Bob Sinclar is widely credited for helping popularize house music. His use of globally sourced, filtered disco samples helped spark electronic dance music’s international growth and earned him a spot at the French-influencer table alongside Daft Punk, Justice and David Guetta. Vegas Seven tapped the house legend for his take. Catch Sinclar September 6 at Hakkasan and September 8 at Wet Republic.
How did your development as an artist parallel the evolution of house music?
The evolution is made with the evolution of technology. When I started to create my own sound, in ’91-’92, you had only a sampler and a small Atari computer, so you were able to sample two megabytes of music. You had a synthesizer, but you didn’t have any plug-ins; the computer didn’t have enough memory to manage your own beats. So it was very important, because you needed to be a musician, to create sounds, or buy a lot of records and recycle them. I came from the hip-hop scene, and I learned how the American DJs were doing their own beats and sampling jazz and disco to create their own music, and that’s what I was very, very excited about. Now the sound is in the software, and it’s easier for the young generation to make their own beats.
Take us back to the ’90s French scene, when house music was just getting started.
It was just about English sounds. It came from U.K., a genre called acid jazz. It was hip-hop beats with a musician on top. Then also at the same time, trip-hop arrived. So, my picture was all about acid jazz beats and trip-hop, and then we started to sample disco in ’95-’96 when Daft Punk’s first album arrived. 1996 was the beginning of something. We started to speed up the tempo and sample something different.
Where did the house sound evolve from there?
At the end of the ’90s, it was all about disco. Then at the beginning of 2000, I decided with another guy, DJ Gregory, to create a project called Africanism. I bought a lot of vinyl from everywhere around the world—disco sounds with different, original, classic instruments from that country. I started to sample not [just] disco, but African disco and Jamaican disco and Caribbean disco. We came back with the Soca beats and all these things. I used all the musicians, all this experience of acid jazz, disco, African music. That’s when I met Gary Pine, who was working with the Wailers in 2005, and we did “Love Generation.”
What was the club scene like at that time?
The club scene arrived with acid jazz and guys called Gilles “Jazz” Peterson and Patrick Forge. A few guys created a party in London and then a few musicians arrived to re-create jazz and soul from the ’60s, but with a new vibe. That’s where you had Jamiroquai, you had Brand New Heavies. So, it’s a mix between hip-hop and acid jazz—this was my music at the beginning. We saw the DJs starting to sample jazz and soul and add musicians to hip-hop. Then we started to speed up the tempo a little bit more with also a ’70s disco sound.
Reflect on your transition from underground DJ/producer to established international hit-maker.
I did “Gymtonic.” “I Feel For You” was Top 10 in U.K. And then I had a few good disco club tracks: “The Beat Goes On,” “Kiss My Eyes.” It was a time when the status of the DJ changed. We became artists. The Dutch or French thing disappeared into a worldwide market for DJs. The French guys show the way to all the young kids—how to create a small label, to make your music happen on vinyl—and then 2005 was a time where also the CDs and Pioneer arrived with the CD turntable. Before, you were obliged to manufacture vinyl yourself and distribute it, and you needed to create a big business to make your music happen. When the CD arrived, this was not the case anymore. Also, in 2005 was the beginning of it on Internet. And this was the end of the vinyl, the end of the label. The kids arrived massively from 2005 to now. “Love Generation” chose me. My career after 10 years of work exploded into something else.
You had a string of No. 1 hits between 2005-07. What was the secret recipe during those three years?
It was my musical culture, my musical background. At first I arrived in New York, and I wanted to do disco songs. I couldn’t even imagine doing a big club hit with an acoustic guitar and a reggae singer. “Love Generation” was a revolution for me in terms of creativity—new beats with a different artistic direction in terms of singers. “Love Generation,” “World, Hold On,” “Rock This Party”—it was all about Jamaica, but with different beats behind that. But Jamaica came because of Africanism and all that background.
What is your impact or legacy on the global electronic-dance-music phenomenon?
Maybe just to show that it was possible. To show to kids in 2005-06 that it was possible to be a DJ, to be your own manager, to create your own company and then to be your own artist. I was not alone, but I could be one of them. Before, journalists used to talk about drugs, about race, not about music. Now it’s not only about dance music, it is about a big genre of music that could fit and be mixed with pop music.
Is there still a difference between house and popular music today?
Now, you see all these kids wanting to copy the other kids who create huge beats to make money. When I started, I just wanted to make music, because you had no money, you had no vision about what you could earn. Now when I meet young DJs, all they have in mind is money. It’s not about music anymore, and the mass of what I hear, it’s not music. It’s just copy of copy of copy of copy. It’s the same for DJs; they all play the same music. They are born with computers, with the electronic music, but they are missing creativity. The ones who are at the top, who really analyze what is music, create the best melodies. David Guetta was very important. He told me the U.S. is the key to dance music for the future. What kind of music? Pop music —a mash-up with their music: R&B, hip-hop and dance music to create the pop music of now.