The Grammy countdown has begun, and five-time nominee David Guetta is gearing up for a flight from Paris to L.A. “I’m going to go eat, pack and take the plane,” he tells Idolator while in transit. “I made a few tracks, because every time I’m in Los Angeles I’m meeting artists. So I’ll have a little bit of a studio session and then the awards.”
Guetta’s global floorfiller “When Love Takes Over,” which features a booming Kelly Rowland on vocals, is up for Best Dance Recording and Best Remixed Recording, while his LP One Love snagged a nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album. But the sought-after French DJ has earned acclaim far beyond clubland and the Academy’s dance audience: he also received a Record Of The Year nod for producing the Black Eyed Peas’ inescapable radio hit “I Gotta Feeling,” and thus could also share in the wealth if the band wins a statue for Album Of The Year for The E.N.D.
Guetta, who recently whipped up material for Madonna’s upcoming album, explains that what he loves about working with such varied artists “is that our music can reach people that are not even from hip hop or electro” scenes. “It’s just music that touches your soul.”
And now he says he and the Black Eyed Peas have yet another “I Gotta Feeling”-sized smash waiting in the wings. Head below to read our full interview with David Guetta!
Hey, David. Congratulations on all the Grammy nominations.
DG: It’s crazy. I just won Best International Album here in Europe at the NRJ Awards. So if I could at least win one of those five [Grammy] nominations, I will be happy.
There are only four more days to go till the awards. How are you feeling?
DG: I’m very excited about the Grammys. It’s such a big honor for me, five nominations. First, you have to remember that I am French. To make it in America as an artist is a big deal for us. I’m really honored and I’m really excited.
How do you plan to celebrate if you win?
DG: I didn’t think of it yet, to be honest. But I will definitely celebrate, that’s for sure! But, you know, there are not many more things that make me happy than making music in the studio, and playing music. We already have a party lined up with will.i.am, so we’re going to celebrate before the awards, anyway. [Laughs] The Peas are going to be there, and Kelis and some other artists. I love to play in Los Angeles. But this time will be special, obviously.
In the past year you’ve pretty much segued from being a DJ to producing for other major artists. How does it feel to be bringing dance music to mainstream American radio?
DG: My first work as a producer was “I Gotta Feeling.” After that came the success of “Sexy Bitch” and “When Love Takes Over.” It’s not only me as a producer. It’s the fact that we came with a new sound in America, creating that bridge between the electro culture that comes from Europe and the urban culture that is more American—it’s such magic. Something totally different. I think America was always scared of dance music and always kept it very underground for such a long time. And now tracks like “I Gotta Feeling,” “Sexy Bitch”—and now Ke$ha, “TiK ToK—are doing really good on the radio. Of course, everybody loves to dance. But the idea is like, how can you make a record that can make people dance but also get played on the radio? What we’re doing with Will and with Akon—and what I’ve done with my album, One Love—it’s going to be the new hip hop. Dance music is the new hip hop.
Did you have a sense this time last year that dance music was about to cross over so big in the U.S., with artists like yourself and Lady Gaga?
DG: No. What’s funny is that I meant for my album and my work with the Black Eyed Peas to be like fun. I was already big in Europe. And all the artists that were working with me, they were like, “Come on, let’s have fun and try something different.” They thought it would just stay in Europe. With the Black Eyed Peas, it was a different story, because they wanted that sound. But the others, it was like, well, we’re not really risking anything because it’s not going to leave Europe. Let’s just have fun with David in the studio. It was more like a party mode, not a work mode. I think that’s why my album has been successful, because you don’t feel the “business” there. Akon and I did “Sexy Bitch” in one night. Will.i.am was different because he really had a vision. He loved a track I did before called “Love Is Gone.”
So did you seek out most of the artists on One Love, or did they come to you?
DG: What is really funny is that they came to me. I was really a nobody compared to them. First I had “Love Is Gone,” which was very successful on a club level. Whether it was a house music club or a hip hop club, everybody was playing that track. And all those artists, they go to clubs and they were like, “Who’s that?” Then, the first single off my album was “When Love Takes Over,” and that was Kelly Rowland. She was so happy with the song that she started to speak about it even before it was out. Same with Will. When I started to work with him, I was supposed to just produce “I Gotta Feeling” and “Rock That Body.” We had so much fun together, we made three tracks for my album. Then, even though his album and my album were finished, we kept on making music together because we were just having fun. So he just kind of spread the word. People started to call me, and I was like, of course I’ll produce tracks for you, but can you feature on my album in return? That’s how it happened.
When the Grammy nominations were announced in December, you mentioned a track you and will.i.am had just recorded that you were really excited about. Are we going to be hearing that one soon?
DG: Yeah. It’s called “Gettin’ Over.” It’s such a huge hit, it’s crazy. The song is on [One Love] already with Chris Willis singing it. We re-recorded it , still with Chris, and also with Fergie and Will. It’s so big! The record company was like, to Fergie and Will—”You’re crazy! You cannot put out such a big record, because it’ll be competition to ourselves.” So, we said we would wait until [The Black Eyed Peas] put out their last single. It’s going to be out for the Winter Music Conference in March. But it’s a monster.
Tell us about the first time you went into the studio with Kelly Rowland.
DG: It was magic. It was incredible. It was the first time I worked with an R&B singer. I feel like when it comes to to sound and energy, nobody can beat us, dance music producers. When it comes to singing and melodies, nobody can beat urban artists. They have soul. So it was the perfect combination. I’m now working on Kelly’s new album. I also have the new Madonna album coming up. So I’m very thankful to Kelly and Will and Akon—all those people who came to me when I was not big.
You also did the new song “Acapella” for Kelis. Are you working on other tracks for her upcoming album?
DG: There’s probably another one. I didn’t finish it. [Laughs] They’re waiting for me, actually! I feel bad. The thing is, I need to finish this one.
Dance music is always evolving. Do you feel constant pressure to update your sound?
DG: Of course! That’s what I do all the time. And that’s what I did as a DJ—to introduce some urban flavor to house music and electro. That was a very, very new direction. And it went well. My strength is not to be the best musician. My strength is to play every night, in different countries in front of thousands and thousands of people, and to always feel what’s next before it’s there. I’m more of a sound specialist. I know when somebody is trying a new reverb, you know. I’m very much a sound guy. That’s what I love. DJ-ing is about [creating] something physical to make people dance. And the thing is, I took those dance recipes, something hypnotic, and added some emotion. I made it more musical, like with chord changes and harmonies. So that’s, I think, what happened with me. In a way, I kept my [fans] happy, but at the same time it crossed over because I knew that it could speak outside [the dance music] community.
You’ve got your hands tied up with so many projects. Will there be another David Guetta album anytime soon?
DG: Yeah, actually, my next album is already in my head. I should wait! But it’s there, so I have to make it go out of my head. It’s probably going to be within the next year.
Well, you haven’t planned how you’ll celebrate, but tell us where you’ll put your Grammys if you win.
DG: I have a little place in my home where I put awards and platinum records. But Grammys will go in front of all of them! It would mean so much to me.
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