Of all the winners of the DJ Mag Top 100, David Guetta has been arguably the most controversial. Not for what he's said, or what he is, but for what he does. For some, his forays into the charts with the likes of Kelly Rowland, will.i.am, Ne-Yo and Akon, made him a pop act, pure and simple. His tracks smashed the charts worldwide, where the trance acts that have previously dominated the Top 100 - despite their worldwide following - remain to a loose extent 'underground'.
On DJ Mag's Facebook page, as many who voted for him scorned his appointment. It is, of course, fabulously convenient to forget Guetta's pedigree, and the graft he put in when dance music was in its infancy. Whether or not you like him as a person, as an artist, or as a DJ, to question his achievements is to celebrate ignorance. Guetta was DJing in Paris at 17, well before house music had taken hold. He has earned every cent he has made, whether a few Francs for playing in a bar in the Bastille in 1984 or hauling in the royalties from 15 million single sales. "When I started to DJ, I would play five nights a week, sometimes eight hours a night.
It was a very different type of job, but that's what made me want to be a DJ. I love to do this," he says. In fact, he himself sets out his situation most eloquently. "There are two sides of me. What you hear on the radio, and who I am as a DJ. Two different things. I love music, I'm not saying one is better than the other. For me there is good music and bad music, it doesn't matter if it's underground or pop. I've been a house music DJ since 88. When I started to play house music, it was difficult. We were fighting for our music. No one would allow us to play our music in the clubs. We had to organise raves, our own nights and play the music we wanted to play. Radio would not support us.
The government would go against us and send the police. "Of course I understand a few kids [with a problem] but you're not a rebel because you're buying music on Beatport. I don't think people know my history, and that doesn't matter to me, but I was one of the first DJs to be playing this kind of music in my country when it was difficult.
There was no money, no fame. It was a hard life. And we chose it. For me this was never about the lifestyle, it was about the music. I can make an underground beat, say with Nicky Romero, but it doesn't stop me working with Rihanna. There's no war between music on the radio and music in the clubs, the war was to get the music [from the clubs] on the radio in the first place. And we won it." He did too.
His average crowd this year, he reckons, has been around 20,000. His first gig of the year was to three million people at New Year in Rio. ("It's crazy," he says, "really, really insane.") He says 2012 has been a great balance for him. As well as being one of the busiest DJs and producers on the planet, he's brought through new talent, people like the aforementioned Romero, Daddy's Groove and Spencer & Hill, and still found the time and inclination to start a new label, Jackback Recordings, launching with his and Romero's massive 'Metropolis'. "I have no desire to make this label a big thing, I have no commercial aim at all.
No aim to put the records on the radio, though 'Metropolis' has done well, but that's not my goal. I'm not trying to make any money, it's all for the love," he says. And that's as it should be. He says he now wants to "fuck around and make beats" with friends rather than chase hits and collaborations. "Without any pressure, you know? I've had so many opportunities before, I didn't want to fuck them up. There's a responsibility that comes with success. But I've been a good boy long enough, now I want to go a little crazy." If anyone's earned that, it's Guetta.