Over the past 14 years, Tiësto has represented in every dance/electronic category at the Grammys.
His 2007 trance classic Elements Of Life was nominated for best dance/electronic album in 2008, and his mainstage edit of John Legend‘s “All of Me” won for best remixed recording in 2015. (“I gave it away as a free download without asking, and [John] liked it so much so he was like ‘let’s make it an official release,’” the Dutch producer said while accepting the award). This year, his 2020 smash “The Business” is up for best dance/electronic recording, where it will compete with tracks by artists including James Blake, Caribou, David Guetta and Afrojack, Bonobo, Rüfüs Du Sol and Ólafur Arnalds.
Released via Tiësto’s own Musical Freedom label, the pop/future house hybrid shines on the power of its scintillating production and earworm melodies, with these elements helping make “The Business” a global smash that came in at No. 3 on the Dance/Electronic Songs tally for Billboard‘s 2021 Year-End Charts. The single is also a long way from the producer’s trance origins, demonstrating how both the genre and Tiësto himself have evolved since the dance/electronic music categories were introduced to the Grammy Awards in 1998 and 2005.
Here, the icon born Tijs Michiel Verwest discusses his history at the awards, and why he sent the last Grammy he won on a world tour.
Where was “The Business” made, and when?
It was made during Covid in April of 2020, so mostly on Zoom between America, Holland and Sweden!
How long did it take to complete it?
We finished the track in one day.
Who did you first play it for, and what was their reaction?
To my wife and to my daughter, who was still in the womb. She started kicking when she heard it, so I guess that was a good sign!
Did you know that the song was special, or a “hit”?
I knew it was special, but I had no idea it would become this massive.
Why do you think the track appealed to Grammy voters?
I think anyone can relate to the lyrics. It’s a song that will get you going and lights you up! It’s special, original, and close to my dance roots, very authentic to what I stand for.
What were you doing when you found out you were nominated?
I was listening to the livestream with my manager, Bo Basic, when we heard them announcing the nominees. We got so excited and emotional, it was a special, big moment!
The collection of tracks nominated this year is really sonically diverse, from EDM to IDM to rave to dance pop. What’s your take on quite disparate styles of dance music competing against each other in the same category?
I think it says a lot about dance music — it keeps broadening out and gets more diverse every year. There’s so many different styles of dance music nowadays it’s incredible, and all the nominees are super-talented artists.
What do you think this collection of songs says about where the Academy’s tastes currently lie?
It’s all over the place, which is a good thing! I love the diversity.
Would you like to see the Recording Academy in any way expand or update the way they handle electronic music?
Well, electronic music is one of the biggest genres in the world; it deserves to be part of the televised broadcast of the Grammys.
There are no female producers nominated in this category in 2022, and this isn’t the first year that this has happened. How do you explain the lack of female artists in this category?
I can’t, because there’s a lot of really good female producers out there!
You have a long history at the Grammys, given that you were nominated in 2008 and won in 2015 for your remix of John Legend’s “All Of Me.” Did winning that award change your career?
It did change my career. Winning a Grammy is a huge honor and has been great for me — I am proud of it! I also got a lot more remix requests after I won that Grammy.
Where do you keep your Grammy?
On my piano in my living room. After I won it, I sent it around the world first — like a world tour — to everyone to keep it in their possession for a week, as a thank you for being part of my career.
What’s the best Grammy afterparty you’ve ever been to?
Clive Davis is the one with the best Grammy party.
This year’s awards show is in Vegas, a town you’re well acquainted with through your various longstanding residencies. How do you think dance music will represent during awards events this year, given that the show is happening in a dance music hub?
I am not sure, but it should be a big part of it. Las Vegas is the dance music capital of the world.
If you win this year, how will you celebrate?
It will be a very big celebration, and I’ll bring the Grammy with me on the road for a year!