Behind the Beat: Fedde Le Grand
Fedde Le Grand, the Dutch DJ and producer widely know for his track “Put Your Hands Up 4 Detroit” is a true pioneer in dance music that continues to bring his “A” game, night after night into 10 years after that track was produced. From running Flamingo Recordings to throwing parties, booking other DJs, producing, and mentoring other artists, Le Grand has extensive experience in the music industry and a long career that others would envy.
Only The Beat had the opportunity to catch up with Fedde before his set during the celebration of the first year anniversary of Soundcheck in Washington, DC.
Only The Beat: When did you both start DJing and producing? Where was your first official gig?
Fedde Le Grand: My first official gig was a house party when I was about 15 or 16. I was working with this very small booking agency at the time and I remember my mom driving me to the party. It was like a three hour drive and was this horrible party where someone dresses up like a character, but I didn’t care because it was my first official opportunity to get to play music for people. Producing came by accident. When I first started my booker and I were working to get an edge and were working hard like many other artists. We did a lot with drums and I got stuck with the drum machine and I hooked it up to my computer and that is how I got slowly started.
OTB: Do you have any mentors in the industry? If so, how have they helped your career?
FLG: I am a little bit of the exception to the rule. I think I had to do a lot of everything on my own at first. In the beginning, I started my own label because no one liked my music. I did my own parties because no one booked me. I did my own parties of course, but I also started booking all of the famous guys in Holland, which helped me a lot getting to know them. Slowly but surely the parties got bigger and I got some of them to do compilations on my CDs and then the label got bigger. After “Detroit” everything went international.
OTB: If you had to pick another career…?
FLG: My mom is a painter and artist. I was also really into drawing. I probably would pick something in that direction, but also with computers as well.
OTB: Who would you say is the up and coming star in Dutch house music?
FLG: To be honest, I think this is one of the first years where not a lot of people know what direction to go. There are a lot guys with potential, but a few of them haven’t yet been able to get there.
OTB: What is your favorite track the you produced and one that you did not produce?
FLG: I think my favorite track of all time would be something from James Brown, “Sex Machine.” He inspired so many other guys like Michael Jackson and then he inspired generations of artists. I think he is an important person. Of my songs, I like so many for different reasons. Some songs just work great and others I just have a great memory associated with it. It is like asking who do you like better your sister, brother, your mother or father.
James Brown – “Sex Machine”
OTB: What is it like to run a record label? Anything new with Flamingo Recordings?
FLG: It used to be a lot of work. We started out with vinyl. It was me and my friend and we just did everything together. We picked out the vinyl. No one wanted to do our distribution because we were not a recognized label, so my friend knew this guy who distributed porn and he did it for us. In the end it actually worked out, but at first we were like why are these porn guys selling all of these records. Now I do mostly A&R and we have a whole back office that manages all of the logistics. We are doing steady work right now. We can support artists, but as I said before we are in an interesting time where some guys will produce some good tracks and then have a lull, but might come back in a few months with something good again. It is hard to say if I support someone indefinitely, but we have a solid release schedule.
OTB: What advice do you have for an aspiring DJ that is trying to get a shot in the industry?
FLG: You have to love this 1,000%. You have to love making records. You have to love sorting out your set. Partying comes secondhand. It is fun and all, but you have to work. Since the industry has blown up, some guys just want to be famous and I don’t think that attitude will help people make it. You have to work your ass off especially because their are so many artists and all you need is a laptop and you can start making music. Don’t be afraid to be different. I think a lot of guys like to copy what is going on in each genre and a little of that is fine, but don’t be afraid to stand out. I get 200-300 demos a day and I sort through them and if it sounds the same, I skip it. There is so much that sounds the same, so I am really trying to look for something that is different.
OTB: What is the top personal milestone in your career so far?
FLG: I think it changes after many years, but having done this for 10 years I think that in itself is a milestone. Being able to make it for so long in an industry that goes up and down is an accomplishment. I have seen so many guys blow up and then drop off the map, which is unfortunate.
OTB: Outside of Djing, what are your other interests or hobbies?
FLG: Nothing much. I am a serious workaholic. I vacation sometimes, but I can’t handle more than a week. I am into gaming. When your away so much you also miss things like hanging out with friends or watching a movie. Do nothing basically. Washing my car.
OTB: What can we expect from you the rest of this year? Any new tracks or collaborations coming up?
FLG: Both actually. I just finished my album. I have several tracks ready to go. In the next month or so, you will see some new tracks drop.