Wolfgang Gartner,born Joey Youngman, is the man of the moment in the electronic music world:
Wolfgang Gartner has been nominated for several prestigious DJ awards, his show at Avalon (LA) this past month was a massive & monumental success for the venue with over 4,000 heads deep in attendance, and his latest announcement of a highly anticipated forthcoming album, under his recently confirmed worldwide contract with renowned record label, Ultra Music, are just a few of the ever-growing list of accomplishments that have put Gartner in the electronic world’s spotlight.
On top of all that, Gartner has been recently holding down the top spot on the Beatport charts week after week, and is still holding strong with his track “Conscindo” in the top ten (at the time of writing). Simply put, Wolfgang Gartner is sonically soaring on career Cloud 9. And Gartner has taken the joy and positive energy he has earned from his endeavors with him on tour across the country, performing at top venues and large-scale festivals, sharing the fruits of his successes with his fans.
Thanks to my bestie and East Coast counter-part, The Music Ninja, I was able to pull Wolfgang Gartner away from the celebratory momentum he’s been riding and talk with him about all the epic events he’s been playing lately and upcoming shows that he’s looking forward to, his recent collaboration with Deadmau5, and ask him to us about his true feelings in regards to the ongoing ninjas vs. unicorns debate, among many other things he graciously shared with us as well. Check out the wisdom and intriguing insight below from the mind and mouth of the production mastermind and man of the moment himself:
The MIX: So according to your Facebook, it seems you had a PRETTY good time on your International tour! ready to start back again in the States, but tell me, which country or city in general was the most memorable for you while you were out on tour?
Gartner: I mean all of the gigs were really good, that’s why it was such a good one and it’s kind of hard to pick a favorite but I would have to say the Beat Patrol Festival in Austria was kinda the best energy out of all of them. Caught me off guard.
The MIX: And we heard Avalon was absolutely insane, how was that!?
Gartner: That was crazy at the Avalon. I guess it was the most people they ever had in there or close to the most people they’ve had in there, but yeah it was completely packed and that’s a big venue too. Really one of the best shows in my life, for sure. California’s a good place for me right now.
THE MIX: In the electro house genre how do you distinguish as a producer?
Gartner: I don’t completely know how to best answer the question. I just try to do stuff that other people aren’t doing. If I go through the top 100 electro house chart on Beatport, it all kind of has a sound to it, there are a few different styles, but basically everybody’s spinning in within these cubes that sound kind of generic and I really have trouble finding good music on there. I’ll go through the entire ‘Top 100′ and not find anything that really makes me go ‘wow’ you know? So I try to do something that’s beyond what people are doing or so different from what other people are doing that basically doesn’t sound like anything else on there.
The MIX: Well, let me put it this way: If your music were an animal, what kind of animal would be?!
Gartner: I’m going to have even more trouble answering that one.
The MIX: Haha We’ll go back to that one towards the end…
The MIX: It became apparent that there was a change in energy in the sound of your newest tracks, can you tell me what influenced/instigated “Firepower”
Gartner: Well actually it started – I know what change you’re talking about – it kinda started with Wolfgang’s “5th Symphony“, then “Firepower” with the next one, and then with the “Undertaker“. This is kind of like the ‘new wave’ of my sound. I don’t know what instigated it, I think it’s more just kind of like a coming into my own in this sound, because I only started making this type of music like two years ago. It was kind of a learning experience up until now. And I was listening to what other people were doing, taking ideas from here and there, and I feel like with “5th Symphony” and “Firepower“, that was the turning point where I kind of developed my own signature sound, and started doing things more originally.
The MIX: Being with Undocumented Management along with big names like MSTRKRFT, LA Riots, Congorock, Bloody Beetroots, etc. Has it affected the type of shows you’ve been playing?
Gartner: Definitely. Obviously Undocumented is a management company so they don’t book my shows, they act as my agent, but basically Undocumented Management filters through all of the shows, that my agent pitches them and kind of says, “do you think this the right show, for the right market? The right time for you to be playing?” And they’ll go out and get a few shows too. So basically, they’re in control of the logistics of my master plan of my touring. Undocumented has certainly changed the landscape of my tour schedule and has had a big impact on my profile; the direction things are moving in, for sure.
The MIX: How has [being with Undocumented Management] nurtured your sound? Along with being with all these big names on the same bill?
Gartner: I would say the fact that Undocumented Management manages all these other people doesn’t really affect me. What affects me is my manager pushing me. It’s basically like having somebody to push you, as cheesy as this sounds, to be the best that you can be… Now, I will send him a track, whereas before I would make him a track knowing it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever done but still kind of cool, and I’ll send it to him, and he’ll be like no “Yea, no, we can’t release this. It’s good, but…” He pushes me to be better, to improve. It’ like having one more person behind you, to take you to the next level.
