DA Exclusive: Wolfgang Gartner opens up on return to dance music, drops 90’s inspired mix
Wolfgang Gartner is back.
After a brief hiatus, the Kindergarten founder and acclaimed producer is eyeing his return to dance music this fall. Opening up in a rare interview, Gartner explains spending time away from consistent action — why he took a break and what he was cooking up all along. He additionally weighs in on EDM’s cookie-cutter aesthetics, the greater implications of SoundCloud’s recent takedowns,and what “electro house” may or may not mean today.
Primed with new material, Wolf eyes a release for his upcoming “Unholy,” already set with iTunes pre-order date of October 14th. Meanwhile, he’s holding off eager fans with an hour-long homage to records he’d play growing up around house music in California: his second 90’s inspired mix that he hopes to become an annual series. Expect the sounds drawn from his inspirations to hang around longer than the mix’s 60-minutes, and to be more present than ever as he turns the page on his music career.
Even before your new music is released, why did you decide to compose the 90’s mix?
This is actually the 2nd installment of my 90’s mix series, I’m trying to do one per year. I just play all the records that I used to play in the 90’s when I was growing up in the house music scene in California. They influenced me a lot and still do. I thought now was a good time to do another one because these sources of inspiration are more present in the new stuff I’ve been making – I wanted a mix to be able to listen to for my own pleasure, but also to show people; this is where it all came from, especially for the newer generation who haven’t had a chance to hear a quality slice of that era.
You’ve been extremely outspoken about the EDM scene and its cookie-cutter aesthetics – do you think this is a trend that will pass or only continue to worsen as the sounds permeates popular culture?
I think a lot of people have been pretty outspoken about the EDM scene and its cookie-cutter aesthetics. I feel like right now is kind of the deciding point where we find out if it continues to go down a path like you said or if it gets a new dose of life and creativity. I think the climate is right for it to go the good way, I know that I’m getting asked this question constantly, so there are obviously a lot of people thinking about it and aware of it.
How do you feel about Soundcloud’s submission to major labels and the recent takedowns of unofficial remix works? Are they protecting what they own or damaging the freedom of expression and creativity that electronic music was founded on?
This is one of those issues that I kind of go both ways on. I’m like that with blogs and zippyshare and all that as well. On one hand I am a professional musician who makes a living partly from my music production, and Soundcloud’s rules help protect my intellectual property, which generates royalty and publishing income for me, and puts food on the table. On the other hand, I don’t really care if there’s a bunch of remixes of my tracks floating around out there on Soundcloud, I think it’s even more exposure for me and it gives a platform to budding producers. So I see both sides of it, would I have made that decision if I ran Soundcloud? no, but I understand why they did what they did.
You rose to prominence during the early electro house days after donning the Wolfgang moniker, do you think electro is dead? or just in hibernation and waiting for be woken up?
I don’t even know what electro is anymore. Apparently, at least according to genre tags, it’s the bigroom sound, the stuff with the big buildups and “1,2,3, jump” and all that. That’s what’s getting branded as electro. So as far as I know that’s what electro house is now, that’s what it has transformed into. That’s why I’m not really making “electro” anymore, because I don’t make that kind of stuff. Now there’s stuff being branded and categorized as house that seems more representative of the feeling that got me into early electro in the first place: it has a bit of shuffle and funk to it but it’s still got a bit of that electro edge. I just see it as house music evolving and taking a few cues from the tasteful parts of the old electro house movement, and it’s a good result. Most of the stuff I buy and play nowadays is just labeled as house though.
Why did you go dormant and what can we expect from your return?
I went dormant to work on this album that’s pretty close to finished now. And by dormant I mean I took a couple months off touring and spent long hours in the studio. If you’re referring to going dormant on social networking by wiping all my tweets and blacking out my other socials, that was a symbolic way of wiping the slate clean. Because the music that I’m working on and that I’ve made for this album is a whole new chapter, so much so that the slate really did need to be wiped clean in order to unveil this new wave of music to hopefully open-minded ears. I mean we erased like 13,000 tweets!! It was kinda sad to see them go.