HUGEL Discusses His Latin House Anthems, Tour Highlights, + Upcoming Set at Imagine Festival 2022

| September 15, 2022

Hailing from Marseille in France, HUGEL is a king when it comes to Latin house. After learning how to DJ in St Tropez, Cannes, and Monaco, he earned himself residencies at two of Ibiza's hottest venues: Pacha and Ushuaia. Since then, HUGEL has been seen playing his party anthems across the world from renowned festivals like Tomorrowland, Lollapalooza, and Imagine Festival to US tours at high-energy clubs such as Eleven in Miami and Prysm in Chicago. 

HUGEL has gained support from fellow top artists like Diplo, FISHER, Vintage Culture, John Summit, and more. The multi-gold and platinum-selling producer has accumulated over 760 million streams to date and counting. With viral hits "Morenita", "WTF", "Eyes On You", and countless others, this phenom has received attention from the biggest house labels, such as Defected Records and Repopulate Mars. Watch as HUGEL continues his reign over the Latin house scene and community with his riveting tracks embellished by enchanting beats and addictive vocals.

 

Check out iEDM's exclusive interview with HUGEL below.

 

iEDM: How did your childhood and growing up in Marseille, France influence your passion for music? As a kid, which artists did you look up to as role models in the music industry and why?

HUGEL: Marseille was big on rap music. I started to produce my first beats when I was 12 years old. It was not even a production software and was more similar to a video game. I made these beats for a lot of the young rappers that lived in my neighborhood.

Dr. Dre is definitely one of my role models. He is one of the biggest producers of all time and I grew up in his era. The way he started with nothing and achieved the success that he had by being not only a producer but a businessman as well is truly inspiring to me.

 

 

iEDM: You have pivoted from a more bass-heavy sound, evident in tracks like “WTF” and your remix of El Profesor’s “Bella Ciao” to a hypnotic Latin house style over the past few years. What inspired this shift in production and what techniques did you learn during the transition?

HUGEL: When I started getting into house music, I became a resident DJ in Marseille and did that for ten years. I was already familiar with the Latin house because I was playing a lot of music popular in Ibiza. After meeting my management, they asked me to produce songs that were geared toward becoming radio hits. I did that for 2018 and 2019 with tracks like “WTF” to break through as an artist and get my name out for my country and hometown. So, Latin house is not something that I changed to after those years; it is something that I knew before, having lived in Ibiza for two years and being inspired by music from Spain. 

During COVID, I was living in Lisbon, Portugal, and was dealing with some relationship issues. My only escape was to grab my laptop, put on my headphones, and produce. At the time, I was missing Ibiza and Spain so much and wanted to create a song that reminded me of them. This is how I came up with “Morenita”, which was the moment where I really changed my direction as an artist.

 


 

iEDM: How did you come up with the title for “Tengo ganas de ti” and why do you think it fits the track?

HUGEL: I made this track over the summer with fellow producer Damien N-Drix, who lives close by in Southern France. While working on the track, I was with one of my friends who is Spanish and from Mallorca. We were in Ibiza together and I told her, “this track is nice but we need to add in  a little vocal. What would you say in Spanish before the drop?” Her answer was “tengo ganas de ti”. It was really spontaneous but fits perfectly in the club for what people want to hear when they are on the dance floor.

 

iEDM: What led you to create Audio Hustler Academy? What do you hope to accomplish through the DJ and production training platform?

HUGEL: When I was in lockdown, I thought back to how it took me ten years to sign with my first management and label, which is obviously a long time. It took this long because I had to learn everything by myself. We didn’t have all the YouTube tutorials and training courses that you have access to nowadays. The idea was to create a place where I could put everything that I have learned over the last ten years. I wanted to make a platform that I would have loved to be able to use when I was 17.

 

 

iEDM: What was your process behind making the buildup in “Tamo Loco”? How did you splice, loop, and strategically place the vocals to accelerate the track’s energy before the drop?

HUGEL: Following a remote secession over Zoom, we recorded the song on a slower BPM. When they sent me the vocal, I sped it up and at the buildup, it felt natural to cut it with the snare and bring that energy into the track.

 

iEDM: How did it feel to bring your family out for one of your shows in Ibiza? What was the highlight of your experience with them?

HUGEL: I don’t get to see my family that much because I no longer live in France and am touring most of the time. We miss each other a lot so this summer I organized the trip to Ibiza. I invited my dad, my mom, my sister, and my brother for three days there. The highlight of the experience was getting drunk together and going out to nice restaurants together. When I was on stage, I saw my mom and sister crying. It was a very emotional moment that we will all remember.

