I have enjoyed Wolfgang Gartner since longer than I can remember. He has killed it at festivals and shows. His music is something different. Lately, there was apparently rumors that he may retire. I didn’t believe it as for some reason, most rumors are quite wrong. That said, Wolfgang Gartner took to Facebook to talk about his life with music, the future of music festivals, as well as his upcoming music / album. This is quite an interesting read that you should take a glance at because you’ll learn a lot!
Most of the time you don’t know you’re writing an album until you’re already a few songs into it, at least that’s how it seems to work for me. I started working on this album in July of 2013, unbeknownst to myself. That summer was one of the biggest turning points in my headspace I’ve ever experienced, mirrored by probably one of the biggest turning points that dance music as a genre has ever seen. In the world of DJs and dance music, summer is Festival Season. It’s a global thing; summer festival season is the ultimate peak of the year for most DJs, consumers, and anybody who works in the “EDM” (as much as I hate that acronym) industry. My tour schedule was jam-packed last summer with festivals almost every weekend, as it is every summer now. These are the events where everybody premiers their new music, all the newest most exclusive promos are played, and you really start to get a feel for the state of the music, the industry, and what’s on the horizon.
It was summer festival season of 2013 when I heard what was on the musical horizon and started doing some serious pontificating about the future of dance music and what role I wanted to play in it. There were a number of songs released which defined a new era of “EDM,” dominated by an incredibly formulaic sound: giant kick drums, big snare buildups with a predictable catch-phrase at the end, leading into a “drop” with a percussive, almost metallic rave melody. Suddenly everything being played at festivals and clubs sounded exactly like this; it began to dominate the charts, and a few select songs with the right machine behind them crossed over to commercial pop radio as an almost “novelty” in the 35-song rotation. They became the representatives of dance music, telling the unfamiliar masses; “this is what dance music sounds like now.” Many of those songs went platinum and created even more impetus for labels and artists to maintain and nurture this formula, because at the end of the day it was making the most money.
Dance music had been the backbone of my existence for 20 years to this point, there had been countless trends throughout the decades, many subgenres and sounds had come and gone, and I had morphed my own sound over those years as well. But it was time for me to do something different than I had been doing, something different than anybody else was doing, and something that would hopefully tip the scales against the soulless barrage of “EDM.” Instead of just paying attention to the sound that was dominating the festivals and airwaves, I saw excitement with an undercurrent of, albeit rare, crossover dance music success that was happening simultaneously. To me it meant that a lot of people still wanted dance music that you could dance to, and that was what I wanted to make again. Sometime during the summer of 2013, I felt complete creative freedom after a considerable time without it. This came during the height of the climate-change in the industry and my personal aversion to the direction in which dance music as a whole was going. I think the feeling of freedom was so overwhelming and the time was just right that I kind of just said, “fuck it, I’m gonna make whatever I feel like making from now on, there’s no more walls.”
There are certain elements of my music that I have always held onto as part of my identity as an artist, and elements that have come and gone, as I think is the case with most artists or musicians. My first goal when creating music is to make something that belongs in the future, not in the now. To interpret this literally; most albums take up to two years to make and up to another year to get released, so in a sense you have to think about how it will live in the future when creating. But nobody has a crystal ball. This is why I think of it in almost unrealistic terms; I’m trying to make music to be released three, five, even seven years from now, even though I know it will be released sooner than that. There’s also the element of funk, soul, disco, and that whole era. I have a huge record collection of stuff from digging for samples when I was a kid, and that music had a huge influence on me. The amount of funk I’ve injected into my music and the way in which I inject it has cycled over the years, but it has always been there. When everything aligned, the ropes broke free and I had this musical, spiritual awakening type thing, and I knew exactly what I wanted to make. I wanted to make music people could dance to, with varying degrees of soul and funk, but done in a way it had never been done before. I wanted it to make people feel happy when they listened to it, and I wanted it to make me feel good too.
The whole process has been scary, liberating, and an adventure in musical exploration. I’ve tried to figure out how to take the past and recreate it in it’s true form but in the context of the future. I’ve tried to make Electronic Dance Music that focuses on the Dance part and disregards the means of getting there. In the process I’ve disregarded the concept of what is expected of me by my fans and avid listeners and disregarded what is probably deemed safe in today’s musical climate. But that’s exactly what I wanted to do. To be safe is to be like everything else out there. I’m just trying to have a good time making an album of music that will inspire and make a lot of people happy.