David Guetta On Music, Maintaining Relationships, & Mastering His Art In The Bud Light Lime Lounge
The man. The legend. The world-renowned French house music DJ and producer. No matter which genre of music you are listening to, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]David Guetta[/lastfm] needs no introduction. Seamlessly bridging the gap between club-banger heavy-hitter, award-winning super-producer, and rock-star level performer.
Guetta has worked with contemporary pop icons and AMP Radio favorites like [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Rihanna[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Akon[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Lil’ Wayne[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Madonn[/lastfm]a, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Kid Cudi[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Fergie[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]will.i.am[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]LMFAO[/lastfm], and[lastfm link_type="artist_info"] Flo Rida[/lastfm].
With credentials like those, one would expect David Guetta to be a frightening display of well-deserved but unlimited ego. But just like Guetta does not bow down to boundaries and expectations with the music he creates, neither does the personality of the man. Making him the prefect specimen for this week’s Last.fm Discover Artist.
[pullquote quote="It's just different people and we're sharing the same passion. So it doesn't matter if this guy is selling one thousand records and I am selling ten million records. For me, it doesn't make me bigger." credit="David Guetta"]
Booker said it best: I did the math…I think you are responsible for about 30 percent of our playlist right now. We’ve hired security just to make sure you are ok. At all times of the day.
The antithesis of every imaginable cliché, Guetta is the epitome of unapologetic French charm: chic dressed in all black, with a wide, earnest smile, and eyes that light up the room. He is a man with power over tens of thousands of people a night, but with the endearing energy of an enthusiastic schoolboy in love.
We can always tell the true nature of a man by how he responds to the “periphery” people in the room: the camera man, the intern, the lone journalist watching the interview in action. Many times an artist will just skim over the people in their surroundings and introduce themselves to only those whom they deem important.
Not David Guetta.
He bounded into the room with a kind of childlike excitement and firmly shook everyone’s hand, introducing himself, ingratiating himself. When an artist does something like that, it immediately makes everyone in the room feel comfortable and like they are a part of something bigger, grander, more exciting than the normal mediocrity of their lives.
This is just one of many ways Guetta is truly a star. Guetta appreciates the contributions of everyone around him:
[pullquote quote="I just really, really love music. Period." credit="David Guetta"]
To be honest, if our scene is so growing and big, it’s because, yes, there are people like me that have a really big name and crossing over, but there is also all those underground kids that are fueling me.
It’s very important for me to still go out and enjoy the music as a fan, so for me there’s no one that is bigger than the other one.
It’s just different people and we’re sharing the same passion. So it doesn’t matter if this guy is selling one thousand records and I am selling ten million records. For me, it doesn’t make me bigger.
It makes me more successful but it doesn’t mean that what he’s doing is not interesting. So I can learn from someone who is selling one thousand records, if he’s talented.
[photogallerylink id=75136 align=left]
Such humility in such a major musical powerhouse as Guetta is not only inspiring, it’s provocative. One could theorize that Guetta is the huge star that he is because of his open-minded, generous nature and his appreciation of all types of people, music genres, and social strata:
I’m a fan of music…If I am out of the dance world, I’d be more into urban music, but I love to get inspiration, especially when it comes to chords from rock bands. So I would take chords from Kings of Leon and then produce it in a dance way and have an urban singer to perform on it.
[pullquote quote="It's really crazy that you would go to the market and see an old lady that is selling, I don't know, vegetables or whatever...you ask them, 'Who's David Guetta?' and she will know." credit="David Guetta"]
I just love music, and it’s funny, because when I started to make beats, I would only make beats that were missing in my DJ sets…And then I started to appreciate more and more, melodies and chord progressions and then when you go there, you start to be a little more open-minded because you go ‘Ok, it’s not so easy.’
And you start to listen to other people’s music and be like ‘Wow, this is actually really, really good’ and you know, I started to listen to lots of different style of music to get inspiration and that’s how I became a little more open…now, you know, I just really, really love music. Period.
Guetta’s love of music takes him all over the world, but most notably to places like Ibiza and Miami for WMC. Ibiza has become an important part of Guetta’s life is both a producer and as a music lover. Guetta explains:
Oh yeah, there’s two places that I really love for this, it’s Ibiza during the summer because it’s like the mecca of dance music. For those who don’t know, it’s an island in Spain. Everybody comes from everywhere in the world, because they like DJS.
And it’s like, underground culture is mainstream culture there. It’s really crazy that you would go to the market and see an old lady that is selling, I don’t know, vegetables or whatever…you ask them, ‘Who’s David Guetta?’ and she will know.
It’s really, really crazy. And this place, every night you have the best DJ’s on the planet performing. I have my house there. This is where I live in the summer. So, I have a night every week but I also go out and dance and listen to DJ’s.
I do this in Ibiza and I also do this during WMC in Miami because it’s like one full week of partying every night and I love to go listen to other DJ’s.
