Cedric Gervais is a layered character, to say the least. His strong opinions on music, style, and the entire industry made him an absolute must-have for our HBT interviewee roster. He’s the man who brought you the hit tracks Summertime Sadness, Love Again, Molly, and many, many more. Cedric’s been hitting the scene as hard as he can, and he’s gaining even more momentum for 2015. Read on for a peak into Cedric’s world, and make sure to stay updated on his performances near you (if you like him on the radio, you’ll die how great he is live).
The HBT Crew has unanimously decided that you and Steve Angello have the best style in the industry. Music is already an incredibly expressive medium, but do you think the way you dress for a performance is part of the experience?
Yeah, Steve dresses well. Guetta dresses well, too. Does it help me engage with the crowd? No, I don’t think so. It’s just a personal choice. I just like fashion, that’s all. I’m from Europe, so I guess that’s why. I’m not saying anything bad about others, but I grew up with it so that’s why I love finding new clothes, going shopping, and searching for designers that nobody knows. I don’t like to wear the same stuff as everyone else.
Who’s your favourite designer right now?
It’s called BLK DNM—it’s in New York. I’ve been wearing it for a really long time, and now it’s becoming very famous. He does leather jackets and everything.
You’re born and raised in France, but are now living in Miami full-time. How was the adjustment from one culture to the next (in terms of everyday life and career development)?
I was 15 when I moved, so it was hard because I didn’t speak a word of English when I came to Miami. But I think it was easier for me than it would be for someone who moved to America at the age of like 28 or 30 and was trying to fit in. It was easier because I was still a kid, so I got used to the culture. I have some friends who moved to America more recently and still can’t speak a word of English. They can’t even understand understand the culture, so they always complain about it. I love it—I love living here. I love everything about it. I’m American now. I think I’m more American than French, that’s for sure. I got used to it. I learnt everything and became an American citizen. But I think if I were to show up at 30 years old with my French mentality, it would have been completely different.
Few DJs can count themselves among the curated list of Grammy winners. How has winning one affected your life, personally and professionally?
It affected me in many ways. I mean, when you win a Grammy you have a lot of people that want to work with you. People that normally would never have spoken to you or even thought about working with you. Yeah, it’s winning a Grammy, but it’s also making a song like Summertime Sadness that sold 8 million singles worldwide. When you do something like that, lots of people suddenly want to work with you. Winning a Grammy is like winning an Oscar for an actor. For the rest of your life, they’re gonna call you a Grammy-winner. So, yeah, it’s pretty cool. I’m still the same guy, though—I don’t give a shit.
Will you be playing at Ultra this year for WMC? If not, do you have anything planned for Miami Music Week?
Yes, I’m doing my party on the Wednesday at LIV—one of the biggest clubs down there. Then, I have my house party which is Cedric Gervais & Friends Pool Party on the Saturday at Raleigh. It’s me, Kryder, Tom Staar, Chocolate Puma, and I have one more guest but I’m trying to confirm it now.
You recently released a podcast titled My House, which our entire team absolutely loved. Can you let us know a bit about the story behind it?
I’ve had a podcast for a long time, but I wanted to do a complete rebrand because I felt like there was so much of the Dutch sound and people were sort of getting tired of it. I come from a house background. I used to play at Space for like 10 hours on the terrace back when I was just a resident DJ. I feel like house music is coming back, like deep house, progressive house, you know—real funky stuff with music in it. Not just one sound pounding in your head like we’ve been listening to for the past 3 years. I wanted to start something that’s more house. If you listen to the next one it’s a lot of uplifting house, and very different than most of the other guys.
Are you going to be doing that at New City Gas tonight or are you going to keep it more electronic?
I don’t do deep house. I love deep house, that’s for sure, but no—it’s going to be like house, high energy.
Your last studio album was Miamification in 2011—have you thought about releasing a new album any time soon?
Yeah, I’m doing one right now. I have this song called Love Again that just came out. I signed a deal with Universal which is Interscope in America and Polydor in the UK, and then Universal for the rest of the world. There’s the first song, Love Again, that’s on the radio right now and it’s picking up big time. They’re just promoting that right now, and then I worked on a second single that’s ready to go. I wrote all the songs with the guy that wrote Summertime Sadness and Young & Beautiful: Rick Nowels. He’s a big songwriter. And I’m also doing a song with Juanes—I don’t know if you know who Juanes is, but he’s a big Colombian singer. He just performed at the Grammy’s, he’s performing at the Victoria Secret Show with Maroon 5. There’s Shakira and then there’s him. I have a huge fan-base in South America, so that’s why I decided to work with him. But yeah, I’m working on the album. First, it’s single by single and then we’re going to put the full thing together.
