- Tue, 2010-02-16 12:41
At the age of 21, Martin Solveig was already running his own record label and playing sold out DJ sets alongside the likes of Bob Sinclair. When this proved insufficient to keep him entertained he began to write his own material, and 2002’s debut, Sur La Tete, marked the emergence of one of electro’s most important and innovative new voices. Four albums and umpteen remixes on, Solveig is at the top of his game and in high demand the world over.
I Like Music spoke with the dynamic Frenchman about the origin of his love affair with electronic music, how he makes his creativity flow, and the future as he envisages it for himself and his contemporaries.
"I Like Music because… it’s my life, it’s my choice, and there is no other choice.” Martin Solveig
ILM: You’re coming over to the UK to headline club Matter in London on Saturday. What can fans expect from the show?
Martin: I have quite a long history of DJ-ing. I’ve been playing for more than ten years and I’ve been lucky enough to be come to London from the very beginning. London is one of the best crowds in the world. You can improvise, and move from one style to another. My productions and remixes will be at the centre of the set, but I know I will be able to play quite a wide range of electronic vibes.
ILM: You’ve played all around the world. Where have been the best, most memorable places?
Martin: Field Day in Sydney, a club in Tokyo that’s since closed called Yellow, and a place in Brazil I played last year called Green Valley. They’d be my three picks for now. I also got to play in the Stade de France in Paris with David Guetta amongst other big names. It was an amazing party!
ILM: When did you first fall in love with music and realise that it was what you wanted to explore?
Martin: I had classical music training as a young kid, from the age of six to twelve. I then started DJ-ing in my room from the age of thirteen. I asked Santa Claus to bring me a turntable, and I started to mix with the radio on one side and my decks on the other. It was from there that I really began to have an interest in electronic music and it became my life.
ILM: Do you remember who the first artists or DJs were who really grabbed your attention?
Martin: I’ve always listened to a wide variety of music, but the first artist who really grabbed me was Prince. I was really young then, and not DJ-ing at the time. Then it was Lenny Kravitz, the Prodigy, and Nirvana. A bit later I got into the Masters at Work, Mousse T and Daft Punk for their production. Also, all the traditional Rhythm and Blues from the Motown era.
ILM: Producing your own music is a big part of what you do, how do you like to work in the studio?
Martin: I lock myself away. I have a small studio in Paris and I pin all my posters and stuff on the walls. There has to be a visual element in the studio so that I can look at something other than my screen. I listen to a lot of music in the studio as well. I guess it’s like a sponge that grows bigger, and once in a while I squeeze the sponge and something comes out.
ILM: You’ve worked with lots of artists on your record label. Where do you think you fit into current musical trends?
Martin: It’s a very interesting time right now. I think 2010 may be a bit less exciting than 2007, or 2008, when a lot of new scenes blew up. They’re getting to be a bit more mature now. They have to find new ways to keep people excited. But there are still a lot of very interesting new artists around. Or if not completely new artists then new projects. Fake Blood, for example, was my favourite producer of last year. There was also a French guy called Popof who I liked very much. The U.K. always has refreshing new sounds too, from Boy 8-Bit to Crookers, to Calvin Harris. England is always a place where interesting things happen.
ILM: What are your future plans? Where do you hope to take your sounds next?
Martin: There are only a couple more things to release from my last album, so I’ve started to work on the next chapter. I’m definitely going to take time out, which is a luxury I get from having worked for ten years. I’m going to think really in depth about the next move. When you’ve done three albums you need time to get a view of what you’ve done and what you’d like to do next. I’m very active and I don’t like to rest too much though, so I’ve started work on new projects under different names. That will keep me making music and having fun. I’ll probably release one or two tracks this year, but for the moment I’m really taking my time.
ILM: What would be your advice to any musicians and DJs who want to pursue a similar career to your own?
Martin: It’s difficult to make things happen when you start from scratch. You need to be very persistent and motivated at all times. Never give up. You also need to have faith in what you do and what you like. Find your thing and stick with it. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. You need to do it with sincerity and heart, even though at some points it won’t work. Some people say that commercial artists do things to get money and fame, rather than for the music. I can’t think of an example where this is true. Most of the time behind a very commercial project there is someone who really did things with heart, who really wants to share things with people. That’s what always leads to success.