Riding high, DJ Guetta looks inside and overseas
He has sold eight million albums and packs dance floors across the world but on David Guetta's latest album, the leading international DJ is slowing down a notch and becoming more introspective.
His new album, "Listen," follows the blockbuster success of 2011's "Nothing but the Beat" that produced a string of major club hits including "Without You," which featured Usher on vocals, and "Where Them Girls At?" with Nicki Minaj.
"Listen" does not represent a break from his previous work, with Guetta still producing festive dance anthems. But the French DJ turns down the tempo slightly at times on "Listen" and he acknowledges a touch of "melancholy" in the sound.
"This album was made at a difficult time in my life on a personal level and that definitely influences the words and the music," Guetta told AFP.
Guetta recently separated from his wife Cathy, a manager of Parisian nightclubs, setting off messy divorce proceedings. The two spent 25 years together as an emblematic international clubbing couple, flying to dance floors around the world.
"Up until now, my life has been pretty much non-stop partying. Here I'm at a point where I've asked myself plenty of questions and that can be felt," he said.
- More star collaborators -
Guetta composed "Listen" initially as an acoustic production, writing the songs with a piano and guitar. He then brought in electronic sounds and the heavy drums which are his hallmark.
Guetta -- who describes his sound as "a combination of funk, soul, new wave and house music" -- has in the past five years emerged as one of the biggest forces in dance music.
Detractors say that he has settled for a mainstream style that relies on contributions from pop celebrities.
Guetta -- who has worked in the past with Madonna, Rihanna and the Black Eyed Peas -- brings another all-star set to "Listen." Minaj is back, with John Legend and Sia also taking turns singing.
But Guetta also offered vocal duties on two of the album's early singles, "Lovers on the Sun" and "Dangerous," to the comparatively obscure US singer Sam Martin whom the DJ ran into at a studio in Los Angeles.
"People always talk about me with regard to collaborations with big American artists, but it's also my responsibility as a producer to get people discovered and to come up with a new sound," Guetta said.
- A rare tour of India -
Guetta, adept not only as a DJ but as a businessman, is planning with his new album to move beyond traditional club circuits. He will soon tour India, which has an active trance scene in Goa but is otherwise rarely on the circuit for major global DJs.
"Some DJs have decided to bet everything on the United States because that's the big market right now, while others are really invested in Ibiza," he said, referring to the Spanish resort island famous for its club scene.
"For me, I'm also there but I also want to go to places where not everyone else is," he said.
"I'm going, for example, on a tour of India. It's a country where there's little in terms of album sales, but I want to take advantage of this opportunity to discover countries and cultures," he said.
Guetta will play New Delhi, Bangalore and Pune between December 19 and 21. Soon afterward, he will DJ in Mexico for New Year's Eve.
Guetta said he hopes to plan a "real tour of Africa" once he has more time. The DJ has also worked last year with the United Nations to raise funds for people displaced by war in Syria and disasters in the Philippines.
Guetta, 47, has homes in London, Los Angeles, Ibiza and Dubai. He often composes from his computer in hotels or airplanes.
"I don't really have a set place where I spend my life and I can't really say, 'I'm going to get up and go to bed every day at the same time,'" he said. "There are plenty of high points to my profession, but a routine is not one of them."
Despite his globe-trotting lifestyle, Guetta said he still feels an attachment to France, which in recent years has become a major hub for electronic music with artists including Daft Punk, Martin Solveig and Bob Sinclar.
"I have a very international life, but culturally I still feel completely French," he said.
© 2014 AFP