Fedde Le Grand talks new album, wants to make crowds go 'absolutely mental'

The Dutch electronic dance music hit machine known as Fedde Le Grand is no stranger to the big stage.  He has played headlining sets at some of the biggest music festivals in the world including Electric Daisy Carnival and Ultra Music Festival in Miami. On Sunday, he will be playing a pool party at Maya Day and Nightclub in Scottsdale.  I caught up with Le Grand over the phone to talk with him about his new album and how he's able to maintain his popularity in the sometimes ruthless EDM scene.  

You released your latest single "Cinematic" about a month ago, but you've been sneaking it into a lot of live sets and online mixes. Why did you just recently decide to release it?

I was supposed to do an album with Ultra Records. That’s the label I’m signed to here in the U.S. I’ve been working on it for actually quite a while. I think over two years now. I’ve been playing “Cinematic” for over a year and half. I definitely wanted to have it for the album.

What can we expect from the new album?

It’s definitely still a dance album. Not all of the tracks have to necessarily work in the club. Of course, you’re going to choose your singles, but you’re allowed some stranger or weirder stuff. From a truly musical standpoint, it’s nice to do this every once in a while. You don’t have to follow all the rules that are already there for EDM or dance music. I still have two records to finish, but other than that I’m super happy with the outcome.

Do you come from an instrument playing background? What is your writing process in the studio like?

My parents had three rules. We had to play a sport, we had to learn how to play a musical instrument and we had to take dance lessons. Those three were mandatory in my upbringing. But I’m thankful for that because I didn’t want to play a musical instrument at first. I chose to do keyboards which I thought was a little bit cool. My parents didn’t play an instrument so I think that’s why they wanted me too.

In terms of writing, I’m not a native English speaker. I know so many people by now, so I use someone that’s an actual songwriter in terms of writing lyrics and what the melody for the vocals should be. Other than that, I basically think we’re all computer nerds. We just love to tweak and do sounds. It’s a very nerdy process.

When will the album be released and what collaborations can we expect from the album?

It should be after summer. I’m still waiting on a few things to confirm vocalwise. I can’t say anything yet. There are some DJ collaborations with some younger artists that I want to support. Also, there will be a few collaborations with a few DJs that you definitely know, let me put it that way.

You are no stranger to playing big festivals around the world. Can you compare what it felt like playing your first festival in the beginning of your career to playing something like Ultra Music Festival in Miami this year? Have you become desensitized to the crowds or do you still feel a rush up there behind the decks?

That’s the good thing and bad thing about being a human in general is that you get used to everything until a certain point. For big sets, I’m still a little bit nervous, but maybe not as much as I used to be. You kind of know what to expect. My first ever set at Ultra was also on the main stage. I was doing a changeover slot opening for Tiesto. That was super scary because they rolled on this teeny tiny shitty booth on the side. I just had to play for fifteen minutes and it turned out to be twenty minutes because they needed more time to program everything for Tiesto’s set. The guy that was supposed to announce me didn’t know I was playing in between so he’s warming up the crowd for Tiesto. Before I went on, everyone was screaming, “TIESTO! TIESTO!” It was kind of scary, but it turned out really great actually.

You are playing a pool party here in Scottsdale at Maya on Sunday. What can we expect from your performance? What do you do differently onstage when you play these types of sets versus a festival set?

Since I’m finishing my album up, there’s a lot of new stuff which is always nice. Usually, I want to know the first few records I play and then I take it from there. That’s what the whole DJ thing is about for me is actually reading the crowd, seeing what’s going on and feeling out what everyone wants. Do you have to bang it out or take it back a little bit? The big difference is that you only have an hour on a main stage like Ultra or sometimes even shorter so you kind of have to compress your set into this explosive little thing. If you play one record wrong, you’re kind of bummed out. If you have a slightly longer set, it’s actually nicer it makes you a bit more relaxed. But the goal is always the same in that everyone has to go absolutely mental.

How have you continued to stay relevant and maintain a headliner DJ status in what some may call an "oversaturated market" over the course of such a long career?

Music kind of has a cycle. It does the same thing every so many years, of course in a different shape or form. We’re kind of past the whole huge EDM bubble. That’s just a normal process. If something’s really new and everyone jumps on it at the same time, of course it’s going to grow very fast. We had it in Holland where I’m from. There were so many festivals, but at a certain point that’s just too much. It has calmed down. The real big festivals will survive and in five years there will be a new boom or a new kind of music. Every two to three years there is a new genre that grabs the attention. What is very important is that you’re able to adapt to new things without losing your own flavor and style.

What is the difference between playing to a relatively newer dance music scene in the U.S. versus playing for the scene in Holland?

There is seriously no place where there is so much energy from a crowd as in America. Over time, because a lot of people saw videos of that, it actually did the scene a lot of good. Crowds in general got way more enthusiastic because of what they saw in America, except for Holland. It’s good, but Dutch people are a little bit spoiled. We have had dance music for so long. Holland is still one of the harder crowds to play. Well maybe not to play, but more to read. They are not as enthusiastic as other places in the world. I really like Eastern Europe. They’re usually really up for it and they’re also quite educated on music as well. It’s normal because dance music hasn’t been big for such a long time in America. It’s actually from America, but since it hasn’t been big for such a long time, you do see a difference.

Reach the arts editor at jhgolds2@asu.edu or follow @talkshivi on Twitter.

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