The Godfather of French House, cum born-again rocker, tells us why dance is in the best state it's ever been and why us Brits beat our continental cousins when it comes to raving!
Virtual Festivals: David, we rarely get to see you over here. Is that why you’re playing twice?
David Guetta: I have two sides to my style so it’s fitting to play twice! It’s going to be a big-hand-in-the-air style set at 5.30pm on the main stage and then I’m headlining the Strongbow Rooms later on. To be honest I have never played at Homelands so I don’t know what to expect, but I aim to play more of an underground set later on, and make it more of a rocking party.
What’s the thinking behind your music?
I always play to the crowd, that’s what I do, and I don’t like playing any one type of music all night. I’m more diverse than that, but I tend to play more underground records than huge tunes that everyone knows.
What sort of thing?
I’ll go from electro to house to rock. I’ll drop Nirvana mid-set if the time is right and I’ve been getting into loads of indie bands recently like Bloc Party and The Killers. In fact I’m hoping to put some special bootlegs together especially for Homelands. I’m in the middle of doing a remix for Moby on his new single ‘Beautiful’.
Is Homelands a bit of a break from recording then?
No, no. I’m playing all over Europe at the moment, it’s really busy. In July I’ve got 25 gigs. After that I’m going to completely stop and get into the studio, and just do my Paris residency at Red Light.
When you come over to the UK what strikes you as the biggest difference to playing in France?
The amount of beer! Definitely. I am always amazed at the just how many beers people in the UK drink. For us it’s really weird. In France it’s always more of a slow, social thing, and it would mainly be vodka and spirits. Girls in particular would never drink beer. The other thing I find funny is when I’m in the north of England or Ireland in the middle of winter and girls are wandering about in mini-skirts and tiny tops when it’s freezing cold. That’s a big difference. Of course, in a good way!
So it’s just our drinking habits and fashion then?
No, there are obviously more cultural differences. In France our culture is based around literature and cinema, whereas here the culture is more about music and clubbing. We have a very tight but cool scene but the average person doesn’t have a clue about music.
So it’s good to play here?
I love it here. I love to play to big crowds and be able to play quality music, that perhaps people haven’t heard before, but they still go crazy. I really like to play underground tracks and see where I can take a crowd. And then if I see they’re appreciating what I’m doing, reward them with a huge tune they know to make them go even wilder.
Are there dance festivals like Homelands in France?
There’s nothing like it in France. There used to be a dance festival in Bordeaux but no longer. There’s a lot of pressure from the police so it’s confined to giant clubs. So I’m flattered to be asked to play. I did Creamfields last year and it was incredible, it really rocked.
How do festivals compare to clubs?
At festivals everyone’s there for the love of the music and for a massive party. Some people in clubs are just there to be seen and be cool and that’s the difference. I’m very much a ‘love’ person, the passion and the vibe is very important to me.
You’ve spent a lot of time in Ibiza, is it a similar vibe to that?
It’s a bit like Ibiza yes, that’s open-air dancing in the sun thing. Definitely.
People keep going on about Ibiza not being the same any more and dance music dying. What’s your take on that?
Actually, from my perception it’s now stronger than two years ago, due to fantastic production. A few years ago there seemed to be this misunderstanding where real underground DJs were being booked by promoters to play in front of massive audiences at huge clubs. Some of the people there weren’t really into it but were acting like they were into it just to be cool, and I think that’s where the problems started. Some DJs should play to thousands of people, underground DJs are more suited to a few hundred. But now it’s balancing out and I think it’s in a great state again, due in part to the passion shown by the DJs and promoters to give the right people what they want. People now see a show or a DJ because they really want to be there.
And do you think the divide between dance and guitar-based rock and indie music is getting smaller?
Yes but there have always been guitars and percussion in dance music and it’s something I’ve always embraced in my recordings. It’s great to mix it all up. It’s great that more bands are getting the recognition they deserve and also crossing over. But people will always want to dance, and that’s where the DJ comes in.
Homelands takes place at the Matterley Bowl, near Winchester, on Saturday 28th May. You can catch David Guetta on the main stage at 5.30pm and later on when he headlines The Strongbow Rooms. Click on the links below for more info.
The World is Mine – taken from the album ‘GuettaBlaster’ – directed by Stuart Gosling (2005)