Behind the Beat: Bob Sinclar
Miami Music Week and Ultra Music Festival are both uniquely incredible experiences from listening to the mainstage festival headbangers to the underground grooves at the after parties across South Beach. The biggest highlight of my recent dance music pilgrimage was the opportunity to interview French legend, Christophe Le Friant, the Bob Sinclar. I got a world history and culture briefing on the past 20 years of dance music from the influences in Miami to Ibiza in a 20-minute interview before his set at the Spinnin’ Hotel.
The honesty and humility of Bob Sinclar puts him in a class of his own with a discography that is both diverse and evergreen.
Only The Beat: Take us back. Where was your first official gig?
Bob Sinclar: Actually, I created my label in 1994 and at the time it wasn’t even possible to create one project under your name and promote it as an artist. I wanted to produce my own music so I produced, came up with the concept, and put a different name on it. And then Bob Sinclar came because I wanted to speed up the music a bit. I didn’t want to say it was House, but it was disco French-Dutch sound. So, in 1997 was the first 12-inch release for me and the first party may have actually happened in Miami in 1998. It took six to seven months to promote the single and all the DJs were like, “Who is that guy?”. I think I played here for a Defected party.
OTB: Who or what has been most inspirational or helpful in your music career?
Bob Sinclar: The first time I heard a DJ in a club play House and Hip-Hop together. I have always been into Hip-Hop. I discovered how the DJs were making the recycled sound from Soul, Jazz and Disco samples. I had a chemistry with the beats and the soul of the sample. I wanted to do the same thing and recreate my sound with instrumentals, soul, jazz, funk, and disco doing my own kind of beats. I was influenced by DJ Premier, Kenny Dope and Louis Vega. They were doing hip-hop and house at the same time. The first I was in New York was a revolution for me. Kenny Dope was playing hip-hop in one room and Louis Vega in another room. In France, it was really split. House for gay people and hip-hop was for black and urban scene. New York was special.
OTB: What is your favorite track the you produced and one that you did not produce?
Bob Sinclar: The track that I would have dreamed to produce would be Stardust “Music Sounds Better Than You” because we discovered that it was possible to do a pop track and underground song that could make it to the mainstream radio. I have a lot of respect for Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk) because they created a sound that was the launch of the French scene around the world. My favorite is “World Hold On” because it is the perfect combination of emotions and music hook, theme and meaning of the lyrics.
OTB: Is it harder to get discovered in the industry or maintain the status of being one of the top DJs/producers?
Bob Sinclar: To be discovered for me it was not really a problem because I was making my own vinyl and step by step everyday, I discovered new things. I try to maintain a high quality of production and I have a formula that I try to follow. I change this formula all the time. To have major and mega super hits like “Love Generation” or “World Hold On” give you a little more pressure because mainstream people pay more attention to you and expect you to do a super hit on every record.
To be honest with you, these tracks were made with the heart of club music. I wanted to give emotion to club music and was lucky to make this two. To repeat these emotions is hard. I think I build a group reputation before “Love Generation” doing 10 years of club tracks and then the big hits came and social networks. This helped raise my profile and allowed the world to discover what I did before. To be clever is not to repeat the same records all the time, but to promote as much you can your own style. I try to do videos, pictures, and to promote my image.
OTB: What advice do you have for an aspiring DJ that is trying to get a shot in the industry?
Bob Sinclar: First, never follow anyone. If you follow someone, you are behind. You are on someone’s back. It is not a good idea. Even if your style is underground it will become over ground one day. It is hard to explain, but you must be true to yourself and believe in yourself. Put your own imprint on the sound and it will be successful in any scene even if you are still underground. You will have the respect of people because you want to create that unique style.
OTB: Last year you released a bunch of new music including two huge tracks on Spinnin’ “Stand Up” and “Someone Who Needs Me“. Can you tell us a little about those tracks and your work with Spinnin’?
Bob Sinclar: I was actually blessed to meet the guys from Spinnin’ because I used to release my records on Euro Productions, but you can see now that the social network is really important. They worked really hard for a number of years on different artists and they became very famous in their scene. From Future House to EDM to underground.
So, I thought it would be a good idea for me to contact Roger and Eelko and see if they were interested to work with me on a track and they were really pleased to listen. I played them “Someone Who Needs Me” and they said that it wasn’t the style they had on the label and they wanted a good club track. The way they worked on it was unbelievable.
Bob Sinclar – “Stand Up”
OTB: Where do you see the dance music industry going in the next two years? New technology? Changes?
Bob Sinclar: I see a lot of changes in the next two years. This EDM format and scene. Everyone wants to be Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta or Steve Aoki because they became superheroes from the festivals. The festivals helped the EDM scene explode. So the kids try to be their idols because they have the same computers, same software and same tables. They make the same sounds, which for me killed a little bit of the dance music scene.
In two years, I feel that Deep House is getting back from nowhere and the kids are getting tired of EDM and going more towards this underground scene, which helps the House music scene and the music scene from the 90’s to come back. Everything is a cycle. You have the legends coming back; Todd Terry, David Morales and Roger Sanchez.
We all played at my residency at Pacha Ibiza “Paris by Night” and the kids discovered that music because of people like Riva Starr and his label Snatch is doing a lot of mashups with old school House music with new beats. This helps the old generation come back and the new generation to discover what happened before. It is very exciting. In Ibiza is where you can see this from techno to deep house, tech house, the different style of house music is coming back. I think Ibiza is a special island where all the new trends are launched.
OTB: What is the top personal milestone in your career so far?
Bob Sinclar: Actually just to be here with you today and to work with Spinnin after 20 years of work is also a new milestone. To work in this music business and my passion all the time. To work in my studio everyday and play in front of crowds of people, I think it is a gift.
OTB: What can we expect from you this year and big releases, collaborations, shows?
Bob Sinclar: You said it before, there is a lot of pressure. Unfortunately, I cannot release a lot of different music like acid jazz, I have to produce club music because I am in a track and really mainstream club music even if I love soul, but I will continue to build a bridge.
I will be doing work with a Gospel singer like Martha Wash with the house music and the sound of now. I think I am the last one to do it, I did a track with Martha Wash and it was a dream to do it. Instrumental is very up to date with her singing soul and I might be the last one and the only one to do it, but I will push a lot of soul and nostalgia in my music. I love all the little pieces of the past in my music. That is my touch.