Las Vegas nightlife was different 10 years ago. The crowds and the lines were there, but reality-show stars were the biggest names on billboards, and the Strip wasn’t ready for EDM.
It was a scene; it just wasn’t David Guetta’s scene.
“Coming from Ibiza, where the music culture is so big, I didn’t feel like the people who were in front of me were understanding the music,” he says.
Contrast that statement with a September 2016 image from Guetta’s last XS Las Vegas performance; the DJ standing behind the decks, arms raised, as confetti showers the masses. You can see the difference a decade makes.
Las Vegas will never take David Guetta for granted again.
It’s just before 8 p.m. in London and Guetta has stepped outside of the studio to call me. He sounds tired but affable, and his energy picks up when I ask if he’s preparing new music for the next go-round of his Wynn residency.
He confesses that he’s finishing a new single, his fourth collaboration with singer Nicki Minaj. It will be ready “very soon,” but he’s not going to tell me the title.
“These are real fans. They understand this music, this culture. I’m really impressed by how the club culture has evolved.” – David Guetta
“I’m gonna keep it a secret for now, like no one knows about this,” he says. “But there’s gonna be a lot of new music [in Las Vegas]. I’m going to test a lot of new records.”
There’s no question Guetta is a grinder. The Minaj team-up comes on the heels of two new singles he’s dropped since September: “Shed a Light” with German producer/DJ Robin Schulz and “Would I Lie to You,” a collaboration with Cedric Gervais and Chris Willis that pulls its refrain from the 1992 Charles & Eddie single.
The new stuff keeps the performance fresh, he says of his Las Vegas residency, adding that crowds also prefer remixes of familiar material.
“It’s a party crowd; they like hearing the hits,” he says. “So I’m trying to do a combination between my own music and the big, cool American records.”
“These are real fans. They understand this music, this culture. I’m really impressed by how the club culture has evolved,” he says. “There’s no other place except Ibiza where you have so many amazing DJs playing in the same week!”
The image of Las Vegas as a DJ destination really took hold, Guetta recalls, after Encore Beach Club opened in 2010.
“I’d never played in front of so many people in bikinis. I’m still not used to it,” he says. “It’s funny, because I’m French and we always think American people are very conservative, but then I’m there the first time [and] I’m like, ‘Wow!’”
Given his first impressions of the Las Vegas club scene, Guetta didn’t see himself becoming such a fixture on the Strip. He certainly didn’t think he’d be comparing the city favorably with Ibiza in the same sentence.
“For me it’s really special, because I’ve been a resident DJ for many years. I never thought I could find a place where I feel at home like I feel at home in Ibiza,” he says. “I miss it. I miss Vegas.”
Get to Know Guetta
On Encore Beach Club … “It’s the sexiest party in the entire world.”
“The person that produced the movie is [music producer] Arthur Baker, and when I was a teenager I was such a huge fan. My very first instrument was a turntable, because I was scratching, [but] I’m still working on the 808; it has the longest life for an electronic instrument. It’s really crazy that those sounds have been used since the ’80s until today. Hip-hop is based on this, and also EDM and many, many types of music.”
On that time he met Keith Haring … “In ’89 I was DJing a club and playing a combination of house music and hip-hop. I was wearing a Keith Haring T-shirt, and there was a guy who came to see me onstage who said, ‘Yeah, [that’s] me’ … I used to have a house music radio show, [so I asked Haring,] ‘Can I interview you?’ I invited him to my basement … today it sounds completely impossible, [but] it was just natural and I was very young and we did the interview. I said, ‘Could you draw for me?’ and he did and signed [a record mat] ‘Keith Haring for David ’89.’ I lost it for years when I was spinning vinyls. I didn’t realize that one day it would be worth a lot of money. I just found it again recently, and now I framed it.”
David Guetta resumes his XS Las Vegas residency on March 4, with follow-up dates on March 11, 17 and 31. He will be at Encore Beach Club March 18, April 1 and 8. See more dates at wynnsocial.com.