Interview with Gareth Emery ‘Northern Lights’
The MST recently caught up with Gareth Emery as he returned from his long weekend in the US, playing NY, LA, Seattle and SF, he talks about the new generation of music listeners, his gruelling schedule, the future of his sound and what we can expect coming up. Also read my insight into debut album ‘Northern Lights’, a great addition to my current playlist!
I see you have just returned from the US, visiting LA, New York, Seattle, SF, tell me about your experiences there?
Gareth Emery: Well it is hard to compare because each one was so different. In San Francisco I ended up playing a four hour set at Ruby Skye, Seattle was more of a Rave with 10,000 people, while New York was a small, yet packed out club. But it was a great and very intense 4 days!
Tell me about Cielo, it is one of my favourites in NY, but tends to fill up quickly!
Yes it was a weeknight so you never know what to expect, but loads turned up on the night. I think a few people felt it may have been too full, but being a DJ it is hard to feel any ill effects! I think next time we come to NY we will need a bigger venue!
Yes I think with the release of ‘Northern Lights’ and 7th place in the TOP 100 DJ’s definitely contributed to your popularity in the US, do you feel like you are becoming a more recognised name in the US?
Yes but I think it has been a slow build. We have been coming to the US alot over the years and this year we played 40 shows in the US.
Wow thats alot… how did you produce ‘Northern Lights’ while constantly touring?
Well I worked even on the plane, working on compositions and order. Flow is very important for me, from the beginning to the end. For some DJ’s order is an after-thought, but for me it was integral to the album. I kept a list of the demo’s on my playlist and kept re-listening to make sure everything was in place.
Well I think the effort paid off, the whole album feels like a journey, beginning in progressive and ending in full-on Trance beats. Although you do play a large mix of genres, what draws you to Trance particularly?
Yes I understand why I am called a Trance DJ because 60% of what I play could be categorised in this genre. Trance is special to me because it was the first genre that pulled me into dance music 11/12 years ago, it has that magic with the ability to take you into a different mental state.
And how do you see yourself developing? A further move into multi-genre albums/sets?
Well i see myself moving with how Dance music as a whole is evolving. In two years time I like to think I will be considered a DJ who just plays records. I like that people are opening up to different types of music, one week they go to a trance night, the next a completely different genre. I think it is harder for us of a older generation to understand. It is the ipod generation, they hear something they like, they check it out on facebook / twitter and there is less pressure to stick to one genre.
Yeah I think we are used to that pressure of becoming experts in one genre and being often forced to cite our favourite acts / DJ’s as part of a definition of who we are…
Yeah, now kids can like heavy dance but then also listen to a pop track, there is less of a pre-conception of cool.
Agreed. And I see you are coming to South America in a few weeks, visiting Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. Do you come to South America a lot and are you excited about the tour?
We don’t get to come to South America a lot so its a great novelty, I love the food, the people and the crowds are great!
And in the near future, what are you looking forward to?
Well, firstly relaxing! I have played 130 shows in 40 countries so far this year, so need some time to unwind. But we have a lot coming up, we will be continuing to tour through to the new year, with a remix edition of Northern Lights and a compilation album to be released in 2011. I am really happy with the remix edition coming out because we managed to get all my favourite DJ’s on the record.
Great! We will be looking forward to those releases, and in the meantime we will have Northern Lights on our IPOD…
Below is my take on Gareth Emery’s ‘Northern Lights’ – I advise you add it to your own collection:
Northern Lights is Gareth Emery’s first full album release, featuring a mix of genres with a strong trance backbone. Emery starts with a progressive house sound building in the first three tracks, with my favourite being ‘Too Dark Tonight’ – a beautiful composition of piano melody, restless beats and great atmospheric vocals.
By track 4, ‘Arrival’, the music really starts pumping – calming slightly for ‘full tilt’ (track 6) before dropping heavily into a great pounding beat with well chosen trance vocals for ‘Sanctuary’ (Track 7). Moving forward comes the massive track, ‘Citadel’, pulling you deeper into Emery’s world – a heavy, pounding culmination demonstrating years of intent listening, podcasting and endless touring.
By track 11, ‘I will be the same’, you’ve reached driving trance, perhaps what he is best known for and a great track, yet just a small part of his musical talent. Global, the last track on the album and the theme for 2010 Global Gathering, features a driving bassline with almost psy-trance melodies riding over the top – a great contrast between light and dark in the track, and a great culmination and crescendo for such a highly anticipated and extremely well executed album.
Who wants to see Gareth Emery on the balance series? I do…