One of our favourite things about Fedde is that he's always so keen to point out that he's part of a team. This year his troupe went up a notch or two with a full-blown, burlesque-tastic, eye-popping, all-singing and dancing show spectacular at Holland's Carre Theatre. “We want to create a whole world that you basically step into and are a part of,” Fedde tells DJMag.
Originally intending to do just two nights, Grand ended up selling out six shows and is lined up to fill the enormous Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam next year, with future plans to take it worldwide.
Speaking to him mid-way through his 'Summer Tour', Fedde has now finished work on his forthcoming album 'Something Real'. “I think if you've been following me long enough it really makes sense, because it's all over the place — which I absolutely love,” he says.
Weaving through soulful, lounge and funk into light progressive tracks, this will be an entirely vocal-led album. “I think in general the most beautiful instrument in the world will always be the voice,” Fedde concedes.
His labels Flamingo and Darklight Recordings remain the hub of his productions and a place to grow up and coming producers, something Fedde has always felt strongly about…
From the looks of things you're getting busier and busier, does it feel like that to you?
“Yes it does, but it's also down to the simple fact that dance music has blown up globally. For instance, when I used to go to somewhere like Asia you would do four or five gigs — now you would do fifteen or something. It's just got more worldwide, so that's the main difference. And I think in general I haven't done that much commercial stuff since the early days, it's been super steady.”
Looking back over this year, your Carre Theatre show that you did was pretty groundbreaking...
“For now it's just for Holland, because it's such a big production that it's hard to get overseas, but actually we're talking about making it more sustainable and moveable — so that's going to be really interesting. So we're going to do Europe and probably go overseas for North and South America, but then that will be next year.
But first we're going to do another Holland edition at the Ziggo Dome, which is the biggest place that we have in Holland. It's been really good and we've been overwhelmed by the success of it ourselves.
“I think for the second edition we're going to go a little bit more modern. It's pretty much the most prestigious theatre that we have in Holland — the Carre. It's been there for 150 years or something. It's absolutely beautiful. We wanted to do the thing right for the venue as well, which is why we chose a more burlesque theme, but we want to go a little bit more modern because the Ziggo is a fairly new venue.”
How would you describe the show?
“Actually it's a combination of things. It's a lot of live stuff as well, which I personally enjoy, so we always have a singer and someone on the piano and the violin. The thing I didn't want to do was to just jam, we've done that so many times where we'll have a saxophone player or a drummer and you just jam away.
So everything is orchestrated, including the dancers and the singer, so everyone knows what to do and the visuals are linked in and the lights are linked in. And my main reason to do it like that is that you can sync everything to your music without being limited.
I can still DJ how I always DJ, the only thing I have to do is play the tracks that we rehearsed everything on — that's the only thing that I have to consider. Then I can do pretty much whatever I like and it doesn't matter how fast I play, it doesn't matter if I start scratching or whatever, everything will still be in-sync.”
When you play your regular gigs, although there is an epic production around it, your music still has a soulful edge to it — would you agree with that?
“Yeah, and I'm kind of glad the way everything is developing right now, especially in the UK with a lot of soul and funk coming back. I always try to have either something melody-wise or do something with the vocal to have a bit of soul to it. But I think that's more just where I'm from, my dad used to be hugely into soul and I think I just never let that go. I'm a big Parliament fan myself.”
Your Darklight Sessions are pretty funky as well…
“The first radio show that I've ever done was actually a German show and that used to be how I would approach a set as well. You start kind of more laid back and then you build it up. I think that's kind of my signature to my radio show, and I still do that.
Even though in my case I can't play that everywhere, it's sort of a big love. It's also where I'm originally from, whatever they call tech-house now or deep house, it's pretty much where I started out.”
So you're staying true to your roots...
“Well, in a sense. I think you can't really avoid being influenced by what's going on but I think a track needs at least to have a drive or something. In Holland we say 'square'. If it's too '1 1 1 1'. I just have a hard time playing or listening to it.”
We like the title of your #wegogrand Top 100 DJs campaign?
“Yeah, it's stupid that I never came up with this before. Probably because it's so fucking obvious, but I like it too, I think it works, it's a positive, certifying thing, which is cool.”
Who have you been working with on your album?
“Actually it's mainly people that I admire and like for different reasons. So some fairly unknown DJs, some guys that I have on my label, because I think that's the right thing to do to support them on my label as well. There's some sampled stuff.
Jonathan Mendelsohn who I work with a lot, MoZella who is an incredible singer, I don't think a lot of people know about her but she's absolutely amazing. I've sampled some interesting stuff, like a French track from an old movie.”
Last year you remixed Michael Jackson and this year you've remixed the likes of Madonna... do you have to pinch yourself sometimes?
“Well, with Michael Jackson, definitely. Also, because when we got the assignment it was unreleased material. And the whole thing was so secretive, we got a call and they couldn't send us anything and then we got another call where we could listen to the track over the telephone, and then someone actually came from America with the stems for the track to our studio. So it was a whole James Bond-type thing. It just made it so extra special.
“In the case of Madonna, we had already done a remix for her in the past. She's such an iconic artist so it's always great to do but in a sense it's a little boring because her management contacted my management. The only thing I do like is that you always have to wait for her approval, so she does actually listen to the track.”
Any other exciting remixes lined up?
“I still have one which is 'Insomnia' from Faithless. They are my absolute heroes, from always. So I'm really excited to do it. Actually I already did a remix from 2011 but at the time they were not so happy with this, but finally they came back and asked if I wanted to do it again because they're doing a whole remix album and they asked me for an addition. But that's the last remix for now because I'm going to focus on the album.”
You've spoken before about production tutorials and your labels being a breeding ground of new talent. It's great that nurturing up and coming artists is something you feel strongly about.
“I think that if you want to keep evolving yourself, it's always important to watch over new talent because they are always going to be fresh, and it's interesting to hear their ideas about how to do things. And then again I've never been afraid to support people also on the album that are not known. I think that if you already have a stage, that's what you should be doing.”
Words: Helene Stokes