Fedde Le Grand is a superstar DJ that has taken his music and career to the next level this year. The 37-year-old Dutch native transforms the mainstage at Ultra into his own highlight reels. Also announcing his forthcoming album, Fedde Le Grand’s stock rises even more with his latest single “Cinematic” and an innovative live show called “GRAND.”
Following Fedde Le Grand’s Marquee NYC performance last month, BroBible sat down with him for an exclusive interview. In our Q&A, the artist best known for tracks such as “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit” and “So Much Love” discusses new music with quiet confidence. Fedde Le Grand plays on the world’s biggest stages, and demonstrates his wisdom when answering my lack of female DJs question. Le Grand laughs before talking about his craziest nights in Las Vegas, favorite models, and favorite Dr. Dre songs of all time.
Check out his aftermovie “GRAND featuring “Cinematic” below.
When you started DJing was there a particular style of music that you gravitated towards naturally?
We kind of had a thing that you would call clubhouse or something. In Holland, you would have a lot of independent labels like Fresh Fruit, Work, and Outland Records, which was actually a record store in Amsterdam, but they did their own label as well. They had all these guys, but they’re also all Dutch. You have like Dadara, Erick E., DJ Pierre, Dimitri and not Dimitri from Paris, but there was a Dimitri. It was very locally based I think. There was some stuff coming through especially from the States. I think America might’ve just gotten into dance music, which was like the more jackin’ house stuff back then, so I really like that too. I think the dance floor around Holland has always been a little more upbeat than other countries. I don’t know why but I think Dutch people have always been on kind of like a slightly faster, slightly more aggressive style most of the time. At least like the majority, so it was a lot of like local based acts and DJs. We’ve always had a pretty solid techno scene and that’s what I like as well.
Is there a pop artist, certain celebrity, or musician that really like drew you in? It could be a DJ or it could’ve been Michael Jackson, but like was there that one icon in your life that inspired you or influenced you?
Actually I used to be, especially when I was a kid, I used to be a huge Michael Jackson fan, but then again who wasn’t at that time. I have his posters, we went to his concerts, bought his book, had all the albums and stuff, so I was a huge Michael Jackson fan. After that I’ve always been on the funk side of things. Before I went into house I used to like hip-hop a lot. A lot of Dr. Dre, [and] Snoop Dogg stuff, especially in the beginning, I think Timbaland as well. Especially Dre, he basically stole every cool funk influence that’s out there and that kind of backtracked my interests into funk music. From there I got really into Jamiroquai, but he was never really big in the U.S.
What was your favorite Dr. Dre song?
Super cheesy, but I think it’s going to be ‘Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang.’ I know it’s cheesy, but I used to love it so much growing up.
Talk us through your latest single “Cinematic.” How did the project come about? What inspires the title? What was your creative vision behind the song?
I’m about to finish my album [and] in the next three weeks it should be done. Since I was working on my album, I’m always looking for good top lines. I kind of like to discover and try out new artists. I just think it’s cool. There are so many talented musicians in general out there that don’t always get the chance. There was this guy my publisher recommended named Denny White. He sent me a bunch of demos and I straight away fell in love with this one. It was more of a singer-songwriter kind of demo with just the guitar and him singing. I started to fool around with its naming and passed the name ‘Cinematic’ because the song’s about falling in love in that special way. It feels like it’s cinematic, so that’s basically like where the title comes from. I actually played it out at Ultra one year ago. It just kind of, especially with my fans too, I haven’t been able to release anything else without taking at least 10 comments that I don’t care about the track that’s out now. They go, “oh I want to hear ‘Cinematic,’” so I’m just kind of happy with everything there.
Is “Cinematic” the song you’re most proud of thus far?
I don’t know. It’s really hard to say. It’s definitely one of the songs that is very close to my heart because there are different reasons to be proud of a song. Like sometimes if you overcome something on a production level that you couldn’t do before that could be something that you’re proud of. Or like sometimes you surprise yourself with a smart chord combination or something like that. But in this case it was something that came out so naturally. I didn’t have to think about it a lot. It’s very easy to follow Denny easily and just fill up the banks with variety. I think it’s the perfect match and has such a positive, upbeat vibe to it that’s really all.
