I had been saying for weeks that Sunday at Ultra Music Festival was going to be my highlight of the entire Miami Music Week thanks to A State Of Trance 550. With less than a month before the start of UMF 14, I was contacted by Fedde Le Grand’s management in search of a photographer for his set. My Sunday went from good to glorious. Meeting Fedde in his trailer, prior to his set, we sat down for a couple drinks and short conversation about his experiences as one of the world’s best DJs and producers.
Make sure to read the entire interview and scroll all the way to the bottom for Fedde’s entire live set and tracklist from Ultra Music Festival 2012.
To view all the photos I took, visit Fedde Le Grand’s Facebook page and www.feddelegrand.com.
Whomping Stereo: To start, please give us a little background on yourself? Where are you from? Do you have any hobbies besides producing?
Fedde Le Grand: Not anymore, hah. I am Fedde Le Grand. I am from Holland. I’ve been doing house music for about 16 years, producing for about 10 years in total. I’m still here.
Whomping Stereo: Did you play any instruments when you were younger?
Fedde Le Grand: I played Keyboard.
Whomping Stereo: Did this affect your abilities as a producer?
Fedde Le Grand: I think it is important, in general, if you want to do something in music, that you have a basic understanding of harmonies. It makes things a lot easier. It prevents you from making stupid mistakes like producing things off key, and things like that.
Whomping Stereo: I know funk-master George Clinton has had a big impact upon you. Who else has influenced you as a producer?
Fedde Le Grand: Actually, before I liked House music, I was into Hip-Hop. Production wise, Timbaland and Dre were big influences on me. Sound wise and how they handle vocals and vocal processing I think is ridiculously good.
Whomping Stereo: What has been the biggest change in your production method since you began as a producer?
Fedde Le Grand: I try to renew myself. I try to do it every year actually. The main thing about being an artist, in general, is trying to prevent yourself from becoming a copy of your previous productions. You kind of want to maintain something that is really you and makes you, you, and makes it your style. But, you don’t want to use the exact same instruments all the time. I think that kills your creativity. The whole thing is to come up with something that interests you and interests your audience as well. I couldn’t say I’ve changed one thing, in particular. It is just an on going process.
Whomping Stereo: Why should we “Put [our] Hands Up 4 Detroit?”
Fedde Le Grand: Detroit, when I just started clubbing, all the good Techno came out of there. For the House music scene, it was very important. It just seemed like a logical thing for me. If you just look at the city, it sounds weird, but for me it was more about the music productions that came out of there.
Whomping Stereo: You named Deniz Koyu “Breakthrough DJ/Producer of 2011.” Do you have any picks yet for breakthrough artists in 2012?
Fedde Le Grand: I’m still saying Deniz. Also, I met this really young guy. He is only 16. His name is Danny Avila. He is from Spain. He is ridiculously good at DJing. I am trying to help him out with producing music. If he gets that, he will be super good.
Whomping Stereo: As of right now, you would say Danny is a better DJ than producer?
Fedde Le Grand: At the moment, I would say yes. I would predict, as of next year, he will be doing great as a producer.
(In case you didn’t know already, Danny Avila will be the youngest ever Summer Resident DJ at the legendary Blue Marlin in Ibiza, this Summer)
Whomping Stereo: Your new collaboration with Deniz and Johan Wedel, “Turn It,” was just released. How has the reaction been to the track? Better or worse then expected?
Fedde Le Grand: Really good. I think currently we are #5 in the Beatport charts, overall. I think this track does have a very “now” sound, but you can definitely hear me and Deniz in it. It has got these slightly different things in it that make it a great track. I think the reaction has been super.
Whomping Stereo: You and DJ Funkerman’s label, Flamingo Recordings has been a great success. What do you think makes it stand out from all the other labels out there?
Fedde Le Grand: I think, first of all, we are a label that started in the vinyl era, which is way back, a long time ago.
Whomping Stereo: Before me…
Fedde Le Grand: No, not that old. But, there are not very many labels that survived the transition from vinyl to online. And, in general, we try to find young artists like Deniz and Johan. We are not trying to go the obvious route. We are trying to find good stuff that we want people to pay attention to, that is the main thing.
Whomping Stereo: Playing the main stage at Ultra Music Festival is clearly a big deal. With less than two hours before you go on, what are your emotions?
Fedde Le Grand: I’m always a bit nervous, which I think is good. You need that nervous energy to really, really bang it out. I’m really looking forward to it. This is my fifth year at Ultra, I think. It never, ever, gets old.
Whomping Stereo: Do you get the same feelings playing in a small club compared to main stage at a giant festival?
