Three DJs, three questions: taking the temperature at the Winter Music Conference

Cornering an A-list DJ for a quick sit-down during Winter Music Conference used to require the craftiness of a tabloid reporter. But this year, media-focused events like the Music Lounge, organized by BMF Media and sponsored by Sirius Satellite Radio, and Remix Hotel, featuring a Beatport-sponsored DJ stage, made it almost too easy to corral the big names. Here, the No. 1 DJs in the world (Paul Van Dyk), in New York (Victor Calderone) and among the international jet set (David Guetta) give WMC a once-over.

HOW DO YOU USE THE WHC?

Van Dyk: I use a lot of technology onstage, as much as in the studio, so it’s a very interesting convention for me to see what’s new, get contacts and maybe even develop new pieces of gear. Just yesterday I had a meeting with the guys from Ableton, who make the programs that I use. It was really geeky brainstorming, getting really techy, and we came up with an idea of this super-duper machine, a combination of hardware and software.

Guetta: It’s just having a lot of fun with all my friends, meeting people who I work with all the year through the Internet and don’t get to see so much. That makes you come up with ideas you wouldn’t otherwise have. I just saw Armand Van Helden and the guys from Dirty South, and i said, “Oh, I didn’t think of you, maybe you could do a remix of my next single,” and they were like, “Oh, great. We love you.” When you’re in an office, you don’t necessarily think of everyone.

WHAT NEW MUSIC EXCITES YOU?

Van Dyk: I’m a huge fan of Placebo. “Pierrot the Clown” is already one of my favorite songs ever.

Calderone: I’m going back to my roots. The music I’ve been shopping and buying and what’s been inspiring me is techno from everywhere. I see people connecting to it as well. People in New York who were listening to tribal and deep house, everybody’s like, “Techno, techno, techno.” Holy shit, this is a techno conference.

Guetta: It seems to me that everything is going back to house. The minimal techno stuff was very big in Europe. I was really into the electro sound, but I’m backing up a bit now because everybody is playing that, and it’s becoming kind of boring. So I’m trying to mix this vibe with my roots, which are really house music and vocals. Of course, I’m interested in new sounds, but I think you need more than just a kick and a bassline.

WHAT FRUSTRATES YOU ABOUT THE U.S. DANCE MUSIC SCENE?

Van Dyk: It’s very healthy and always growing with amazing music. Those little elements you would criticize don’t even count.

Calderone: The frustrating thing for me is the support, and I don’t mean the fans–they’re there. The support from radio, the music channels. Everybody gets inspired by dance music and everybody takes a little bit from it. Look at Madonna. Yet people don’t want to take the risk to put it out there, support it, play it on the radio, give it its moment.

Guetta: It’s very different because in my country I do prime-time TV shows, I do major advertising campaigns, and when i speak to my colleagues here, they are like, “This would be impossible in the States.” But at the same time, it’s much less difficult than I thought. I started my U.S. tour expecting very little, and the welcome in the clubs was so warm, it was packed everywhere. You don’t have the media representation, but the scene is strong, and the enthusiasm of the people is huge. It reminds me of 15 years ago in Europe.

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