The MIX: I was there for your set at EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival, LA) and saw, basically, the line-up of all you guys (Undocumented) ALL on the SAME stage, and it felt that you each were helping to contribute to each others’ sound, which, well, was an awesome feeling as a huge fan of everyone’s music!
Gartner: That’s true too. There are a couple other guys on the roster, where we know each other and we talk to each other. I’m kind of newer on the roster than most of them. So they’ve been friends with each other longer, influencing each other for a little bit longer. But I’m becoming, as it’s only been a year, member; I feel like merging in with the group. Yea, they have been influencing me over time, like hearing MSTRKRFT for example: MSTRKRFT I had never heard them play live before, I signed on with Undocumented and since I’ve heard them play I kind of understand that sound a little more, and it’s planted a little seed in my head with some ideas. Same with other artists on there too. That is a valid point right there.
The MIX: You’ve been nominated for “Best Newcomer” for these DJ awards, so congrats on that (we hope you win!) but putting it into prospective, do you really see yourself as a newcomer?
Gartner: HA! Not at all. But if they want to nominate for an award, that’s cool. But ‘newcomer’ wasn’t the place for me to be in. I’ve been doing this for like, EVER, I’ve been touring six years, putting out records for seven years, so NEWCOMER?!?! ‘Newcomer’ is NOT the right category!
The MIX: We figured that too, but we wanted to double check…
Gartner: Haha yea…
The MIX: So wanted to talk about your collaboration with Deadmau5. That’s, um, exciting to say the very least! What sparked the collaboration with Joel [Zimmerman]?
Gartner: He just hit me up on Twitter one day actually, said that he wanted to do a track. Haha Joel got my phone number from my manager and he called me twenty minutes later. I flew out there a couple weeks later, and we did a track. Pretty simple.
The MIX: Wow exciting that Twitter can spark those kind of relationships!
Gartner: Twitter does AMAZING things in the DJ community!
The MIX: So what kind of sound should we be looking forward to… Finally when the track drops?
Gartner: You know what? It definitely sounds like both of us. it definitely sounds like the two of us got together, and made a track. As for the general vibe of it, it’s definitely less aggressive. I guess it’s more “housey”, has more funk elements. It’s just kind of a more “housey” track, rather than the more aggressive electro stuff we both usually produce. It’s still electro, but it’s got a more laid-back, house vibe.
The MIX: So a huge audience for both TheMusicNinja.com and TheMixster.com are actual DJs & aspiring Producers. And a lot of feedback we get is that DJs are SO fascinated by everything technically for you guys as producers. Building a track from the ground up is an immense process, it’s interesting to say the very least. So keeping that audience in mind, I have to ask you, how do you personally, typically start building a track from scratch? Where do you even begin?
Gartner: It’s different every time. Sometimes I start with a kick drum, and just build the drums. Sometimes I’ll start with the core progression and I’ll sit down at the key board and bang away until I have something that I like and just write a track around the core progression.
Those are usually really those are the only two ways that I start. I’ll build the drums first, or I’ll build it around the core progression. That’s pretty much it.
The MIX: Technically in the studio, what do you see as your personal strong points or strengths as a producer?
Gartner: That’s kind of hard to put into specifics. My strong point as a producer is a singular thing. And it’s the fact that I’ve been, I guess what they call the “ten-thousandth hour” rule, like once you’ve done something for at least 10,000 hrs. you’re supposed to have mastered it or whatever. I’ve been doing this [producing] since I was 11, like pretty much every single day of my life so I’ve been doing it for 17 years and I know how to do EVERYTHING. I know every aspect of production, from making the tracks to writing music to music theory to mastering the music for commercial release, so I know every single aspect of it, and I’m in control of everything single aspect of it; where I don’t have to bring in somebody to play a core progression to play notes for me, I don’t have to hire somebody to master it for me. Since I do everything myself it makes it my own creation solely without having, you know, other people’s heads in it.
The MIX: When composing your tracks, do you keep in mind these huge venues that you’ve been playing lately?
Gartner: Actually yea, that’s such an interesting question, because that’s all I do is when I’m making music. I’m totally thinking of like, the last really amazing gig that I’ve played, the most recent one, and just kind of make music, with the thought in my head the whole time of “What would have really gone OFF at that place that I played at?” So, like right now the most recent like amazing gig that I played was Avalon (LA), so next time I get into the studio I will probably look at the pictures I have from it, and just be picturing it, and remembering the whole thing, and think to myself, “OK could I have made that would have been just INSANE at that gig?” The gigs have a HUGE affect on what I do in the studio.