Fedde Le Grand: It’s not the same. If you play for a bigger crowd like Sensation, or Ultra, the energy is really there. This is more overwhelming. But, I think that you have to work harder when playing in a club. If 10 people leave here, you won’t realize it, but if 10 people leave a small club you think, “Oh my God! What am I doing wrong?” That makes you work harder which is cool.
Whomping Stereo: Do you have any pre-set rituals? Anything funny or out of the ordinary on your rider?
Fedde Le Grand: Ummm…. No. Not really. I just need 10 minutes alone before I go on. That is kind of a must.
Whomping Stereo: How would you compare playing in the US to anywhere else in the world?
Fedde Le Grand: The biggest difference is the energy of the crowd. It is ridiculous. Especially being from Europe, where we have had House for a while, people have heard a lot. I’m not saying that they are spoiled, but they have seen a lot, so their reactions are not the same. House music has reborn here in the last 3 years. The reaction is just crazy, as you can see from Ultra and Miami Music Week.
Whomping Stereo: Clearly, Miami Music Week and Ultra Music Festival are the place to debut your new tracks for the year. What is your favorite part about this week?
Fedde Le Grand: It’s a bit of everything. Ultra is always a big part of it. The cool thing is that it is a nice time to catch up with everyone. All your colleagues, your old friends, promoters, everyone is always here. There is a big conference in Amsterdam as well, but that is more business focused. Here, everyone takes a small vacation and hangs out which is really nice.
Whomping Stereo: What gigs do you have lined up for this summer that we should know about?
Fedde Le Grand: In the States?
Whomping Stereo: Anywhere..
Fedde Le Grand: I’ll definitely be in Ibiza again. Tomorrowland and Mysteryland which are two big festivals in Holland. I’m doing two Sensations this summer.
Whomping Stereo: Are you doing Sensation America?
Fedde Le Grand: Yeah, doing that. OH! OOPS! Maybe… Maybe I’ll be there. There is just so much going on. I’ll pretty much be touring 3 months straight.
Whomping Stereo: How many days a year do you end up playing?
Fedde Le Grand: It depends. Generally between 100 and 180, depending on what I want to do, how much studio time I want. If you want to, you can pretty much play every day of the week, all year round. But, you need your studio time so I try and keep it balanced.
Whomping Stereo: What are your thoughts on blogging and music piracy? Do you think it has helped or hurt the growth of EDM?
Fedde Le Grand: I think blogging is great. Illegal downloading is bad and it is not bad. If you are an established artist, it could be bad for you from an income point of view. But the main thing is that as long as your music is out there, especially if you are not established, it is great. Anyone can find your music. The only bad thing is that it is very hard to have music that no one else has. So, if I do some edits, mashups or bootlegs I protect them. I pretty much send them to nobody, because that is pretty much the only way that you can surprise people in your live sets.
Whomping Stereo: Finally, what has been your most memorable moment while touring? Is there anything in particular that sticks out?
Fedde Le Grand: I’ve seen so much. I think when you do things for your first time, that is very memorable. I remember my first Sensation. I remember the first time I played Love Parade. I remember my first time here at Ultra. First times really stick with me. But of course there are the funny things. One time I saw a dancer kick over a flame-thrower and the whole stage caught on fire… haha.
Whomping Stereo: Thank you so much for your time. I’m sure our readers will greatly appreciate your insight and are looking forward to more releases from yourself and Flamingo Recordings.
Listen to FLG’s entire live set from Ultra Music Festival 2012
01. Fedde Le Grand & Nicky Romero – Freaky [White]
02. Benny Benassi – House Music [Ultra]
03. Nicky Romero – Generation 303 [Musical Freedom]
04. Fatboy Slim – Praise You (Fedde Le Grand Bootleg) w/ ID
05. Cassius – I Love You So [Ed Banger] w/ Tiësto & Hardwell – Zero 76 [Musical Freedom]
06. Fedde Le Grand & Patric La Funk – Autosave [Flamingo]
07. Michael Calfan – Resurrection (Axwell’s Recut Club Version) [Axtone] w/ Axwell & Sebastian Ingrosso feat. Michael Feiner – Together (Acappella) [Axtone]
08. Fedde Le Grand – Metrum [Toolroom] w/ Booka Shade & M.A.N.D.Y – Body Language [Get Physical] w/ Justice vs. Simian – We Are Your Friends (Acappella) [Ed Banger]
09. ID (28min30sec)
10. Faithless – Insomnia (Fedde Le Grand Bootleg) [White]
11. Avicii – Levels (Tocadisco Bootleg) [White]
12. Coldplay – Paradise (Fedde Le Grand Remix) [Toolroom]
13. Gotye feat. Kimbra – Somebody That I Used To Know (dBerrie Bootleg)
14. Alter Ego – Rocker (Patric La Funk & Dohr & Mangold Bootleg)
15. Dada Life – Kick Out The Epic Motherfucker [So Much Dada]