Martin Solveig just came to say Hello…
Quirky, cheery and fun – three words many have used to describe French DJ and producer Martin Solveig. But despite having hits from early on in his career, it was his 2011 global smash ‘Hello’ that really catapulted him into a household name.
Whether he’s working on his own or with megastars like Madonna, the 36-year-old has spent almost as much dedication on the visual side of his work as the music itself. Renowned for his high-energy videos, Martin Laurent Picandet is consistently trying to just have fun (and get people to wear headbands).
With his latest hit ‘Hey Now’ doing well in the charts and his Pacha Ibiza residency well under way, I caught up with him to find out how it all started, a little bit about his new track and his views on the Internet’s influence to producers.
How did you get into DJing and where was your first ever gig?
It all started with a Christmas present. I received my first turntable at the age of 14 and I learnt to beat match with one turntable, mixing over my parent’s stereo. My first ‘official’ gig was opening for Josh Wink at ‘Le Palace’ in 1996 under my DJ name ‘DJ Martin’.
Is it safe to say “Hello” really helped catapult you into the music scene?
I had success in the 2000s with tracks like ‘Madan’ and ‘Rocking Music’ but ‘Hello’ has given my career another twist and was my breakthrough in many countries, especially the US. It happened late in my career and it made it easier to handle it I guess. It opened so many doors like the collaboration with Madonna which is something I’d have never dared dream of. Even to this day, I never get bored of playing it because there’s no feeling like seeing people singing along. When you let the crowd sing the chorus, you truly realize how far your music has travelled.
I’ve read somewhere that you actually made this track by creating the video first, is that true?
Yes it is! I’m a movie freak. My headband character is inspired by Richie Tenenbaum, as homage to the work of Wes Anderson. I wanted to do a scene from the movie but in real conditions, real crowd, real players, TV cameras, etc… and this is how I started with my ‘Smash’ concept. I wrote the song to the story of this girl who actually “just came to say Hello”.
And it’s pretty obvious you seem to like tennis – you got Djokovic to star in the video. If you weren’t a DJ is that what you would like to be doing – facing Nadal, Murray or Federer in the Wimbledon final!
That would be a blood bath. Especially, for Nadal as his talent doesn’t translate well on grass!
Tell us about your new track, ‘Hey Now, with The Cataracs and Kyle?
I knew The Cataracs from the “Hello” campaign. They had their breakthrough at the same time with Dev & Far East Movement (“Like a G6”) and we talked about a collaboration then. I discovered Kyle on the Internet as I spend a lot of time checking out new talent on music blogs and on Soundcloud, that’s how I discovered him.
It was born from a really bad day, which inspired the sentence “I haven’t had a good laugh all day now”. I see the track as a mood-lifting and optimistic cure to any bad day. After months of pouring rain and cold, it’s meant to be a wish for summer, that’s what anyone dreams of right?
The track actually totalled a million plays on social networks before its official release. It was amazing, it could hardly be more rewarding and I’m grateful for the warm welcome.
Nearly all your tracks seem to have that Solveig-esque rock style to them – would you say that’s what makes them special?
A Solveig-esque track is a feel-good song that makes you put on your headband and dance!
There must be something in the water (or the pastries) in France then?
It probably has more to do with wine than water.
You don’t tend to remix as many tracks as other artists in your genre (or at least don’t put them on the internet) – is there a reason for that?
I’m very much into writing toplines and strong melodies, more than into creating a beat. With remixes you create a new beat to an existing melody, which is not really my thing. But I sometimes do remixes, I just finished one for Armand Van Helden actually!
On that point, the Internet has become a minefield for music – people illegally downloading music. Is this making it difficult for new producers to come through?
In spite of illegal downloads, I feel that many people still buy the music they love when they want to support the artist. The Internet is a wonderful playground for new producers: you have all the tools to reach a large audience; it’s easy to spread the word about your music through blogs and social networks.
For new producers I would tell them that because anyone can publicise their music on the web, there are more and more newcomers, so differentiation is the key. Not only in the music itself, but in your image, visual style, personality, etc – you need to be different.Tagged in: Martin Solveig
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