Although Martin Solveig burst into the U.S. mainstream with his 2010 hit, ?Hello,? the French DJ/producer has been charting in Europe since the ?90s. After producing three tracks from Madonna?s 2012 MDNA album and amid a worldwide DJ tour, the headbanded Solveig sat down with Vegas Seven to chat about vocals, the French scene and the future of electronic-dance music. The Wynn Resorts resident performs July 13 at XS.
As a child, you received classical music training in a choir. In what ways did that affect your future as a producer?
By giving me a vocal perception of music. Being a house/electronic-music lover, I?ve also always been someone who loves vocals, and I think what makes me different is that I?ve always used a lot of vocals. All my productions are very vocal heavy, especially for electronic music.
?The Night Out? is your first single prominently featuring your own voice. Take us through your process for choosing vocals.
On almost every track that I?ve made, I?ve always sung the vocal at some point. I write top lines for a singer, and then I send the demo, so there is my voice in it, and then we see if the vocalist wants to elaborate from this. And, of course, sometimes the final versions will be far from what I sent originally, because there is the improvisation, which is great. But for this one, I did what I always do, and I just started to play the record like that and at some point I said, ?Fuck it, this is it; this is the record.?
What was the French club scene like?
There is this [unique thing] in Europe: You can go to a club even before you are 18. Which is actually not a good thing, because then the crowd in the clubs in Europe are sometimes?except for Italy?are a little bit ridiculously young. And, of course, when you have the chance to play for people who are a little bit older, the appreciation of music is so much more established.
How has the French scene evolved since the ?90s, when you started out?
In the ?90s, the club scene was quite vivid in Paris. It?s a little bit less vivid now, just because times are changing. There is a move toward festival, which is also a very good thing. And also there is a move to very, very small venues, very specific, dedicated to very narrow kind of people. ? Like 200-capacity clubs for people of one kind, like the guy living in this neighborhood, and having that kind of taste of music. Less a melting pot of people in clubs now.
Any other major differences between the French club scene and the U.S. club scene?
So first, the age of the crowds. There is a four-year average difference, which makes a huge difference. … The other thing is a little bit more sad. Let?s face it, Europe is going through a terrible crisis, especially for the younger generation, and the American youth is so much more optimistic than the European one, and you can feel it when you?re DJing.
You rode the U.S.?s EDM wave quite successfully. Where do you think it?s headed?
One possibility is that actually the strongest pop chart showing in the 2000s in the U.S. has been the urban music culture. And at some point, what made the electronic music so mainstream is also a lot of urban producers and performers starting to push the boundaries of urban music, using electronic music to make their tracks, such as Timbaland or the Black Eyed Peas or Pharrell, all that. It went a little bit away from the traditional hip-hop, and now it?s going back to that, sort of reuniting. You can feel big common points between, for example, dubstep?which has been so amazingly popular in the last years?trap, hard dance, drumstep, dance music and house. All of that has a sort of urban feel to it.
Who?s at the forefront of that next phase?
One of the guys who most represents the direction where it?s going is Diplo. Especially with the Major Lazer project, which is really a good synthesis of all the subgenres that are so hot right now. But then you have the real EDM, that is still like, I don?t know, Avicii?kind of progressive, which is still quite hot. And this has been hot for many years, and will probably keep on being like that. The story of electronic music is that there is always one record that makes a little difference, that becomes eventually a very big hit, a very big crossover, and that influences a wave, and then there is another wave, and then another wave, and then … That?s how it goes.
What?s the story behind your signature headband?
In 2010 I got to this point that when I wanted to start to tell a story and to become a little bit of a kind of character. ? My character is actually based on a movie by Wes Anderson called The Royal Tenenbaums. And in this movie, you have this ex-tennis player, who is like in love with a girl, and so he’s trying to seduce her. And he’s wearing a headband. And so I, in a way I was influenced by this character, Richie Tenenbaum, and perhaps it’s the actor, Owen Wilson’s brother Luke. It’s really an awesome character, and it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. And so to me the headband is homage to this movie, and the work of Wes Anderson.
You’ve shared your dream to someday direct a feature film. What would this film be about?
There are two possible directions for me: One is doing a comedy, in a twisted way that will not be so mainstream; it will more be like the kind of comedy I really love like the one by, as I said, Wes Anderson or the Cohen brothers, or even Tarantino to some extent. So that’s one possibility. Or the other possibility is like quite the opposite, going for, like, pure drama, but this will be like more my French side ? I have a couple of ideas of scripts, but I think that’s later.