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Tuesday 13th, June 2006
Gareth Emery

[b]After bursting onto the trance scene in 2002 with the massive success of GTR - Mistral, only the fourth track he ever produced, Gareth Emery has gone from from strength to strength. He is now recognised the world over as one of trance musics most established young artists. Despite being still only 25, he is a regular fixture at massive UK clubs such as Godskitchen, Slinky, The Gallery and Passion as well as holding a residency in Vancouver and playing all over the globe. He is also a prolific producer, both under the GTR guise and under his own name along with hugely successful collaberations with other highly rated UK artists such as Lange and Jon O'Bir finding their way into all the top trance DJs record boxes thanks to his refreshingly original and different take on trance. As well as all this, he still finds the time to run one of the UK's coolest record labels, Five AM and isn't afraid to speak his mind - such as the comments in a recent interview that caused some controversy in trance land (if you missed this [link=http://www.trance.nu/v3/forums/viewtopic.php?t=121186&highlight=bollocks]click here[/link])! Read on to find out more...[/b]

Trance.nu: Firstly, letís meet this Ď95% of trance is cheesy bollocksí comment head on. It caused quite a stir on the t.nu forum, although many users were supportive. Even Paul Van Dyk backed up your comments in a recent interview! Do you stand by it, or do you think you were being a bit harsh?

GE: It caused quite a lot of a stir everywhere, much more so than I expected. As many people have pointed out, 95% is probably too high Ė it was never meant to be exact, but rather a figure I threw into the air to express the general statement that thereís a lot of bollocks out there, which I still agree with.

T.nu: Do you think the overall Ďblandnessí of a lot of trance releases is due to how easy it is to make a trance record nowadays? Anyone can pick up a program like Reason, Fruityloops or Cubase from the net, make a record and try to release it.

GE: I donít think itís down to how easy it is to make a trance record, but I do think itís down to how easy it is to release one. Iím a huge fan of digital music and always have been, but for me, the only major downside to it has been the fact that itís made it incredibly easy to release music which has led to the market getting saturated.

When vinyl was the predominant format, releasing music was expensive, and meant labels had to be keep an eye on the quality and quantity of records they released otherwise theyíd lose a load of cash. At Five AM we try to keep this sort of quality control, so although weíre predominantly releasing digital-only these days, for every release we ask ourselves ďWould this stand up on vinyl? Would we feel confident spending a load of money on promoting this?Ē, and if the answer isnít a resounding Ďyesí, we wonít put it out.

I think a lot of the newer digital labels tend to go for quantity over quality, so rather than looking to develop a few artists into outstanding producers, they tend to pick up as much material as possible on the cheap, chuck it out, and see what happens. After all, they have nothing to lose. The additional problem this creates is that new producers who are just getting into the game are getting their tracks signed before theyíve really had time to develop. A few years ago, theyíd be getting rejected, which would inspire and spur them on to go and make something truly brilliant and original in order to get a record deal. These days, deals are easy to find, and that incentive has gone.

T.nu: Do you think some DJs contribute to this Ďderivativeí sound, by only spinning the clichť tracks? Or is this down to an overall lack of quality?

GE: I donít want to get into knocking other DJs, but I think a lot of people like their music to sound the same. The same percussion, the same sounding bassline, the same lead sound, synth patterns etc. For me, these records donít excite me: I want to play and make records that sound different and try and find new ways of doing things. Whatever people might think of my recent tracks, for instance ĎBack On Trackí (with Lange) or the new one GTR Ė 'Cops', I donít think any of these sound like typical trance records, in the same way Mistral wasnít a conventional trance record.

From a DJ standpoint, itís easier to play the formulaic stuff as itís all put together roughly the same way, and is a similar tempo Ė when youíre playing more diverse material youíve got to work a lot harder in structuring your set, and thereís a lot more potential for records that donít go well together.

T.nu: Your DJing style is described as truly individual, what can we expect to hear from a Gareth Emery DJ set?

GE: I donít like to set boundaries, so the music Iíll be playing will depend heavily on what Iím into at the time but the one thing that always applies is that Iíll mix it right up, vary it, and take in a few different styles over the course of my set. It definitely wonít all sound the same. If Iím playing early this probably means starting off with some cool electro, progressive and breaks, before getting into the trancey stuff. If itís a late one where Iím needing to play a bit tougher, itíll be more trance, tech-trance, and techno. But ultimately the direction I take is dictated by the crowd and whatís working for them.

T.nu: Your DJing has taken you all over the world. Which countries do you find most exciting to play in?

GE: Thatís hard Ė there have been loads of great places. Canadaís a big favourite, Iím out there five times a year and have a lot of very good friends in Vancouver. Australia is the same, my three tours there have all been mind-blowing. Singapore, and The Philippines also stand out. My first trip to Brazil the other week was an immense experience, and Iím writing this on the plane on my way to China. Although touring be quite tough, itís the best part of the job and I feel extremely fortunate Iíve got to see so many places.

T.nu: What do you think about the technological advances in DJing? Do you still stick with vinyl for example?

GE: Nah, Iíve been all-CD since mid-2004. I first tried out a CD when I made my Godskitchen debut in April 2003 and I knew from that moment onwards, it was the way forward. Not only are CDs nice and light when youíre travelling around but Iíve always got my laptop with me which means I can receive tracks before a gig in my hotel, chuck them onto a CD, and play them out to 1000 people an hour later. Long term, Iíd like to DJ from a laptop or some sort of portable drive but havenít found quite the right technology to commit to yet. Rather than jumping straight in Iím cautiously watching the market and checking out whatís on offer before I make the jump.

