This week, Tijs Verwest, known around the world as [artist id="1216235"]Tiësto[/artist], will be headlining the Ultra Music Festival at the Winter Music Conference 2010 in Miami. Considered primarily a trance music DJ, he remains among electronic music's few heavyweights, frequently commanding audiences of tens of thousands at his club gigs. His recent Kaleidoscope World Tour saw him sell out arenas in England, a feat seldom achieved by a "club DJ." His last show at Ipanema Beach in Brazil drew 250,000 fans. And while one might think that as the reigning king of trance music, his WMC 2010 performance will be just another in a career of hundreds of such shows, it's refreshing to hear that, according to him, he'll also be attending as a fan.
"I have a pretty easy schedule at the Winter Music Conference," he told MTV News. "I just like to check out DJs from the other scenes ... people I never get to hear play."
And lucky for him, there will be quite a variety to pick from. This year, WMC will feature appearances by Lil Jon, A-Trak, Just Blaze, newcomers Maya Vanya, Laidback Luke, Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Roger Sanchez, Armin van Buuren, Nas and Damien Marley just to name a few.
It's one of the more eclectic bills for the annual festival, at a time when it appears that dance music has gone more pop than ever before.
"The whole popular music scene in the U.S. is definitely interested in dance music," Tiësto said. "Especially this year, after all of the collaborations, like the Black Eyed Peas did with David Guetta ['I Gotta Feeling'] and he did with Kelly Rowland [on Guetta's single 'When Love Takes Over']. I made a track with Three 6 Mafia and Sean Kingston, and I think that woke up the whole scene. Everybody wants to be a part of dance music now."
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In fact, Tiësto may have been ahead of the curve. His last album, Kaleidoscope, marked an overt attempt to make his sound compelling for a wider audience. Nelly Furtado, Tegan and Sara, Jónsi Birgisson from Sigur Rós and Kele Okereke from Bloc Party are all featured on the project.
"I'm always looking for something new and fresh for my style," he explained. "I still love trance music, I always will, but I felt like I wanted to play more wider, more diverse. Why just stick to one sound? That's why I started looking into other artists. It made my music sound different. It was a great experience and I learned a lot from it."
And so at this year's WMC, Tiësto plans to learn more, taking in shows outside of his genre. He's looking forward to attending the conference as a fan.
"I know the people from my own scene, so it's more interesting to go check out something else that you've never heard before," Tiësto said. "Say, Calvin Harris or Laidback Luke. Or Swedish House Mafia — they are amazing guys. They are the rock stars of the house scene. They party together, they play together — very talented, all three of them. They make phenomenal tracks."
Stick with MTV News for more coverage of the Winter Music Conference 2010 in Miami.