Fedde le Grand is undoubtedly one of the Netherlands finest. He has collaborated with a variety of artists spanning across a massive spectrum of genres, from Coldplay to Ida Corr. Thus, it is no surprise that Fedde also draws on some of the largest varieties of musical influences within his production. He has transformed tracks from multiple genres into his own distinctive “le Grand” sound, which is one of the many reasons that his productions are so critically acclaimed.
Recently, Fedde has had releases on esteemed labels such as Ultra Records, Flamingo Records, and Toolroom Records just to name a few. In addition to his constant flow of dancefloor-filling releases, Fedde has just shot a “feel good” music video for his track, “So Much Love,” which you can checkout below! Fedde Le Grand gave meaning to his electronic music; he didn’t just produce lifeless tracks, but instead he added his own passion and soul to each song. After reading this interview, you will know exactly what I’m talking about.
The Dankles: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us so we can all get to know you and your work a little better. Let’s start out with your name and where you are from?
Fedde le Grand: My name is Fedde le Grand (le Grand is my actual surname, not made up like a lot of people think) and I’m from the Netherlands in Europe.
TD: What age did you start producing music?
F: I started producing music when I was around 17, 18 years old, so a long time ago now, things have changed a lot since I first started out.
TD: Who were some of your biggest influences when you first started out?
F: My biggest influences actually came from outside of dance music. I was really into funk growing up, for instance I love George Clinton. He is the bassist from P-Funk and Funkadelic, The Parliaments, and I’ve always been a really big fan of his style. What he can create with basslines and rhythm is incredible. I was also a huge fan of Michael Jackson – when it comes to creating lyrics and riffs and hooks that are just SO infectious, he’s unbeatable. He was a genius with music, I’d give my right arm to be able to do what he did.
TD: Who are some of your biggest influences now?
F: Now I’m a big fan of Justin Timberlake and Missy Elliott, I really dig what they do creating unbelievable bass lines to lay vocals over. I also love Justin Timberlake just for his amazing vocals, and let me add in Janelle Monae who I would LOVE to get in the studio to work with.
TD: If you could collaborate with ANY artist dead or alive who would it be?
F: Like I said, Janelle Monae and Justin Timberlake definitely, but also J-Kay from Jamiroquai would be fantastic. If I had those three artists lined up to work with, I’d be a very happy man.
TD: If you could go back in time to when you first started DJing what would you tell yourself now that you are more experienced?
F: I think I’d just tell myself to keep doing what I was doing. I’ve come really far, but I’ve worked damn hard to get here. I don’t think I would tell myself not to make mistakes – those are what you learn from and can help to drive you forward. Without mistakes you’d just be stuck in the same position, thinking everything was great, and not finding the strength to drive yourself up again. So yeah, I think maybe I’d just give myself a pat on the back and say I was going to be ok.
TD: So I’ve got to ask, in your renowned track “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit” why Detroit?
F: For me, Detroit is like holy ground when it comes to house and techno. The Detroit techno scene was really influential when I began listening to electronic music. You had these incredible producers like Derrick May, Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson putting out these beautiful, beautiful house tracks that were like nothing I’d heard before. Their music, for me, was the epitome of what could be done with production, so “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit” was, I guess, a sort of love letter to the music and the artists.
TD: Also you remixed one of my all time favorite disco tracks in 2008, “Let Me Think About It” by Ida Corr, what motivated you to produce the track?
F: We had a really cool vocal from Ida, who is one of my regular partners in the studio, and a really great beat from me and we just put them together. Ida’s fantastic to work with and I’m very much into having vocalists work with me on tracks because they really understand the ways melodies and harmonies can really work and push the limits of a song. That collaboration is definitely one of my favorite tracks that I’ve ever produced.
TD : So right now you are on the Road To Ultra tour; what has been your favorite city to perform at so far?
F: Can I say they’ve been all good? 😉 The whole tour was great, the crowds were really up for it and the energy levels were through the roof. I think everyone is really pumped for Ultra. The first weekend was off the chart, the best I’ve ever been to and I think the second weekend will be even bigger, if that’s possible.