Part of David Guetta’s allure is that he is not just a DJ or just a producer; Guetta possesses both skill so he understands exactly what audiences want from the final product–a little bit of perfection and a whole lot of conscientious soul:
[pullquote quote="It's more like an evolution, not of my sound, but of radio's sound." credit="David Guetta"]
I’m very, very lucky because the difference with any other regular producer is most of the guys they make music, and sometimes even artists, they just make a full album and they just pray that people are going to love it too.
Whereas the way I do it, first–before I even cut a song–I would make an instrumental and play it until the reaction that I am getting from my crowd is crazy. So you will very often see me live when I do a performance with a pen and a paper.
What is really good about being a DJ, if you compare this to a rock band or a pop band because of the size of the venues that I do, you know?
LA was a little smaller but most of the time I do like 10 to 15 thousand capacity places and of course I play also clubs, but very often it’s a big space but the difference you have between a DJ and a band is a band has to rehearse and everybody has to be synced and the guy that makes the light…you know, everybody has a guideline. So, they cannot really change.
Whereas, being a DJ I can adapt because I’m the only one, so it’s not going to put anybody in trouble if I change my music. So, I would adapt my music to the people I have in front of me. And that’s what makes the DJ show really special.
What I do is I will make a track in the studio or in my hotel room because I work with my laptop a lot. And then I will play on the night, and I’m like, ‘Ok, you know, the kick is too loud or I don’t hear those harmonies.
So–write it down because to hear it on the system in the club…it’s not the same as with my headphones on the road, you know? And you see the reaction of the people…I go back at the hotel or at the studio and kind of redo it better, you know?
Until it’s perfect. And then I am trying to write a song on it…so the difference is, before I put the record out, it’s not like I played it to an A&R in a record company. I played it to thousands and thousands of people. So I know already that the record is big.
While Guetta might not be creating music for “record labels” or A&R, those record labels are definitely listening. David Guetta is breaking mainstream musical boundaries in a way no other underground club DJ has before; he is churning out commercially viable radio tracks. Guetta does not think this is of his own merit, but due to an evolution in the state of the music business:
It’s more like an evolution, not of my sound, but of radio’s sound. I think I am really happy about it, you know? Dance music has been very underrated for many, many years and the fact that a lot of big hip-hop or pop artists came to me and asked me for production for them or, you know, sometimes I would ask them to feature my record. It kind of opened a bridge between those music–you know–the American urban world and European electronic culture.
And it just happened that radio is now shifting into my world a little bit more and I’m very happy about it because I want to share my passion of this music with everyone. So, it’s good news but for me, it’s not really a change in the way I see music. It’s more–kind of–a change in the market really.
Radio is more coming to what I am doing. And it’s funny because the way I make my tracks it’s still as a DJ/Producer because the format that I make first is the DJ format. So, it’s like an 8 minute version. Like, normal pop producer, they format it so it’s radio and then they do an extended version so that the DJ can play it.
For me it’s the opposite. I first do the version for the DJ’s and then I edit it, cut it shorter so that the radio can play it. So in my mind, I still see my music as a DJ.
Working with major artists like Will.I.Am and Rihanna has definitely been a boon to his career and created avenues for other club DJs to become commercially successful. It helps that Guetta is so easy to work with, as evidenced by the way he explains his creative process:
“When I have a relationship with someone that is an artist but also a producer, like Will.I.Am, for example, we can work on the phone or on the internet because we’ve been together in the studio but we’re so used to each other that it goes really fast. Because we speak the same language and you know…I can send him files and he will send me files in return. We can work through the internet and speak on the phone. But if it was going to be a new artist, it would be better,yes, to be in the studio.
I came to [Rihanna's] concert and we wanted to meet for a long time and I played her that song [Who's That Girl]. She liked it. She was on tour so I couldn’t be with her in the studio, so she cut that song and then I reworked her vocals, you know…It was funny, because she was like, ‘Yeah, I like it. I like it’ and then she made a concert and then I saw her again and she was like ‘Damn, that song is still in my head!’ So this is kind of a message, you know, if after the concert the song was still stuck in her head?
One listener wrote a question for David Guetta on AMP‘s Facebook. The listener asked Guetta which artist he wanted to work with that he hadn’t yet. Guetta’s eyes became wide as he divulged a huge secret:
There’s a really crazy idea going on. I wouldn’t speak about it, but he said it in an interview, so you know… I met with [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bono[/lastfm]. And hopefully we’re going to try to make music for [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]U2[/lastfm] together. So that’s very interesting…I met him at his concert, I was really shy. He came and gave me a hug, ‘Hey David! You don’t know, but we’re going to work together! I’m like, ‘Ok!’ You know that I’m not going to say no, obviously…it’s very challenging because for me it’s totally different, you know, but…I’m going to give it a try.
With Guetta’s track record, we are sure he is going to do more than “try.” Get ready for Guetta’s patented form of world domination; it includes hot dance remixes, long nights of partying (minus the debauchery), and constant grinning. And it sounds awesome.