What are some additional things that you’re going to do with ‘Cinematic?’ Like do you intend to make music videos? How do you just want to release this record?
In this case it’s a little bit different. They’re shooting the video right now or at least in the next few days. I just met this great guy from Belgium. He’s kind of a bit crazy, but that’s what I like. I’ll pitch him an idea what I think the video should be about and in this case it’s kind of clear because it’s another love song. But he will always come back with like a fucking cool angle. So now he came back with this angle that there’s love to find everywhere and everyone can be a superhero more or less for someone else. They can be that special person for someone else. I think he’s going to take all these really old people that can still do either kung-fu or karate, but still very good. Or like used to be dancers that can still dance very good and I think he’s going to dress them up in like superhero outfits and they’re going to do all this crazy stuff. I’m very curious to see the first footage. I think that’s really cool. Before that the actual, official premiere of the track is going to be more or less in the after movie of ‘GRAND.’ I did like six shows in Holland, which kind of combines… The way I see it is everything I’ve seen over the years when I was like “whoa that’s cool,” we tried to cram in that one show. It’s like a three-hour show. It’s a show, but it’s a show in a way that I want it to look because I think there’s already so much of the same stuff. Not that that’s bad, but I think if you want to stand out and do something different you have to be willing to make those few extra steps to really surprise people and really make them anxious to actually come to your show. There’s already so much other stuff going on, so that’s what we tried to do. There’s all these optical illusions stuff going on, there’s dancers, [and] there’s live music. There’s just a little bit of everything. The show elements have been synced to the music because it’s technically now possible without having to compromise your DJ set, so those elements were all very important to me. That’s kind of how it came together.
Does the title “Cinematic” play into your GRAND performance?
Yeah it kind of complements each other.
Was that your intent to have the title of “Cinematic” deliver an alternate message to GRAND?
No, not when I made the song obviously. But since we were planning this it was definitely something I pitched because the first shows were actually in a theater. Not a movie theater, but in the context of a theater. It would kind of only make sense to take it more literally in this case than ‘Cinematic’ because you’re actually showcasing something in the most dramatic way. It kind of also was a natural fit.
What unlikely learning experiences do you get from innovating your own show like GRAND? How do you cast the performers and how does it fit into a club?
Definitely. I think at the show we had 70 people walking around backstage. Normally I have three or four people with me, so that was already kind of a big difference. And of course it takes a lot more preparations like all the songs I wanted to add show elements to. Of course like if there was a color feed they needed the music in time, but at the same time I kind of wanted to do everything. I thought, “ok if you’re going to do a dance, then it should be a complete color feed with outfits and everything and not just three girls in the front or four girls that do their thing. In 60 minutes it’s quick.” That happens already so much that I just wanted to make a cool thing, but then at the same time I wanted the visuals complementing the dance. I changed most of what the music consists [of] to make it a bit more special and sometimes there was an intro because I did this track with this Dutch band. It started like a famous Dutch painting from Rembrandt, so you would see that on the screen. And then it’s this technique that if you light up the right places you will only see the [certain] people behind the screen, but the rest of the screen isn’t doing that. It was kind of like the painting slowly came to life because the people behind the screen had the same outfits on. It took like a lot of preparation to get everything right, [and] to get all the timing right because everyone has to be important. You know the lights need to be synced, the visuals need to be synced, the meaning has to be there, [and] everyone has to have it in time. Then again it was the first time you’re doing this, so some stuff panned out absolutely amazing and some stuff I would do different now. You kind of have this idea in your head that you think is going to work. Some things worked even better than I thought, and some things I thought could have had a bigger impact, so I would probably do some things different in the upcoming show.
A popular topic in dance music right now is the lack of female DJs. Could you just tell me some of the reasons why you think more female DJs aren’t booked for festivals and shows like Ultra?
To be honest, I think it is a bit of a man’s world. That doesn’t mean girls can’t DJ, but I have to say because it’s male dominant at the moment it’s already harder to get there as a girl. I think the most important thing is for girls that you make sure first and foremost have to prove your DJ skills and your production skills. I think that’s what everyone should concentrate on because actually if you’re really good looking it could almost be a disadvantage. A lot of people will say “okay she’s only there because of her looks and so on.” That is an unfair struggle, but I think it’s real because it actually is going to be held against you if you look good. Actually one of my favorite beats we had two quite big famous female DJs in Holland. It’s a throwback though. One of them was very good looking and the other one not at all, but she was like the most f*cking coolest chick because she could actually f*cking DJ. She was like really really good. The other DJ looked really really good but her skills were a little bit less, so I think even though it’s unfair you kind of have to be almost twice as good as any guy if you want to be taken seriously.
