Heidi Klum remembers her rebel days as a teenager working at a club named Checker’s in Düsseldorf. She can still hear the pulsing synths of Eighties songs blasting from the dance floor as she stood behind the bar making coffee for guests, even though she was way too young to be working there. “With hair and makeup you can always make yourself look a little older,” she says with a giggle.
Fast-forward four decades, and Klum’s love for dance music has only grown. Several months ago, the German supermodel had the crazy idea of revisiting (and recording) a hit from her childhood, the 1984 Corey Hart classic “Sunglasses at Night,” giving it a twist for a new generation of listeners. She decided to hit up her favorite DJ, Tiësto, for it.
“When I told you, you immediately understood what it was that I wanted,” she tells Tiësto on a joint Zoom with Rolling Stone. “It’s for that scene that goes out: You’re out all night, you’re super sweaty, makeup is everywhere, so all you want to do is put your glasses on. To me, this was such a cool hit in the Eighties. The intro is so epic that it gives me chills.”
On Thursday, Klum and Tiësto released a club-ready, refreshed version of the 1984 track with Klum’s sensuous vocals. Their version of “Sunglasses at Night” will serve as the theme song for the upcoming season of Germany’s Next Topmodel, which Klum is currently filming in L.A. The track, and its visualizer, exclusively premiere with Rolling Stone.
For Klum and Tiësto — ages 50 and 55, respectively — the song is a reminder that there’s no age limit for fun. “It’s not just for 20 or 30 or 40 years old. I’m 50 and I feel very much alive, and I still want to be out and about and dance,” Klum says.
“Dance is definitely for everybody, young and old. It’s about how you feel and how much energy you express. We’re still very youthful,” Tiësto adds.
Rolling Stone caught up with the pair about getting Hart’s blessing to reimagine “Sunglasses at Night,” the prevalence of sampling in music, and the struggles of Sports Illustrated:
“Sunglasses at Night” is so much fun. How did this start?
Heidi Klum: Tijs is like my EDM god. I’ve been a stalker for many, many years from afar, and we’ve known each other for a little bit now. One day, I just said, “I have a really good idea of a track.”
Tiësto: I loved the idea right away. It’s a really perfect model song as well. It fits Heidi so well. The club scene, the glamorous life that you’ve been living. I was inspired right away.
Klum: I’m standing in the limelight a lot, so I get looked at all the time. But I feel like a lot of people are a little bit shy, so putting your glasses on, you have this shield that you can also hide behind and you can be a little bit more outgoing.
What was the conversation like with Corey Hart to bring the song back?
Klum: He has been the sweetest. He said, “It’s like a seductive supernova dance explosion on the bright side of the moon.” Isn’t that so cute? I asked Corey Hart for his TikTok — he doesn’t even have one! I said to him, “Let’s do the TikTok challenge where when the drop comes you put your glasses on and you have more fun.” But he didn’t have TikTok. I thought that was so cute.
Heidi, should we expect more music from you? You sound great on this.
Klum: I don’t know if you remember, Tijs, but last time I saw you, we shook hands on doing more things. Do you remember?
Tiësto: Of course, I remember.
Klum: Well, Tijs said yes, and if he says yes, I’m down to. Let’s do it.
Tiësto: I love Heidi. She has amazing energy, and she’s always down for whatever. Her energy is very inspirational, so I would love to do more.
Klum: We could do our favorites from the Eighties and early Nineties. I have a list.
What are your memories of being on the dance floor during that time in your lives?
Tiësto: Well, I was born in the club, so I was always clubbing since I was 15, 16 years old. I got so much inspiration from going to Belgium to massive clubs there. And also, I used to go on vacation in Mallorca. I would go to BCM, a mega club back then. There would be, like, five DJs performing and dancers, and they’d play “Pump Up the Jam” by Technotronic. That was really a special time for me.
Klum: And for me, this is extra special because Tiësto’s music has been in my household for eons. His beat, it’s just like no other. There’s a lot of EDM, but you can always hear when Tiësto has done it. And my kids go bananas over it. I’m like a huge star with my kids now. It’s so strange how all of a sudden this comes full circle like this.
Tiësto: That’s amazing that we can do this now together. I love that.
Tiësto, I wanted to ask you actually what you think about so many iconic songs coming back. Some people wonder, “Are we getting lazy in music?” What do you think of sampling old music?
Tiësto: I think it’s great because the new generation never heard those old songs. I was watching the Elvis movie a couple of months ago. And Elvis is a legend, but he passed away in 1977. A lot of people don’t know his music, but Doja Cat redid a version of one of his songs and that gave it a whole new life.
What kind of music are both of you listening to right now?
Tiësto: I don’t listen much to other music than my own. It consumes so much time to make tracks and then my ears have to rest. So a lot of times I’m just in complete silence at home and then in the morning I start mixing the tracks or relistening to tracks I did the day before. But my daughter, she’s crazy about Elvis. It’s so random. All the time she wants to play Elvis. I drive her to school every day and in the car, we have to play Elvis.
Klum: I love Kali Uchis. My kids adore Kali Uchis. And then when she was at Coachella, I got to see her for the first time live. She’s very, very good. I also have to say I got really into Mathame. I know you made a track with Mathame, Tijs. I love Sofi Tukker too.
Heidi, before I let you go, I wanted to ask you about Sports Illustrated. It might be shutting down soon. I know for you and for so many, that magazine has been so instrumental, and a big part of the culture. I wanted to hear what you thought of that.
Klum: It made me a household name in this country. Now we’re in a bubble on our phones, and you only know whoever you are following. Before, we were all reading the same magazines, and watching the same shows: 55 million people read Sports Illustrated at the time when I was on the cover. From that one magazine cover, all of a sudden people would recognize me. It really helped me in my career to get noticed, and for people to want to give me jobs. That’s how I got to continue to climb my ladder. It’s sad if they’re closing. It’s the end of an era. It was always, for models, to be like winning an Oscar or winning the lottery to get to be in the magazine.
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