 

 

iEDM: You always bring a stylish outfit to every performance. What are some of your favorite fashion trends currently and why?

HUGEL: I am into fashion because I am an artist. When art is in your soul, you see it in everything. It is important to me that I truly feel like myself while performing. By the way you dress, you can definitely showcase your personality, who you are, and where you are from. My sense of fashion is heavily influenced by the trends in hip-hop culture. Supreme is one of my favorite brands.

 

iEDM: Why did you decide to dye your hair pink?

HUGEL: I got my hair dyed at EDC Las Vegas in May. One of my friends is a hairdresser in Los Angeles who is popular with a number of DJs. He texted me the day I was playing at EDC and said, “hey, I’m in town. Do you want to meet up before the show? We could do something spicy with a little bit of color (referring to my hair).” I asked what he had in mind and he said we could try adding a bit of pink. I told him, “That sounds great but what if I look like shit?” He assured me it was going to look good and I trusted him. The hair was another addition to the overall outfit to bring things to the next level.

 

 

iEDM: Your single “Aguila” with Westend and Cumbiafrica has become an instant success. How did you and Westend utilize each other’s production styles and strengths to create such a groovy bassline? What is your favorite part about working with the duo?

HUGEL: I was playing at Opium in Barcelona and Westend was playing at a festival not too far away. He reached out to me and said that he would love to come to Opium and see our performance. I invited him to the dinner we were at in Barcelona and that was the first time we met. We shared how we liked each other’s production styles and I ended up sending him the first version of “Aguila”. He said he loved it and asked for the stems, which I sent over. He reworked the bassline and I thought it was super cool. After we both played it while touring across America, we knew we had to release it once seeing the reaction we got from crowds.

My favorite part about working with these artists and just any artist in general is the back and forth to collaborate on the project. You can learn different techniques from the artist you are working with and vice-versa. That’s the beauty of collaboration.

 

 

iEDM: What makes a vocal sample or Latin song stick out to you as a solid sample to structure one of your tracks around? How do you shape your production around the sample to create your own rendition of the original?

HUGEL: The most important thing is for the vocal to be very ‘hook-y’. Something that is easy to sing and colorful. When playing Latin house, the organic sound from Ibiza drums is always full of color and the vocal needs to match this. I want vocals that are going to make the listener happy.

DRUMS. It’s all about the drums. This type of music is based on the groove of the drums and it is what makes you want to move your hips. Sometimes it is a long process to find which vocals to loop that work well with the drums, but it is the most vital thing in a song, even more so than the bassline.

 

iEDM: How do your club sets typically differ from your festival sets? What is your favorite club and/or festival memory?

HUGEL: My club sets are usually much longer. I like to play extended sets that are three, four, or even five hours. Festivals are typically an hour or an hour and a half. The main difference is the length. 

My favorite club in the world is Ushuaïa in Ibiza. If I had to pick one festival, Hangout Fest in Alabama is on the beach and is a really great time. During my set, a bunch of girls broke through the crash barrier, got on stage, and started dancing. It was crazy and actually pretty dangerous because it was a smaller stage on the beach and was not made to support all the girls that were on it. Security was very stressed out because there could have been an accident but looking back at the videos it was a really funny memory. Usually, it’s guys that are drunk and try to break stuff that security has to deal with. In this case, it was all girls that broke the barrier to join me on stage.

 

 

iEDM: What does it mean to you to be able to perform in front of the massive crowd at the Fireland Festival in your home country? What track from your set do you think had the best crowd reaction and why?

HUGEL: It was great to perform in my home country but was more amazing due to the cause. The festival was for orphans in France and it was a beautiful charity event to be a part of. As most would expect, it was “Morenita” because it is one of my biggest hits. The crowd also really liked “Aguila” and “Tamo Loco” as well.

 

iEDM: Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?

HUGEL: Any of the well-known names in Latin music and the reggaeton scene like Bad Bunny for example. I really love AlunaGeorge too. The tracks that I have listened to are absolute fire and I would definitely like to work with them.

 

iEDM: In regards to your set at Imagine Festival, what surprises can you hint at for your fans to get excited about? Do you have any unreleased IDs/tracks that you plan on playing during your performance?

HUGEL: My DJ sets are 70-75% made up of my own tracks. I will use a ton of unreleased music during my performance; the set will be completely unique in sound and style. Besides being super excited for Imagine, I am moving to Miami this week which has been a dream for me. I have two months full of gigs in that area but Imagine festival is sure to be one of the highlights of this tour. Something you need to know is that there is no crowd in the world that parties like the Americans.

 

Photos courtesy of HUGEL

 

Read More iEDM Exclusive Interviews HERE!

 

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