The music industry machine will never swallow up certain acts. Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden have maintained an underground appeal over their 10-year+ partnership as both Organized Nature label heads and as the DJ-production duo known to most as simply, Gabriel & Dresden. The West Coast dyad boasts a slew of steadfast fans in the US who follow the pair from club gig to festival stage as they perform electro classics like “As The Rush Comes” or “Zocalo” with Armin van Buuren. These loyalists can be found, camera phones in hand and a latitudinous smile plastered across their faces at Gabriel & Dredsen’s live sets, where they blend both old-school hits and the remixes that put them on the map with the new tunes that keep them there.
Last summer saw Gabriel & Dresden performances at the coveted camping dance music festival, Paradisio, set against Washington’s scenic Gorge Amphitheatre backdrop. In addition, the official release of G&D’s emotive supercharged “Bye Bye Macadam” remix, originally a bootleg of acclaimed French act Rone, has finally arrived this month. The newest instrumental, “New Ground,” is Gabriel & Dresden’s stunning follow up to “Rise Up,” and, like its predecessor combines the rawness of a six oscillator Moog modular synthesizer with beautiful, emotional chords. Released on their own imprint, Organized Nature via Armada, G&D have also been busy speaking their seasoned minds on their own monthly radio show. Named after the label, “Garbiel & Dresden Presents, Organized Nature” (on DI.FM), topics range from the current state of EDM to why they make certain music specifically.
Find out exactly what is on their minds in our head to head interview with G&D after the jump.
Generation EDM, unless they've done some homework, has no clue what the purist ethos of progressive house sounds like. Can you define it as if you were speaking to a child?
Gabriel & Dresden: “Progressive House is a genre of dance music that was serendipitously started in the early ’90s. The tracks in the beginning fused acid house ideas with rolling basslines, dubby effects and piano driven euphoric breakdowns. Tracks literally progressed and developed over the course of the song. Then the sound went darker and more tribal in the early 2000's. For some reason, beginning around 2005, the name has been used loosely to describe almost any kind of house music with a bit of melody and song structure. For us, Progressive House is a feeling as much as it is a genre. We use sounds, effects and production techniques with the aim to push music and sound forward.”
Your most recent releases, “Rise Up” and “New Ground,” stand apart from a lot of other music being released. Where is that inspiration coming from?
“For these tracks, the inspiration came from the process we took to create the synthesizer sounds, We were lucky enough to get our hands on a six oscillator modular Moog to make both of these tracks. The way you can tweak and control sounds by patching different "modules" together in an inordinate amount of ways creates sounds that are one of a kind and very detailed. There is no way to save a patch you create so you had better be recording everything you make otherwise it will be gone forever.
And that's what we did, we recorded everything whist tweaking the synthesizer and then treated the creation of the tracks more like a remix/scavenger hunt than a wholly new composition. It was a refreshing change from our usual way of making music. We hope to do this more down the road because it was super fun and had us both involved in the process together like when we DJ.”
What's the process like for you two when producing music?
“It really depends on the track we are making as different processes create different outcomes. We usually get together and start talking about ideas and what kind of song we want maybe listen to some things that are inspiring us. Then we start working on a chord progression. This can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour.”
Once we have a progression it's on to creating layers in an eight or 16 bar loop that will eventually be the the payoff (aka ‘the drop’) first and work backwards. Occasionally we will lay out the breakdown leading to the payoff. If it's a vocal song, this is where we we will start writing lyrics and deciding which singer would be appropriate for the song.”
What is the most you unique aspect of G&D sonically?
“The most unique aspects of us sonically are probably our generous use of dubby delays, analogue sounds and dramatic twists and turns. We used to use the electric bass a lot.”
Do you have any plans for a full-length?
“This is something we have been wrestling with since we re-formed in 2011. On the one hand, making albums is a fun and rewarding process. Albums bolster your ability to tour the world and are great for marketing and branding. But...they also take a year to complete and let's face facts, albums are not a huge part of the culture anymore. It just seems like a waste of time to make 12 songs that will only launch two or three singles because most fans will cherry pick the songs they like and then move on. So for now, it will be singles and EPs.”
Who would your dream collaborators be and why? Please name a singer, a rapper (would you use a rapper?) and another producer.
“Our dream collaborations are usually with the under exposed performers that we come across. It gives us a high working with someone whom we feel has the talent but has not been fully realized yet. However, if we were to pick a few current hot artists that we respect their voices and songwriting abilities, it would be Lana Del Rey, Lorde or Sia. As for producers, we would love to work with Daniel Avery, this Russian duo called E-Spectro or even Deadmau5, who has a studio full of modular synthesizers.”
Your fans are steadfast, they seem to follow you from show to show and we've seen you interact with your fans like friends. Do you think this contributes to your longevity in the game?
“Resoundingly, yes! We have found that the people who really like our music are generally the kinds of people we would want to hang out with in real life. We love to hear their stories and what they did while listing to our music, and take a lot of the things we hear from them with us when we're working in the studio.
What about the live show? Describe the G&D live experience for those who have never seen it.
“The G&D live show is 99.9% about the music. Call us "old school" or whatnot but we don't carry any mapped 3D projections or LED walls or props or cakes or anything to a show. It's just us and the music and it feels great to still be able to do this in a world where seemingly everyone is ‘stepping up’ their live show in an effort to brand themselves. We still believe that can be done with the music.”
Who/what music are you listening to right now that might surprise people?
“One of us listened to Jackson Browne's 1977 album Runnin' On Empty last weekend. That was pretty surprising.”
Wildest performance memory of all time?
“EDC Las Vegas 2012 was pretty crazy to begin with. It was the first night of the festival and the crowd were ready for it. When we were on our last song we were told to "play one more" because Mat Zo, who was scheduled to play after us had not showed up yet. After about a half an hour of playing a bunch of ‘one more song’-songs we were finally informed that Mat wouldn't make it because he was stuck in the insane traffic leading to the festival. We got to play a club-length set at a festival. Not bad at all.”
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