Apr 25, 2014
Gareth Emery

Besides being a brilliant producer and DJ in his own right, UK legend Gareth Emery also gives one hell of an interview. We sat down with the man at Coachella to talk about why so much of EDM sounds the same these days, the efficiency of the Dutch, and the importance of creating “songs.”

Gareth Emery feat. Bo Bruce - U (Club Mix) [Garuda]
LessThan3: How’s your Coachella experience thus far?
Gareth: Hot! It’s punishing out here. I’m really glad I’m not playing on an open-air stage. It makes it much more pleasant for the people in the crowd. I’m very excited to be here, though.
LessThan3: Is this the hottest festival you’ve ever played?
Gareth: I think EDC Vegas can get as hot as Coachella, but I’ve never played during the day–it’s always been at like one or two in the morning when it’s cooled down a bit. Electric Zoo also had a scorching day one year, but this is definitely top three at least.
LessThan3: Have your sets changed recently now that you have your Drive album out?
Gareth: I’m trying to move back to a more melodic style of DJing, which is kind of where I came from. In the past few years, everyone has really gotten into these “EDM” drops with all the “plinky plunky” noises. I’m bored of that now, though–I enjoyed it for a while and played a lot of it in my sets, but you can’t really listen to that stuff at home. It’s purely aggressive festival music. I’m trying to be a bit more progressive and deep as much as I can; I don’t want to be some guy who stands up there and bores the sh*t out of the crowd for an hour. I’m always gonna be mixing what I want to play with what I know is gonna work.
LessThan3: How has your podcast evolved along with the evolution of what’s popular in electronic music?
Gareth: The first track ever played on the podcast back in 2006 was a Funkagenda record. If you look at the early podcast tracklists, you’ll see a lot of Swedish House Mafia and other house artists. I’ve never really thought “this week we’re gonna go trance and this week we’re gonna do house.” I get 500 or so records a week, I listen to them, and pick my favorites regardless of genre. People try to read into the musical comings and goings of my podcast, but I’m just a music guy and I put the music I like into the show.
LessThan3: How much would you say your podcast has played a part in expanding your name worldwide?
Gareth: It’s been very important. I was one of the first people to launch a music podcast. For everyone to be able to stay in tune with you on a weekly basis is a powerful tool. It’s a lot of work, though, especially now that we have a version of the show on Electric Area on Sirius XM. It’s pretty much one solid day of work per week. It’s a good exercise, though, because it forces me to stay on top of new music.
LessThan3: In terms of your new album, what was the artistic direction you were trying to move in?
Gareth: I had a lot of the songs already done, but when it came to the execution of the songs, originally I produced them in more “EDM” styles. Then I had this awakening about a year ago when I thought to myself, “f*ck I’m getting so bored of playing all these records that sound the same; all these Dutch house-style tracks that could have literally been made by the same person.” They’re well-produced, but they’re clinical. So I took some of the songs, threw away the old templates, and completely re-produced them in a form that I hope will stand the test of time. Music is so throwaway these days. I want this album to be something you can listen to in five years. For that, you need actual songs.
LessThan3: What do you think is the main reason that a lot of the current mainstage EDM tracks sound the same?
Gareth: Dutch efficiency. I’ve worked with many Dutch people, and one thing the Dutch are very good at is when they figure out something that works, they can do it over and over again very quickly. What they have perfected as a nation is manufacturing this army of DJs that look the same and sound the same. It’s all very well-produced, and there are good melodies, but it’s like each of them comes off a production line. They all take three months to make, and then here’s the next one. Fortunately the crowd is smarter than we give them credit for, and we’re reaching a point where more and more people are going “you know what, this is fun, but it’s too aggressive to listen to at home and the songs are getting old.” When I look at songs that I’ve been listening to for five years, it’s the Above & Beyond songs, the Eric Prydz songs, the ones that are actual “songs” with melodies. I think that’s going to come back. I prefer to fight with positivity rather than negativity. You’re not gonna hear me going “this music f*cking sucks,” even if I think that. Instead I say “let’s make music that is better, and we will see a change.”
LessThan3: Where do you think electronic music is moving next in terms of what genre is going to be in the main spotlight?
Gareth: Over the last 15 years, house music, progressive music, and trance have remained relatively constant. DJs come and go, but the genres have been big for a long time now. Then you’ve got your leading “out there” genre, like dubstep, moombahton, and trap. You always get some interesting production ideas that come from these “out there” genres–it’s usually these 16-year-old kids making crazy music in their bedrooms on their laptops. It’s good for all of us because it keeps us on our toes. I feel a bit sorry for a lot of the dubstep crew because the sound has dwindled, but they came up with all these smart production techniques, and everyone in house music went “that’s clever” and now they use them. So the techniques still exist, but the sound they came from may not. I don’t know what the next “out there” style is, but I’d say UK hardcore is a possibility. Guys like Darren Styles are amazing at making that sound and I think they would be a good fit for the American market.
LessThan3: If the world were ending in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
Gareth: I Giorni by Ludovico Einaudi. It has a big personal connection for me–reminds me a lot of my mother.
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