DJ Snake lends magic touch to dance hits

William Grigahcine, aka DJ Snake, who currently has three songs in the Billboard Hot 100.

When a song as pervasive as Turn Down for What is your calling card, it would be easy to get pegged as a one-hit wonder. But French producer DJ Snake (real name: William Grigahcine) isn’t dancing in the shadow of last year’s Lil Jon-assisted smash. In fact, he has three new collaborations on the charts as summer gets underway.

USA TODAY catches up with the electronic wizard to get the scoop on his four biggest singles.

Lean On (with Major Lazer and MØ).

• Released: March.

• The stats: No. 72 on the Billboard Hot 100; 92 million Spotify streams; 36 million YouTube views; 95,000 downloads sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

• Backstory: In late 2013, producer/songwriter/DJ Diplo sent Danish singer MØ a reggae beat for a song he was making with Major Lazer (his dance music project with producers Walshy Fire and Jillionaire). MØ started writing and recording the chorus — originally much slower, and inspired by how people come in and out of our lives. Diplo then sent the song r to DJ Snake, who brought a more uptempo, electronic vibe to Lean On. “It was an incredibly organic process,” Snake says.

MØ (real name: Karen Ørsted) agrees: “It was a very creative, modern way of working. It wasn’t like you went into the studio, like, ‘You can’t leave this place until you have a hit!’ I felt very free in this process.”.

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You Know You Like It (with AlunaGeorge).

• Released: December 2014.

• The stats: No. 15 on USA TODAY’s Top 40 airplay chart; No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100; 22 million Spotify streams; 12 million YouTube views; 204,000 downloads sold.

• Backstory: British electropop duo AlunaGeorge reached out to Snake after hearing his song Bird Machine, and asked him about doing a remix of their song You Know You Like It, originally released in summer 2011. “At first, I didn’t really see what I could bring to the track at that time, because it was already very special in my eyes,” Snake says. But after waiting about a week and hearing ’90s dance music on the radio one morning, “all of a sudden a light bulb turned on and I knew exactly how I should attack this project.”.

For singer Aluna Francis, the fact that the song has “taken this long to take off and we’re still in music, we just love that.” Snake’s remix is “a similar kind of tempo, but I feel like it’s a little darker than ours. It’s got a completely different musical riff to it, and it’s maybe a touch more dancefloor-oriented.”.

Get Low (with Dillon Francis).

• Released: September 2014.

• The stats: Peaked at No. 61 on the Billboard Hot 100; 23 million Spotify streams; 59 million YouTube views; 417,000 downloads sold.

• Backstory: Snake got word that Francis was one of the first American DJs to play his music during his sets, and the two soon connected. At the time, Snake was working on an early version of Get Low while in Dubai and asked Francis to listen to it. “He instantly loved it, (and) asked if we could collaborate on the track,” Snake says. “It’s the perfect blend between my Arabic roots and his eclectic influences all rolled into one. It’s really the (most fun) track I’ve ever been a part of,” and is “definitely one of the highlights of my (live) shows.” Francis included the song on his debut album Money Sucks, Friends Rule, released last fall.

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Turn Down for What (with Lil Jon).

• Released: December 2013.

• The stats: Peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100; 141 million Spotify streams; 219 million YouTube views; 4 million downloads sold.

• Backstory: Snake originally produced Turn Down for What with an old rap sample, but was unable to get permission to use it. As a result, he reached out to Jon and asked if he could lend his voice to the hook, which he agreed to. When Snake sent it to the label, they turned it down and asked him to include other rappers — doubtful that a mostly instrumental track with a four-word chorus could have mainstream appeal. Snake wouldn’t budge, and to the label’s surprise, Turn Down for What became one of the biggest songs of last year.

But for Snake, its enormous success wasn’t shocking. Instead, “it’s the fact that the song changed the perception of how radio and television view and appreciate our genre of music. We really kicked down a lot of doors that were firmly shut to our culture due to the sheer force of our fans.”.

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