Tiësto Speaks on Working With Bono & World AIDS Day
One cannot ignore the potent power behind the EDM scene. (RED) has zeroed in on the movement to reach an even broader audience by choosing one of EDM’s most significant artists, Tiësto to create “Tiësto for Dance (RED) Save Lives.” Over 5,000 men, women and children in Africa are killed by AIDS each day. Within the same continent, 900 babies are born HIV positive. Based off of these sobering statistics, Dance (RED) Save Lives’ objective is to create a HIV-free generation by 2015. In an effort to raise awareness of Dance (RED) Save Lives’ mission, the campaign will host a livestream of Melbourne’s Stereosonic Festival on December 1st for World AIDS Day. Released this week, the Dance (RED) Save Lives compilation album presented by Tiësto includes his collaboration with U2’s Bono, along with tracks from Diplo, Feenixpawl, Infected Mushroom and other artists. Proceeds from all (RED) initiatives are 100% donated to help end the current crisis in Africa. Here, Tiësto explains his personal sentiments on why the world should not turn a blind eye to the AIDS epidemic in Africa and provides facts on the validity of the following statement: “Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.”
Life + Times: I’ve noticed your tweets all week and you have definitely been pushing the (RED) campaign. It’s even the wallpaper of your Twitter page. You’re definitely passionate about being an advocate. In a statement, you said you went to Africa in 2006 and was struck by the debilitating effects of AIDS. What were your plans in Africa and was that trip the catalyst in you being a voice for (RED)?
Tiësto: It is definitely something that I’m passionate about and am utilizing all my platforms to try and make as much noise about the campaign as possible. I’m very fortunate to have the platforms to do this from. The trip to Africa was part of my involvement with the Dance For Life campaign back in 2006. It was a huge eye opener for me to see the effects of AIDS first hand. It left a really strong impression on me that I’ve never forgotten. It definitely made me want to use my position in the dance community to help fight AIDS.
L+T: Were you approached to help with (RED) or was this an initiative you were already planning on being a part of, perhaps both?
Tiësto: My work with (RED) really came out of the DJ Football Games tournament that I organized with Sebastian Ingrosso in Miami earlier this year. I really liked what (RED) had done in the fight [against AIDS] and thought they would be a great partner. They have such a unique way of raising awareness and funds and are a really inspirational group of people to work with. We decided after the success of that event that it would be great to collaborate on an even bigger level. I’m very excited about what we’ve come up with and the support we’re already getting.
L+T: On the charity compilation album, you collaborated with Bono on a remake of U2’s “Pride.” When did you initially meet Bono and what led to you both to decide to collaborate on a track, especially since he’s from the world of rock and you are in the EDM realm?
Tiësto: I’ve always been a huge fan of Bono. He is so unique on many levels, as a human, musician and visionary. It felt very natural that we would work together given his connection with (RED). We were talking over email about how we could make this happen and both felt that “Pride” was an ideal song to use given the power of the lyrics and how epic it is. I worked on the remix from there and then we met in New York about a month ago and Bono re-sang some elements of the song to fit with my mix and added some little bits here and there. I’m really happy with the result and particularly that Bono and the band liked it so much. Though we are from different worlds, our approaches actually have a lot in common.
L+T: In regards to time, there’s a big push for (RED) particularly now because World AIDS Day is December 1st. However, how do you plan to promote (RED) in your lifestyle as an artist so that it can in turn motivate your friends and listeners to take action as well?
Tiësto: (RED) works year round to raise funds and awareness and this is one of many great initiatives they are running. Right now we are focused on World Aids Day and making a huge statement. Going forward, I definitely want to make sure they are involved wherever possible so that we can make an impact in the dance world.
L+T: You just wrapped up the Stereosonic Festival in Sydney. This weekend will be the Melbourne edition in which there will be a YouTube livestream of you and other Dance (Red) artists on Saturday for World AIDS Day. Who are the other artists that are part of Dance (RED)?
Tiësto: Stereosonic has been brilliant so far. I can’t wait for Melbourne and the livestream. We’ve got all of the artists on the main stage at the festival including Avicii, Calvin Harris, Laidback Luke, Tommy Trash, Martin Solveig, Example and of course, myself! It should be a fantastic spectacle for everyone at home and at the show itself!
L+T: I imagine it was fairly easy to recruit them. Besides the compilation album and the Dance (RED) livestream, do you and your fellow DJ friends plan on partnering for any (RED) events or projects in the future? Is it too early to ask?
Tiësto: Everyone has been incredibly supportive and I’m very thankful for that. It is great to see the dance music world getting behind such a worthy cause. As for their future plans, I’m not sure right now. It would be great for the dance world to be a big part of (RED)’s efforts going forward. The more positive work like this that can be done, the better.
L+T: The goal of (RED) is to ensure babies are born completely HIV-free by 2015. For someone that may think this is an elusive goal, how would you respond?
Tiësto: We are at an incredible and critical moment in the fight against AIDS in which we can virtually end the transmission of HIV from moms to their babies by 2015. Just a decade ago, more than 1,500 babies were born every day with HIV. In 2010, that number was down to 1,000. Now it’s around 900. By 2015, we can get it close to zero. It won’t be zero, but it will be close to it. This goal is possible because when an HIV positive pregnant woman has access to antiretroviral medicine, two pills that cost about 40 cents a day in sub-Saharan Africa, the transmission of HIV to her baby can be prevented in 98% of cases. The goal of delivering an AIDS free generation is one that (RED) is focused on and which (RED) shares with the wider global health community.