Hey Mister DJ
By Gregory Miller
Mega DJ and electronic maestro David Guetta has been making music for years -- the brand new One Love is his fourth full length album in the United States. Did we mention it features the likes of Will.i.am, Kid Cudi, Akon, and Estelle? Until this summer, French native Guetta was best known stateside for the infectious 2007 single, 'Love is Gone,' a video for which became a YouTube sensation. Earlier this year he ripped into the mainstream with the chart-topping single 'When Love Takes Over,' featuring Kelly Rowland. On the eve of the new album's release, Guetta gave us the low-down on his star-studded album, his gay background, and why we won't be hearing him sing anytime soon.
The single 'When Love Takes Over,' [see video to the right] and most of the new album really, is a lot more mainstream and radio-friendly than we've heard from you recently. Was that a conscious decision or was it more serendipitous?
Well, honestly, I never think of music that way. I make music that I love. Sometimes I make tracks. Sometimes I make songs. I just make music that I want to play and listen to -- that I think makes you dance and makes you emotional. If it's going to take a song to do it, usually that's the best way. If it's going to be like a more electronic thing, I do [that] too. But I don't really think, OK, I'm going to do this, this is more for radio. I do it after. When I have like 15 songs, I listen to it, and I'm like this one is the readiest for the radio. Because obviously, when you make an album you need a radio hit. And then I choose the track that I have that makes the most sense to be a single. I don't create the music thinking of what I'm going to do with it.
Especially with this album, you've done something we don't usually hear in house music, where there's essentially two powerful entities: you have the power of the beat on your part, and then you also tend to employ powerful voices like Kelly Rowland and Chris Willis. Is that something you're striving for?
Yes, I always love that. Chris Willis might not be as famous as the Black Eyed Peas, but he is one of the best singers I've ever heard. I've always loved voices. And I come from a house music background -- even a funk and disco background -- so it was really important to me all the time. What is funny is that, my first job when I was 17 was in a gay club. My roots were funk and they would just ask me to play new wave. At the time -- it was the '80s -- new wave was the big thing on the gay scene. The music I'm making today is still the same. It's both cold and electronic beats with some big voices. It's funny because I'm producing the music that I was playing when I was 17.
How did you end up working with all these big names -- Kelly Rowland, the Black Eyed Peas, Kid Cudi, Akon, Estelle?
I always loved the voices, and I had the opportunity to work with all those people because there's a big hype around me in America right now. A lot of big American, urban artists are into electronic sound -- and they wanted me to produce tracks for them. So I asked them in return to be featured on my album. And of course, for me, working with people in Los Angeles was a huge opportunity and an honor and also something really exciting for me as an artist because working with people like the Black Eyed Peas, I'm learning from them.
Based on the more than two million records you've sold, I'm sure they learned a thing or two from you, as well. Was there a point where you realized you were an international superstar?
I still don't see myself as that, but, if you say so! Honestly, I'm a DJ first. Even the two million records [I sold] were before my new album, and now it's really going crazy. But for me, more than anything else, I'm a DJ. My culture and the way I see things is still through that spectrum of being a DJ and partying in the crowds and making people dance. So it's fantastic selling records -- it's the best news. They play my songs all over the world on the radio -- it's a blessing. And I'm happy, but I'm not trying to be something else than what I am and what I was before. I'm just trying to push it to a higher level, but not doing something different. I'm not going to go onstage now with some dancers and stuff. [Laughs] No, I'm sorry.
Do you definitely prefer being a DJ to creating studio music?
I love both, but yes, I'm a DJ first. I started to produce because I wanted to play tracks that I didn't have. And I guess I was very right. You know, before, 10 years ago, a hot DJ would be the guy who had all the records before the others. But now with the Internet, kids that are staying in their bedrooms -- they have the tracks at the same moment as the superstar DJs, almost. Now it's all about making your own track so people are coming to see what you have -- your own edits, your own remixes, and stuff like that. So that's why I started to produce music. And then, because I was making beats on the top of other people's music and I got confident. I tried to understand and learn from other people. And of course, the more you do it, the more you appreciate it, and the more I was into melodies and harmonies and stuff. Because in the beginning I was, like every DJ, more into the beat and the baseline -- something physical to make people dance, like a body reaction. And now, yes, I want that body reaction, but I also want to touch people's hearts and souls -- that comes with the songs.