Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Fedde Le Grand

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Fedde Le GrandDance music is an absolute passion of mine. I am not a DJ myself, but listen to the stuff from the moment I wake up until the second I fall asleep. I listen to it online and on my iPhone and am always trying to find the next hit DJ. Over the last few months, while preparing for Electric Zoo, I have been uncovering some new music for my ears. One of the hottest songs out right now, Put Your Hands Up For Detroit, was actually first done by the DJ that I have with me here today. Appearing at Electric Zoo, along with a handful of the world’s best, he will be spinning this track and others. Like The Creeps. I am sure you have heard that track. Or at least one of the many remixes. I was excited when I first got introduced to his music and even more so when scheduling this interview. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Fedde Le Grand.

With a name like that, I bet you are not from the United States. Where are you originally from?

I’m from the Netherlands, and also Le Grand is my actual name as well – a lot of people think I made it up as a stage name but no, that is the name I was born with.

How long have you been performing?

Over ten years. I actually started DJing in school, then at parties around Amsterdam, warming up for some of the bigger guys. I got a weekly residency in two clubs  in the south of Holland which really established my name at home, then one thing led to another and I started to play at international parties, and here I am now.

When did you know you wanted to make a run at music full time?

Pretty early on. I had a lot of ideas with production, and when you put that together with DJing, it’s a full time job that you’re looking for. It takes a lot of hard work and you never know at the beginning if you’re going to make it, but I was lucky to work with some great people in the early years that helped me get on the right track.

You are currently on Ultra Records. How has that experience been?

It’s been fantastic. Ultra Records is filled with a great team who really know the American market, they have years of experience and they know who to hit up for whatever you want. They’re one of the biggest independent dance labels in America for a reason, I was really happy to sign my album over to them.

Describe your genre in one word.

Impossible (Meaning you can’t put my genre in a one word box!)

So there are so many versions of your song Put Your Hands Up for Detroit out there. Which one is your favorite?

The original I’m still proud of, of course, but I hardly use that one in my sets. I usually mix it with something else like Veerus’s “Mouse Ate My Proteins”.

Why did you pick Detroit?

The Detroit techno scene had a massive influence on me as a DJ and as a producer. Guys like Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Carl Craig – these were all pioneers of the electronic sound coming out of Detroit and I wanted to do something that paid homage to that era.

Have you ever performed that song in Detroit?

Of course, although again not the original.

Do you have any routines before you perform a show?

Not really. I just like to chill out before a gig, get there normally half an hour before I’m due to go on and soak up the atmosphere, get a grip on where the crowd are at and where the DJ before me has been taking them. Then I just get in the DJ booth and do my thing.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

It wasn’t so much embarrassing as insane. I was playing at the Roskilde Festival in 2008, I went on to the stage to start my set and all of a sudden people just came flooding into the tent. When I say flooding, I mean that – all the side of the tent just had hundreds of people from nowhere racing in. It got so full that the people at the front were getting squashed so we had to stop the music, put the lights on and security had to remove everyone from the arena. It was pretty scary at the time, but as soon as they’d sorted it out we turned everything back on and smashed it.

Who is your favorite DJ?

There’s more then one. Carl Cox is definitely one of my favorites, but so are the likes of Kevin Saunderson and Sneak. And from a professional point of view, who can not respect what Tiesto has achieved.

Where do you get inspiration for a new track?

From everywhere really. Sometimes it’ll be through working in the studio with someone and the track just grows organically between us. Sometimes I’ll have a beat in my head just going round and round that I have to put down in the studio, then other times someone will pass me over a melody and I’ll come up with a beat for it and develop it from there. Plus you hear so much good music these days, there are a lot of new sounds coming out that give you ideas of how you can use them yourself, how you can manipulate them or where you could take them in a tune.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

I’m influenced by a lot, and a lot still influences me. From the old school: James Brown, George Clinton & Booty Collins and of course Michael Jackson.

What was it like working with Madonna?

Exciting. I didn’t actually meet her unfortunately, that’s not really how it works. Basically she used Put Your Hands Up for the promo concert for Sticky & Sweet and everyone went nuts for it so I guess that grew her interest in me. Then her people got in touch with my label and asked if I’d like to do a remix of Give It 2 Me. Of course, I said yes! They sent over the parts for the track, I did a remix and then we sent that back over, they let us know what they thought etc, some tweaks here and there and then they would have played it to her along with whoever else was remixing it as well as me. It’s great to be able to say Madonna hand-picked you to do something with her musically.

