David Guetta is set to release a new single, Just One Last Time, featuring Swedish duo Taped Rai. He talks to Andy Welch about the collaboration and his influence on pop music.
By Andy Welch
Every now and again in music, a new artist comes along with a new sound that changes everything.
Think back to when The Strokes released their debut Is This It? in 2000 at the tail end of Britpop with scores of homegrown bands playing the similar melodic, often plodding guitar rock.
As soon as Julian Casablancas and his mates from New York arrived, you couldn't move for other painfully thin musicians playing angular punk(ish) songs while clad in skinny jeans, leather jackets and battered pairs of Converse.
The charts reflect the trend until things reach a point where everything sounds homogenised - and someone else comes along and repackages pop in a different way.
French DJ David Guetta had been making music since 1984, although few but the most dedicated of clubbers will have heard of him until around 2007 when he released his third album, Pop Life.
It was a minor success, and paved the way for his true breakthrough in 2009 when he teamed up with former Destiny's Child star Kelly Rowland to release When Love Takes Over.
The song, initially a Guetta instrumental until Rowland heard the track and pleaded to write and record a vocal over the top, went to No 1 all over Europe, including here in the UK, where it planted Guetta at the top DJ table, and gave Rowland's solo career a much-needed second wind.
"The first time I heard the track I immediately knew it would be a huge hit," he says today, looking back.
Since then, he's worked with numerous vocalists including will.i.am, Akon, Nicki Minaj, Jessie J, Jennifer Hudson and Snoop Dogg and become one of the biggest-selling artists in the world. He's now sold around three million albums and a phenomenal 15 million singles.
Whoever he's working with, however, his involvement is impossible to miss. He deals almost exclusively in euphoric house, each electronic song keeping the listener hanging on for the 'drop' - the moment where the beat fully kicks in and song takes off - and an equally memorable chorus.
He's also paved the way for a legion of imitators. Scotland's own Calvin Harris, for example, teamed up with Rihanna to record We Found Love in 2011, a song that sold six million copies around the world and almost certainly wouldn't have done so without Guetta laying down a template of house, Europop and RnB before him.
There's also the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) boom in the US. He is not single-handedly responsible for boosting the interest in the genre, but he has played a large part in its recent success.
Despite the fact the US gave the world dance music - particularly the cities of Chicago, with its house music, and Detroit, a spiritual home of techno - the nation's mainstream never took to the club beats in the same way the UK and mainland Europe did.
For the best part of 20 years, the genre was all but ignored there, but now artists such as deadmau5, Swedish House Mafia and Skrillex are among the biggest names and reaping the benefits of the doors opened for them by Guetta's continued success and shaping of the charts.
Later this month, the 45-year-old DJ will release his new single Just One Last Time, on which he's joined forces with relatively unknown Swedish duo Taped Rai.
"It's always a bit hard to describe the secret ingredient that will actually make a track become a single. This new single works nicely with the previous tunes I released last year, like Titanium or She Wolf," he explains, referring to the two songs he recorded with ex-Zero 7 collaborator and solo star Sia.
"They all tend to express a new direction I've taken recently towards a fresh, more soulful kind of music," he says, emphasising it was always his aim to bring more soul to dance music while taking in strains of electronica and even indie rock.
He came across Taped Rai when a friend played him one of their demos.
"I had never heard of them before but as I'm always really excited to work with new artists, I contacted them immediately. I'm known for my collaborations with international superstars, and at that time I'd just finished two features with Sia. Her song Breathe Me is well known, but she wasn't so well known on a global level.
"What I mean is I am always open to meet new people, discover new talents and I want to help them to grow," he adds.
"A few days later I started working on the tune, they liked it and we finished it together in my studio in Ibiza. As it was their first record, they were quite demanding and we had quite a few sessions in the studio.
"At the time it felt a bit long, longer than usual for me, but it was for the best in the end. I appreciated working with the guys and the result is outstanding. They have a really strong work ethic and I respect that."
In working with lesser-known talent, it seems Guetta has hit upon something that excites him. He becomes animated when talking about his plans for the future, which largely consist of nurturing smaller artists and collaboration.
"That's more than important," he says. "Actually that is really crucial for me right now. It's going to be my priority in the coming years as a producer. I've found that it is something really fresh and exciting to work on, definitely, and I'm going to stick with it.
"I like the idea of supporting new talents and revealing them to the public. Moreover, they are reliable, humble, professional and committed to work with. They deserve to be known, and I feel really happy if they can get more exposure because of what I have done.
"There are no names I can tell you as yet, but it's probably going to happen. Let's see what the future brings."
Even by his standards, the past two years have been huge for Guetta, with headline slots at major European festivals, lucrative club appearances and a string of chart-topping albums to his name. He says there is a lot of stress with that success, but he's not letting it get to him.
"There has been a lot of pressure, but I am always looking forward. It has been extraordinary. I get a lot of personal satisfaction from reaching a worldwide audience, meeting new people and working with all kinds of artists. To touch so many people with my music does mean a lot to me. Every new successful record feels like a love story that will never end.
"From now on I'll make music without any deadlines, which I find very relaxing. I take much more pleasure that way. I'm really happy to work without any preconceived plan in my head.
"No demands, just me and my inspiration. No pressure."
Extra time - David Guetta :: Pierre David Guetta was born in Paris on November 7, 1967.
:: When he was 18 he began DJing at the Broad Club in Paris. By 1994, he was promoting club nights in the city, and had a number of minor dance hits to his name.
:: He released his debut album Just A Little More love in 2001 and it has gone on to sell 300,000 copies.
:: His 2011 album Nothing But The Beat sold over 3.3 million copies.
:: She Wolf (Falling To Pieces) featuring Sia was No 1 for five weeks on the European club charts.
:: David Guetta releases new single Just One Last Time feat Taped Rai on January 21. The album, Nothing But The Beat Ultimate, is out now