The MIX: So let’s say the last track you composed was about an amazing experience you had a huge festival or massive, so do you ever feel like when you are composing a track you are, essentially, losing some of those nuances that you put into it?
Gartner: Yea, I mean but the nuances don’t really get noticed much at a huge festival or huge gig, but they’re people who do listen to this stuff in the cars or headphones and those people will appreciate the nuances, so they do get heard and they are important to me. In way I kind of just do it for myself. I’m the perfectionist, slightly OCD, so, all the nuances HAVE to be there for me to be happy!
The MIX: In general what would be the ideal environment/medium for someone to be listening to a Wolfgang Gartner track?
Gartner: A club or festival.
The MIX: So what are you listening to these days when you’re not in the studio…?
Gartner: I listen to a lot of Rap. Old and new, I guess more old than new. New stuff I like, I like Young Money , some of the more “ghetto” stuff. I listen to a lot of old stuff too. I listen to a lot of Steele Dan, the Eagles, like old classic rock, a lot of disco. The only time I really listen to music outside of the studio is in my car, so I’ll flip on satellite radio, and I’ll see what they’re playing on the dance station, which is usually really bad, (haha) so then I’ll switch to the hip-hop station which is a little bit better. So basically I listen to hip-hop, classic rock, and disco, outside the studio.
The MIX: Are there any break out artists you are particularly excited about?
Gartner: The only one I can think of that really excites me is Congorock, who also happens to be under the same management as me.
The MIX: Looking forward into near future, who are some artists that you would interested in collaborating with?
Gartner: There are already a couple of collaborations already happening, but ones that I would be interested in… I think I’d like to take a break from collaborating with other dance producers and do some stuff with like hip-hop artists, and more vocalists, singers, R&B rap artists, stuff like that. Nobody in particular I can think of right now, but I’m coming up with a “wish list” of people I’d love to work with, so we’re going to try and get some on some tracks.
The MIX: So is that the direction that you are taking as a producer? Involving different sounds?
Gartner: No, if I do an album, say I do a ten track album, three or four tracks with vocalists and the other 6 will be instrumentals. I want to do a few singles that have vocals on them that are “commercially digestible” but the focus of my discography is still going to be my instrumental stuff that I have been doing.
The MIX: Are there any big shows or festivals that you are looking forward coming up in the near future?
Gartner: Let me look at my calendar here! I know I’ve got Nocturnal festival which is here in Texas, which supposed to be good. Electric Zoo (NYC!) the next day and that’s going to be a really BIG ONE! Electric Daisy Carnival in Puerto Rico next weekend, so that should be cool. There’s also a big rave in the Denver coliseum I forget what’s it’s called on September 25th, but THAT is supposed to be a good thing too!
The MIX: Alright so going back to the animal question, is there a way you would describe your sound if it were an animal?
Gartner: You really want me to answer that question, don’t you?
The MIX: YES… Please?
Gartner: Hmmmmmmmm let me think. Probably like a fuckin’, some kind of really brutal, angry animal that has like no morals and just like eats things. I’m thinking like Hyena? But I’m trying to think of just something even more brutal and nasty… Like what’s a horrible animal that nobody likes?
The MIX: An animal nobody likes?
Gartner: Because they’re just evil and they’ll kill anything and everything?!
The MIX: In my opinion, I’d say a shark?!
Gartner: Yea! Well but sharks are kind of beautiful, some of them can be peaceful. I’m going to say a hyena. Because you never like hearing a hyena. Nobody likes hyenas, they’re just these things that prey on everything, and eat everything and have fangs that carve blood to be thrown around.
The MIX: So your music a hyena?
Gartner: Yes, because it’s like a horrible, brutal animal.
The MIX: OK, most important question, Ninjas or Unicorns?
Gartner: um, Unicorns.
The MIX: Nice.
Want to catch Wolfgang in real-life? WHO DOESN’T?!?! Wolfgang Gartner, along with fellow ‘Undocumented’ boys,LA Riots, will be at RAVEhouse this WEEKEND, Sunday, August 29th, in San Diego at the Wavehouse in Mission Beach! Get your tickets as they are going insanely fast already HERE!
Or if you’re going big and going NYC this Labor Day Weekend, catch an absolutely massive and filthy electro set from Wolfgang Gartner at Electric Zoo Festival in NYC at Randall Island’s Park, on Sunday, September 5th, on the Hill Top Arena Stage. Don’t wait on tickets for this as prices will go up this Sunday, August 29th, at MIDNIGHT – Get your Electric Zoo Tickets NOW.