We bothered Gareth Emery before he comes to town so that you don't have to
One strong piece of advice we got in the early part of the 2000s was from an old crusty burnout that generally put down three packs of Marlboro Reds before we could even dial-up to our America Online accounts. He said that, “If you dirty bastards like this crap music you listen to now, find a way to store it in some strange depths of your forlorn, disgusting excuse of a wardrobe; because when you want to hear it again in ten years, the industry will be so filthy with bollocks and sh** that you sorry f***s won’t be able to find it. Artists are earning a shelf life shorter than salty f***ing milk, mate.”
As melancholic and bizarre as that statement – and that man – was, it was true. We should have listened. Artists don’t hold the life that they once did, and the industry’s infatuation with finding the ‘next big thing’ is so prevalent that it’s rare for any act to last more than a few years. It’s a cyclical twister of suck that even the most brazen of Jodi Foster wannabes couldn’t tackle.
But that isn’t true of all artists. Some have managed to build a fruitful career and still release bold material that negotiates the test of time. This Thursday, June 5, the timeless talent Gareth Emery will be perform at BETA nightclub and showcase why he’s been able to stay away from artistic dissolution.
It’s been almost four years since your debut ‘Northern Lights’ album was released. What have you been up to since then?
Yah, ‘Northern Lights’ really was a game changer for me because before I released that record I was just being paid to open sets. Then ‘Northern Lights’ was released and one track on that called ‘Sanctuary’ did really well; and it really changed me from a support artist to more of a headliner. All of a sudden I had to be prepared. I went from doing forty or fifty shows a year to, like, a hundred and fifty. My traveling went up exponentially.
At that point I didn’t produce music on the move. I had a fixed studio in Manchester, UK where I had to be to produce music. So it really was just the case of spending too much time traveling [and] too much time touring. I released a few records during that time, but it really was not until I mastered the art of producing songs with no external synthesizers or instruments. After it worked out I was producing on trains, on planes, back of cars, wherever I could put my laptop I was making music. Once I worked out that part of the process the next album came pretty quick.
And technology has made a few crazy leaps and bounds since then so we’re sure that’s made it easier?
Exactly. Well, the funny thing is when I first started I was producing entirely on my laptop because that’s all I could afford. Then I went and got paid and got some publishing advances and got a proper studio with loads of gear, which I became kind of reliant on. And now, I’m back to just doing everything on my laptop. I’ve just gone full circle! I should have just stayed with a laptop it would have made life much easier.
Since that first album you’ve been able to play to a wide range of crowd capacities. How do you approach the different sizes of crowds?
Well a lot depends on the mood of the crowd. I’ve had bigger crowds that have been very chill and smaller crowds that are going crazy. The size of the crowd matters, the energy of the crowd probably matters more.
You’ll probably play a little bit more well known stuff at the festival because you’ve got to keep the crowd entertained. At a club you’re using the only room there, they’ll listen to the more intricate parts of your set because they can’t go anywhere else. Festivals, you know, there’s ten other stages. So you have to essentially be constantly entertaining, because if you’re not people will be like, ‘You know what this hack’s boring, let’s go to the next stage.’ So, there’s probably about ten different factors that influence the way your set is.
Do you have a preference in either the large or small crowds?
They’re both good in their own ways. The big crowds, there’s definitely a buzz, and when you hear the roar of a ten thousand person crowd it just sends a shiver down your spine. It really is a sheer power in numbers; it takes your breath away. Particularly before you get on the stage.
I remember when I first started playing these big festivals, when I’d walk up backstage and hear the DJ before and hear the crowd roar. It does something to you, you’re like, ‘My god this is fucking crazy!’
But at big festivals you can’t play all the stuff you want and you don’t have the intimacy that you do at the smaller venues. I honestly love the smaller venues when you play all night - not just an hour set - and do a two-and-a-half to three hour set and you can play whatever you like and the crowd stays there. I’m very fortunate in that I get to do both, I love them both equally.
We’ve been listening to your new album ‘Drive’ all week in the office. One of our favorite tracks is ‘Soldier’ and we found that the vocals are from your sister (Roxanne Emery) before you called. Are you from a musical family then?
Both my parents were teachers, so they weren’t in professional music, but yah me and my sister both are. She’s co-wrote some of the tracks on the album as well as helped me a lot with A&R and song selections. So it was great to be able to work with her, and I’m really happy with the track! It’ll probably be the fourth and final single, I guess, so I’m really happy with that.
We got into the electronic movement in the late 90s and early 2000s and your style brings us back to that time and why we fell in love with ‘techno’ in the first place.
You know that was also the time that I got into it, was the late 90s, and I still love that music. I want to make music that gives me that feeling that I got when I first started listening to this. But I want to do it in a modern way. I don’t want to make music that sounds exactly like it did in 1990, because that would be backwards working.
I want to take that influence from that era and develop music creatively in a way that it fits in 2014. The fact that you picked that up and it gave you that feeling, that’s really cool for me to hear.
Who are some of the new cats coming out that you’ve been listening to?
One really interesting guy that has just been signed to do stuff on Garuda is Luke Bond. I’m really excited about him. You know, you’ve always got these super hot kids coming out, it’s like they have a fucking factory pumping out producers. Not a week goes by without hearing some hot new producer, and really it’s the test of time to see who’s gonna be around in a few years. Several people are making great singles right now.
It’s definitely an industry that revolves around the test of time. We won’t know someone’s great until about ten years from now.
You also never know what is sitting behind an act. A few years go by when an act sounds amazing and then all of a sudden one day they start sounding like shit. Then someone who knew them would say, ‘Yah they had a ghost producer,’ and then the ghost producer stops working with them and then they could never really do shit on their own. So that’s why they sounded fantastic and now they suck.
You never know if they had a ghost producer propping them up until the producer isn’t there to prop them up. That’s why you usually find out maybe five years down the line if someone’s the real deal.
You’ve been to Colorado before; what can fans of yours expect out of shows now? Is it an evolving process?
I feel very happy with the way our live show is. There’s a lot of synchronized content whether it’s custom visuals, or whatever, it’s seriously cool stuff. Musically it’s always a mixed bag with me. I’m very much trying to stay away from playing one particular genre, if it’s a good record I’m going to play it.
If people come to my shows with an open mind and wish to hear some good music they’ll go away satisfied.