Inside the mind: Wolfgang Gartner
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 21:10
Over the course of just a few years, Wolfgang Gartner – the stage name of producer and DJ Joey Youngman – has become a prominent figure in the house music scene. As an ambitious artist with an innovative sound and unmatched work ethic, his recent success in the music world should come as no surprise.
His 2011 debut album, “Weekend in America,” caught the immediate attention of house music fans everywhere with songs such as the distorted, beat-driven “Spacejunk” and the infectious “Illmerica” with its adrenaline pumping bass and suspenseful breaks.
“Weekend in America” and his most recent LP, this year’s “Back Story,” compromise just a small portion of Wolfgang Gartner’s expansive repertoire, which also includes a number of EPs, singles and collaborations.
As a preview of his upcoming show at Higher Ground this Saturday, Oct. 6, the Cynic interviewed Youngman to find out exactly what drives him to write, produce and perform some of the most innovative dance music being created today.
The Vermont Cynic (VC): What inspired you to pursue the writing of electro-house music? Has this always been the type of music that you wanted to write?
Joey Youngman (JY):I've always written house music since I started making electronic music in 1993. It's taken many forms over the years. I still write house music. Some of my songs get put into the "electro-house" category because these subgenres seem to be necessary for people to find music they like these days. But it's all still house music to me.
VC:What types of influences do you draw from when writing your music?
JY:These days I try not to “be influenced,” which sounds a bit strange, and it’s probably impossible, but I at least try. I don’t want my music to sound like something else. And if you’re getting influenced by other music, it’s hard for that not to happen. I actually try and go back and listen to my older music, and just think, “How can I make this better and take it to the next level?”
VC:What does your creative process entail?
JY:Sitting down in the studio, spending a few hours making a really solid drum loop, then going from there, whether it be a bass line, chord progression or just some weird sound that sparks everything.
VC:Why do you write music? What do you feel the main purpose of your music is?
JY:It's the only thing in life I ever really had any strong desire to do, besides sex and food. No clue why. It's just the only thing I ever got motivated about. Now it has morphed into something more complicated, where I have an obligation as an artist to do something at a higher standard, not just for me but for the people listening, and to continually push the envelope.
And of course I make a living off of it and touring, which adds a whole other dimension – making a living off art and your passion, and maintaining your artistic integrity instead of following the trends that are guaranteed sure shots. You have to make the next trend. Then when everybody jumps on it you move on and make the next one.
VC:What types of advances or innovations do you feel like you’ve made in your genre of music?
JY:Mostly certain sounds and tricks I use in my music that a lot of people started doing. And that's musical evolution – it’s just a natural thing. But once these people started copying them, I had to evolve those things into something new.
VC:At what point are you satisfied with your work?
JY:There comes a point in the creation of a song where I know whether or not I'm going to finish it. And that decision is just based on my standards of what I'm willing to put my name on. If I decide I'm not going to finish it, it goes into the trashcan. This could be three or four days into it, too.
Once I decide it's a definite winner, then I dive head first into making it the masterpiece I want it to be. And when it's finished, I know it's finished. I just know. There's no way to put it into words better than that, really.
VC:What is your favorite aspect of performing live?
JY:Those moments where the crowd and I are one unified mass of bodies jumping up and down because whatever I'm playing at that moment moves us all so strongly, and we all react to it the same way. It's when I feel like I'm one of them, not when I feel like I'm the guy on stage above them or separated from them.
VC:What are some of your favorite songs to play live?
JY:“Love & War,” “Illmerica,” “Flexx,” “Nuke” and a bunch of other stuff by other artists that I'm playing at the moment which I'd rather not give away.