interview by Jennifer Warner
Gareth Emery is the future of DJing. Yes he tours like crazy around the globe, puts out insanely good and prolific remixes and mix CDs, but what we really love about Gareth is his podcasts. And we're not the only ones - iTunes ranks it within their Worldwide Top 20 Featured Music Podcasts with tens of thousands of subscribers tuning in every other week for a new mix.
Though we would have really liked to have caught him at that desert island rave...
Hi Gareth!! I sometimes ask “where are you answering these questions” but I think with you I should add “in what country” and not just ask you to describe the room and yourself, but maybe what's outside too!!
Right now, I'm looking out of a train window, en route from Derby to London Heathrow Airport, where I'm about to travel to Indonesia and Malaysia this weekend. It's equipped with laptop power so it's useful to catch up with things during the two hour journey…
Desert island raves in Indonesia.... that sounds amazing!! What was it like??
It was amazing. These guys had basically taken over a small desert island and turned it into this incredible venue in the middle of the sea, where all the clubbers had to come out by boat. We blasted out there on a private boat, which was actually a bit fast and scary, but the night was fantastic – the main stage was set up on a beach, so I got to play to a crowd who were dancing in the sand, in a really warm night, whilst watching the full moon above and the sea lapping on the shore about 10 metres away. Pretty unique.
Your bio reads a bit like every up and coming DJs dream. Tell us, what was your secret, how did you make it happen?
Right from the start, I never tried to copy any other DJs sound, or any other producer's sound – I just absorbed influences and did what felt right. I guess that meant I've always had an identify, a particular sound, which runs through both my DJ sets and my productions, and I think that's meant I stood out. Having successful records and being in the right place at the right time definitely helped as well.
Did you travel abroad before Mixmag predicted you'd be kicking some arse?
Not to DJ, no. Mixmag made that prediction when I'd only done one or two very low profile gigs in the UK… and I'm not even sure they were there. It definitely was a premature prediction, but to be fair to them, one that they seemed to get right.
When did you first start podcasting and how did that come about?
In March 2006. I started it because podcasts are my favourite way to listen to new music. I'm too disorganised to tune into regular radio shows at certain times and always seem to miss them, so podcasts are perfect – my computer automatically downloads new episodes, and I can listen to them whenever I want. I couldn't believe nobody else in the trance / progressive genre had a podcast radio show, so I gave it a crack, and it took off in a big way, and we're just about on 40 episodes now.
What kind of gear do you use to record the podcast?
A pretty cheap and dirty setup that I probably should upgrade: a Studio Electronics 2200A mic (with a neat add-on called the Reflexion Filter), a Focusrite Platinum TrakMaster pre-amp, and that's about it – the rest is just software plugins with a particular set of presets that I've tweaked over time to get the sound right.
What about when you are producing music?
My studio machine is a fairly beefy PC running Cubase – whereas on the road I use Ableton on my Mac. For the nerds, a full list of all the stuff I use can be found over at www.garethemery.com.
And what do you take on the road with you when you DJ?
Not a lot – my laptop, a bunch of blank CDs (I'm always frantically burning CDs in hotel rooms before gigs), and that's about it. I've got to give props to the bag I use, the BloxBox, it's very much been designed for DJs on the road, and is perfect – full of neat places to store your stuff including separate areas for passport, laptop, etc, and it's the ideal size for airline carry-on baggage. A very well made piece of kit that makes my life on the road infinitely easier.
Going far back... farther... farther... ok you are now maybe 2 or 3 years old! What is your earliest musical memory ever?
Probably a tape of classical music which my parents used to play in my room at night if I couldn't sleep – it was a great tape but I could never get to the end without falling asleep. I started having piano lessons from the age of 4, so I've lots of musical memories from that age on.
What were you like as a kid? (Shy, wild, nerd, lots of friends, imaginary friends... any details!)
Lots of friends, liked building dens, playing football, that sort of thing, but I was also equally at home sitting at home messing about on the computer. I guess I was also a bit of a dreamer, head always in the clouds, not particularly observant. But essentially I'm the same as I am now: outward going and sociable, but equally adept at sitting in front of a computer and being a nerd when required.
When was the first time you went to a club/rave/party and saw a DJ, and what was the experience like?
That's a difficult question: I'd been going to clubs since the age of 16, but it wasn't to see DJs, although the clubs did play dance music – it was more to get drunk and try to pull girls, the music didn't really matter so much. It was about 2000 until I started going to some real clubs with the actual purpose of seeing DJs: a few nights at Godskitchen stand out, when I was just getting into it all, but nothing in particular.
How did you get involved in DJing and making music, and how did you learn to do it?
Pretty much the usual way. I bought myself a set of decks, some records, and practised until I became decent enough to inflict my music upon other people. Similar route with producing, only with a computer rather than decks.
Now that you've “made it” is there any advice you wish someone had given you back when you started?
I wish I'd been told to delegate stuff to other people, as soon as I could. For my first three years in dance music I tried to do everything myself and it was impossible. I also wish someone had told me how important marketing yourself properly is – it's a sad fact of life that being a good DJ and a good producer isn't enough to mean you'll be successful. Then again, perhaps I wouldn't have listened – you're meant to just work out some things yourself aren't you?
What is THE best thing about your life?
My girlfriend, my family, my job… all of which I'm lucky to have.
Anything else you'd like to say?
Not really, apart from to plug my new album, The Podcast Annual 2007, which is available for now. For tracklisting and orders, just check out www.garethemerypodcast.com
Thank you so much!! :)