As a Chicago native, I try not to take it personally that one of Fedde Le Grand’s most legendary tracks is named after our Midwest rival city Detroit. So I couldn’t stop myself from demanding an explanation when I sat down with the Dutch DJ and producer at EDC Chicago last month.
“There are two reasons. One is that the track started off with a sample from Matthew Dear who grew up in Detroit. It was a super obscure track, and I had to redo the sample myself. And second, Detroit makes sense. It could have been Chicago actually because I think that Chicago and Detroit have been a very big influence on dance music. Especially back in the 90’s because there was so much good music coming from those cities, from techno to house. It could have been both cities, but I liked Detroit and it sounded good. I’d never been to Detroit when I made the record, but for me it was about the DJs coming from Detroit.”
(Our attempt to win Fedde over with some Chicago flag shades.)
While Fedde has been DJ’ing and producing since the beginning of the Millennium, many would argue that the release of “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit” in 2006 is what propelled him forward and secured his spot as one of the most talented EDM artists across the globe. With decades of experience in the business, we wanted to know if there were any particular sets or milestones that stood out to an artist who has played hundreds, if not thousands, of shows throughout his career.
“It’s always kind of a hard question. Not because I want to give the right answer, but because a gig depends on so many things. It depends on yourself. A gig can be really good, but if you’re not 100% satisfied with yourself then it might not be in your top 10. The first time I did EDC really stands out – when it was in LA. Also, the first time I played at Sensation. It’s usually the first time you do something, that’s usually the thing that sticks out to you most.”
More so than many other world-acclaimed DJs, Fedde packs his schedule full of shows, especially music festivals. This year alone, he’s played everything from UMF Miami to EDC Vegas to Summadayze in Australia. So what’s his take on festivals versus club gigs?
“To be honest, I love playing big festivals. It’s just really impressive. Then again, one of my favorite clubs is a 500-person capacity club where I’ll play for six hours. It’s much more personal, you have more room to switch things up musically. With a festival, you’re obviously not going to start at 125 BPM and build things up. The only thing I don’t like is that sets are starting to get shorter and shorter…back to one hour. One-and-a-half hours should actually be the minimum. After my sets, I’m always thinking ‘I wanted to play this and I wanted to play this!’ I’m also a sucker for outdoor shows.”
Playing such a wide variety of shows and festivals across the world has afforded Fedde the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the most renowned industry legends. So when Fedde isn’t on the decks at a festival, where can you find him?
“When I’m at a festival, I usually tend to listen to people I don’t know very well. A lot of the guys like David or Hardwell or Nicky – I know them so well that I know what to expect. Not that I’m not interested, but I’d rather go listen to guys like Eric Prydz or Carl Cox. They just have a slightly different approach to the music. And that inspires me to do little things and steal little ideas for my own music. It’s really old school, but Danny Tenaglia still plays one of the best sets ever. Steve Lawler is really amazing – especially in Ibiza – it’s really great. And really, one of my favorite people ever is Carl Cox. He’s just the most friendly, happy, global guy.”
We’d have to say the same for Fedde. Despite having a resume that most producers spend their musical careers aspiring to, Fedde is one of the most down-to-earth and gracious artists we’ve come across. He’s in it for the music, not the fame. And despite his ability to continually evolve and develop his sound, he’s always stayed true to who he is as an artist.
So as you sprint toward another fun-filled summer weekend, turn up this classic as you pour yourself a well-deserved drink. Happy Friday friends.