There aren't many men whose Instagram photo of a haircut could lead to a mass freak- out of international proportions. But back in March, when superstar DJ David Guetta shared a photo of his signature shaggy, shoulder-length light brown hair lying on the floor, many of his 7.8 million fans alternately flooded his post with sad exclamations like "NOOOOOOOOOOO tu hermoso cabello" ("NOOOOOOOOOOO your beautiful hair") or approving comments like "Ca te va tellement mieux" ("It suits you so much better"). After years with his long mop, it was time for a fresh start. And his hair wasn't the only thing to change. In the process of recording his seventh studio album, Guetta is also reinventing his sound and challenging both himself and his producer peers to push dance music in a new direction. "Every time I come with a new album, I try to reinvent myself," he says. "I feel like a new person and I feel like I'm reborn in some way." He continues, "It's not only a new cycle for me but a new cycle for music. A lot of the formula that came out in 2009 or 2010 has been used time and time again, and finally people got bored of it...[Now] it's a moment where we can all experiment and try to find different things, which is interesting. It's very challenging, but more creative."
While details are still under wraps about the new record, there is a clue as to the new direction Guetta may be headed. Back in June, the producer released one of the album's singles, a soaring track with Justin Bieber, "2U." Amidst Bieber's silky vocals, Guetta's production takes a funkier turn than we're used to hearing, thanks, in part, to the use of an '80s talkbox synthesizer. "It took me a long time to produce '2U' and find something that would be really unique," Guetta says. "And Justin was really picky. I sent him so many different versions. But I'm glad he really pushed me to make it the best possible." This persistence and perfectionism extends to the whole album, an effort that Guetta says has been underway for "almost two years" and required him to write "100 or 120 songs" before he could be satisfied with the 15 or so tracks that will ultimately appear on the record.
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The process is, depending on your perspective, either enriched or made more complicated by Guetta's frenetic touring schedule. Some of his most productive time is spent going between LA, where he says he likes to write music, and Las Vegas, home to his residencies at the Wynn Las Vegas' dayclub, Encore Beach Club, and nightclub, XS. He's had a residency at Wynn since 2011, but even six years later, he's still amazed by the scene. The "pool party is insane," he says of his daytime show at Encore. "The concept itself is just so crazy, to have all those people in bikinis dancing and being in the pool together." For a Frenchman who grew up wistfully watching episodes of MTV Spring Break, he says, "My party is like what I'd watch and dream of as a teenager, but multiplied by 100. The vibe is insane. I have never seen anything that can compare to that."
Las Vegas has plenty to offer the DJ beyond its famed nightlife, and Guetta says he enjoys frequenting the city's restaurants — especially Andrea's, the upscale Asian restaurant at Encore — and taking in shows like Cirque du Soleil's O or KA with his kids when they're in town. "You can go as wild as you want, but Las Vegas can also be more luxury or family-oriented," Guetta says. And, just like with his pool party, Guetta says the longer he spends in Las Vegas, the more he appreciates the cinematic -- and slightly surreal -- quality it has. "Coming from Europe, you have all of those things that you see in American movies," he says. "And then it's like, I'm part of the movie." And fans can't wait to hear more of the soundtrack.
Photography by Eric White
Video by Symone Ridgell
Styling by Jason Rembert
Grooming: Jennifer Brent for Exclusive Artists using Make Up For Ever and R+Co
Grooming Assistant: Kailie Joe
Styling Assistants: Shameelah Hicks and Daniel Jones
Location: Dune Studios