French DJ and producer Martin Solveig has taken the dance music world by storm with hit singles like 'Hello' and 'Ready 2 Go'. His music has sold into the millions and he's had over 41 million views on YouTube with his webisodes that go by the same title as his fourth album Smash, which has just been released in Australia. Solveig's playful tunes and tounge-in-cheek humour have earned him his popularity, not to mention collaboration requests from huge stars like Madonna. We spoke to Solveig about the album and what it was like working with the queen of pop.
Your fourth album Smash has just been released in Australia. You've collaborated with some great artists. Who was your favourite to record with this time around?
That's a good question. I'd say my favourite artist to record with is always Dragonette. The sessions are always going to be very creative and very funny because she has a great sense of humour and always comes out with new jokes and a new vocabulary. She's a really funny girl! So she’s always the best person to record with.
How did your obsession with tennis come about?
We are men and men have obsessions, that's something we need to acknowledge. Since I was a child I played tennis and when I was a kid I had this dream to become a professional tennis player. So Smash is about those dreams coming true. I said, "why not pretend to be a tennis pro?" and it's the whole definition of this album and the video project. Its like, "nothing is impossible".
Who would you like to take on in a game of tennis?
I'd love to play with Novak Djokovic. You know we Tweet since he was in the video ('Smash ep 1'). Since then he became number one and there is a nice story between us. So we know a bit about each other. But I think what would really be crazy - and I know he’d never say yes - is Roger Federer. He is such an impressive player and I know outside of the competition he is a really nice guy. He looks like he is less accessible than the others so you always want to play with that guy.
You've produced tracks on Madonna's new album. What was the most surprising thing about working with her?
The simplicity of the communication. The simplicity of the way we communicated on an organisation level. Recording those songs for that album was something that quickly became very natural and I think that really helped us to paint something interesting.
How involved is she in the recording process? Did you work very closely together?
She is as involved as you can be in the recording process. This was a very good and big surprise for me! I was assuming that she would spend only an hour or two in the studio per day and come and see where we were and say, "Ok I like this, I don't like that. I'll sing this. Bye!" And absolutely not... I mean we co-produced the tracks and it's not just written on the credits "co-produced by Martin Solveig and Madonna", we literally co-produced the tracks. I mean, at some point she wanted to choose the sound of a snare drum or a synth and that kind of stuff. She was really in the session!
If you had to choose between producing videos and making music, which would you choose?
That's a good question 'cos I have that kind of problem. For the moment, I'm making music because it’s more natural for me. But in the future, without the issue of time, I definitely want to work more on video projects.
'Hello' was shot with a tennis stadium, audience of 15,000 and 'Ready 2 Go' with a football stadium that fits 65,000 people. What's next? Can we expect more episodes of Smash?
Well one of the next episodes of Smash is touring in Australia with probably, overall, 150,000 or 200,000 people, if you combine all the festivals! Hahaha. But that was last year during the Christmas tour and I think the numbers are exaggerated. The only thing that happened is that the story changed a little bit with the project of Madonna, which arrived in the middle of the album. So I had to put this [Smash videos] on hold for a little bit and of course then the story changes, which is fine. Then we re-group in a couple of weeks and we'll see where we can carry on. But, that’s the beauty of this - it's very open, it's very crazy - so we can always adapt to any kind of change.
What's the most ridiculous idea you’ve ever come up with for a video?
The most ridiculous idea I ever had was the 'Ready 2 Go' video - the one we did inside the Stade De France. I wanted to do it in Japan in the Tokyo Dome. It was possible to do it in France because I was able to get some help, but in Japan it was very difficult to do it. It is also the reason why after that I made a song called 'Big In Japan' to show how hard it is to become big in Japan.
You've been dubbed The Rejection Master by your Australian tour manager. What was the biggest rejection you faced while you were here?
Hahaha! It was on tour many years ago and when I came on stage there was this enormous piece of lighting, which fell down on the stage. It didn't fall on me, otherwise I would have gone to the hospital but it fell only a few feet from me. Of course, we laughed after that and thought, "even the audio and spotlight wanted to reject me from the stage". But it's more the repetition of many things like that, that were funny.
Any plans to come back to Australia and remove the title you've acquired?
Hahaha! I hope I will never remove it because it's a part of me and it's very deep! But I'm planning to come back in 2012, I hope at the end of the year - probably around November.