Would you be able to tell me the craziest story from a time when you got really drunk in Las Vegas?
A crazy story from a time when you got drunk in Las Vegas.
I think in general the craziest is when you still remember leaving after your gig, but you have no idea how you got back to your hotel. You’re there with like five or six other people all drunk waking up on the couch. I think that’s to me still kind of weird or kind of scary as well if you don’t really remember how you got so many deep and especially if you don’t know all the people in the room.
Who’s the hottest female model from Amsterdam?
That kind of has to be Doutzen. She’s definitely the most famous. Thank God I know Sunnery (James) quite well, so I think I’m allowed to say that.
What goes into your artist rider for shows?
I think I have kind of like pretty basic stuff. I think I’m very un-American like that. I don’t care too much about my drink rider because usually anything you ask for they’ll have or get. I don’t have something really specific maybe I just love coconut water, so that’s always in there. As far as booze nothing really. I’ll kind of drink whatever’s in front of me and if that’s something special it’s cool. So the only thing I’m really f*cking funny about is my technical rider. That’s the only thing that gets me upset. You could put me in a shitty hotel and don’t have my rider or whatever, but as soon as something technical is not working I kind of go berserk. That’s the only thing I’m really keen on.
Do you have a dream collaboration?
I don’t have a list. I mean there’s so many great artists out there. For me it kind of varies like I would love to work with Janelle Monaé actually. She’s probably a little bit crazy, but I kind of like that about her. I think she’s really cool. I’m really impressed by Hozier [and] that ‘Take Me To Church’ record. I think that could be super cool and then I’d love to work with some old school artists like Timbaland, Dr. Dre, [and] Missy Elliott like back from my hip-hop days. I used to listen to all of them. Which one would I prefer most? Probably Timbaland or Dre more from a production perspective.
Besides some of your own tracks, what are some of your other favorite songs right now?
I really love what the guys from Chocolate Puma are doing because it’s housey. It’s on the verge of more techy stuff, but still has enough kick to win over the dance floor. I think that stuff is really cool and in general like in my opinion everything is going to move. In those sets of course, but it’s definitely going to get more housey and less EDM-ish or however you want to call it, so I think I like their stuff the most at the moment.
What’s your master plan for 2015? How do you plan to evolve your material heading into this album?
I think the album is kind of like where music is at right now. It’s a bit of a crossroad and that’s the great thing about doing an album. You’re kind of allowed to do something a bit slightly different from what you normally do on an album because it’s an artist album. You can go left and right a little bit more than if you just do a club release. There’s some stuff on there like ‘Cinematic’ that people kind of expect of me right now and then I would say there’s almost 50% or more funky stuff. But it’s almost like the stuff I made when I just started my label however you want to call it future-house. I kind of felt really comfortable to kind of go back to that and embrace that. I think it’s great and there’s even one track on there that’s not even a dance track, which in my personal opinion I think is cool to do. It’s a crossroad of where we are right now in this scene in general. I’m confident of what I made and I’m behind it 100%, but I think it crosses over between different genres. That’s exactly what I like. That’s what I like about music right now. Things are open again. You don’t have to exactly make the arrangement like this, or that or use that exact sound because otherwise it’s not hip or cool. I think at the moment like all bets are off which I personally love.
What can fans expect when seeing Fedde Le Grand play live?
I think what I always brought to the table is just high energy. I play very turnt music, but I definitely play it in a different way than anyone else. I think that’s because I’m in between those generations. On one end I’m very in touch with what’s happening now because I sound produce on my label as well, but I still bring that kind of like old-school almost like techno slow to my sets which kind of makes my sets really interesting instead of just doing like what we say in Holland is heads or tails mixes. You’ll be out and someone plays some beats for them, some beats for you, beat match, stem and that’s it. I kind of like keep the pressure on the dance floor and let it release at the exact point where I want it. I think that’s kind of like my trademark.