David Guetta has been a musical impresario, churning out beats, genre-destroying pop hits who have topped the charts for almost a decade with mega hits like titanium featuring Sia; Where Those Girls At featuring Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj; The Club Can’t Handle Me featuring Flo Rida; Who is that girl featuring Rihanna and I feel featuring The Black Eyed Peas. Guetta is the King of Collaboration. His creative input on a song nearly ensures chart-topping status and his fans dub his music, the “Guetta-blasters”, a homage to his daring immersion into hip hop culture, and his constant and effortless ability to blend hip hop and pop music with addictive rhythm.
Born in France to liberal intellectuals who shunned materialism, Guetta said he longed for a more glamorous life, which he soon found in Europe’s underground club scene where he began deejaying as a teenager. He was also in love with all things American, as he described it to me, steeped in American books, films, and music, and wanted to conquer the United States music scene.
During our conversation, we discussed the seventh one, huh seventhstudio album, simply titled, “7”. It is a collection of emotion-laden lyrics and hypnotic melodies and an eclectic genre. Of course, the album is full of Guetta’s famous collaborations with the likes of Sia, Jason Derulo, and Justin Bieber.
Allison Kugel: Did your creative vision, to mix electronic dance music with urban music, exist from the start, or did it develop because of the opportunities that came your way?
David Guetta: This may sound crazy, but when I was a child and that I started deejaying, there was no electronic music (laugh). When I was a teenager I played funk, then I went into hip hop and then house music. That’s why for me, it is natural, because I come from this culture. Then I moved on to a different style, and one day I was able to combine them into one. I love music, in general. I love creating emotions with my music, and that I love getting people to dance.
Allison Kugel: You’re the first broadcaster I’ve seen that has been able to transcend, not only across multiple musical genres, but you have been able to get to the point where you are considered a mainstream recording artist in your own right. How do you create this space for yourself that did not exist before?
David Guetta: Exactly! That’s what’s really interesting to me. The world is a certain way, the music industry is a certain way, and if you want to be part of a certain “family,” you are told, “This is the way.” For me, you do not have to follow those rules. I make my own rules. Back then, I was heavily criticized for this. And then everybody else does the same. I want to make my own rules, essentially. That’s how I’ve at all times done it, and that is how I do it now. I just finished my album (7out Sept. 14thth)and it is very eclectic.
Allison Kugel: Yes, obviously. Every song on your new album has a really different emotional sound and tone. From your perspective, is there a single theme that unites this album?
David Guetta: This album is called 7. This is my seventh album, but the number seven also represents the end of a cycle; a week is seven days, the creation of the world in the bible is seven days and my birthday is exact [November 7th]. That number is kind of magic to me. What I did with this album, we talked about how I combined different styles in the past and created a new style of pop music. I wanted to return to my roots and make a full pop album in a different style. I’m going to make a full electronic album that’s totally back to my roots and totally underground. So essentially, rather than compromising, I’m going to create those magical moments with an album that I can play at festivals, in clubs, and can play on the radio. It gets very pop or hip hop for radio or underground again in clubs. I want this album to be real. There is one record I like, which was released in Europe, called Do not leave me alone. It’s one of my favourite albums. It’s pop, but electronic and forward-thinking, and does not sound like anything out there. I even have Latin records and major records with Jason Derulo and Nicki Minaj.
Allison Kugel: Is there any difference for you, in terms of collaborating with male artists versus female artists? Are you taking a different approach?
David Guetta: Not really. Sometimes I’ll write with a male artist and a female artist will sing it. This happens a lot; or even vice versa. If you wanted a higher pitch, obviously you’d do it with a female artist. Plus, you do not have to tell the same story in music with male versus female artists, even although things change, and that I like this (laugh)! I believe things are a little less stereotypical now.
Allison Kugel: Tell me about that special creative synergy you and Sia share?
David Guetta: It’s great, because first of all, we have a long history together. Sia, when we started working together, was not the big artist she is now. we create [the song] titanium (from Guetta 2011 5th studio album, There is simply thumping music) together, which, for both of us, was a life-changing record. Sia deserves every success she has. He is my favourite artist. He can sing, he can write like nobody else, and anytime I need him he is at all times there for me. We continue to work together, and that I love the combination. I believe what’s interesting in music is combining opposing feelings into one song. For example, if you play a happy chord and have a happy melody, and you use a bright sound, it is going to sound cheesy. And if it is too dark, it is like, “Oh my God. I want to shoot myself.” You know (laugh)? What appeals to me is having dark instruments with upbeat melodies, or vice versa. I’m a happy person, so I like to make emotional notes that put you in a good mood. Like, I earn I feel (2009 hit single from The Black Eyed Peas’ 5th studio album, the end.). Those are the kinds of records I make. And Sia, she is the moody, melancholic, survival type of artist. The combination of the two is magic. That’s why Sia and that I work so well together.
