Gorgon City talk new music, DJ sets, and club culture [Interview]
Gorgon City have already reached great heights relatively early on in their career, yet it seems as though they are still just getting started. Shortly after Foamo (Kye Gibbon) and RackNRuin (Matt Robson-Scott) began gaining a little local traction in their native London, their combined effort swiftly propelled them to the top of the global dance scene. Now doubling as revered performers and chart-topping tastemakers, the British duo has big plans for the future.
The dynamic duo were part of an important movement in electronic music in the early 2010s, helping spur a global acceptance of house music into popular culture alongside acts like Duke Dumont, Disclosure, and Route 94. While America may have taken an extra moment to come around to this new sound, the movement has become intercontinental, with a ubiquitous presence in clubs and at festivals. Singles like “Ready For Your Love” and “All Four Walls” have definite mass appeal, though ultimately it would be unfair to pigeonhole the artists into their approachable sound. Gorgon City are here to represent and uphold the underground culture, while also making catchy music with quality songwriting:
“We love to be able to do a track that gets on the charts and the radio and the BBC playlist, but also we love playing at Amnesia every Tuesday and playing techno and house to thousands of people. We don’t really see ourselves in the commercial scene or the underground scene, we just see us as Gorgon City, like the act in itself. But we love being in the house music kind of family of DJs that we’re friends with. People we see in Ibiza every week, people like MK, Duke Dumont, and Solardo and people like that. We’re part of the same scene, we play together all the time. We might have a bit more commercial aspect to our brand but we’re still in that scene, in the UK house music world and we definitely feel part of it.”
A distinctly London act, both members of Gorgon City grew up on the vibrant jungle, drum ‘n’ bass, and garage scenes of the British capital. It was in these grassroots scenes that Gorgon City realized their desire to be involved in the scene: “It was those raves that really made us want to be DJs…When you see it happening at that young age, it’s like this crazy, mad world.” The duo’s music pays obvious homage to the past while maintaining a contemporary and innovative edge to their sound as a result.
Gorgon City are now exploring all the options that the scene has to offer after their debut album was met with wild success. Coming off a residency at Amnesia in Ibiza and a live show with Rudimental, the DJs are returning to the road for a tour of DJ sets across the United States and Canada, all while producing music for their upcoming project. Dancing Astronaut had a chance to sit down with Matt Robson-Scott and talk about club culture and new music just before they depart for on their North American tour.
You guys are heading out on a new North American tour of DJ sets, is there a different mentality behind your DJ sets as opposed to your live shows?
We DJ kind of constantly, whether we’re doing the live show or not, we’re always DJing. Whether its in Ibiza or at after parties for the live show. We basically play a lot of unreleased material, that what we’re going to be bringing to the tour in the States because we haven’t been there for a while so there will be a lot of new music from us in our studio, also from all the producers we’re loving at the moment. Also, we’ve got our weekly radio show, Kingdom, which we showcase some of the acts that we support, and also some will actually be supporting us on the tour. People like Camelphat, Solardo, Detlef, and like, we just bring an aesthetic of house and techno, tech house, some deep house as well. We’re bringing loads of amazing artists with us, its going to be like a proper event. Each party isn’t just going to be about us. Its going to be about all the acts that are with us. We’ve got really high caliber DJs coming with us from the UK and America, so its gonna be a fun tour with a lot of great shows.
What are your favorite cities and venues to play, and are there any specific places you’re excited to return to?
We always have an amazing time in San Diego; we’ve got an amazing following there. I don’t really know why, we just feel very welcome there and our shows sell out really fast every time. I think it might have something to do with CRSSD Festival, we’ve always had an in with those guys, and we did a great headline show a couple years ago there, maybe that helps. Also, we love playing in all the major cities, like New York, LA, San Francisco, Chicago. And also we loving coming to Austin, Texas. We love touring in America, and I can speak for Kye as well, I know he’s really looking forward to this tour. He can’t wait to get back out to America, so we’re really looking forward to it. It’s gonna be a big one.
Do you notice any differences between American and European crowds? Do you find that you have to play a little different or can you expect something similar no matter where you play?
Yeah, it’s pretty much similar nowadays. I think, like a few years ago, before the UK artists started really blowing up in America, people like Disclosure, Route 94, and us, there weren’t so many house and deep house nights, but now it definitely feels like America is kind of in the same place as the UK and Europe, maybe before they were kinda more into EDM shows, just maybe less awareness of housey that was popping off in the UK quite a few years ago. At that time, it felt like America was a little bit in a different time than Europe, but now it kind of feels like one big global house scene. It’s really good.
You guys are from London, which has such a rich history in house and techno. In some other interviews, you guys mentioned how much you love drum ‘n’ bass, grime and dubstep. What were the building blocks that inspired you to star making music? With all the great clubs around, were there any live shows in London that you went to that kind of set you on the path of making music?
I think, for the first really proper gig that I went to, I went to see Cypress Hill when I was like really young, like 13 with my brother. When I saw that live, I thought, “Wow this is amazing.” But then obviously, when I got old enough to get into clubs – well, I mean, I wasn’t old enough I had a fake ID when I was like 16. There used to be a venue in London called Bagley’s, which is like a big warehouse in King’s Cross. It basically had lots of mad jungle, old school hardcore, and sort of like drum & bass and garage raves like every weekend. It was like a really crazy place. And that really influenced me and my friends to really get into London underground music culture, and then start producing tunes in our bedrooms. I used to use my mum’s computer in my house with FruityLoops. It was those raves that really made us want to be DJs of drum & bass and jungle, and I think Kye is the same. When you see it happening at that young age, it’s like this crazy, mad world. It was even crazier back then as well, this was like 15 years ago when we first started going to these raves. They were pretty mad. It’s a shame, because those kinds of parties don’t really happen in that much London anymore, because its like, there are no venues left. They’ve gone to become luxury apartments, and all that stuff, there’s only a few clubs left.
