were through Tiësto’s labels, Black Hole Recordings and Magik Musik (a Black Hole sub label). Dropping “Stream” in 2003, Lenden would go on to release nearly all his mixes and tracks through the former imprint.
7. Martin Garrix
One of EDM's youngest prodigies, Martin Garrix was a 15-year-old bedroom DJ when Tiësto discovered his work. Once again reaching out over Twitter, Tiësto got into contact with the young producer and helped him with his breakthrough release, "Animals." With a little early help from Tiësto, he has become one of the world’s most well-known electronic musicians.
8. Armin van Buuren
Despite occasional rumors of rivalry or feud between these two gods of trance, Armin van Buuren only has good to say of Tiësto. “He was one of the guys who could get me my first gigs, and get my first compilation on Black Hole [Recordings] back in 1999,” van Buuren said during Your EDM's 2016 asQme. Shortly after that first compilation, van Buuren and Tiësto would go on to release “Eternity” and “Wonder Where You Are?” together in 2000, bolstering van Buuren’s already rising fame.
Brian Baker is a writer, photographer, and designer based out of St. Louis. You can find his portfolio here.