The only competition it seems that DJ/producer Wolfgang Gartner has is himself. That unstoppable force behind his music to create new beats and push the envelope just may be the previous tracks he developed in the studio. Having collaborated with other artists such as deadmau5, Skrillex and most recently Tiësto on “We Own The Night,” his roots in house music have seamlessly meshed with the electronic crowd and has put himself in the forefront of dance music.
Gartner’s music career extends a few years back, placing him outside the newcomer category. However, his first full-length album, Weekend In America, was just released in September of 2011. The disc features several surprising guest vocalists not always common to dance music, such as will.i.am and Cam’rom. Throughout this past year, Gartner has been releasing new singles almost monthly and a new EP this summer. Luckily, fans can even expect to hear unreleased material at shows, which is something else Gartner hasn’t shied away from.
After a full run on the road this past spring and summer’s festival circuit, he will end the summer tour shortly after the upcoming Electric Zoo Festival. But it is always looking towards the future for Gartner, as dates for his fall’s Love & War Tour are being announced—and it sounds like he has something special in store for audiences to transport them into his world.
Gartner was able to take time along his travels to answer a few questions about his music, performing and Electric Zoo. Also on the list of topics was his current EP, Casual Encounters Of The 3rd Kind, which offers two new tracks that battle each other, while pairing perfectly. What else couldn’t be avoided was a follow-up to an online post made by Gartner on if proceeds of his EP were enough to cater to a special feline in his life.
Are you up to anything fun today?
No. I’m flying from L.A. to Ottawa to play a show, with a layover in Chicago. Literally the entire day is just airplanes and airports. The show isn’t even till tomorrow and it’s another three-hour drive into the mountains to where the festival is.
How has the road been treating you?
Really well, this spring/summer of touring so far has been amazing. It feels like every show with the exception of maybe one or two has been a massive success and I’ve been playing some really great festivals here in the U.S.
Electric Zoo is coming up. What can fans expect at your show? Will there be any new surprises for this performance?
There are always new surprises for every performance. Musically speaking I’m playing a lot of unreleased material from my upcoming EPs and my crowds always seem to get off on hearing stuff they’ve never heard before.
Can you see bringing out guests during your set at Electric Zoo?
Nah, I only did that once with Eve at EDC [Electric Daisy Carnival] because we were just putting out my album with our collaboration on it. Other than that, I don’t usually bring guest vocalists or anything on stage.
You played the festival back in 2010. Did you take anything from that performance when approaching your set for this year?
I haven’t really approached my set for this year yet. It’s still a couple weeks out. All I know is it was an amazing show in 2010 and I expect the same this year.
Is there a difference for you playing outdoor venues versus indoor ones?
No, the only difference is the crowd size and the set length, and of course the city or country I’m playing in. Those are the factors I have to keep in mind when deciding what to play. But indoor or outdoor, it doesn’t matter.
I’m still obsessed with the video for “Illmerica.” The imagery with the music is just perfect. Did you have concerns some of the imagery could be a little controversial?
I actually had nothing to do with the video. The guy who made it, Ryan [McNamara], just sent the finished version to us and I gave it the OK. I didn’t really see any of it as controversial at all. More like a basic U.S. history lesson.
What else do you want your music to make listeners feel other than just enjoyment while at a show dancing?
Like they’re hearing something they’ve never heard before that pushes the envelope and separates me from every other DJ they see in a major way and above all that, they have an amazing time and hopefully remember that hour for years to come.
How big of an emphasis do you put on visual elements at your performance?
It just depends. Sometimes we roll out production, sometimes the festival provides it, sometimes it’s fairly basic. For my upcoming Love & War bus tour, I’m going all-in on the visual/production element to bring a massive futuristic rig to all the shows.
How has the response been on your EP, Casual Encounters Of The 3rd Kind?
Great. It was more on the house-y side of things, not one of those records specifically designed to cater to what every DJ is playing, but more me making a musical statement that you don’t have to do what everybody else is doing to make a record that works crowds.
And are you able to buy your pet enough fancy cat food?
For sure. I buy it in bulk now. I just got tired of going to the pet store. I’ll order like $500 worth at a time and it comes in a massive box and feeds him for close to 6 months. It’s super deluxe canned food.
It’s a two-song EP. What is your stand on how you release your music? Do you prefer longer albums or shorter EPs?
It just depends. I like trying to approach every song as a single right now because I think it makes me set my standards higher—I get in the mindset that the song has to stand on its own, not that it’s part of a larger story, but that it has to be the story all by itself.
Are you planning on a full-length?
Not at the present time.
Is the new EP hinting towards what’s in the future for your music?
I just make music and put it out there. There are no hints or deliberate movements, I just make whatever comes out and we put it out. That’s why if you look at my catalog, it’s all over the place musically and it will continue to be like that.
Do you want to collaborate more with vocalists?
Whenever it feels right. Sometimes I make something that needs a vocalist on it. But I don’t start a project out that way. I go the vocalist route when I have something a little empty that I hear a vocal on.
Is there anything that never fails to inspire you and put you in the right mindset when you’re working on new material?
No. If there was such a thing, it would basically be the cure for creative block. And if that existed, I’d buy it in bulk and I’d release 10 albums a year.
Wolfgang Gartner will perform at the Electric Zoo Festival at Randall’s Island on Sept 1. For more information, go to wolfganggartner.com.