T.nu: GTR Ė Mistral was only your fourth production, yet it was such a massive success. What was it like having such a big hit so early?

GE: It was amazing, that goes without saying, but it was also difficult. Most producers are fairly experienced by the time they make a huge record and they know how to handle the pressures and expectations that come with it, and also how to maximise the success it brings. When I made Mistral I didnít really know what I was doing, I didnít have a studio and I still had a full time job. Essentially, I was pretty clueless, and all of a sudden I had one of the biggest records of the year on my hands, remix offers flooding in, labels all over the place chasing me for work, and clubs like Godskitchen wanting to book me. It was pretty mental. For a couple of years after making Mistral, producing was difficult, and it probably wasnít until about two years later when I started to feel comfortable with my production abilities.

You also fall into the trap where everything you do gets compared to your biggest record. I was making records after Mistral that were getting great support from Armin, PvD, all the big guys, and for most other 23 year olds they would have been big records, but for me they still got a bashing because they werenít as big as Mistral. I think Iíve finally got away from it now though Ė when I DJ out, tracks like This Is New York and Bouncebackability get immense crowd reactions although thereís little doubt, Mistral is still the essential Emery classic.

T.nu: Youíve got a new GTR single out soon. What can we expect from that?

GE: Itís a bit of a weird one Ė the original mix is a fairly twisted electro-type thing, not a typical big-trance record at all, but I felt it was a cool, distinctive track, and the right direction I want to go in with the GTR name. Iíve no idea what people will make of it Ė people will probably love it or hate it, which usually seems to be the case with my stuff, itís divisive. Fortunately, both Ali Wilson and George Acosta have delivered brilliant mixes, with Ali catering for the hard-as-nails tech-trance bods and George doing something for the more uplifting lovers, so the mix package means thereís something there for everyone.

T.nu: You work with Jon OíBir a lot and have had several well received collaborations with Lange recently. Have you got any more co-productions lined up?

GE: Iím back in the studio with Lange at the moment, and Jon will probably be back here before too long as well. Iíve got great studio chemistry with both of those guys Ė whenever we get in the studio together, good things seem to happen. Iím a bit nervous about the next record with Jon, because every time Iím sure we canít top the previous release, and somehow we do. This time weíve got Escapade, Bouncebackability and No Way Back to top Ė itís going to be tough.

There are also various other people Iíve talked to about collaborating with, but this year I want to concentrate a little more on showing people what I can do on my own. Collaborating is a lot more fun as you get to have a laugh with someone else in the studio, go out to the pub for lunch, etc, but solo productions are where you really demonstrate your ability.

T.nu: When it comes to production, what do you prefer, hardware or software?

GE: Thereís a time and place for both of them. I love software, but I couldnít live without my hardware. My favourite type of synths are probably instrument sample banks rather than pure-VSTs: theyíre software so youíve got all the tightness of a VST, but theyíre actually create from real hardware, so they sound good. A lot of 100% soft-synths just sound thin and weak to me and I donít tend to use them for main sounds. Iíve got an old Studio Electronics SE-1 here, a genuine 100% analogue bass synth, and it just sounds incredibly fat Ė better than any VSTs Iíve got.

T.nu: What kind of equipment do you use in the studio?

GE: The main computer is a fairly fat PC running an AMD 64 4000 chip although itís due an upgrade sometime soon. I use Mackie HR 624 monitors, and the main outboard stuff I use is a Lexicon MPX500 reverb unit, Access Virus C, Studio Electronics SE-1. Iíve also got a vocal booth built in another room which opens up a lot more possibilities.

T.nu: Are there any producers you particularly admire at the moment?

GE: Itís hard not to mention Sander van Doorn Ė over the past few years heís done what MIKE did bit further in the past, and made music so good itís influenced the ways a lot of people produce. A lot of people listened to MIKE and you started hearing his trademark huge claps and wall-of-sound synths all over the place. These days, everyoneís nicking Sanderís driving tech-trance loops and rumbling sub-bass. I also have to mention Ferry Corsten whoís just knocked out another cutting edge album Ė heís been pushing the envelope for years and shows no sign of slowing down.

T.nu: Youíre still only 25 yet youíve become an established artist, are a regular at the UKís biggest trance clubs, hold a residency in Vancouver and play all over the globe as well as running one of the UKís coolest trance record labels, Five AM. Where do you see your career going from here?

GE: As well as keeping going with everything Iíve been doing so far, this year I want to take things to the next level: work on an artist album and pull a full length CD out. Iím finally at the level in the studio where I feel I could create a killer album Ė itís just getting in the right frame of mind, putting the distracting business stuff to the side, and settling down to write music.

T.nu: How is the record label going and what new releases have you got lined up?

GE: Weíve got bucket loads of cool stuff on the way, a new George Acosta single, new ones from M.I.D.O.R, Miikka, Russ James, Team SR, Edin Bosnjak, and others. Weíre in the lucky situation now where weíve got a great team of outstanding producers who are making tracks regularly for us.

T.nu: It must keep you very busy! Do you find time to relax?

GE: The one thing I need to do more this year is relax, take time out, and chill out. When your office and studio is in your house, it can be pretty difficult to detach yourself from work. Iíll go and start to watch a film, then my agent phones and I hear the noise of a few emails dropping in, and two hours later I find myself still in front of the laptop sorting stuff out with the film long forgotten. I go running most days which is good for clearing your head, but the time when Iím relaxing most is probably when Iím travelling with long flights to watch films on, and lots of time in hotel rooms away from the studio.

T.nu: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with trance.nu. We wish you best of luck with the future!

GE: Thanks!

Related links


Also check out the essential Gareth Emery Podcast at: http://www.garethemerypodcast.com

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