Gareth Emery has been regarded as one of the more genuine and transparent individuals within the electronic music scene. Despite the cycle of ups and downs associated with any successful artists\’ career, Gareth\’s career is an interesting case study in that many of his keys to success, from how he packages his music to how he plays his shows, were initially met with criticism from those around him. Nonetheless he has continued to stick to his convictions, demonstrating success in as he says it \”proving conventional wisdom wrong.\” I had the opportunity to sit down with the veteran producer to discuss all of that, his new album 100 Reasons to Live, and everything else that has brought him to this point.
EDMChicago: Your new album 100 Reasons to Live is out April 1st, what was your inspiration for the album?
Gareth Emery: It was just positivity, gratitude, and a love of life. I came from a place where I was hanging around so many other artists who are rich and successful, but also miserable half the time. I could feel myself becoming one of these people. I was doing the biggest shows and festivals, but pissed off because I didn’t get the right set time, or the vodka wasn’t chilled, or whatever. I didn’t like the person I was becoming, so the last two years has really been a journey of trying to enjoy life, because we are so lucky to be doing this job: getting paid to make music. “Reasons to Live” was the original title, and then I just added the “100” because it felt cooler.
EDMChicago: Going back to when you released your previous album “Drive” you had said people told you at the time the album was dead. That said, here you are releasing another album. Why do you feel so strongly about packing your music in the form of albums rather than singles?
Gareth Emery: It’s just a format that provides a better historical record. When I look back at my career, the releases I’m most proud of are my albums. Each album tells a little story about what was going on in my life at the time. Northern Lights, the first one in 2010, was just after I moved to Manchester. The cover is very grey, because it rains all the time there. It was also around the time where I transitioned from being an opener to being a headliner, and you can almost see the hunger in the picture. Drive was after I had just moved to America, and my wife and I drove from New York to Los Angeles on route 66, so that became the theme of the album. It was ghost towns and deserts, and stuff like that. I like to create an album that tells a musical story, and it’s really important that it works as one 60 minute piece of music as opposed to just lots of individual songs. I also like to get really involved in the theme and the branding, and have a theme that reflects where I am in my life. I do agree (to an extent) with what people say though, if you’re just looking to package ten songs in a row, it probably shouldn’t be an album, but if you’re thinking about it as a whole, on a deeper level while creating a sort of visual experience as to where you are in your life, then I think it’s worth doing.
EDMChicago: Let’s talk about these guys CVNT5 for a second, because I’m seeing them everywhere. I think the commentary it’s making will be apparent to most fans, but I want to hear directly from you your motivation for that particular project.
Gareth Emery: All I’m going to say is I don’t know much about those guys, I mean I’ve heard about them online, but they look kind of obnoxious to me. Honestly though all the answers anyone is going to have about those guys are in the video. If people don’t get (those answers) on watch number one, then go for watch number two and three, because there’s a lot of stuff that’s buried in there, but that’s really all I can directly say about it.
EDMChicago: I want to add one more point to that, I think it’s interesting because as Gareth Emery, your image is so polished, and CVNT5 is such a stark contrast to that, yet CVNT5 is on the new Gareth Emery album. Is this you embracing a different image to an extent?
Gareth Emery: If you want to think that’s what it is, then that’s what it is. I don’t want to come across as deliberately evasive, but I don’t even know clearly in my head what it’s all about. For now I would prefer for people to just watch it, and make up their own minds about what it does and does not represent. I just love the fact that everyone has a different opinion on it.
EDMChicago: I’d like to transition to some more of your commentary this time on longer vs. shorter sets. You’ve been a big proponent of longer sets, despite the traction moving towards shorter sets, why is that?
Gareth Emery: I always try to be careful in saying that a long set is not necessarily a good set, because I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. I’ve seen some fantastic sets that are an hour long, and I’ve seen some that are eight hours long that sucked, so it’s not necessarily that one length is good, and another is bad. If someone plays a one dimensional sound, say all they play for instance is 130bpm trance, I probably would not want to listen to that for eight hours, because it would just be like one long song. The reason why I like long sets is because I like a lot of different styles of music. When I did the Electric for Life Tour last year, even though it was a long set, it was almost like multiple different sets from multiple artists. It was a journey that went from 70bpm all the way to 140bpm stuff with my classics thrown into the mix. I would never try and force my vision on anybody else, but a year ago I was being told long sets would never work and it’s all about playing hour sets with minute long bangers. I l like to go against the conventional wisdom, so if people are saying long sets are dead, then I like to go and see if we can prove that wrong. This year we are mainly doing album related touring, but I’m hoping we can bring back the Electric for Life tour and all night sets for next year.
EDMChicago: According to your statement at the beginning of this year, you expressed how you were in a bad way at this time a decade ago, before you had experienced any success with your career. You were feeling unsuccessful and unsure as to whether you ever would be. What changed for you, and is there anything you wish you would have done differently back then?
Gareth Emery: The benefit of hindset in life is that I wish I knew everything that I know now. Since I got into this industry around fifteen years ago, there hasn’t been a week that’s gone by where I haven’t learned a lesson. If I knew everything I know now back then, then I would have progressed much more quickly, but that’s life. We learn lessons as we go along, and the best we can hope to do is not make the same mistakes again. I would often get asked in interviews “what would you recommend to people who are stuck in their careers?” People often look for this “magic bullet” this one thing you can tell them that’s going to take them from where they are to where they want to be. What I’m trying to explain is that there is no magic bullet. At the time, I wasn’t working hard enough, I was reading message boards, watching TV and shit. Yes, I was spending eighteen hours a day behind my laptop, but I wasn’t productive. Now I can get done in an hour what would have taken me a week back then. Ultimately, I started to focus my attention on the right things, things that would add value to my career. I had a plan, stuck to it, worked hard at it, and realized that there would be sacrifices. It’s a long monotonous grind, but the results are worth it.
EDMChicago: I respect that, thank you for taking the interview.
Gareth Emery: Cheers.
Special thanks to Gareth Emery for joining us; his third full length album 100 Reasons to Live is out now. Preview it below, and be sure to get tickets to his show in Chicago this Saturday, April 9th at Evil Olive.