Villas, Private Jets and Paris Hilton: Rolling in Ibiza With David Guetta

'I'm happy to be the biggest DJ in the world,' he says in our Hot Issue

November 3, 2011 12:30 PM ET
Hot DJ: Dave Guetta
Hot DJ: Dave Guetta
Kava Gorna

The worst thing about flying to Ibiza on David Guetta's private jet is that the ceiling is a little low, so when you need to use the facilities after two glasses of champagne, you have to duck your head a bit to keep from bumping it on the bathroom door.

The second-worst thing about flying to Ibiza on David Guetta's private jet, or pretty much anything in his life, for that matter, is nothing.

Guetta's plane – a twin-engine Cessna CJ3, piloted by two smiling Germans named Thomas and Manuel – is cruising six miles above the Mediterranean, on its way to deliver Guetta to Fuck Me I'm Famous, the weekly club night he hosts in Ibiza during the summer. It's probably the most celebrated dance party in the world – attracting everyone from Dr. Dre to Jean Paul Gaultier. A couple of years ago, Will.i.am showed up, and Guetta invited him up to the booth to freestyle; it's not much of an exaggeration to say those few minutes changed the sound of contemporary pop.

With a few notable exceptions (Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim), European dance music has always been one of those things that America just never got – like Roberto Benigni, or socialism. But ever since the Black Eyed Peas turned pulsing Eurohouse jams into U.S. chart gold with the insanely massive "I Gotta Feeling" (which Guetta produced) and "Boom Boom Pow" (which employed the same sample that Guetta played for Will.i.am that night), American pop has moved to a continental beat. These days, you can't go five minutes on your local Top 40 station without hearing a song that sounds like a Guetta production (not a few actually are Guetta productions). The titles are intentionally generic and international-friendly – "When Love Takes Over," "Little Bad Girl," "Without You" – but their ubiquity is turning Guetta into a new entity: a bona fide pop-star DJ.

Growing up in Paris, Guetta always knew he wanted to spin records. "I remember this meeting with my parents and my math teacher when I was 14," he says between bites of raspberry soufflé, the sunset glowing aubergine through the window of the plane. "They were saying, 'You have a problem – you're not studying.' And I was like, 'I want to be a DJ – I don't need to be good at math!'"

Before long, he got a job spinning at a gay club – a skinny (straight) 17-year-old who wasn't legally allowed inside – and from there it was a slow but steady journey to headlining dance festivals for 80,000 ecstatic fans. "I always had a good connection with people," Guetta says. "That's the most important thing when you're a DJ. But what really made me explode is when I created that new sound – electro mixed with urban soul. That became the new standard of American pop music today."

Guetta talks about his success in a matter-of-fact way that is just stoked enough to not sound boastful. ("A lot of people think the French are arrogant. But really, we're just telling the truth.") But he also expresses wide-eyed wonder at how the son of a Jewish-Moroccan sociology professor found himself powwowing with Bono and collaborating with Will.i.am on a project for NASA. And then there are things like his recent visit to Atlanta with Akon. "He took me to this black strip club called Magic City," Guetta says. "I never knew what 'Make it rain' meant. He gave me this big pile of money" – he makes a gesture the size of a small safe – "and said, 'OK, you have to throw the money to that girl.' I said, 'Throw money in the air? That goes against my whole education!' And he's like, 'Yeah – that's why we do it!'"

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