Fedde Le Grand: Believe in the build-up

It’s been a few years since big-room house hero Fedde Le Grand visited Australia, and he’s back this summer to make up for lost time. The Dutchman is set to celebrate New Year’s Eve in two cities, Adelaide for Summadayze and on Sydney’s Bondi Beach for Shore Thing alongside Knife Party and the Chemical Brothers, before keeping it rolling at the rest of the Summa shows. We got him on the phone midway through his U.S. tour.

How do you find touring America compares to at home in Europe? Do you tailor your sets differently?

In Europe, it’s so embedded in the culture, people know what they’re talking about but it’s not as fresh as it was 10 years ago. People in Holland especially are a bit spoiled. Dutch people like to nag a little bit, like, ‘It was a great party, but…’ There’s always a ‘but’. Since we’ve been doing dance music in whatever form for so long, it is harder to impress people.

In America, it feels like being back in the ‘90s, you have all these kids in crazy outfits with glow-sticks. It’s super positive. Even on a Tuesday, you can still have 2000, 3000 people in front of you. I’ve been touring America for a few years now, but the last two years it has just blown up like crazy. On an ‘education’ level, it’s probably not the same as Europe, because for a lot of people it’s still quite new, so they give a lot of energy.

So what productions are you working on at the moment?

Actually a whole bunch of stuff. I wanna do a new album next year, so actually working on the second track. On an album I feel you can go a bit outside your comfort zone. I’m halfway there with the album. I hope to finish it in January or February. I’m super-excited; we did some stuff that’s really fresh, which is hard to do at the moment. Here at the moment, we’re working on something that’s a pop electro track, somewhere between Fatboy Slim, Daft Punk and Moby, which is cool.

Why do you think it’s hard at the moment to come out with something fresh?

With the whole scene blowing up, the normal effect when something gets bigger and more commercial is that it tends to get more generic. People when they have success with something, they’re afraid to deviate from it and do something else. You usually stick to the thing that works. At a certain point, though, you get to a point where it needs to change. I think people need to step up and do something different, especially in the scene I’m in.

For you, your DJ skills have developed alongside your production – it does seem now that a lot of acts come up on the strength of their studio work, and they have to learn the DJing on the job.

It’s an interesting development. I remember on my first tour of Australia, when I first got on the international scene, I had Sharam, Josh Wink and Carl Cox all standing behind me, like, “OK, this kid can produce, but can he play?” Now, depending on what scene you’re in, you can manage with a laptop. But I also believe in the ‘build-up’ in DJing; at most of my gigs I’ll do an old-school build-up, and I have no problem playing three or six hours, while some of the youngsters aren’t – which is normal. They’d prefer to do 90 minutes.

You play on a lot of mainstages around the world. What do you think is the sound that is really connecting with people on that large scale at the moment?

It varies. I think here in America it’s usually pretty clear, it’s a tougher electro sound, or the progressive sound. For instance, if I would do a festival in Germany, I would go for a deeper sound, because Sven Vath might be playing immediately after me. You know, the crowd is a little more perceptive. Like I said at the beginning of the interview, they have a longer history of house music which makes it easier to play different kind of stuff. There are small differences.

Are there particular things that you’re packing for this kind of trip? Are you going to be previewing some new music?

Obviously, that’s always the great thing about being a producer and a DJ. I definitely want to try out some new tracks, because it’s great that you’re able to. You know, I’ll start and finish a track in the studio, but in between you take it on the road with your laptop and play it out. You can see where’s it’s too long or too short, or if the break should be different. But I have to do the mixdown in my studio.

Are you DJing on SD cards now?

Yeah it might be a USB, because SD cards are too small and I lose them. I haven’t gone over to laptop, because I think in that way, I’m a bit old school. It feels weird or something. You know, you have to hook up everything. But the USB sticks are great; I’m kind of happy that I don’t have to travel with vinyl anymore or CDs for that matter, but it still feels like DJing.