You have recorded so many tracks. Do you ever forget your own beats?

(Laughs) No I don’t, I’m pretty good at remembering tracks I made, they’re all stored in my head.

What is the biggest crowd you have ever performed for?

It would have been the Love Parade in Germany. 2008 they had 1.6 million people in attendance, you’re on a huge float in front of all of them and when you drop your first beat, to have people just going nuts, it’s pretty hard to describe if you haven’t been there. I’m back again this year, doing a float with Beatport, headlining at the main party, then the big official afterparty which is the 1Live Radio. It should be awesome.

The smallest?

On one of my own birthday parties, at home with about 15 friends.

What are you drinking while on stage?

I always drink Barcadi and Coke.

Can I follow you on Twitter?

Yes you can, I’m @DJFeddeleGrand.

You are all over these social media sites. Do you favor one over another or do you put the same attention to them all?

No, I pretty much make it as equal as possible. Probably the one that I pay most attention to is my own online community on my website, which I just won an award for. We’ve given as much control as we possibly can to fans with lots of features that they can use themselves – things like the ability to upload your own tunes on there for people to listen to, charts of fan’s music, my own chart of the tracks on the website. You can have your own profile on there, we’ve got forums for people to talk about music, when you upload new tracks you get an official holding page for them which also lets you host the music across other social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, meaning more people get to hear your tunes.

Tell me about your relationship with Get In!

I’ve been working with Get In! for the past two years, they handle all my international publicity, my tour diary, my music releases, things like that. If you want to get in touch with me for any press, they’re the guys you speak to.

If you could live anywhere else in the world where would you go?

Depends on what I would be doing. I might live somewhere near LA for a while just to be in the middle of the industry there. For more relaxing times I really liked Australia.

How do you know

He came to me and asked me to remix one of his tracks called The Donk Song. I said I would as long as he’d do a track with me on my Output album. He said yes and we went from there. He’s a really interesting guy, completely obsessed with music and what you can do with different technology, very clever. He flew out to Ibiza in 2008 when I was playing at Pacha Ibiza and did a live PA, he ended up standing on the DJ booth singing to the crowd!

Please tell me you carry an iPhone.

Of course! I also have an iPhone app called iFedde which is available to download and gives you complete mobile access to the Fedde online community wherever you are in the world. You can listen to new music, download and buy tracks that you like, chat to other members – it’s basically exactly the same as the website but just fits in your pocket.

Who does all of your graphic design work?

V2A, an award winning German design agency. If you like their work I can get you in touch with them.

If you were not a DJ what would you be doing?

I’d probably be a full time producer. I can’t think about not being involved with music – that thought hurts my head!

How are you associated with Flamingo Recordings?

I’ve been part of the Flamingo team for some years now. Basically the label was set up because the music we (myself, Funkerman and Raf) were producing at the time just wasn’t seen by other labels as fitting into the sales formula. They wouldn’t take a chance but we believed in what we were doing so Flamingo Recordings was created for us to put our music out there ourselves. Ardie (Funkerman) had already been working in a record store so he knew the ins and outs of the whole business, which really helped out.

I need some new headphones. What would you recommend?

I personally use Technics DJ1200’s, they are perfect for me

Are you looking forward to Electric Zoo this fall?

Definitely. It’s one of the great US parties, fantastic atmosphere and it’s always nice to play in New York.

What does a normal Friday night look like for you?

Normally I’ll fly into whatever city I’m playing at, drop my bags at the hotel and if I’ve got enough time, have a sleep. Then grab some dinner, take a ride to the club and get inside the DJ booth. Then after I’ve played, sometimes I’ll hang out with the guys at the bar but it depends on where I’m going the next day and how soon we have to fly, so sometimes I have to go straight back to the hotel and grab as much sleep as I can. It can be very hectic sometimes but I do love it.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’d like to be in the studio more, not just producing for myself but working with other artists, producing their albums too.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

Making great music, sticking to my musical guns, giving people nights out they’ll never forget and really contributing something definitive to the electronica world.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.