To say the past six months have been a whirlwind for Gareth Emery would be an understatement. The DJ/Producer welcomed his daughter Sansa into the world, released Drive, his first studio album in a few years, moved across the world to Los Angeles and his label Garuda merged with Armin Van Buuren’s Armada. We had the opportunity to catch up with him recently for updates on all of the above.
1) After taking some time off to spend with your family, you’re back on the road touring to support EFL – you like to use shows as a laboratory to experiment with tracks you’re currently working on. What’s that process like? What might you tweak or change based on the crowd’s reaction?
Everything and anything! I’ll usually play a track out when it’s at 90% or so – I prefer not to do most of the finishing touches until I’ve checked it basically works. Sometimes there won’t be a lot to change, maybe a few levels, some fine tuning and that’s it, but there have been other tracks where I’ve made radical changes. The first version of Concrete Angel I tried had a completely different groove and bass, it felt like a very different track before the breakdown. Same with Lights & Thunder (with Krewella) – that one had 20 or so revisions, as there was one problematic section of the track that we couldn’t quite get to to work. But others, like Firebird, were more or less there straight away.
2) You founded Garuda back in 2008 and it was recently acquired by Armada records. Other than the obvious like being able to tap into bigger networks, more financial and administrative support and so on, what does this mean for the future of Garuda?
It’s just a great framework to release our music from. Garuda was always a small operation. In our best years, we had three people in an office in Manchester, and we scored a US iTunes Dance #1 with that team, which was crazy. But I don’t have time to be in the office day-to-day any more – I’ve got a young family, I’m out in LA, and I’m very focused on being in the studio writing my own music, rather than being a label manager. The team at Armada is set up to release music perfectly, meaning I can oversee the releases on the label and be in charge of A&R without having to be in the label office every day.
3) 6 Years of Garuda just came out and you collaborated with Craig Connelly and Ben Gold to produce and mix the compilation. Congratulations on making it this far! There’s a total of 52 songs spanning 3 albums – what was it like working with Craig and Ben and how did you go about narrowing down the Garuda catalogue?
Craig and Ben are a big part of the label’s history and we’ve all worked a lot together so I know they were super easy people to work with. It was tough to narrow down the catalogue, but when we couldn’t decide or a particular mix, we usually just picked the fan favourite. They usually know best.
4) You showed your altruistic side a few years back by donating whatever someone asked you to spend on an advertising campaign for the DJ Mag charts instead. Electric For Life is a name shared not only by your radio show and current tour, but also by the foundation you recently established that supports natural disaster relief organizations and others that help disadvantaged kids through music – What lead to you establishing your foundation and what role do you play in it?
The EFL Foundation is new, but it’s going to be cool. Essentially all the Electric For Life merchandise, whether it’s t-shirts, hats, bracelets, is profit-free. Everything we make, goes into the foundation, where we’ll pick good causes to redistribute that money to. I think we’ve already found the first thing we’ll be donating to, but I can’t say what it is right now. We’re also setting up a few EFL Foundation shows this year, where all show profits and fees I would have been paid will go to local charities. It’s early days but I’m excited to move forward with it. I know the guys in the band Simple Plan, and they’ve had a foundation for the last 10 years or so, and have raised millions, and that just blows me away. It’s early days for us, but if in ten years we’d raised over a million dollars that would feel extremely worthwhile.
5) You’re a classically trained pianist and you and your sister Roxanne grew up in a musically-inclined household – do you plan on starting Sansa down this road? And what effect would you say learning an instrument at a young age and growing up in that type of environment had on you?
I’ve already played with her on the piano a bit, and she’s only 4 months! It’ll be cool if she likes it, but I won’t be pushing her into anything – she can try everything, music, sports, art, academia, and make up her own mind what she wants to do.
6)You said you don’t want your next album to take as long as Drive took to complete. Coupling that with how talent-rich LA is, what can you tell us about the next album you’re working on?
The new album is about 70% done. I think it’ll be done in a month or two. It’s a good follow to to Drive but better I think: very melodic, lots of great songs, but a few good club tracks too, plus some interesting collaborators. It really blew me away how receptive people were to Drive, especially as it wasn’t following the typical electric sound at that time, which is why I wanted to deliver the follow up quickly.
7)Any final thoughts/closing words?
Thank you for the support!
You can catch Gareth Emery on tour with upcoming shows in Miami and New York soon! Click here for tour dates and more and be sure to check out his latest release at the top of this post.