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Interview:
Pop mainstream finally embracing DJ David Guetta
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

During the past decade, David Guetta has released five albums and a slew of singles, as well as tracks he produced or remixed for other artists

But the Grammy Award-winning French dance music auteur says that nothing beats his latest release, "Nothing But the Beat."

"It's so good," Guetta, 44, gushes. "It's like 10 times better than anything I've done in my life. I'm really, really happy and proud of it."

That's not just prideful hyperbole. Released in late August, "Nothing But the Beat," debuted at No. 1 in five countries -- including Guetta's homeland -- and at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, his best showing yet in the U.S. It was buoyed by a hot remix of Snoop Dogg's "Sweat" earlier this year, while the album's first single, "Where Them Girls At" -- featuring Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj -- gave Guetta his first Top 20 hit on these shores.

The momentum has continued with "Without You," the Usher-sung track that's at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also hit No. 1 at Top 40 radio. "Nothing But the Beat" is also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electornica Album, while the track "Sunshine" is up for Best Dance Recording.

"I think it's just time catching up to me," says Guetta, who started DJing in Paris when he was just 17 and released his first single, "Nation Rap" with French MC Sidney Duteil, in 1990. "I've been doing this a long time, and if you're patient and just keep doing the work, more and more people will hear you and know who you are and get interested in what you're doing.

"I definitely think that's what's happening with me."

There's no question, however, that "Where Them Girls At" was a summer sensation that put "Nothing But the Beat" on its upbeat trajectory. It sold more than 160,000 iTunes download during its first week of release, although Guetta was disappointed that it had to be rushed out after an early, unfinished version of the song was pirated to the Internet.

"I really felt disrespected," says Guetta, who in addition to "Seat" also charted this year with songs for Akon ("Sexy Chick") and Rihanna ("Who's That Chick?"). Sometimes people, when they're downloading music, they don't pay for it. I can almost accept that...but when someone steals records that are not finished, it's terrible.

"I mean, could you imagine a museum showing a painting that's half-finished?"

All's well that ends well, of course. Guetta is "thankful" for the song's early success, as are his collaborators.

"Honestly, I thought it would be huge," says Flo Rida, who heard the song at the same time he and Guetta were working on "Club Can't Handle Me" from the rapper's latest album, "Only One Flo (Part 1)." "I actually wanted ('Where Them Girls AT') for myself...But I knew that this trio, with Nicki having her fan base, me having mine and David having his, because of the names involved it would be hot record."

Minaj, meanwhile, actually turned down Guetta's first invitation to appear on the song because she was busy recording her debut album, "Pink Friday." But he wouldn't take no for an answer.

"And when he reached out again," Minaj says, "I did my research on him and I started finding out who he was and what records he produced, and I realized he was a legend in the game already." Minaj heard the track, with Flo Rida's verse and chorus, at Guetta's studio when she was in Paris and recalls that "as soon as I heard it I loved it" and wrote parts for the song back in Los Angeles.

"When it came out, (Guetta) was texting me over and over -- 'It's No. 1 in this country! No. 1 in that country!'...so we knew it was a big one," Minaj says.

Guetta is celebrating "Nothing But the Beat's" success with a handful of performances this month, although he's already thinking about his next creative moves -- including reported collaborations with Usher, Celine Dion, Chris Brown, Mike Posner and others. And he might just preview some of those in the musical mix he plays those nights.

"What's really good about being a DJ is it's not like being a band with rehearsal and having to do a whole show," Guetta explains. "I don't have to have anything planned. Of course I'm going to play my big records, but I also have all the beats I'm producing, so it'll be a real combination between the huge vocal records and more underground beats."



WHY YOU KNOW DAVID GUETTA

As a DJ, producer and remixer, David Guetta isn't necessarily a household name. But he has put his mark on a number of hits -- for himself and others. Here's a dozen of his best-known moments:

* "Angel," Akon

* "Boom Boom Guetta," Black Eyed Peas remix

* "Club Can't Handle Me," Flo Rida

* "Commander," Kelly Rowland

* "Revolver (One Love Remix)," Madonna

* "Sexy Bitch" (featuring Akon)

* "Something For the DJS," Pitbull

* "Sweat," Snoop Dogg remix

* "Where Them Girls At" (featuring Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj

* "Who's That Chick" (featuring Rihanna)

* "Without You" (featuring Usher

* "Wow," Kylie Minogue remix



David Guetta performs at Mojo's Jingle Jam on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $58, $47 and $29. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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