TD: Where has been your favorite location to perform EVER?
F: You’re asking an impossible question! I think I would have to pick a couple, not just one, because there are so many different types of places that I play. Ultra Music Festival, of course, playing the main stage with the city backdrop in front of you is just an unreal location. Also, Exit Festival in Europe, which is in a castle. It’s a very cool festival and a fantastic atmosphere, I’d love to play there again. As for clubs, I’d say Pacha in New York, Ministry of Sound in London where I have my residency, and also Yalta Club in Sofia, Bulgaria are all amazing. The Yalta Club is really something else, and I know a lot of DJs who love playing there as much as possible. The promoters don’t care what the time is, if people want to keep on partying then they let them. I’ve played 6, 7, even 8 hour sets there which is a real indulgence for me because I get to create a totally different set than usual. If you’re ever traveling in East Europe, do yourself a favor and go to Yalta, you won’t regret it.
TD: What is one of your craziest stories from being on tour… be honest!
F: Without a doubt, this naked old guy at Street Parade! I was in the middle of my set, there were around a hundred thousand people in total going absolutely nuts, and then out of nowhere this really old, really wrinkly guy wearing nothing but a TINY thong comes out dancing in front of everyone. I don’t care how old you are, if you love music go for it, but put some clothes on please! That image will haunt me until the day I die.
TD: What was the experience like opening for Coldplay in Madrid? Was the crowd different than you expected because of the difference in genres each of you play?
F: That was such an honor, believe me. I’m a huge Coldplay fan and I did a remix of Clocks before I did Paradise, so to be asked personally to open up for them, it was crazy. Of course it’s a different kind of crowd, people are there to see a live band not a DJ, but I felt like it went really well. I had people up and dancing, I didn’t go all out like I would for a club set because essentially, I was the warm-up which hasn’t happened for a very long time. But I really enjoyed myself plus I got to see Coldplay for free.
TD: In 2012 you were rated number 26 on DJ Mag’s top 100 list, how did that feel? And what do you have planned for 2013?
F: Yeah it felt good man. I don’t put too much stock in any chart or poll because if that’s all it comes down to for you then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. If people want to vote for me then I’m really honoured and thankful, but there are SO many DJs and producers out there right now that it’s impossible to say that you’re successful just because of one chart or another. It really comes down to fans coming to see you play, people buying your records, the love and energy you get from people on the dance floor. That’s the most important thing.
As far as 2013 goes, I’ve just released a remix of Nikki William’s ‘Glowing’ which is getting a lot of support right now, I’m on tour of course with Sultan and Ned Shepard with the Road To Ultra and we also have a new collaboration coming out called ‘Long Way From Home’ which will be released on Flamingo Recordings on March 18th and is the official Road To Ultra Tour Anthem. After that, I’m planning to release at least one track a month, I have a bunch of tracks that are the foundation of a second artist album, we have a brand new tour concept in the bag that I think will really blow everyone away, and some huge gigs lined up all over the world. Basically, I’m going to be really, really busy.
TD: When you aren’t producing music what do you like to do in your free time?
F: I love hanging out with my family and friends, because I don’t get to do it as much as I’d like with all the touring, I like to keep fit and healthy in the gym as well. To be perfectly honest, I work so much that I don’t really get any free time. Luckily, my job is doing what I love so it works out ok.
TD: Any last words or shout outs before you go?
F: Big thanks to everyone who’s come out so far to the Road To Ultra tour and looking forward to seeing you all on the rest of the dates and of course at Ultra Music Festival itself.
The Dankles rapid-fire questions:
Go-to track to revive the dance floor:
Toxic Rush – Jewelz and Scott Sparks
Track that has been on repeat the most recently:
Thrift Shop – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
The best track of 2012:
Circles – Eric Prydz
Last show you attended that you did not play at:
Bulgaria – Richie Hawtin and Dubfire
Best vacation you have ever took:
Australia for 4 days