Tiesto in his element at Highland Centre

THERE are superstar DJs, then there is Tiesto. His shelves groan with the weight of awards he has won; he has been knighted by the Queen of Holland; he has his own sneaker line and a waxwork in Madame Tussauds.

But it doesn't end there. This Dutch demigod was not only the first DJ to sell out a solo stadium event for 25,000 people two nights on the bounce, he also played live in front of an estimated four billion TV viewers around the world during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.

The 38-year-old Breda-born master of the mixing decks also happens to be the proud owner of three consecutive World's Best DJ awards from the industry-standard DJ Magazine, and he scored a number one with his single Traffic, which was the first instrumental to reach the top spot in his homeland in 23 years.

His reworking of Delirium, featuring Sarah McLachlan's Silence, also created an international dancefloor sensation, spending eight weeks in the UK Top Ten and reaching number three on the US Billboard chart.

As you'd expect, Tiesto's gig at the Royal Highland Exhibition Centre next week has dance music fans in a fizz.

But despite his meteoric success, Tiesto, real name Tijs Verwest, remains level-headed about his achievements. He is someone who clearly loves making and playing music above all the trappings of fame.

"It's a dream come true," beams the affable Dutchman, whose alias is an Italian twist of his childhood nickname.

"I have been DJing in clubs for years. I always dreamed to be a famous DJ in Holland. And now it's worldwide. You can't imagine. I mean, I still can't believe it myself that everything went so well."

Explaining that he doesn't feel famous, he continues, "I was always popular at school because people like me as a person. That's how I still feel. People love me for my music not for anything else. Tiesto and me are one.

"I am very grateful for everything that's happening to me. I just don't understand why it has to go to your head."

Having been a fan of a radio show called the Soul Show and Ben Liebrand's mix show, which he would listen to religiously when he was growing up, Tiesto was inspired to learn how to remix and cut up tracks himself.

"I just thought to myself - I wanna do this," recalls the DJ, who says he first got into music because he really liked to share his tunes with other people - something he does on a massive scale now.

Starting out by DJing at school parties, he moved on to become a resident between 1985 and 1993 at several well- established clubs in his native Holland, where he says he learned and perfected his craft.

"Music was always my first love, but back in those days I didn't know it was possible to make a living out of being a DJ," recalls Tiesto, who reckons that he probably would have become a chef had he not been able to earn his crust on the club turntables.

"I love cooking," he laughs, "it must be because of the mixing element."

The production side of things came later. "I wanted to produce music that I could play in my sets, because it brings so much more fulfilment. I bought some samplers, computer programs, and just started working."

It was in the mid-1990s when he started to produce trance, and in 1997 he and Arny Bink co-founded Black Hole Recordings to support his work. A series of singles were released under various aliases, such as Allure, Drumfire, Hammock Brothers, Paradise In Dubs, Passenger, Roze, Stray Dog, Tom Ace and Wild Bunch.

"My big breakthrough as a DJ was, I think, in 1995," he recalls. "I was playing trance and I started putting out mixed compilations. Nobody else did that at the time. I began to become known because my CDs were selling in record stores. I had my breakthrough when people started to know me from Magik mixed compilations."

By the turn of the millennium, Tiesto's fame had skyrocketed and in 2003 he became the first DJ to hold a solo concert in a stadium, performing to a whopping 50,000 fans over two nights in Arnhem's Gelredome.

The event was a huge success, and he has been repeating the trick in stadiums worldwide ever since.

The highlights of Tiesto's career are many, but the pinnacle would surely have be his performance at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Olympics in Athens - another first for any DJ.

"It was quite funny," laughs Tiesto, looking back. "I was playing a gig in Greece in September 2003 and this guy walks up to me and says, 'Hey Tiesto I just heard you play; you're amazing. I want you to play at the opening ceremony of the Olympics.' I looked at him, like, sure pal!"

Looking ahead to his latest big-scale show, Elements Of Life, Tiesto says the work that has gone into next week's show at Ingliston has been a mammoth undertaking, incorporating a live show, singers, visuals and lighting.

"The visuals are definitely going to have a big impact and the lighting show is very special," he beams. "There's gonna be a lot things that have never been done before on the technical side; it's gonna look amazing. It will be the biggest dance show the world has seen. That's all I can say, I don't want to ruin the surprises."

The concept behind the Elements Of Life show, explains Tiesto, goes back to the roots of the human being, the elements - air, fire, water and earth.

"You're going to experience those in the show, see them, feel them, and the music is synched in with the elements," he says. "We have forgotten our roots and where we come from. My basic message is: think within yourself and find happiness in you rather than a virtual world."

One of the biggest perks about being a world-renowned DJ, says multi-linguist Tiesto (as well as Dutch, he speaks fluent German, English and a bit of French), is getting paid to travel the globe to play gigs.

"The thing that I love about my life is that I get to see a lot of the beautiful places all around the world. It's a gift that everywhere I come, people put me in fancy hotels and take me to the most special places of a country," he says.

Be that as it may, the DJ is adamant that, despite his enormous profile, he has remained level-headed.

"There used to be a level of separation from famous people and their fans that added mystique," he says. "But It seems that nowadays, people want to be intimate with their rock stars. My fans are really important to me.

"I try to do as much as possible for them, such as organising special parties where only the members from my website can attend. During my sets, I'm sometimes more busy with giving autographs than I am with DJing."

• Tiesto - Elements of Life, Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Saturday June 30, 6pm-4am, 40 (exclusive VIP ticket 60), Ticket Scotland, 0131-220 3234, www.ticketweb.co.uk


• The first solo DJ to sell-out a 25,000-seat stadium two nights running.

• The only DJ ever to be asked to perform at an Olympic ceremony (Athens, 2004).

• The only DJ to be voted Best DJ in the world three years running by DJ Magazine.

• A member of the Order of the Oranje Nassau in Holland.

• His single, Traffic, was the first instrumental to reach the number one spot in his native Holland for 23 years.

• His remix of Delerium's Silence was the first house track to gain daytime radio airplay in the US in a decade.

• He has toured the US with David Bowie and Moby.

• First DJ to perform in front of 200,000 fans (January, 2007, lpanema Beach, Brazil).

• World ambassador for Dance4life, an Aids project.