Ahead of his 50 billionth gig (not really) in Abu Dhabi this weekend, the French house king David Guetta talks to us about buying houses in the UAE, going urban with Rihanna and sitting in his Dubai hotel room making music on his laptop.
The news that David Guetta was coming to this weekend's Creamfields festival in Abu Dhabi probably surprised few dance music fans in the UAE. To suggest that the French house DJ and constant chart-botherer is something of a regular in the country is akin to claiming the Burj Khalifa is "a bit tall". In just four years of Creamfields Abu Dhabi, Guetta has headlined twice, but he's also had numerous other shows in the capital and in Dubai. So, aside from the obvious, what keeps him coming back?
Guetta hearts the UAE
"I love it here," says the DJ. Despite a somewhat complicated international phone call arranged by his record label, it turns out Guetta's actually speaking to me from Dubai, about a kilometre away from where I'm sitting. "I'm staying at the Royal Mirage residences. It's very nice," he says. "I'm spending more and more time in Dubai." Given his numerous UAE gigs, plus his suffering of jet lag (something he tells me is "the only problem" in his life), wouldn't it just be easier for him to buy a property out here? "Well yes, that would be a possibility." You heard it here first.
Keeping it fresh
With so many shows in one country, it must be difficult ensuring the crowd is getting something different each time. After all, there's only so many times you can play the Black Eyed Peas's I Gotta Feeling (which he produced) without somebody noticing. "Actually, it's not like a rock band who play the same classics each time," he says. "I play a lot of new music. From one year to the other, probably 80 per cent of the music is different."
The past few years have seen Guetta team up with such an impressive list of international A-listers that, to the untrained eye, his surname could well appear to be "Guetta Feat". But alongside the Estelles, Kid Cudis and Snoop Doggs, have there been any proposed musical hookups he's turned down? Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton perhaps? "Yeah, of course, but if you're an artist you have to make choices," he says diplomatically. "And as for Paris Hilton, she was working with my friend Afrojack already."
It might have been only in March when Guetta last played in Abu Dhabi, but this time around you might get to hear a new musical direction. "I just produced two records on Rihanna's album. One, called Phresh Out the Runway, was the first time I've produced urban beats." Rihanna must have liked it, because it opens Unapologetic, which is still topping album charts since its release last month. "I've also got my own record, called Just One Last Time, which has a brand new act in it [the Swedish duo Taped Rai]. For me, it's important to work with big artists, but it's also important to work with new talents."
With his numerous UAE visits, can we expect to hear any regional influence or collaborations in Guetta's seemingly endless output? "If there was something that would work with my sound, I'd have to study a little more because, to be honest, I don't know anything about the music scene here." While David Guetta Feat Amr Diab or David Guetta vs Omar Souleyman might be some way off, the UAE can at least claim some credit. "I've been making music in my room every day since I've been here, on my laptop," he laughs. "I already have two tracks done in Dubai. They're not finished yet."
Creamfields Abu Dhabi is on Friday at the du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The bill also includes Armin van Buuren, Example, ARTY and maDJam. The gates open at 6.30pm and the event runs until 4am approximately. General tickets cost Dh275; VIP tickets are Dh595. Visit www.thinkflash.ae for details