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 albums release, Guetta gave us the low-down on his star-studded album, his gay background, and why we wont 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 weve 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 its going to take a song to do it, usually thats the best way. If its going to be like a more electronic thing, I do [that] too. But I dont really think, OK, Im going to do this, this is more for radio. I do it after. When I have like 15 songs, I listen to it, and Im 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 dont create the music thinking of what Im going to do with it.
Especially with this album, youve done something we dont usually hear in house music, where theres 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 youre 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 Ive ever heard. Ive 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 Im making today is still the same. Its both cold and electronic beats with some big voices. Its funny because Im 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 theres 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, Im learning from them.
Based on the more than two million records youve sold, Im 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 dont see myself as that, but, if you say so! Honestly, Im a DJ first. Even the two million records [I sold] were before my new album, and now its really going crazy. But for me, more than anything else, Im 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 its fantastic selling records -- its the best news. They play my songs all over the world on the radio -- its a blessing. And Im happy, but Im not trying to be something else than what I am and what I was before. Im just trying to push it to a higher level, but not doing something different. Im not going to go onstage now with some dancers and stuff. [Laughs] No, Im sorry.
Do you definitely prefer being a DJ to creating studio music?
I love both, but yes, Im a DJ first. I started to produce because I wanted to play tracks that I didnt 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 its 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 thats why I started to produce music. And then, because I was making beats on the top of other peoples 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 peoples hearts and souls -- that comes with the songs.
You produced the Black Eyed Peas mega-hit of the summer I Gotta Feeling. What made you decide to do the cameo in the video?
Well, they just asked me, and I had so much fun! [Im] very good friends now with Will. We actually -- our deal is kind of done. I produced the tracks for his album, he gave me the voice for my album but we still make music together. We dont even know why! [Laughs] We just do it. No, like right now, we cant be in the studio together, but we still send each other files. I will make a beat, and hell make a voice on top of it and send it to me. I would add something, work on it. But just for fun! Its just amazing that we still make music [as] friends. I think its really cool.
So from that massive list of collaborators on the album, did you have a favorite?
Well, of course, it was amazing to work with all those guys. And they all come from different backgrounds, so its interesting. I have to say that Chris Willis is still one of my favorite artists on the planet -- hes amazing. We have a genuine connection when were together -- its really magic. But of course, it was very impressive to work with all those guys. Like Kelly [Rowland], were very good friends. And shes an amazing singer. Ne-Yo was the most impressive songwriter Ive seen in my life. The story with Ne-Yo was that I played him When Love Takes Over in my studio in Paris. He came with Kelly. He wanted to hear something else because he was like, Wow! I loved it so much. Do you have another beat? I just had a beat Id started -- it was like an eight-minute version. He said, No, let it roll, let it roll. After the end, the song was written. He was like, Turn on the mic, Im ready.
All of them really. Akon? Amazing. Will.i.am? Amazing. All of the artists at this level, it was apparent they were having so much fun working with me. Dance music is so much more free than what they are used to doing. I think that the vibe in the studio every time was like a party, and they were really happy about it. You know, I was like, You want to do only a chorus? We dont need a verse. It doesnt matter. And theyre like, What? Thats crazy! And wed do it. So this freedom and happiness really translates in the album. We were happy making it, so Im sure that people are going to be happy listening to it.
So how come we never hear the man in the DJ booth sing?
Because Im a catastrophe. [Laughs.]
Im the worst singer on the planet. Its embarrassing. When Im in the studio, Im working with the best people on the planet, and [when] I have to ask them for some notes, and I have to sing -- its so embarrassing.
Do you have a favorite song on One Love?
Well, its very hard. I cannot choose. You know, theyve asked me to put 12 songs on the album. Thats what the record company needs. And I couldnt! Ive tried, Ive tried, Ive tried. I had to keep the 15 songs. Everywhere [else] in the world there are 15 songs, but in America, theres like a rule, I dont know why, its complicated, and I had to. It was horrible. It was like the worst moment for me. So, to give you one song, thats impossible!
Youve already noted that your first job was at a gay club. Have your gay fans been a big part of your career?
They made my career! The first 10 years when I was a DJ in my country, I was working in gay clubs. Actually, its really funny -- I bumped into Peter Rauhofer the other day at the airport. We were talking about it because I used to book him. And he was like, I want to take to take you on a circuit tour with me again. And I was like, I dont know if the gay crowd still knows me, its been such a long time. He was like, Youre crazy! That would be so much fun! And I thought that was a cool idea, so I might do it sometime. But you know, when I began with house music, in Paris, it was only possible to play house music in gay clubs. So thats what happened.
Finally, lets pretend for a minute that youre not happily married to a beautiful woman with children. Whos your dream man?
[Laughs] My dream man? Its hard to say! I guess it would be a singer. We could make some music, because I would not be very good for sex with a guy! At least we could be in the studio doing some stuff [Laughs].
David Guettas new album, One Love, is available now.