DJ/Producer Martin Solveig defends his “mainstream” focus and talks new potential hit “Hey Now.”
Aside from legions of fanatical fans, millions of dollars, and international acclaim, Madonna and Justin Bieber apparently have one other thing in common: they’re both fans of Martin Solveig.
The Queen of Pop spent a month working in the studio with the French DJ/producer for her 2012 “MDNA” album, which yielded three No. 1 singles on the Hot Dance Club Chart, and an opening spot for several dates of her world tour. And for the under-aged Bieber’s part, he braved the New York heat — and possible legal ramifications — to see Solveig this Wednesday when he spun at nightclub Marquee in New York.
The French DJ/producer, who is known best for 2010 international hit “Hello” with Dragonette, got some harsh criticism on Twitter this week from fellow DJ Wolfgang Gartner for “playing straight up Beatport Top 10 hits” at a festival, but Solveig was unfazed by the negative attention: “I do experimentation on the mainstream level, for a mainstream crowd,” he told Billboard. “That's what I do and this is what I'm good at.” Check out his entire response below, plus more about his latest single “Hey Now,” out now on Big Beat.
During your Twitter exchange with Wolfgang Gartner, you said "I'm a crowd pleaser & leave experimentation 2 real underground acts." Do you not think it’s important for so-called “EDM” DJs to experiment?
I do experimentation on the mainstream level, for a mainstream crowd. That's what I do and this is what I'm good at and this is what I've been doing for the last ten years. I'm a real music lover and I listen to a lot of underground music — like, real underground music. For example, this year Disclosure, Kidnap Kid, all the new things from the U.K., the new indie rock from Stockholm…
It's very important to any EDM DJ to be creative, to even when you play big songs to play them in a way that is unique, and this is what I do. Anyone who knows me knows this is what I do, so I don't need to justify anything.
It's always a question of balance. It's also a question of context. This is very important. I was at that time, when I got called out by this gentleman, the headliner of a festival, the biggest name on the bill, one of the only so-called “EDM artists'” of the whole festival. There were some indie bands, some indie DJs, but I was one of the biggest names — with Wolfgang — of this show. So my response was to end and close the show bringing the crowd what they came for and what they paid their ticket for. And then of course when I'm just a part of an Ultra or of an EDC in Vegas and there are the 50 biggest DJs on the planet all together, then of course I don't need to play some of the records that I play. This is the beauty of being not only a producer and a record-maker, but to be a DJ and to be able to adapt to any situation.
Finally, it was a two-hour set which is pretty long on a festival level when you want to keep the people really up high, which is also my mission. So yeah, on that specific show I played probably 60 or 70 records and half of them are super famous, super big, and the other half are more my personal stuff. This is how I do things — like everyone else, actually.
Your latest single "Hey Now" is a summery track with a super fun video, featuring Kyle and the Cataracs. How did the whole concept originate?
It's a song that has a little bit of sun in it, and this is something I tried to bring but also something that happened naturally with Kyle and the Cataracs. They are from L.A., and we made the track there. To me it was absolutely compulsory that the video was going to be shot there because when I make music and listen to music I have images that go along, and this one really had that kind of flavor. I wanted a lot of fun.
Your tracks have pop elements, rock elements, dance elements, and sometimes even rap elements. Do you categorize yourself as more of a pop act or an EDM act?
I don't exactly know where I see myself. That's my true and honest answer. I've been doing this a long time, and I love my life being a DJ. But being also someone who loves many different genres of music, I'm very comfortable mixing different genres in one and not very comfortable giving myself a label. I've always made songs that are vocally funky, and that you can dance to.
What was it like to collaborate with Madonna and who else would you like to collaborate with?
Well, of course it doesn't get bigger than [Madonna] — in terms of collaborating with not only an artist, but a person with that stature and that vision and who has accomplished what she has accomplished in her life. But of course there are so many smaller profile people that I want to collaborate; younger artists and newer artists who have a very fresh approach to what they do. Kyle is a very good example of this: he's 19-years-old,. He's brought so much spontaneity in the way we work.
What's it like being in a kiddie pool with Tommie Sunshine?
It's the best place to be. I know you want to join me.