We loved his Molly track, we loved his work with Lana Del Ray, and we loved having the chance to sit down with Cedric Gervais himself.
This is your first stop back?
►Yeah, I’ve been out for three weeks.
Is that a long time for you to be off?
►I normally take one week off, but since I have a house now in Aspen, CO, I decided to disconnect for three weeks.
That’s pretty much the polar opposite of Miami.
►It’s pretty cold.
So you’re originally from France. What brought you to Miami originally?
►I was about 17 years old and a friend of mine was living in Miami at the time, so I decided to go with him and I fell in love with the city and decided to stay. I started working right away.
That must be a huge change, especially at that age. You adapted quickly and got into clubs and started playing. How did you do that when coming to a new place where you weren’t really known?
►It was very hard. I didn’t speak a word of English when I came here, except for hello. It was very difficult and very intimidating to come to a different culture at the time. America was very rough, not the way it is now, with immigration and everything. It was very weird to arrive from Europe and adapt to living in America but I loved it and stayed through the years. Electronic music wasn’t that big at the time, but I definitely landed in the right city.
Who was your first connection? How did you land your first gig?
►Miami nightlife was run by French people. The Living Room was the hottest cub. One day a friend of mine, a French guy who owned a house on the water, had a party and asked if I could DJ. That night we had over 800 people, and the club was empty. That was a Friday night, and the owner of the club freaked out wondering where all the people were. Normally they would do a house party then everyone goes to the club, but that night everyone stayed at the party until 5am because I was DJ’ing. The promoters told the owner my party was rocking and he asked them to go get the guy who was playing, and I got a job right away.
At that point, did you feel like this would be your career, or was it for fun?
►No, I was just trying to figure out how I could make money doing what I loved. I never worked before, that’s all I did my whole life. I was thinking how I could stay there, pay rent, make music, and buy gear. I was thinking of how to play to make money. At the time, you’d make $200 a night, playing for five or six hours, not 30 minutes.
What kind of music were you into at the time? What were you playing?
►House music. Coming from France, that disco filter house music was big at the time. I was playing that music, funky house music, and everyone in Miami loved it. There were two big things: house, and trance was also very big in Miami at the time.
Did you ever think it was going to explode like this?
►No. When I got into this business, I didn’t get into this industry for the business or money. I got into it because I always loved, it, since I was 13 years old. Every time I did this, it was because I loved what I did. I never thought I would get this big. I just wanted to make people dance.
How did you go from Miami to other clubs in other cities?
►I don’t think anyone can come up the way I did anymore. I was the resident of Club Space in Miami; all the big DJs would come play and I’d open for them. I’d play 10 hours at that club and everything. Sander Kleinenberg and Deep Dish, two of the biggest DJs in the world at the time, and all those guys, said “Dude, this kid is incredible. Let’s take him on the road.” So I got signed with Deep Dish and right away started touring with them worldwide. I came from Miami to being in a private jet with those guys touring in Czechoslovakia in front of 15,000 people opening for them. Then I got signed to an agency and had to go on my own. It’s great to go on tour with those people and open, but when you open, nobody gives a shit and they’re just there for the main act. Then I started making music, people started playing my records, then I started a career on my own.
And then you have Lana Del Ray hitting you up. That track was huge for you, right? How does something like that come about?
►My manager is best friends with her manager. They’re english. At the time, she had this single coming out and asked if I wanted to do something with the single. I wanted my friends like Tiesto and everybody else to play the record, and they did. I was coming off “Molly,” a big track i did, getting all this buzz and controversy, and said I need to do another record because people were saying, “Oh he’s just a one hit wonder he did this controversial record and he deosn’t know how to make a record.” People were talking shit. “Molly” was big in the UK back then, playing on Radio 1… you’d hear Rihanna, then this “Molly” record.
When people found out we were going to be talking to you tonight, every person said to ask you about that.
►I did this controversial record and everybody was criticizing me. At the time, I was working with Madonna in the studio. I was pissed off and said, “You know what, I’m gonna make another record.” I made “Molly” the same way; I wanted the DJs to play it. That’s it. And it became big. Then I did this one and Tiesto started playing it, and it made #1 on Beatport. Then the radio picked it up and we sold 8.6 million singles and won a Grammy with it. I never expected all that.
If you had to start now, today, do you think you’d have the same amount of success? You came down this long road, and the world is totally different now.
►I don’t think so. I’m glad with the way I came out. People who come up today have no culture of what we do. They say EDM is great and have an EDM tour; then they get on it and do one record and think standing in front of a big crowd with their hands in the air is gonna be the end of it.
We know a few of those people…
►I do, too. But they don’t know how to DJ, they don’t know how to tell a story. They do it for the business. I didn’t come that way. Then you have kids like Martin Garrix. I’m sure when he made “Animals,” he had no idea it was going to be the biggest hit on the radio. He did it to make a track all his friends would play. You know, when you make music like this, that’s when the magic happens. The problem when you do music like this is what you do after. When you’re signed to a major label, those guys want hits, so you’re trying to please them. I went through a year of making music I don’t wanna make and went nowhere, so I said fuck that and went back to making music I wanna make.
You said a few times you make music your DJ friends would play.
►That’s the thing. If you don’t get support from other DJs, the record goes nowhere. Like Martin Garrix did this track with Usher and it went nowhere.
Because it’s manufactured…
►Yeah, they’re like, “Let’s put him with Usher and make a big thing for the radio.” It wasn’t a hit, didn’t sell, didnt do anything for the kid. I don’t think it’s because of him, but it’s because of the pressure to make something big to top the last record.
It’s almost worse that way… not getting it handed to you, but getting success so quickly because right afterwards, everyone expects another one. And another one. And another one.
►Yeah and then if you don’t deliver, you’re going out very fast. But if you have a career you’ve been building and your rep is there, you’ll go up, then down, then back up.
What are people gonna see from you in the next year?
►I‘ll have a new label I started with Armada. It’s called Delecta. I have like 10 new tracks I finished. I’m doing collabs with big people and I have my single with Universal as well coming out. I’ve been preparing this all end of last year. The first single comes out March 7.