Wolfgang Gartner Looks Back on 20 Years with "Baby Be Real" [INTERVIEW]
Between hustling 8 aliases and working with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, Wolfgang Gartner knows how to put work in.
Having spent the last 20 years developing his craft while supporting himself as an artist, Wolfgang Garner wowed us with his hit “Illamerica" and his latest album 10 Ways to Steal Home Plate. His most recent work includes "Baby Be Real", featuring Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Oates of the legendary Hall and Oates. Wolfgang Gartner has also previously collaborated with Skrillex on "The Devil's Den" and deadmau5 on "Channel 42" and "Animal Rights.”
We caught up with him to discuss John Oates, mental health, his view of the EDM scene and his upcoming material.
EDM: How did your collaboration come about with John Oates on the track “Baby Be Real”?
Wolfgang Gartner: It is one of those collaborations that was actually put together by publishers and kind of like our respective teams. This is how a lot of collaborations come together especially like features on Rap albums and dance vocal collaborations.
I heard it, and I said “Oh my god I'd love to work on this. And I waited a few days and they were like, were you giving it a shot. Here’s the acapella. Well, I had already started like writing music ideas before I even got power from them because I was so excited about it I was trying to like flesh off some stuff, I heard in my head.
Was there a larger back story to the collaboration?
WG: Unfortunately, it's not like a cool story and like we had met in a bar one night. We did end up actually getting them up at their Hollywood Bowl show, Hall and Oates did like a month or two ago, and we met up and had dinner, and I finally got to meet John, and I was like,
“Wow, he's super excited about the song. I was surprised he was really into it. He’s a cool man; he’s a cool guy.
How was producing this song different from your previous releases?
This is one of the first times I have ever taken a vocal made a song around it and sent it to somebody, and they didn't come back and give me like critique or direction or tell me to change anything. They literally came back to this saying; it’s perfect like let's go. It was like from the first vision I had of it, it was perfect, It is very organic.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the dance music community and how do you compare to like a more modern producer? How would you compare yourself?
I think I read a really interesting interview with Skrillex a couple of months ago where he basically said the same thing and kind of split it into two fragments. He mentioned there's there's like Community which is people and the vibe and everything and then there's the industry which is you know SFX or what was SFX and the money and everything else in the infrastructure.
I think the community and the music are not going anywhere. It's honestly just about as strong as ever been. But the industry of EDM is going through a lot of changes, and it's kind of a weird place right now. It has been in a weird place for a couple of years. But if you had asked me a year ago I might have said it was in a bad place. Right now I think it isn't in a bad place. I think it's just kind of in an uncertain place, but that's the money side of the business side of it. As far as the community and music.
You've been very open in the past about mental health. What have you learned about your experiences managing that?
I think everybody has a lifespan, and I'm going to use a quote from my manager who says the lifespan of a DJ is the life span of a linebacker. You got 4 to 8 years; I guess that’s a pessimistic way to put it, but there is a lot of truth to that because you're out there on the road battering yourself physically like a linebacker mentally maybe brain injury I dunno (laughs) and you know it's rough out there.
Everybody has a different level of resilience. Some people were able to get by on four hours of sleep and people need 8. It's all going to depend on your timeline and how long you have been in this business is going to depend on those factors of resilience, and you know your stamina.
But, everybody has a limit to how much they're able to do and how they're able to do it before they reach a point where they need a very long break or they have to stop. And the thing that I've learned is that you can't just go go go go go without taking a very sizable break which is what I did.
How would you describe your evolution as an artist over the past 20 years?
I started when I was 14 and I’m 34 right now so that's fucking crazy I didn't even realize that. My evolution as an artist is a continuous circle that is going because 20 years ago or even before that because I started producing music 23 years ago.
I got into everything. I'm a hardcore, I made drum and bass, I made trance, I made deep house, I made hard house, I made every single genre under the EDM umbrella, and that's when I was just getting into it, and I was kind of like cause I loved everything. And then my taste towards the late 90s started to kind of narrow into like the house and deep house sound, and that's mostly what I wanted to produce and pretty much all I wanted to play at the beach and from like the mid-90s and the early 2000s mid-2000. I was just really into deep house for a long time of Chicago house the house, disco house, just the house music, I had the house music blinders on. And I hated on every single other genre like my friend would hate on trance, and then in mid-2000s, Electro was coming up like I was making disco house records and we hated on all it out and then it was around 2006 2007, and a couple of people with a funky twist on it.
Does having multiple aliases help your creative process?
Right now like everything that I produce or come out under Wolfgang Gartner and even if I’m producing like an urban beat for an urban artist, it will still say in the credits produced by Wolfgang Gartner, So that's become my brand and my name. I will no longer you know for the foreseeable future use aliases, for the reason that my brand has just become so well defined.
Like the early mid-2010 and it was on Vinyl sale like I was selling a pretty good amount of vinyl for the time and I was releasing a record about every two weeks, a four track ep every two weeks which sounds insane, I go out like that. Like, with Underground Chicago House, you can make a track in four to six hours back and bang out four of them in two days, so I made up eight different aliases so that people would buy all my records.
So what I would try to do that’s was trick everybody come up with a bunch of aliases to release records, and I did, and it worked, and then I sold a fuck load of records, and it supported me for a long time.
And then when I switched over to Wolfgang, I was like now I’m an artist. “This is quality over quantity, even if it takes me a few months to make a track like everything changed then."
What artists are you listening to in your personal playlists?
This guy Joyryde is on a very similar clips like when I'm doing. So I discovered him after I started like working on the sound of like they're doing the same thing I'm doing. I still listen to a lot of whole 90’s disco house stuff.
As far as new material, what can we expect to hear from you?
My next single coming out is December 12 on Spinnin Records, believe it or not. The song is called "Devotion". I got my friend to do vocals that I did this army project with a while ago actually that I'd worked on with that sings on it.
This is the first song that I made when my studio here and I honestly think it’s the best thing I’ve made in a long time. For the first time in a long time, I have a folder of new fresh sounding stuff, that I think people are gonna be excited about. I feel like some of my old fans that complain a lot might get a kick out of some of this.