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Gareth Emery

UK progressive trance DJ/producer Gareth Emery has delivered on the potential he hinted at in previous years and made his way up to the premier league. The main reason for his rise can be explained by Emery performing at a number of key festivals for the first time, including his debuts at Global Gathering in the UK - he had played before for the festival's overseas forays - and Holland's Dance Valley. However, it was at Global Gathering that his talents and professionalism were truly tested. "I had already played my set and was happily propping up the bar when the promoter ran in a few hours later," he recalls. "One of the acts had missed his flight and Judge Jules was filling in, but he had to leave to play somewhere else so they needed someone to get on the decks. After tracking me down, the promoter bundled me into a buggy and back to the main stage, where I played a second, more nerve-wracking set," laughs Emery. There were no such surprises at Dance Valley, where he performed early on but still had "a fantastic show", while he celebrated his 29th birthday at Guvernment, in Toronto, with another debut, this time performing an unforgettable four-hour headline slot. While Gareth feels that his sound has developed slowly over the years, he believes his transition to peak-time slots has really accelerated changes in his DJing. "My style has changed and mutated somewhat over the years but I've always been into many of the same things, a fairly broad spectrum of music," he says. "It's difficult not to be influenced by trends; I hear the influence that minimal techno has had on trance all the time, but if anything, my sets were a little bit tougher this year because I'm playing peak-time sets instead of warm-ups. It's something that was really noticeable at the festivals, where you are given an hour or two to showcase what you do, so you play all the big records." Despite his increased international profile, 2009 has also seen Gareth launch the Garuda club and label. While the more cautious people in the industry might have advised against launching either venture in the current climate, Emery plunged headlong into the challenge, unfazed by the ill winds of recession. "When I look at what I did, 2009 has been a great year," he says. "Our first Garuda gig, in Sankey's, was on 23rd January, a date that a lot of people said would be difficult, but it sold out. "All of our nights are being run in competitive times, but we've got good line-ups and a good venue. The recession might be hurting the clubs that are going through the motions and booking the same old acts, but thankfully for me and a lot of other people, the entertainment business is one of the last places where people stop their spending - they go to clubs to forget their troubles." Emery believes that technology does not automatically imbue electronic music with a new sense of creative dynamism; for every inspired release or idea, he believes that there are a thousand dull copies and thinks that the scene in general is "nowhere near the progression" it should have reached thanks to technological advances. "Nowadays, everyone has got their hands on Ableton and this is having an impact because every DJ is making an edit or a mash-up of their favourite tracks," he explains. "I do it myself; if I'm waiting in my hotel room to do a gig I'll try to combine the beats from a track with hooks or melodies from another track. "This has definitely been the year of the mash-up. The problem is that there have been some very good ones and a lot of not very good ones." Despite some trepidation about technology, Emery believes that Pioneer's new CDJ-2000 marks a big change in DJing, and he's looking forward to showing up for gigs with a "memory stick or two in my pocket" instead of a bag full of CDs. In the meantime, Emery will continue to perform all over the world, promote the Garuda night in Manchester and develop the label in tandem. Having put out material by Riva, M.I.K.E and Emery's own 'Exposure' this year, the next step for the label is Gareth's new mix compilation. Featuring upfront tracks as well as retrospective material - which taps into a general trend towards rediscovering older sounds - 'Gareth Emery: Sound of Garuda' will be released mid-November.