Wolfgang Gartner: "This Job Doesn't Really Allow You to Have a Social Life"
Wolfgang Gartner and Tommy Trash will hit the decks Friday at the Marquee Theatre, making sure that Halloween last one day longer. Their recent tour and track "Hounds of Hell" captures both of the DJs' creative styles, with a bit of a spooky undertone.
Up On The Sun spoke with Wolfgang Gartner about his work with Tommy, the tour, and what the electronic music industry has evolved into.
Up On The Sun: How did you both meet? Wolfgang: I believe Tommy had been sending me promos ages ago, either when he was still living in Australia or when he was in London, and he started sending me some really amazing stuff that I was playing. I reciprocated, and it all just kinda went from there, as most DJ to DJ friendships do.
And what made y'all want to work together? Tommy and I had been friends for a while, playing each other's music and just generally had a mutual respect for each other. Coincidentally, our managers all work on the same floor of this office building in LA and sorta have a collective way of operating where they all help each other with things, it's a very symbiotic sort of environment. So I think the initial idea was pitched by our managers, and both of us were immediately up for it, then it just became an issue of the details like production and staging, how we'd split up the sets, tour support and all that.
The Hounds of Hell track seems to be a perfect mixture of both DJs' skills and assets. Will you both be performing this track side by side? Or is the tour strictly one DJ followed by another? We play separate sets on the tour, but switch it up here and there as far as that song. Sometimes we'll both come out when one of us plays it.
I have seen you both perform at festivals and more intimate shows. What is going to set this tour apart from just any other set? This year instead of building a DJ booth, which is what I've done on previous bus tours, we decided to build a set. It's perfect for Halloween. Also, Tommy and I are each touring with our own bus, each with full kitchen, master bedroom.
I've even got a steam shower, which doesn't suck.
I think the Tempe show will be great since it's literally the day after Halloween. What have you learned or figured out over recent shows and perhaps plan to do differently for it? What I've learned from recent shows... I guess that would be that we're apparently doing things right, so I'm probably not gonna do anything differently. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
I like to always ask this question, although it maybe overdone: Festival or show? Festivals if I were forced to pick one, but I don't really prefer one over the other; it all depends on the specific event. My preferred timeslot is the one where the most people are there. Would anybody want a different timeslot?
How do you make up for the time you miss with friends and family while on tour? I moved back to California, where my family lives, and I'm in LA, only a three hour drive from all of them, which helps a lot. I manage to make it to visit my whole family every couple of months, whereas when I lived out of state there was an entire year that went by where I didn't see them.
As for friends, it's hard. You have to prioritize. For me the people most important in my life are my family and my girlfriend, so I spend all my free social time with them. The team of people that work with me, like my managers, label manager, tour manager--these are the people that I spend the most time with, and who have become my friends at this stage in my life. And whenever I play a show in LA I'll try my best to invite all my old homies out to the show, and that'll usually be the one time of the year I see them unfortunately--which is all on me, they do their best to try and keep in touch.
This job doesn't really allow you to have a social life. Your friends become your colleagues and vice versa. And if you're able to maintain a romantic relationship or marriage you're winning big time.
Times and sounds are always evolving. How do you feel about the rise in electronic music in America, especially within the past year or two? There is so much to it right now, a book could probably be written about all the facets to this global multi-billion-dollar a year industry and how it's exploded. On one hand, I love the fact that I have a career in a thriving and profitable industry that continues to grow with no signs of stopping.
On the other hand I see this industry changing so much and so fast because of the sheer profitability of it. It's attracted a lot of hungry people who are out to capitalize, and these include a lot of DJs, artists, labels, promoters, investors, and every other job title in the industry.
The one clear thing I see is that it is becoming less about the actual music, and more about the product as a whole - the product being the DJ, the artist, or the event. DJs are paying more attention to buying promotional ads, working on their physical image, and schmoozing with promoters to get good time slots at festivals than they are to actually being a DJ. Artists are regurgitating the same hot new sound-of-the-year because they know it's a sure shot, and that's all they really want; they aren't in the game to try and change it, or build a legacy. Promoters are spending more money on lasers and LEDs and set design than they are spending on the actual talent.
I guess all of that sounds pretty negative, and it is, but there are of course still plenty of people doing it for the right reasons and doing it well. The money has certainly brought out the vultures though, and with that has come a lot of really derivative music and a few really cheesy trends in the big world of dance music.
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