The increasing popularity of dance music is not only good for DJ superstars, but also for studio mavens: Joachim Garraud and Bob Sinclar happen to be both. The countrymen are known as part of the trifecta that put French house music — or perhaps dance music made by French guys — on the map. The third? A hitmaking global superstar named David Guetta.
Now, Garraud and Sinclar have followed their former collaborator (who is still “a friend,” they say), and much of the international dance music industry, to L.A., setting up a studio within the legendary Paramount Recording compound. But making big, brash “EDM” hits is not necessarily their intention.
“We’re not blind, or deaf,” Sinclar says, referring to the potentially massive records being produced in the studio next door, literally (Afrojack and Skrillex were in there last night). “The door is open, but we don’t have to follow that. We always have to be different. We have to take this opportunity to impose our style here.”
Produced by Garraud, singer JD Davis’s track “Can’t Stop Love” embodies the producer’s four to the floor oomph, along with an R&B-influenced topline that is the “French” style’s hallmark. The video is a Technicolor postcard from Paris, the city’s classical landmarks clashing with the ultra-modern sound of Garraud’s beats. Check it out on CODE below:
Sinclar, born Christophe Le Friant, made some of the best-known dance hits of the pre-EDM era, like “World, Hold On” and “Love Generation,” which both reached No.1 on Dance/Club Play Songs. While Garraud has an impressive discography of his own, his work with Guetta was perhaps his most prominent. The two co-wrote and co-produced many of Guetta’s early club hits, and even shared a Grammy nomination in 2006 for their remix of Deep Dish’s “Flashdance” (they lost to Louie Vega).
“I think it’s great for the EDM family,” Garraud says of Guetta’s stateside success. “He was the first to unlock a kind of door, to have one of his tracks on mainstream radio, not only Internet.”
Garruad officially made the U.S. his home when he moved to Los Angeles in August 2012. Sinclar — who had spent a year in L.A. as a temporary resident in 2008, then returned to France — moved with him. “After a few years in Paris when you’re working hard in your studio and every day you [only see] gray skies, sometimes you want to escape a little bit,” Sinclar explains. Both men brought their families; Garraud’s 18-year-old son is also a musician, and has already recorded some tracks with his dad.
Garraud and Sinclar’s studio is inside a nondescript building on the southern edge of Hollywood. It’s a compact but state-of-the-art facility, tricked out with mixers, computers, and a couch. Since its inception more than 40 years ago, Paramount has been home to a who’s who of rock history, from the Jackson 5 to Tupac. Even the studio’s recording desk has a history, used by Frank Sinatra and Jimi Hendrix, according to Garraud. On a musical level there might not be much in common between those artists and modern-day EDM, but it’s clear that Garraud and Sinclar want to channel the spirit of success that came before them in this studio. Both men are aware of the potential dance music now has in the U.S. market, and the allure of Top 40 hits and Rihanna guest vocals definitely brought these Frenchmen across the ocean. But it’s one part of a broader desire that includes a long-term DJ career.
“When I started to make music with David Guetta in 1999, we were together in my recording studio in Paris and we never thought about how electronic music could be successful today,” Garraud says. “And today we fly private jets and [stay] in five star hotels. We never thought about that. It was completely not the purpose of doing music. It was just having fun, making music with two friends and that’s it. Now, you can see how the business changed in 10 years. Now, you have a real business with a manager, booker… a lot of people are in this business. You can’t be blind about [how having] one hit under your name can better your conditions as a DJ.”
In addition to increased U.S. touring, Garraud is pursuing film scoring opportunities, as well as clocking studio time with artists from the pop world like apl.de.ap from the Black Eyed Peas, and remixing for artists like newcomer Nikki Williams. The remixing in particular is more of a tactical move than anything, one that Garraud describes as a stepping stone to writing or producing for an artist or with a label; he mentions Def Jam. Remixing, he feels, is a way to showcase his ability to create sounds. That, combined with knowing your way around a vocal, is key to potential radio success in 2013 America.
“The timing is good for the kind of music we are doing,” says Garraud.