Yours truly recently had the chance to have a short dialogue with Wolfgang Gartner, and he answered a few interview questions for us. Â Wolfgang Gartner is among the relatively few producers of electro at the moment that, I would argue, create music of such high sonic quality, so it’s a real pleasure to have this veteran producer’s thoughts and advice on music production, the business aspects of music, and the future of the industry. Â DJs around the world have celebrated his incredible music this last year – Beatport.com recently announced that he had created 2009’s #1 selling song in their entire catalogue. Â Wolfgang Gartner is a man to watch in 2010.
His latest track, for while you read!
SS: Your track ‘5th Symphony’ was the #1 most downloaded track on BeatportÂ last year. Why do you think it achieved such success?
WG: It was just the right place at the right time really. I knew it was the right time to do a big rework of Beethoven’s 5th. And I knew if I could pull it off, produce it really well and make it current, it would be a club hit, so I just dedicated a lot of time to it and made sure I executed it properly. And it worked out as hoped.
SS: Can you describe the inspiration for, and the process of creating 5th Symphony? How has its success informed your more recent productions?
WG: I did a remake of Beethoven’s 5th in 1996 or 1997 which was the inspiration and foundation of “Wolfgang’s 5th.” Obviously it was never released as I wasn’t doing music professionally back then, just in the bedroom of my parents’ house. I went back and listened to this song on a 4-track tape (had to buy a 4 track tape deck so the tape would work) and basically just remade it, took all the ideas from it, and made it my current sound. So really not only was it a remake of Beethoven’s 5th but it was a remake of one of my own tracks from 13 years ago. All those classical bits were used in the same way.
SS: You’ve made note in previous interviews that your inspiration comes from more than just the artists you respect, and the “great ideas” in songs you hear. Can you share a bit about how you’re using more than just musical inspiration to make music right now?
WG: It’s kind of an abstract concept. Creative inspiration is a weird thing. It comes and goes as it pleases and the only thing you can do to control it is go out and try and have as many extreme, eye-opening, life changing, stimulating experiences as humanly possible. I try and get in the studio right after a weekend of traveling and playing gigs because that’s usually when my mind is most stimulated. That’s how I use it.
SS: In a previous interview you made note of your concern with people crediting work on blog posts. Can you explain your personal philosophy on sharing in relation to remix art?
WG: Like it or not, music is a business. It may not be for some people who are giving their music out to blogs for free, but for those of us whose music sales pay our mortgages in addition to touring, it is a business. So when somebody steals my music and gives it away for free, they are taking food out of my mouth. That said, I have come to accept certain styles of blogging as being a part of the deal these days. I am willing to accept bloggers who dedicate a big section of their blogs to one of my songs, write a glowing review of it, tell people where to buy it if they so choose, and otherwise promote the track. Even if they are still giving it away, I have come to accept those types of bloggers as being “the good kind,” even though I would prefer they didn’t give my music away for free.
SS: A lot of energy is put in to remixing to gain recognition these days. What advice would you give to someone just starting out in such electronic production? What is worth focusing on? Is formal training worth it? Is learning an instrument (or instruments) worth it?
WG: I think some basic fundamentals in piano lessons really help the electronic music producer. When you are able to play in all your notes, rather than drawing them in with a pencil to little squares on a grid, it adds a whole new dimension of spontaneity. As far as formal training for music production, I taught myself, so I can’t really comment on that. I think it probably wouldn’t hurt if you found the right school or courses.
SS: You work with hardware synths extensively still, as well as Cubase and Ableton. Can you explain how the different mediums affect your ability to express your ideas? Do you see yourself still using hardware synths in 10 years? How about the industry in general?
WG: I’m not using hardware as much these days. A few recent software synthesizers have taken over my arsenal of noisemakers and almost eliminated the need for hardware in my studio. I still bust out the analog stuff once in a while for a noise or a bass line though.
SS: People have noted the real growth of Nashville as a centre for music creation, and are asking what effect the internet is going to have on geographical location of artists – any ideas?
WG: With the internet you definitely have the ability to blow up from pretty much anywhere in the world. You could be living in an igloo in Alaska but if you’re making great music, you’ve got the same chance as somebody living in LA I think, assuming your igloo has an internet connection. I wish the internet was as developed when I was trying to come up, living in the middle of nowhere. Might not have taken me 10 years!