Allison Kugel: You love the contrast of blending feelings of dark and light into your musical collaborations.
David Guetta: Exactly, and so are the films I love to watch. If you see an action movie, and all they do is shoot, shoot, shoot; bang, bang, bang, that’s stupid and boring. If you have an action movie, but also a love story in it, all the better. With music, it is the same.
When you study music theory and the different types of core melodies and percussion, they teach you that people want to have seventy-five percent of the experience of hearing something that’s familiar to them, and a maximum of twenty-five percent of being excited by hearing something. new. This is totally the right number. Interestingly, when you are listening to certain core percussions, you need the last chords to feel good, and the same goes for when you return to the first chords. Between the first and last chords, you can be more experimental. But if you add chord after chord in an order nobody has heard before, very hardly ever will it work. People need a little bit of excitement and they need their familiarity.
Allison Kugel: What spiritual philosophy do you follow? And how does it affect your work?
David Guetta: I’m a really happy person, and that I try to share that with the world. I try to share my love of music with the world, and that I try to bring people together. I believe there are two things that bring people together, and that is sports and music. At a football game you may have the president of the country, and you may have workers; people from all walks of life. That’s what I try to do with music. That has been my mission all my life. I come from the underground scene, but I at all times wanted my music to spread, because I’m not one to try to keep it to myself. I love sharing. When I attempted to put urban and electronic music together, the feeling people had was that if you were black, you would like urban music, and if you were white, you would like electronic music. But why? To me, we are all the same, so we too can create music that speaks to everybody.
Allison Kugel: I read that your father was a Sociologist. Did his studies and work impact your philosophy of life, or anything on how you choose to live your life?
David Guetta: It’s funny, because my parents were so abandoned. And because it was the 1960s, they were hippies. Of course, being a hippy at that time was very commonplace. I grew up like this. So, for me, rebelling means saying, “I want to be an entrepreneur and that I want to make money. I do not want to be like you.” (Laugh) I’m also very pro-American, and that I only watch American movies and listen to American music.
Allison Kugel: What about things like taking your father’s philosophy on any social cause, or on human behavior; stuff like that?
David Guetta: You know, I actually did not consider it. Now that you mention it, I’d say plenty of the guidance I was given stuck with me. Things like trusting and treating everybody equally, and only a certain way of navigating the world, went unnoticed by me.
Allison Kugel: What are the differences, culturally speaking, between how your music is received in Europe and in the United States?
David Guetta: It’s very different. There was a magical moment in my career where I brought people together and opened doors for this type of music in the US, with songs like I Gotta Taste (with Black Eyed Peas), The Club Can’t Handle Me (with Flo Rida) and music like that. It was a special moment in pop music that transcended genre, circa 2009, 2010, and 2011. Now, in the US, it is mainly hip hop. Among the biggest broadcasters in Europe, I’m most likely someplace in between, culturally speaking. Major broadcasters in Europe may not be as successful as they’re in the US Hip hop has absorbed every existing culture, back in the United States. Hip hop stars are new rock stars in the US. They act like that and dress like that. They do not stick to the old hip hop code; they use rock n’ roll code. I believe the children who in the past loved rock or alternative music, the same kids today love hip hop. They relate to that rebellious and provocative culture. I believe it is really interesting how they absorb this. In Europe, if you want to be cool and different, you’ll most certainly like underground dance music.
Photo Credits: Joseph Abound (album cover), Guerin Blask, Ellen von Unwerth
David Guetta’s seventh studio album, 7out Sept. 14thth. Pre-order on iTunes and on https://davidguetta.lnk.to/Album7?ref=https%3A//t.co/B2tsQPCnog. Follow along Twitter @davidguetta.
Allison Kugel is a syndicated entertainment columnist and author, Journaling Fame: a memoir a few life that bends and records. Follow him Instagram @theallisonkugel and in AllisonKugel. com.