Hot on the heals of the awesome Ferry Corsten guest reviews and interview comes a man who needs no introduction.
We'd very much like to thank Fedde for such a candid interview. There's so much great advice and straight talking in this piece, so read carefully and take on board. Just remember to thank Fedde when you're all famous too!
Where are you right now and what have you been up to over the last 7 days?
I’m on my way to Croatia right now and yesterday I did my Takeover residency at Space, Ibiza. Over the weekend I will have played at the Streetparade in Zurich, after that I flew to The Netherlands to do Loveland and I ended the night at Sensation White in London. I also played at Global Gathering in the UK which was awesome, Air Festival in Sweden and at Peter Pan in Italy. It’s the summer season so I’m really busy touring right now.
What advise do you give to young DJs and producers wanting to become a success?
Work! There’s no easy way to get to the top, you have to be prepared to put a huge amount of time and dedication in if you want to make it. There are plenty of talented people out there but unless you’re willing to give it your all and really push yourself, then I’d say keep it real and just do it for fun and for the love of it. And also if you are prepared to work at it, don’t get disillusioned if you get knock-backs at first – be realistic, it doesn’t happen over night so just keep on pushing.
How many years did you spend in the studio before getting your music signed?
Not that long. I started producing in 2002 and in 2004 I teamed up with Funkerman and the label Flamingo Recordings. I wasn’t really looking for a label in the beginning. I’m a perfectionist and I didn’t think my productions were label worthy back then.
You started your own label Flamingo with friends before hitting it big with ‘Detroit’. The label bio states that Flamingo was set up so you didn’t have to take any nonsense from A&R guys at other labels. Did you experience a lot of this and how did having Flamingo Records help you create your own sound?
It wasn’t so much about taking ‘nonsense’ from A&R guys but the problem that we found was that there was a staple sound at that time that almost ensured you had a hit record. So the A&R guys from labels, I guess almost understandably, only wanted to sign the records that they knew would be a success and would bring in the money. But that meant that if you wanted to do something different, you didn’t stand a chance of getting your music signed. So it was either conform to what they wanted and not make the music that you loved, or go it alone.
Flamingo was founded on the principle that you should be true to what you believe in musically and that still stands today. People thought it wouldn’t work, not sticking to those formulas, but you have to do what you think is right for you and if you believe in your music enough, you’ll stick with it.
All young DJs and producers aspire to have a DJ agent and manager. Is there a right time to do this? Any advise?
DJ agents and managers just make it easy for you and of course you also get access to all their contacts and their knowledge. I think if you’re getting to the stage where you’re starting to travel a lot, or your music is beginning to sell in serious figures, then it’s time to get yourself an agent and/or manager.
There are lots of things in the music industry that you have to be incredibly knowledgeable about otherwise you could get shafted – contracts, licensing, even simple things like will the club pay for your travel and accommodation. If you’ve got good people working for you who know their stuff, they’ll be able to make sure you get the best deals possible and work with you towards future goals. It’s in their interest that you’re a success.
With such a crazy schedule it must be very tiring on tour. What is your best way to recover from a long night in the club?
My bed! It’s pretty much as simple as that. I’ve learnt over the years to catch sleep whenever I can though, it could be on the plane or in the back of a car – wherever I can grab it, if I’m tired then I’ll sleep otherwise I’m no use to anyone.
Is it hard to remain productive in the studio while always on tour? We hear that it’s hard to be creative when you’re tired and jet-lagged. How do you find the right balance and any advice for future globe-trotting DJ-producers who might be reading this?
It can be hard, which is why most of the time I don’t do any lengthy periods of studio work when I’m on a heavy tour like the Summer Takeover Tour. I do have a studio on my laptop which I take with me on the road, because you never know when you’re going to think of a beat or melody that you want to get down, or maybe do some work on a track you’ve got going on at the moment. But sometimes when you’re traveling, you’re playing these huge shows, you’re putting everything into each set and you’re also going across loads of different time zones, your brain sometimes just needs a break from everything so it’s best to not try and hit your head against a brick wall for the sake of it.
What I do do, is set aside time every so often when I’ll be in the studio for at least a week solid, sometimes even three or four weeks, so that I can get my head into the productions I’ve been playing around with. My new studio is an amazing space and I find it really easy to sink into the music once I’m in there.
Dance music is probably more popular around the world than it’s ever been, are their any places you’ve been to that could be the next hot spot?
