Martin Solveig: The Idolator Interview

Becky Bain | April 19, 2012 6:00 am

Coachella was raging more than ever this year with the large array of electronic artists taking over the Polo Fields. Justice and Girl Talk comandeered the larger stages, while the dance tent overflowed with dance fiends ready to party rock to the likes of David Guetta Avicii, and Martin Solveig, who has been spinning tunes and releasing albums for a decade now, but came on the radar in the past year with the help of a hit with Dragonette called “Hello”. Most recently, he brought a range of sounds and rave-worthy styles as one of Madonna‘s main producers on MDNA.

Solveig, who hails from Paris, shook the Sahara tent on Saturday night, remixing songs like fun.’s “We Are Young” and Daft Punk’s “Harder Better Faster Stronger”, and caused an eruption with his own tunes “Hello” and “The Night Out”. Even better than taking in his euphoric bangers? Getting to speak to him personally right after. Take the jump for our chit-chat with the French knob-twiddler.

Idolator: Hi, Martin! I’m Becky from Idolator.
Martin Solveig
: Idolator! I love it! It’s impossible to pronounce when you’re French.

Don’t worry, a lot of Americans can’t pronounce it either.
That’s what’s cool about it!

I absolutely loved your set! But why didn’t Dragonette join you for your hit “Hello”? She played the Mojave tent earlier today.
I know why. She was answering questions for guys like you! So it’s your fault she didn’t make it! [Laughs.] But I’m going to try to see if it’s possible for her to jump up next week. It’s so rare that we are at the same place at the same time. That would have made sense.

That song was huge all over the globe. Is that when things really took off for you?
It definitely took things to a different level, especially in the US, where I was pretty insignificant before. But it changed it all. It became a platinum record, which is crazy! And it also coincides with the time of a great positive revolution for electronic dance music in general in the US. So I’m glad to have had my little share of that, to make awareness of [dance] music in the US. In Europe, it’s been up for a longer amount of time. If I may say, it’s such a pleasure to play in the US. I don’t know how to put it differently. The consideration for the electronic artists is so much bigger here.

You worked extensively on Madonna’s MDNA, and now you’re joining her on several dates of her world tour.
Everything I’ve had the chance to do with her, it’s crazy. Crazy good. Such a great experience to share a little bit of time with her.

Did she call for you? How did you end up working together?
She decides a lot, especially on the artistic level, she decides everything on her own. Yeah, she made the decision. I was part of a list of potential guys, and her manager called me and said, send over some stuff, we’d like to listen to it, we’re interested. And that was it. The first sessions went very, very well.

Was it intimidating working with her?
Very, very. Of course! If you’re not intimidated in front of Madonna, it means… of course it is. But she’s very relaxed, especially in a studio. After a few days, we started to simply collaborate as artists collaborate together.

Madonna caught a bit of heat from some EDM artists (like deadmau5 and Paul Van Dyk) for her “molly” comments at Ultra Music Festival. What are your thoughts about what she said?
I said everything I have to say about that. Which is that… I said everything. I said it to MTV, so I’m not gonna do any follow-up comment. It’s certainly not my role to comment on what she said.

[For the record, Solveig told MTV: “She’s a lot more ironical than a lot of people think, and … she has this dry sense of humor, which sometimes makes her say or do things that are a little bit shocking, which is also the reason why everyone loves her.”]

It can’t be denied that there is a strong drug presence at electronic music festivals — even here at Coachella. As a DJ and producer in that world, what are your thoughts: Should EDM artists embrace the reality? Distance themselves from it? Or not comment at all?
I’ll be straight and one hundred percent honest with you: I’ve never used even the slightest bit of drugs in my whole life. Maybe I smoked like one joint when I was 18, that’s my drug experience. So I feel pretty bad to talk about it, because I don’t know shit about it. I’ve been in this electronic music world for 15 years, and I can just say that I’ve enjoyed every bit of it without drugs. No one has really offered me. I’m not the right person to talk to about this.

How does it feel to play your first Coachella?
It’s absolutely… the site is very impressive, with the mountains. It’s so beautiful. Look at the lights! You could travel here just for sightseeing, and then in the middle of that, you have crazy installations, crazy artists … Honestly, I basically said to my manager in the US that the Coachella spot is a gift, so, thank you. I was so true about that. I just wish I could have brought my girlfriend, she would have loved it … But I’m trying to play good sets so they want me next year!

As you may have noticed, Coachella can be a really weird place. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen so far this weekend?
I’ve seen a couple of looks that were pretty intense. I’ve seen a finger belt.

A… finger belt?
Finger belt. It’s a belt made of fingers. It’s pretty crazy. And it’s really well done, so you can’t really tell if they’re real or fake fingers.

Did you happen to see that blow-up doll rocking out to your set?
Yeah, well, that’s classy! You would admit, the finger belt is a bit more edgy.

Martin Solveig’s EP The Night Out, out now. His full-length US debut Smash is due later this year. And he can be seen live on Saturday at Coachella, and on select dates of Madonna’s MDNA World Tour.