You once tweeted about how it upset you when DJs played rap or hip-hop during their sets. Do you think it’s good to incorporate other genres, or do you prefer to stick to house during your sets?
Nobody understood what I said! I said that I didn’t understand why major festivals like EDC, Bal en Blanc… Let’s say you go to Bal en Blanc and you’re an electronic music fan. You go to see your favourite artist, and then all of a sudden the artist that you wanted to see is playing twenty minutes of straight-up hip-hop. Does that not sound weird to you? I’m saying you can do whatever you want—I’m not saying you should just stick to one sound. But when you’re playing EDC main stage, and other electronic artists are dreaming to be in that spot, and we’ve spent the entire year fighting against hip-hop to be on the radio in the States and we’ve finally broken through, and don’t come and play “I’m in love with the Coco.” I’m not saying the song is bad, but they’re playing the song at electronic music festivals and kids are obviously going to react because it’s a famous song on the radio. You keep feeding those kids with hip-hop, when we’re supposed to be electronic music. That’s all I said. And everybody started attacking me—even Afrojack attacked me. I’m not saying “I’m a techno guy, I play techno so fuck you, you suck.” I respect everybody: trance, techno, dubstep, trap, whatever they’re playing. But if you show up and play straight-up hip-hop… Why would you do that? It’s not helping our industry. If you do a club show, and you have your fans there, fine, do it, I don’t give a shit. But if you’re performing at a major music festival when there are like 60 thousand people in front of you, and you’re playing 15 minutes of hip-hop like “I woke up in my new Bugatti,” it’s not a hip-hop show. That’s all I said.
You’re renowned for your remixes; how do you select the artists and songs you work with?
I don’t do remixes anymore—I mainly do collaborations now. People come up to me and ask me to do remixes, but it always ends up being a collaboration because I basically just take the vocals and do everything. It depends on the song. I don’t care who it is. That’s why I did Miley Cyrus. Everybody’s like, “Why are you doing Miley Cyrus?” It’s ‘cause I like the song and she’s cool; she called me and flew down to meet with me in Miami, so I did it. Seriously, I don’t care who it is. I’ve turned down so many people like Depeche Mode, Usher… If the song doesn’t work, I don’t do it. I’m not saying they’re bad songs, some of them just don’t work with my style. I don’t want to just say, “OK, give me all this money and I’m going to do a shitty job because I just want to take the money.” I just don’t do that. I’ve turned down a lot of people. I’ve turned down Imagine Dragons, all the big hits… everybody. I just picked the ones that I wanted to do. I’ve done two things with Lana, and one with Miley Cyrus. I haven’t done anything else.
Montreal’s New City Gas always goes crazy over your sets. What can we expect from you tonight? How do you prep for your sets?
I go through my music a lot. You know, I get promos every week. I’m practicing my “514 Tabernac,” that I have to say on the mic! I just go through the music, I prepare, I try to rest—I haven’t slept yet because I had a show last night. It’s hard. Especially since my tour manager is sick, so I’m travelling by myself. It just means I have to be very aware of everything, whereas normally you’d have someone doing that for you. But I have my friends here so it doesn’t bother me. If I was somewhere else I’d be freaking out, but all my friends are here. I love Montreal. I’ve been coming here for years; I know so many people here. I used to play at Stereo back when that was the best place. I played at CIRCUS… I’ve played everywhere. I have Montreal fans now, and I love it. Tonight’s going to be good.
Anything planned for 2015?
I’m going to do a big college tour—it’s very important to my agents. And I’m going to be working on my music, preparing the album. I’ll obviously be performing at Coachella. That’s going to be a big one. But the college tour is going to be very cool; we’re going to travel with production—the guy that does Life in Color is my production guy. He’s going to all of my shows, and we’re going to travel college to college in America with our opening DJs. We’re gonna do all of Florida, go up to New York and Boston, and then we’re flying to the West Coast and getting another bus to do all of that.
When do you think your album’s going to drop?
I have no idea. It honestly takes so much time. Like right now, Love Again, I did it a year ago, we released it 6 months ago, and it’s just now picking up steam on the radio. It takes time. Summertime Sadness took two years before it got attention. Summertime Sadness was #1 on Beatport, every DJ in the world was playing it, and then a year and a half later that’s when the radio picked it up. It really takes time.
Do you like having your music on the radio, or are you indifferent?
Well, I like it because it opens you up to a bigger audience and people are like, “Oh shit, I like this guy,” and then when you come to town they come see you. Radio is very, very important.
Interviewers: Alex Levy & Taylor Rozenblat
Link Up With Cedric Gervais: