DJ ready to go on the record

Leon Lee

EDM pioneer David Guetta tells Leon Lee how excited he is to be making his Hong Kong debut tonight

Leon Lee |

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Over the past few years, a musical movement has been underway, changing the sound of pop. Electronic dance music, or EDM, has found its way into the mainstream, with artists such as Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Taylor Swift incorporating it into their songs. Previously unknown DJs and producers now draw huge crowds.

DJ and producer David Guetta, one of the genre's biggest names, is set to play his first-ever show in Hong Kong tonight.

Guetta, speaking to Young Post by phone, says EDM's emergence is a natural progression.

"As with every musical movement, there's a beginning in the underground; at some point it becomes mainstream," the Frenchman says. "Rock is still alive and so is K-pop ... one day [EDM] will be considered an established style of music in the same way rock or hip hop is."

Guetta's first experience of DJs came at the age of 12, when he would hear them play on what he calls "pirate radio". DJs from clubs would be playing their music during the day and it caught his attention. He wanted to find out more and soon began buying vinyl records and trying to replicate what he'd heard.

By the age of 14, he was holding parties in his home, and a couple of years later he started making a name for himself by playing at clubs across Europe. He began remixing other people's songs, adding new beats or rearranging the sounds to suit himself, before eventually creating his own music.

"I was just trying to make people dance, but the emotion was actually coming from the music that I was remixing," he says. "Then I wanted to put my own emotion into the music, and that's what I'm trying to do."

Things really took off in 2009 with the release of his track Sexy Chick, which featured singer Akon, and when The Black Eyed Peas asked him to produce I Gotta Feeling. The two songs were constantly played on radio, exposing the masses to his style of mixing high-energy electronic beats with pop sounds, and creating a buzz about his music.

He has since been responsible for many hit collaborations with artists such as Usher (Without You), Sia (Titanium) and Kelly Rowland (When Love Takes Over).

Despite the phenomenal success, Guetta has a simple explanation about his methods and why they work. "Every artist wants to make people dance," he says. "This is something that they all love because they go to clubs; when they see everybody dancing to their music, they love it ... I'm trying to take those artists to some place they've never been before, which is challenging for them, but at the same time very exciting."

One common criticism of EDM and its artists is that they aren't "real" musicians because they don't play traditional instruments; most of what they do is created on computers and other electronic devices.

However, Guetta rejects this. "Making songs is the most difficult thing," he says. "We're probably the most complete people in the music industry because we need to be able to compose music, produce music, and mix the music. Most of us do everything, whereas usually artists do one of those things."

Despite the difficulties, he's been DJing and producing for more than 20 years, and still loves every moment. He continues to get excited about playing shows at new venues and is looking forward to tonight's gig. The future looks bright for both Guetta and EDM.

"Now [EDM] is the hottest movement on the planet, there's nothing people are more excited about," he says. "Maybe one day this will fade down a little bit, but people will always want to dance."

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