If you haven’t been already then you need to check out Pag in Croatia. It’s definitely my alternative to Ibiza, some of the best DJs in the world play over there, it’s a stunning place to holiday in with gorgeous people, it’s nowhere near as expensive as Ibiza and it’s still not massively well known so it’s more of the ‘in the know’ crowd which makes it really appealing.
Any new sounds or styles that are really making you excited in 2011 outside of your core ‘speciality’?
Skrillex is the guy that’s been exciting me most in the last 12 months. I think he’s a truly talented producer and I think that next year will see him blow up big time.
Do you play a prepared set or is it best to try and go with the flow? How can a new DJ practise best to prepare their shows?
I’ve always got an idea of how I want the set to go when I start off, and I’ll have picked out tracks that I want to play, but half the art to DJing is being able to read a crowd and go off with them in a direction that fits you both.
There’s no point standing there mixing tracks in a set direction if the people on the dance floor aren’t feeling it – as much as you’re there to lead them, you’re also there to be part of the whole overall experience and if a crowd starts reacting to a certain kind of beat, you’ve got to have the music in your box to pick up on that and then take it off at an angle.
As long as you’ve got the music to back you up and the flexibility to go off in different styles, you’ll always smash it.
CD mixing or laptop? What’s your ideal set up in the DJ booth? If you like the laptop, what software do you run?
CD mixing for now. I wouldn’t say that I’d never use laptop technology but for me right now there’s not been a programme invented that I particular get a feel for when I’m mixing. When I’m in the booth it’s all about the Pioneer CDJs and mixers, they’re pretty much standard everywhere to be honest but I’ve used them so much I don’t really have to think about where everything is, I know them inside out so I can concentrate on the tracks that I’m spinning and the dance floor below.
Fedde Le Grand - The biggest tracks in my sets this year
This has been BURNING up in my sets right now, it’s a pumping, hands in the air track but again, really simple riff, not too many layers in there, awesome drop into the break, massive basslines – drop this right in the middle of the set and it absolutely goes off. Really big tune, it kind of reminds me of the big Brazilian festivals and all the big percussion bands they have there, a fiesta feel.
Awesome remix of Metrum by Manuel, he’s added in this whole other layer of synth sounds and popping licks that fly underneath the original cut, it’s got more of a rangy feel to it than the original, it feels pretty expansive but still just as tight and he still keeps the riff in the centre of everything.
Such a beautiful track, really well crafted and produced, it turns from one direction to another but still keeps the same melodic hook and pattern running throughout whatever filters or feel it goes to. Really intricate production from Inpetto, I'm a total fan.
This is the BOMB! Massive track from Jay, throwing it all around the place with the percussive stabs, filters, syncopated rhythms, it’s like all these really small, really fine layers of popping production all gradually coming together to add up, the drop is bang on. Love it.
Fedde Le Grand - Tracks from outside the box
It’s funky and has a bit of the same feel as AIR with the bleepy electronica sounds, kind of French synth sound but very light on your ears. It makes me relaxed and I always think of summer when I hear this track.
It just gives me an energy boost. I don’t know what it is, it just makes me happy. It’s the kind of song you can listen to driving in the car and you suddenly find yourself tapping all your fingers on the wheel to, singing along.
Just like the lyrics in the song it has a little bit of everything; hip hop, soul, punk, crunck, disco, drum and bass, house, electro. It’s almost overproduced but still in balance. I just love their work.
Fedde Le Grand - Classics that have inspired me
It reminds me of the time when there were still those underground house parties in those dark warehouses. The time where after parties lasted till 4 pm, you just kept on going and they were dropping tune after tune after tune. It was such an amazing time for house music and Energy Flash was up there then and it’s still one of the best tracks around. Totally stood the test of time.
Shake N Pop is so simple but so powerful, I love the lyrics and the way it has a real minimal feel to it. I played it so many times back then, I just couldn’t get enough of it, I totally loved it and still do. Curtis is one of the most talented producers around.
This is a total tune, I love the funky feel to it, the vocal is outstanding, such a great voice and again it manages to be simple but powerful – I think managing to create a song that can do that is the sign of great production. I also loved their video
We would like to thank Fedde Le Grand for taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to pick through the vast Trackitdown catalogue to recommend you this great selection of club bombs, classics and secret weapons.
To keep up to date with the latest news, releases and events that Fedde will be appearing at please visit his website
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