By Jacob Katel
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You can hate him all you want, but David Guetta is a superstar. He stays away from the kind of highbrow EDM that music lovers fawn over, instead delivering house music for the mainstream music consumer.
He has also won a Grammy and found massive success as the producer for the Black Eyed Peas hit "I Gotta Feeling." Don't think we don't notice your eyes rolling. Yeah, those things don't necessarily measure success, but he's spoon-feeding electronic music to the masses. And if he's able to get American audiences more into the genre, doesn't everyone win in the end?
New Times spoke with Guetta about Art Basel, pop success, critics, and the recent rift between Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival.
New Times: Your F*** Me, I'm Famous! Basel party is your first during the art fair.
Guetta: Yes, I've heard amazing things about Miami during [Art Basel], and I'm always coming for WMC, obviously. But all my friends living in Miami tell me [about] how amazing it is and the great crowds that come out. So they advised me to have my party there.
A year ago, you released One Love, and now it has become this immense pop record. How do you feel about your success?
It's really amazing what's going on, not only [for] me but for the dance community in general. What happened with those records — me producing [the Black Eyed Peas'] "I Gotta Feeling" and "Sexy Bitch," and what's happening with artists like [Lady Gaga] on a different side — is changing the game on a pop level in America. I'm really happy about this. It's amazing to see all these urban and pop artists taking a new direction. My album, One Love, was about creating that bridge between European dance and American urban cultures. And now it's really happening on a huge scale. I never thought it was going to become this big.
What do you think it is about dance music that makes it a perfect match for pop?
I think it's an evolution. I wasn't trying to go to radio. The radio came to us. I started to work with urban artists, and it was sort of magic. We didn't change the way we produced. Big names just started to get into our music. The culture was there, but it was just more underground.
With success come detractors. Do you give much thought to claims you've sold out?
To be honest, I don't pay attention to that, because everyone that's really involved in [dance music] is really happy about what's going on. No matter if we are talking about underground or bigger DJs, they come to me saying they are so glad I'm opening doors. That's the reaction I'm getting.
At the same time, I'm still going to put out songs without [vocals] that are really for the DJs. I just love music. I love all genres like hip-hop [and] rock. So how can people who love music say it's not good to work with Akon, Rihanna, or the Peas? If we can take the best of both worlds and make even better music, that's fantastic. If someone wants to keep it more underground, that's also great. I'm not saying there is only one recipe.
What do you think about the division that has occurred between WMC and Ultra Music Festival?
I think it's unfortunate. I don't understand the politics behind that. I'm not really happy about it, to be honest. It's putting [DJs] in an awkward situation.
There's been an evolution of [WMC]. At the beginning, it was more about DJs sharing their passion, and now it's more business-oriented. It's become such a big competition between Ultra, the clubs, and promoters. I just want to go there, see my friends, have a good time, and discover new music.