INTERVIEW: Wolfgang Gartner (2012)
I have to be honest and say that I am a huge fan of Wolfgang Gartner. His tracks are always fresh and banging, with unique elements that set them apart from the pool of tracks thrown on Beatport each week (and eight Beatport #1s is a testament to that). Currently on tour with a full-on spaceship stage setup, he brings the energy to his crowd every night. When I first interviewed him last year, I was blown away by how grounded, real, and down to earth he was. He is one of those rarities in the EDM world who does his own work, entertains crowds, and appreciates the success he achieves while managing to avoid the elitist attitudes so prevalent among a lot of the other big guys.
DJ Ron Slomowicz: The stage setup looks insane – did you design it?
Wolfgang Gartner: Nope. It was designed by Steve Lieberman of SJ Designs and built by AG Light and Sound. They both do a lot of stuff for all the big dance festivals like EDC and Ultra, and clubs as well.
RS: I heard you were calling it the spaceship? Is there any one stellar vehicle that it’s modeled after?
Wolfgang Gartner: The Death Star. And no, it’s just a cool name my label manager thought up the first time we saw it. I think Skrillex’s is the Spaceship. Or maybe the Mothership. Something like that.
RS: How important do you think visuals are for your live shows?
Wolfgang Gartner: They’re an added bonus. I don’t have them at all the shows, only bus tours and really big shows sporadically throughout the year. They certainly add a whole new dimension and people love them, but it’s not logistically or fiscally possible to use them constantly.
RS: Congrats on “Channel 42.” How did you and Joel collab on the track?
Wolfgang Gartner: I was in Toronto playing a gig and went over to his house for a bit. He showed me this song he had started, which was mainly a really nice chord progression, and I wrote the other half of it. Then sent it back to him, he changed some of my stuff, and again, I changed some of his stuff, and we put it out.
RS: Looking back at all of your previous collabs – which are you most proud of?
Wolfgang Gartner: “We Own The Night.” To me, that is the best of all of them.
RS: The song with Tiesto and Luciana – great one. We all love Luciana – have you ever hung out or partied with her?
Wolfgang Gartner: No, we keep missing each other by one city somehow.
RS: Are you going to start releasing a new track every two weeks?
Wolfgang Gartner: I think that’s something I said on Twitter or in an interview like a year ago. And it was more like every four weeks. I did, for most of 2012. Who knows what I’ll do next year.
RS: I think of Illmerica – and the new “Love & War” – are you aiming to bring politics into EDM?
Wolfgang Gartner: Not aiming, but apparently I hit the target without aiming. The thing is, I’m not “political” at all. I don’t really follow politics. I’m not really anchored deeply into any political part. I’m just patriotic. I love living in the U.S. and what comes with it. That’s basically what it’s about. Maybe people mistake my patriotism for politicism.
RS: Taking it personally – one of the many reasons why you are so respected is because you do all of your own work. There seems to be a backlash brewing against big names that hire others to do their work for them – what’s your take on this?
Wolfgang Gartner: Of course I think it’s deceitful and it sickens me when fans respond so well to a “producer” who actually didn’t set foot in the studio to work on the song, and might not have even had any input on it at all. But this is the way the music world works. Certain people at the top are more skilled at the business end of things and manage to effectively delegate the creative part to somebody else and get the credit for it. It’s biggest in the rap and pop world, and the dance world has fallen victim to it over the past decade too. I hate to use a cliché, but it’s the way of the world. There will always be guys at the top who do it all themselves, and there will always be guys at the top who don’t do any of it themselves. And usually, the consumer doesn’t know which is which.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Wolfgang Gartner: I do it all myself. And I do it inspired by the memory of the reaction I got from you and the rest of the crowd at that last show, and I do it so I can play it for you and the rest of the crowd at the next show.
Interview conducted November 2012. Special thanks to MSO PR and Undocumented Managment for arranging the interview. Image credit: Wolfgang Gartner’s tour manager.