France’s Joachim Garraud has seen the future and it has it’s roots in the past.
The highly successful French producer/performer/DJ’s career has long been intertwined with chart-topping global superstar David Guetta. The two worked closely together for the better part of a decade as Guetta rose to fame in Paris, but recently Garraud has stepped out on his own in a big way. His signature futuristic sound and electrifying live performances have won him hundreds of thousands accolades and fans from London to Los Angeles.
“People are connecting with me,” says Garraud.
Not only are fans connecting with the DJ, they are starting to connect the dots of a career that spans 20 + years and has been growing globally thanks to viral smash hits like Garraud’s “We Are The Future.” The track is influenced by high energy 1990s Eurodance and has become a retro-futuristic anthem for young clubbers worldwide.
In many ways, the DJ’s own younger years were pivotal in shaping who he is today as an artist, even if they did not involve nights out clubbing. “Piano was my first love,” the classically trained musician says, “but in France you must learn two instruments at the same time…so I chose drums and piano.” To this day the heady combination of keyboards and percussion rules the way the artist sees music.
“I’m not a professional or anything,” he demurs about his level of skill on piano. “I’m about a 3 out of 5.”
His less than Bach-like skills might have given rise to his Bill Gates-esque business acumen. The DJ famously started and ran a highly trafficked and storied studio in Paris, where he first started creating tracks with David Guetta.
Joachim says during the 90s “We were friends before we worked together,” “Then one day in 1999 we met in the street,” he continues. “We decided to make music every Monday.” The collaborations found success immediately. The first song they ever recorded, “Just A Little More Love,” went on to become a hit in 2001 and eventually sold more than 200,000 copies in France alone. “We were having so much fun we decided to do it two days a week,” Garraud says. Guetta and Garraud went on to record hit after hit in his Rue de Rivoli studio.
It wasn’t just David Guetta hits Garraud worked on however. His production talent and musical ear were quickly recognized by the greater music industry. During the mid-1990s his skill as a remix artist lead to opportunities with pop icons like Mylène Farmer and Kylie Minouge.
Garraud’s production success had left him longing for a return to night clubs and dance culture, and to be back on the road as a DJ. “After many years, it was so exciting to come back on stage,” he says. “I just quit the studio last year - after 30 years.” Now, the producer has a larger studio just outside Paris, though he barely has time to be there, given a new touring schedule that has taken him all over the world.
Playing live to fans all over the world is what the DJ loves. At any given moment, you can find Garraud in South America or Europe, playing festivals or club dates. Garraud has become an important figure in the mushrooming dance scene of the United States as well, with performances at massive American festivals such as California’s Coachella, Miami’s Ultra and Chicago’s Lollapalooza.
“I’m not doing a DJ set using CD players,” he says of his live show. Instead, the performances feature Garraud playing a keytar at points and actively engaging the crowd instead of hiding behind a computer. “I’m playing live video, I’m playing a keytar live and it makes me different than the usual DJ,” he says. When Garraud is on stage, he comes off more as a rock star than DJ. “When people say to me ‘you are a showman’ that is a nice word for me,” he says.
“Getting people to dance and enjoy themselves…that is the #1 goal for me,” the Frenchman says, but Garraud is no egomaniac seeking adulation. In fact, he prefers people associate his stage presence with his logo—a space invader—rather than himself. “I chose to use the Space Invaders logo as my logo years ago,” he says. “Very easy, very basic and very graphic and it’s linked to the music I play on stage which is techno and electro music.”
The iconic video game creature is integral to Garraud’s identity as an artist. The omnipresent space invader can be found anywhere Garraud is; his website, his live shows and even his fans, whom he refers to as “invaders” on his Twitter account.
“I’m a big fan of video games of course but I was looking for a symbol that can be universal,” he says of what has become his visual trademark. “The space invaders come from space, no country, and I’m excited by that.”
Space Invaders, the video game, was always very popular in America and so too is Garraud’s brand of electronic music. His new special relationship with the U.S., after conquering all corners of the globe in years past, has now extended to one special Los Angeles resident who is an influential fan of Garraud’s: Perry Farrell.
“Perry asked me to do all the videos for his brand new shows after he saw my show at Coachella,” says Garraud. However, the Jane’s Addiction singer wanted more than just a live show as good as Garraud’s, he wanted a sound for a forthcoming solo project that he knew only Garraud could deliver. “We worked together for two months in the studio,” the DJ/producer said of the 11 tracks the pair conjured up recently (half in Paris and half in L.A.).
Anyone who has played “Space Invader” knows that the space creatures inevitably takeover the game. It’s unavoidable. Perhaps that’s the reason why Garraud chose the icon. Garraud shows no sign of slowing down. To the contrary his influence is only expanding as he continues to takeover one of the world’s most exciting music scenes.
“The future is now,” he says.