Friday, December 9, 2011

Internationally Renowned DJ David Guetta Teaches Us How to Be Good Academics

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For those of you who don't already know this, I am a huge fan of house music, and one of the biggest names in house, one of the few mainstream house artists, is David Guetta. This morning, he did a radio interview with Elvis Duran and the Morning Show (which I also love). Throughout the interview, it was obvious that Guetta not only loves what he does, but aspires to bring that love to others. When race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and all of the other differences fade into the background and everyone feels the music, that is when he believes he is most successful as a dj.

As Guetta spoke on the radio, listeners got a glimpse into just how personable Guetta is, and also how intelligent and committed to his craft he is. Guetta's music is obviously his passion and his study. Just as we spend hours pouring over books and archives, collaborating with colleagues, writing and revising, Guetta spends hours searching for rhythms and sounds, looking through archives of songs, collaborating with other arts, mixing and remixing songs, and creating and editing tracks. 

Three basic things that an academic can learn from David Guetta:

1. Collaboration is good. David Guetta's earlier music is different from the music he is currently producing, but what you will notice is that his music now is nearly always the product of collaboration with other artists and they are almost always from other genres (hip-hop, r& b, pop, etc.). He told Carolina how inspired he was by hip-hop artist and famous producer Timbaland's ability to make beats out of anything, since Guetta typically uses computers and synthesizers to make his. In addition, djs constantly take the work of other dj/producers and remix them. Sometimes, the songs become unrecognizable from their originals, but they are often interesting and beautiful in their own ways. 

Scholars, too, can learn a great deal from collaborating with others. They can find new voices in their writing, they can find new perspectives through interdisciplinary studies, and they can learn something that they never would have learned by isolating themselves.

2. Be a life-long learner. Guetta loves music so much because he believes that there is always something new to learn. He called himself an "eternal learner." And you can tell because his music has evolved over time. This goes for any field. When we decide we know it all, we become the worst kind of scholars. 

3. The field and the application of knowledge is more important than the name one makes for her/his self. When asked if he that he was in competition with other djs, Guetta said no. He said that it was their job to help others find the music. When house was still very underground, they used to pump up their successful colleagues to help the industry as whole look bigger than it was. It clearly paid off. 

These djs are still willing to help one another now that house is more popular. Many times, when you search an artist's biography, it will talk about their mentor djs. AN21 & Max Vangelli were assisted by AN21's older brother Steve Angelo and mega djs Swedish House Mafia, for instance. On the show, Guetta was nice enough to talk to an intern who dreams of becoming a mega-DJ like Guetta. Guetta listened to his tracks and give him some friendly advice. He recognizes that those who are asking him for advice are the next generation. He is more concerned with the preservation of house music than he is with his own success.

As scholars, we often feel as if we are in competition with other scholars. It becomes difficult to collaborate and share ideas because we want to protect them as our own. The tenure atmosphere adds to that. Hiring committees are not as impressed by collaborative projects; they don't know how to evaluate them. As graduate students, we are also pitted against one another, told that the best student will get the jobs after graduate.Guetta reminds us that we should be working towards truth, not fame.

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