You mention all of these clubs closing in London. There have also been restrictions on clubs in Ibiza dealing with noise restrictions and beach access. Are there any better ways for governments and dance music to work together, or do you think it’s a situation where we’ll always be at odds?
It’s been a problem since the beginning of dance music. Whether they’re illegal or legal, obviously the UK have had that problem when there was a repetitive beat order introduced in the 80s, any gathering with repetitive beats had to have a certain license. To be honest, it’s not always the government causing the problems. In London, it’s actually residents. They complain to the council and its not actually the government going out of their way to stop these clubs from carrying on being in business. People who live in the area who move in, they’re older or they just don’t like loud music and people being noisy outside their apartment. That’s the main problem that we have over here, mainly just people. It’s a shame, because they’re probably just old, angry Londoners who want everyone to be quiet and not have fun anymore. It sucks, but we just need to…I don’t know… just not be so greedy. All these developers just want to turn these clubs and warehouse spaces into luxury apartments. Its just money. And it’s happening in the US too. In Brooklyn and all over America. It’s just greed man. In the society that we live in, people just want to make loads of money, and nightclubs don’t make much money. They’re there for people to have fun, and maybe some of them make money but you know, its not as much as luxury apartments. I think people just need to keep pushing and keep opening new clubs and trying to find spaces in dark and derelict places and keep going. It’s mad, because electronic music is the biggest it’s ever been globally, but all the clubs are closing. Where is everyone going to go to listen to this music? It feels like everyone is going to be using VR in their living room watching raves from an iPhone rather than being there in person. Hopefully that won’t happen, everyone just needs to have a bit of balls and take risks. It’s difficult to open a nightclub, it’s one of the hardest things to do in the world. The business is intense. It takes a lot of investment, it takes a lot of risk, but people who take the risk are the ones that are fighting for us to be able to party. I’d love to open a club in London but it’s a nightmare trying to get it all sorted.
Let’s switch gears, I want to talk about some of your guys’ music. You had a bunch of singles released for your upcoming album, Kingdom, but it’s been quiet recently aside from “Real Life” with Duke Dumont. What’s the plan for the rest of the album rollout? I heard it was originally supposed to be two parts is there anything we can expect from this project in the near future?
Yeah, so we’re actually launching a new track next week with our new label. We’re launching a record label called Realm next Friday. It’s going to be our avenue for underground tracks that aren’t necessarily going to come out on the album. So we just wanted to get that done, and that’s going to launch next week in time for the tour, so that’s really exciting. We’ve basically got another record that we’ve finished, it’s another album that’s going to be coming out before the end of the year, or early next year. It’s going to be kind of the record of Kingdom, but it might not have that name. It’ll be under the Kingdom identity but it might be under a different name. We’ve finished all the music and it sounds great, we’re really happy with it.
Speaking of your music in general, your quality songwriting has led to popular success that many electronic artists do not reach. However, your mentality for your music and shows seems very club oriented. So, when you’re kind of straddling that line, where do you guys see yourself in the scene?
We love being able to do both sides of it. We love to be able to do a track that gets on the charts and the radio and the BBC playlist, but also we love playing at Amnesia every Tuesday and playing techno and house to thousands of people. We don’t really see ourselves in the commercial scene or the underground scene, we just see us as Gorgon City, like the act in itself. But we love being in the house music kind of family of DJs that we’re friends with. People we see in Ibiza every week, people like MK, Duke Dumont, and Solardo and people like that. We’re part of the same scene, we play together all the time. We might have a bit more commercial aspect to our brand but we’re still in that scene, in the UK house music world and we definitely feel part of it.
Talking a little bit more about your songwriting, you guys have cited Massive Attack as a big influence, you’ve talked about Radiohead and Jimmy Napes as well, all of who use live instruments. Do you feel that using live instrumentation adds to your production experience?
It definitely helps, when we started the live show properly it definitely affected the way we produce music, because you start thinking about how we’re going to play each part live, how it’s going to work as a live song. We just kind of really wanted to have the opportunity to translate all of our songs into a live setting. And the way we make beats as well kind of changed a little bit. It also just gives us more confidence about jamming and not caring as much about basslines and chords and stuff. Sometimes we’ll just jam out with our drummer in a rehearsal space creating new songs and stuff. It’s added to our various techniques of producing music.
You guys have released a huge amount of official remixes of your stuff, and you guys remix a bunch of stuff on your own. Do you ever play out remixes of your own work?
We definitely do, we’ve been playing the Solardo remix of “Real Life” a lot this summer, we always play the Weiss remix of “Imagination” in our DJ sets. There are certain tracks that we really love. The reason that we choose these artists to remix our tracks is because we’re big fans of them. When they deliver a banging remix we support it and play it a lot. It’s amazing to get our favorite acts to remix us; we’re really lucky.
On the topic of DJs that you’re fans of, who are your favorite Djs, producers, or live acts out there right now?
A lot are on our lineup for our tour, people like Camelphat, they’re really killing it in the UK right now. Solardo obviously are smashing it. There’s a guy called Eli Brown, who’s really good. He’s got some new tracks out that you should check out, we’ve been supporting him a lot. Disciples are doing their thing over here too. But really anyone on our lineup.
Is there anything you want the people to know about the tour or the album?
Check out the label! Realm is launching on Friday with our track “Primal Call.” That’s going to be an interesting release. We’ve also got another track dropping soon after that, another underground one so keep an eye out for that one. And obviously check out gorgoncity.com for tour dates and tickets for the tour.