From: Paris, France
DJ style: “EDM to tech-house.”
Best known for: “Crossing over different genres.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Fisher ‘Losing It’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Brooks.”
Regardless of which side of the overground/underground fence you fall on, there’s no denying that David Guetta is a modern dance music legend. His impact as a house DJ in the Parisian suburbs alongside Laurent Garnier saw him work with the likes of Robert Owens and inspire Daft Punk, while his more commercial reputation as pop-dance demigod saw him introduce what became EDM to American airwaves.
His list of collaborations is a family tree of modern pop — Rihanna, Usher, Sia, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj and fellow Top 100 DJs winner Martin Garrix have all been blessed by his undeniable ear for melody, relentlessly topping charts around the world. 2018 saw him release his seventh album, aptly titled ‘7’ — the double LP features 27 tracks, with regular collaborators returning as well as new faces like South Africa’s favourite export, Black Coffee.
In conversation with Pete Tong, Guetta said the album “represents a full cycle to me, and that’s why I wanted to go back to the beginning of the cycle. I originally started in underground house music, playing all the raves and underground clubs in Paris. I wanted to make music just for fun, with absolutely no commercial approach to it. I want to make every type of music that I like, I’m doing it for the love of music.”
Earlier this year he also revealed his much-rumoured alias Jack Back, launching a label in the process. With Jack Back, it’s a self-proclaimed hark-back to his underground beginnings, albeit with a slicker production aesthetic.
So he’s been busy behind the scenes, but what about in the booth? Continuing to hold down his residency BIG at VIP mecca Ushuaïa and his long-running F***K Me I’m Famous night at Pacha, Ibiza has become the superstar’s second home, dominating his tour dates and even his working life — Guetta finished his ‘7’ album on the White Isle, as well as running writing and production camps from his Ibiza home.
If all that wasn’t enough, 2018 also saw Guetta grace the cover of DJ Mag North America where he discussed everything from the current pressures of major label A&R and the challenges he faces to continue to evolve his sound. “If I wanted to release a record,” he said in the interview, “I was in a position where I had to get the green light from executives in the US, the UK, Germany and France. Honestly, if all those executives agree on a record, you probably have a shit record.”
Where he once struggled to step away from the sound that made him a global name, now he’s found his way back to his first love. “I’m coming back to my original stage in terms of passion, excitement, energy and also musically. I’m not denying my love for pop music, but I’m also not denying that sometimes I just need to go back to my underground roots.”
Guetta’s unimaginable success came at a price — perceived as the poster boy for EDM’s rise, he was often the first name thrown around when those who despised the genre and all it brought to electronic music mounted their soapbox. Undeterred, his positivity and work ethic continue to bring him new fans and as he’s poised to reembrace his underground heritage, he may just win back some old ones too.
Words: DECLAN MCGLYNN