Wolfgang Gartner Talks "Weekend in America", Getting Down with Jim Jones and Cam'Ron, Comparisons to "Limitless" and More
Tue, 20 Sep 2011 10:09:37
On Weekend in America, Wolfgang Gartner takes electronic music from the hood all the way to the furthest reaches of outer space.
He's the kind of diverse talent who can drop a club banger like "Circus Freaks" with NYC legends Jim Jones and Cam'Ron or an intergalactic house music trip such as "Space Junk". There are no boundaries that Wolgang Gartner can't skyrocket past, and Weekend in America proves that tenfold.
In this exclusive interview, Wolfgang Gartner chats with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about Weekend in America, Limitless, collaborating with Will.i.am, Dipset, and so much more.
What's the story behind "Space Junk"?
That's one of my favorites. The story behind "Space Junk" is when I think back on making it and I listen to it, I have no fucking clue what the story is [Laughs]. I keep trying to remember how I made it because I hear it and I go, "What the fuck was I doing?" I have no idea where it came from in retrospect. It's something that's a little bit different than most of my other music. It haunts me in a way because I'd like to try and recreate whatever it is that makes it what it is, but I just don't know where it came from.
Did you have one complete vision for Weekend in America?
It came together track by track up until the last four or five songs. Whenever I actually signed the deal with Ultra, it was an album deal. They said, "Okay, you're making an album. We're going to take the tracks you've finished as the first part. Now, we need another six or seven to finish it." At that point, I started thinking of it as a whole. The first half was just done as singles even before I was with Ultra. I was putting out the songs myself on Beatport and all of the other sites. The second half was done trying to think of it as a cohesive thing.
How do songs begin for you?
They begin various ways. The most common are either a chord progression or a really great drum loop. I'll get some kind of sound that inspires me, I'll start playing chords, I'll write a progression, and a song forms around that. Or, I'll start with a kick drum and add a clap and a hi-hat. I'll sit there for two days and tweak a kick, clap, and hi-hat until it hits the pocket exactly right and moves enough so I can start writing a bass line or whatever else on top of it. I need that foundation of a really good solid drum loop.
Live, do you have a setlist or do you prefer to vibe off the crowd?
It's a combination of both, and it definitely depends on where I'm playing. I've toured so much in the States that I can pretty much tell based on where I'm going and what club I'm spinning at. I've already played at most of the clubs. If it's a festival, I've either played it before or I know what the vibe is and the demographics of the area. I'll build a set and have the whole thing pre-planned based on the crowd I'm expecting it to be. I have whatever else on hand in case it's different, and I'll improvise a little bit. In the U.S., I'm able to pinpoint it pretty well in advance of the gig. In Europe, I'm still learning, and it's hard to pinpoint the crowds because they change from country to country. I'll plan a set based on where I'm going but I improvise a lot more going over there because it's harder for me to predict what the crowds are going to react to. I feel like I've nailed the UK and Ibiza down because I've performed there so many times. I pretty much know what's going to get them off. There are other places in Europe I still have to read.
"Ménage à trois" goes a lot of different places.
Yes it does! The song has shit in it that sounds like disco samples. They're not actually disco samples. I'm making these little bits that sound like disco samples because I like the way they sound but I don't want to have to clear them or get sued [Laughs]. I used to make disco house. I'd throw disco loops over house beats. I have an entire disco record collection in the main room of my house. There's a lot of rare shit in it, and I'd dig for this stuff for years and years. I've been through many phases in my life of what I like musically and what I've made. This is the phase that I've been in now, but when I make something like "Ménage à trois" I dig into my musical past and take elements from things that I've done and heard.
How did the collaboration with Will.i.am come about?
I met Will.i.am in some club in Hollywood that we were both playing. I met him and he was like, "I love your music! I've been writing The Black Eyed Peas songs over it. I wrote a track over 'Flashback' the other day". I said, "That's fucking amazing!" I had no idea famous people were listening to my music at this point. It turned out that my manager knew his manager, and through them, we were cool to do a track together. I made something and sent it over. He sent it back the next day, and it was a very organic thing.
Would you ever want to collaborate with a rock band?
I wanted to test out doing something with an artist outside of the hip hop realm. That didn't happen yet though. I wanted to get rap on this album. That's what I listen to the most. I'm not really familiar with the rock world at all so I wouldn't know where to start with it.
Which rappers would you really want to collaborate with?
Dipset was the big one! I'm a huge fan of Dipset. All I listen to right now is anything by Jim Jones, Cam'Ron, Juelz Santana, or anybody who has been associated with their crew. Getting to collaborate with them was the big one for me. There's nobody else on my wish list right now.
If Weekend in America were a movie or combination of movies what would it be?
That's a hard question to answer. The first thing that comes to mind is Limitless. A snippet of "Hookshot" tracks did get used in that movie during a sequence where Bradley Cooper is fucked up in the middle of the night, but that's a coincidence. The whole theory behind the movie is they find this drug that expands your mind and makes you superhuman. You use a larger percentage of your brain than other people use. In reality, that's not how it works. However, the impetus behind this album was coming up with something beyond anything that had been done before and forcing myself to outdo everything else that was out there and outdo myself. I tried my best to achieve that result.
Have you heard Weekend in America yet?