Fedde Le Grand has struck an admirable balance as an electronic music artist. Nobody can dispute the mass appeal of his better-known material – and yet, he’s also still managed to make time for projects that pay homage to his more obscure roots.
Being that dance music’s current climate is largely defined by a dichotomy between both worlds, the timing is perfect for the Dutch DJ/producer to release his fourth studio album, Something Real. After spending last year’s festival season reinserting himself into mainstream awareness with his spectacular GRAND stage shows, the effort will make for a memorable career mile marker of sorts.
Shortly after putting the finishing touches on the last of Something Real‘s tracks, Fedde spoke with us about some of the songs on the album as well as his other recent endeavors.
Check out what he had to say below, and look out for Something Real as it releases on February 26th.
It’s coming up on a year since we spoke with you at Ultra. Tell me about what the past year in the life of Fedde has been like.
Fedde Le Grand: Pretty good, actually. Last year was the first time we did my new GRAND show here in Holland. Six sold-out shows, and now we’re moving to the Ziggo Dome which is literally the biggest venue we have in Holland, so that’s very cool.
Musically, mainly I’ve been working on my new album. Of course, I also did a few releases in between, but mainly it’s been all about the album – it’s officially finished, which is good. I think those have been my main focus points that were out of the ordinary.
I noticed that Jonathan Mendelsohn is featured as the vocalist on two different tracks on the album. Do you two have a pretty good working relationship?
Fedde Le Grand:I’ve known him for a long time now. He’s a very easy-going guy, and actually he’s here in Holland a lot in general because he has a lot of friends here, and we just write together very easily. You can’t really force any collaboration; you either have chemistry or you don’t. We get along great, and have the same ideas about music in general – and I love his voice. He’s a great live performer as well, but also in the studio we just work together really well.
On the other hand, I was surprised to see a Merk & Kremont collaboration on the album because they haven’t done a whole lot lately. How did that come about?
Fedde Le Grand:There’s a few guys that I always keep an eye on, like Jewelz & Sparks, Paris & Simo – somehow they’re all acts of two people, but that’s just a coincidence – and Merk & Kremont are some of them. I think they did one successful release last year that was pretty good – “Get Get Down.”
They’re just really talented, and in general I just think it’s fun to work with those people, and it’s nice to give kids a chance that might not be super well known already. With my label, it’s always been about pushing the smaller guys because there’s so much talent out there that I personally feel doesn’t get a fair chance.
It’s interesting that you chose to remix the ‘90s classic “Rhythm of the Night” by Corona, because there are already a lot of recent remixes of the track. What made you decide to do so anyways?
Fedde Le Grand: It was actually just by chance. I personally didn’t like the versions that were out already so I did a bootleg, and while we were working on the album the guy who does the whole back office of my label said, “Why not see if we can clear it?” All the previous versions had all been re-sang, and we got the okay from Corona, who’s actually still singing, which I think is amazing.
That was actually by chance, and since it’s been ten years since the start of my international career, it was kind of like a fun bonus track thing to do because it’s a bit nostalgic as well, and it’s been a big part of me growing up and going out and getting into dance music back then. I knew there were already a lot of versions, but this one has the official vocal, which is kind of an honor. It all came together, and it was really nice because I loved working on it.
On a scale from 1-10, how tired are you of people mentioning “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit?”
Fedde Le Grand: (Laughs) Well, I can’t really say to be honest. It probably depends a bit on my mood. Sometimes it is annoying – I actually find it most annoying just in Holland, because in Holland somehow they think that’s the only thing I’ve done. “Let Me Think About It,” “The Creeps,” “Wheels In Motion” and “3 Minutes to Explain” definitely went top ten in most countries.
In Holland it’s annoying but in general it’s a blessing and a curse, y’know? I mean, it is a thing that launched my international career, so in that way I think I should just be thankful and not fucking whine about it – but on the other end it is a little bit annoying because over the years I’ve done so much.
Last year you were also doing a lot with your Darklight concept to bring house and techno to the surface – but if you look at Ultra’s 2016 lineup, it’s really not all that underground anymore.
Fedde Le Grand: Yeah, finally, man.
What do you think about that?
Fedde Le Grand: I think it’s great, but I also think it’s something that’s necessary now. I think in general if you just look at how over the years we’ve been doing dance music – especially in Europe, where I think it’s about 30 or 40 years or something – it’s a cycle that repeats itself after so many years.
In general, when mainstream goes really really hard that’s usually an end point, because you can’t go harder or any more aggressive and usually from that end point when everyone finally gets fed up with it, it just drops down and everybody’s into house music all of a sudden.
It’s kinda funny in one way, but I think it’s great because in general if your tempo is a little lower there’s more time to swing, and it’s easier to do something that’s musically interesting. Especially the techno guys – I just love that scene.
Before anything internationally happened, I used to play – well, you’d call it tech house now, but back then it was dub sides. It’s just such a stable scene with its own followers, and I think it’s only fair that it gets more attention compared to three or four years ago.
It’s awesome that modern technology allows you to actually DJ at your GRAND performances. Do you find ways to even incorporate DJ tricks into the sets in addition to simply improvising your song selection?
Fedde Le Grand: This time, because we’re doing one big show it’s gonna be a bit harder. Last time, especially because we did six shows, every night was different, which is the way it should be, because the audience is never the same. That should be the most important thing about a DJ – that they read a crowd and act accordingly. I would even be scared to do completely prepared sets.
But trick-wise, I used to do hip-hop way back but I’m not, like, scratching and stuff. But the fact that when something’s going really well you can add a few tracks helps, because even the choreographed moments I can plan whenever I want. As soon as I say, “Alright, the crowd is really digging a house-y thing right now,” I can let them go for ten, or fifteen, or 20 minutes extra. That’s not a problem, and I think that that’s the way it should be.
We’ve had three years now of everyone basically doing the exact same thing, and I just hate that, I think that’s what kills all creativity. We’ve all seen the champagne showers, the confetti, the CO2, which is great, but I just wanted to do something extra. Things always seem to get more and more expensive, but people don’t always get more back. This is just a fair way for my fans to get something extra back – and something that’s out of the ordinary, and even if you’re not completely a dance music fan, it’s something you could get into.
This concludes our interview, but we would like to thank Fedde Le Grand for his time. Be sure to check out his new album when it drops on the 26th!