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fZOO Exclusive Interview: Wolfgang Gartner


We had a chance to catch up with the legendary Wolfgang Gartner after an epic show at Sasquatch! Music Festival where he blew us all away with a flawless and earth shattering set. With a high energy crowd fueling him along, Wolfgang’s post-festival Facebook statement sums up the show and evening perfectly.

“There’s this festival called Sasquatch out in the middle of Washington once a year. Last night I played it. This is a really bold statement but, imma go ahead and say this was the best gig I have ever played in my life, crowd-wise, vibe-wise, everything-wise. Thank you to everybody who was there who made it happen because I will never forget it as long as I live. This is the kind of night that makes me realize I would do this shit for free.”

Festival Zoo: What first made you decide to play at Sasquatch Music Festival/ had you ever heard of it before?

Wolfgang Gartner: I had actually never heard of it before! I do live in a bit of a bubble though. Apparently I was in the minority there, because after playing it and talking to friends about my experience, most of my friends had apparently been going there for years, for some reason it had just been off my radar.

FZ: On your Facebook, you stated that this was the best gig you have ever played in your life for a number of reasons. Could you tell us a bit more about your Sasquatch experience and what made it so unforgettable?

Wolfgang: And I still stay true to what I said, it really was the best gig I’ve ever played in my life, out of probably a thousand. It’s hard to describe. It all comes down to the crowd, the energy of the crowd, their reactions, what they react to, and how generally mental they went! I just have this very vivid memory of the entire crowd jumping up and down in unison to the beat, thousands of people, hands in the air, crowd surfers, girls on shoulders, everything you get in a really top notch festival atmosphere, but this one was a cut above the rest. There’s still an element of it that I can’t describe, a spiritual thing, but I did my best with the words in my limited lexicon. There were parts of it where I felt like I was outside my body. And I was completely sober.

FZ: At a festival like Sasquatch where acts range across a wide variety of genres (even comedy routines), how do go about tweaking your set for a crowd that doesn’t necessarily listen to electronic music/are hearing a live electronic set for the first time?

Wolfgang: Usually I’ll have my first few tracks picked out, and for Sasquatch I made an intro out of one of my hardest hitting tracks “The Champ” just to be sure I got everybody’s attention. After the first few tracks, I’ll sort of adjust to what people are responding to. The beautiful thing about this show was, I didn’t have to adjust - people responded to everything. Which meant that I got to play this plethora of unreleased untested material that I can’t always play, because a lot of crowds need to hear things they recognize. It ended up being about a third of the set I think, a good 8 or 10 unreleased tracks of mine and some by some friends, and to see the crowd react the way they did to things they’ve never heard before, new music that had literally just been created that won’t even hit the streets for months, is really something special.

FZ: How did you like the Gorge as a venue? What do you think the benefits of playing at an outdoor venue is versus an indoor venue?

Wolfgang: Loved it. I generally like outdoor venues, tented or not, for obvious reasons - fresh air, more oxygen, less acoustic reflections, everything is just better. The dance tent at the Gorge was like a lot of festivals I’ve played around the world, similar in size and shape to a lot of outdoor festival stages, and they are definitely my favorite types of venues to play.

FZ: What is the greatest difference you have noticed between your show’s crowd/audience overseas, compared to those in the United States?

Wolfgang: The crowds in North America (including Canada) are younger and more excited about the music. It’s newer to them, and that enthusiasm shows in the crowd response and the fanbase. Every country has its benefits and drawbacks, sometimes the young crowds in America are musically naive to a point where they need to hear really trendy sounds or they lose interest. Sometimes they are naive in a way that they buy into stage antics more than music, and they really just come to watch the DJ get drunk and jump around like the lead singer of a punk band. That’s probably the worst trend in America in my opinion, when it becomes more about the stage presence than the music. Crowds overseas tend to need to hear a lot of “hits” that they can sing along to, a lot more vocal songs, mashups of top 40 songs, all that stuff. But I feel like they are less suckered by the gimmicks and antics and a bit more mature overall. That’s a broad generalization of course. Some countries in Europe are more into the tech house and techno side of things and don’t buy into any of the aforementioned. All in all, North America is by far the best place in the world for dance music right now, and that’s not a subject that’s up for debate. There’s a reason every DJ from all over the world spends a majority of their time touring the US.

FZ: I love watching the interactions between DJ’s on Twitter, what are your thoughts on social media and the new level of interaction it allows between artists and each other, and artists and their fans? Do you enjoy reading what fans have to say to you?

Wolfgang: It’s a double edged sword. I love reading what fans have to say to me: mainly on Twitter. On Facebook a lot of people are sippin on haterade, but I have my web guy sift through the rudeness and ban the offenders so that I can read what everybody else has to say. I’ve connected with a few other DJ’s through Twitter, which is cool. My first collaboration with Deadmau5 originated on Twitter, that was a really fun thing to have happen publicly and for everybody to be able to witness, it makes people feel involved and in the loop, which they are! But it’s also become a business - the business of social networking and growing your numbers, which I personally don’t buy into. Literally and figuratively. A lot of DJ’s go about it in a really sleazy way, just shouting out every other popular DJ or famous person with a lot of followers to get a response, because the more you talk to people with a lot of followers, the more followers you get. I just like hearing from my fans and being able to respond to them in that environment, it’s fun for me and it feels really comfortable, and some of them are so happy to get a response it makes me feel good to be able to do that. But I don’t like the profile gauge that social networking numbers have become and the way a lot of other DJs are blatantly manipulating the system to gain followers in hopes for better bookings, billing and higher fees. And unfortunately some delusional club and festival promoters buy into these numbers and base billing and fees on them. This is absolutely absurd when you can literally purchase likes / fans on facebook and twitter. A number of relatively well known people have been exposed recently for buying fans, which is especially easy to spot on Twitter. The problem is so few people are aware of how easy it is to manipulate the system. Hopefully in the near future more people will figure out what’s going on and put less emphasis on these numbers.

FZ: What are 3 essential items your ideal tour bus would have on the road?

Wolfgang: And endless supply of Absolute Zero Monster Energy Drinks (the purple ones). A mini-studio in the back lounge for me to work on the road. Gourmet chicken salads on hand for any meal any time of the day (I’m on a bit of a health kick).

FZ: If you had to pick an animal that best represents your party style, what animal would you pick?

Wolfgang: A cat. Because I don’t party. For 2 hours on stage I am the party. Then I go back to the hotel and lay in bed and work on my computer. The only difference is I probably average about 6 hours sleep a night, as opposed to like 18 hours for a cat. But when I’m not on stage, and when I’m not on tour, I basically just live in the studio, at home.

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