Fedde Le Grand opens up about the DJ Mag Top 100, his new tracks, and what it means to be a DJ’s DJ
Those with an ear to the ground for house music know of Fedde Le Grand’s accomplishments. In recent times he’s whipped up “Metrum” and “So Much Love”, and by the looks of things, he’s only just warming up. He was one of our top picks at Nocturnal Wonderland and he delivered quite a set, and we’re even going to see him again this weekend at Sensation Barcelona. Check out our chat with the legendary DJ and producer after the break.
DA: From “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit” to your remix of “Missing,” how has your style changed and evolved throughout the years?
Fedde le Grand: I think my style has matured somewhat and I’ve also managed to diversify my sound so that it’s not just one style of music that people can expect from me. I do record as Fedde le Grand which is slightly more commercial and as FLG which is the more underground, stripped-back sound so that’s something of an indicator of what you’re going to get.
For me the main thing is just to feel comfortable making the music that I’m feeling and as I’ve grown and learned as a producer, I think that I have much more confidence in my abilities. But you never stop learning or evolving with what you do, especially with something as creative as music and I hope that in another five, ten years time I’ll still be regarded as someone who is growing in my craft.
DA: The DJ Mag Top 100 voting ended recently. How relevant (if it still is) are the rankings in the business? Do they hold any weight as far as booking gigs go?
FLG: It’s funny, as much as people hate to admit it, the Top 100 is still very relevant, especially in places like Asia where a lot of promoters look at the list almost as a ‘value indicator’ for DJs and their worth. Maybe not the best way of doing it, but that’s a reality of what is essentially an industry. But I think the far more important thing about the Top 100 is that it’s still a poll that’s voted for by people on the ground. It is — and it always has been — a popularity contest, and I don’t think you can really argue with that in its essence.
Although there are more and more new charts and polls coming out all the time — there’s a new one called the Muso List and that charts DJs and producers on their online activity, which is pretty interesting, for me anyway. They look at the amount of people who have played your songs, downloaded tracks, commented on your activity, that kind of thing. It’s pretty clear when someone has a track out that’s doing well because you shoot straight towards the top ;)
DA: Dancing Astronaut has seen the Phoenix/Scottsdale area emerge in the last 6 months or so, you have booked a gig at Smashboxxx during your North American Tour. Why the sudden influx in the state of Arizona?
FLG: Scottsdale has always been a pretty good hotbed for dance music, and of course you also have the University in Phoenix which is similar to a lot of US cities that tend to have a good clubbing scene. I think the whole of the States at the moment is seeing a huge rise in the amount of clubnights and festivals, it’s definitely beginning to be on a par with Europe. I’ve noticed the rise myself in the last couple of years that I’ve been coming to the States. For me it’s only a good thing, I absolutely love coming to play in America and the more places that start up good nights, like Smashboxx, for me the better.
DA: Do you feel that playing at a festival (such as Nocturnal or EDC) makes you tune your set towards a more commercial audience than compared to a more intimate setting (ex. a club)?
FLG: I think every DJ tunes him or herself differently towards a festival set than a club set, it’s just a different kind of arena or space that you have to fill with music. I tend to drop more ‘big’ tunes at festivals. You have to keep the energy up the whole time, you’re dealing with thousands and thousands of people, and you’ve got to keep their interest going — you’ve got to engage them for the hour or maybe two hours that you have on stage. And of course at a festival you’re not the only headline DJ playing at that time — in a club it’s usually you that people have come to see so you can be maybe a bit more experimental in the mix.
DA: “So Much Love” has been sitting atop the Beatport rankings for quite some time now. Does re-editing such a well known track put extra pressure on you to deliver a massive result?
FLG: I try not to let the pressure get to me but of course everyone is always going to compare it to the Together version. The original track is actually an old funk tune that I had on a really old cassette compilation when I was about 13, and it’s always been one of my favourite songs. So I think even if I hadn’t heard the Together version, I would have remade it at some point for my own sets. But the Together version has always been such a huge, classic house track and yes it was maybe a little daunting releasing my own version. But at the end if the day as a producer you have to believe in yourself and what you’re putting out there, and if I didn’t think my track was good enough to put out there, then I wouldn’t have played it in my own sets. But I did, everyone’s gone mental for it and yes it’s been at the top of the Beatport charts so I’m definitely glad I released it.
DA: Your style ranges from electro to progressive to tech, and even a little minimal. If you were to play only one genre in your live sets what would it be?
FLG: I don’t think I could! I’d hate to restrict myself to one genre, it would be like trying to DJ in a straight jacket! I love mixing it up, droppings bits and pieces that you might not think work but they actually do, pulling in rock samples into the mix, that kind of thing. If I was absolutely pushed, I’d probably only mix house but it would probably kill me to stay just playing house, I think I’d definitely try to sneak some different kinds of music in while no-one was looking ;)
DA: Do you tease tracks during your live shows to gauge the crowd reaction about new tunes?
FLG: Yeah definitely, it’s a really important part of the production process for me. You can make a track in the studio and think, “wow that sounds amazing,” but then when you drop it live, the parts that you thought would work, maybe they don’t so much in the mix. So you listen, you watch the reaction of the crowd, you learn and then you go back in the studio and work on it some more. I’m an absolute perfectionist so I can’t release anything until I’m 110% happy with it otherwise it would just totally bug me and I’d have to recall all the downloads. Some tracks I use them in my live shows for so long because they originally start off as private edits that are just for me to use, then people start asking where they can get it from, if I’m going to release it, that kind of thing. That was like So Much Love – I’ve been playing it out for a year, way before we thought about releasing it. Sometimes it’s just like, you know, I want it for myself first! ;)
FLG: You have been considered a DJ’s DJ, meaning people actually appreciate your DJing skills. With all the great equipment out these days, how much of DJing is actually mixing and how much of it is actually song selection?
DA: I think if you’ve got it somewhere around 50/50 then you’re in a good place. You can be the most technically amazing DJ, never miss a beat or drop a mix, but if you don’t have decent tunes, if you don’t understand your tracks and what goes with what, what mixes well together and what doesn’t, most importantly if you don’t understand the dance floor and how it works and what it needs, then you can mix as perfectly as you like but there’ll be no-one on the dance floor. I think even if you’re no good at DJing but if you have a wicked track selection, that’s definitely the better half of the two.
DA: What can we expect from you leading into 2012? Are there any new artists you are taking under your wing?
FLG: At the moment I’m really happy just seeing Deniz Koyu doing so well, he’s been with me in the studio a few times this year and with “Tung!” he’s really starting to get some recognition. As for me, I’m still massively busy touring for the rest of the year, so once the New Year is over I might collapse first! But I’m starting to build my ideas for a second album so that will be one of the things I’ll look into during 2012. For me I have to have a solid period of time in the studio to work on an album, it has to be absolutely perfect and I need to get my head completely into the whole body of work and how I want it to flow and what I want it to say. I feel in a really great place at the moment, I feel like I’ve finally got my total groove on with the whole balance between production and DJing and I think that 2012 will see me take it up a notch even further. You’ll just have to wait and see!