Wolfgang Gartner exploded on the electronic music scene in 2007 with the ‘Shapes EP.’ The fresh and filthy electro sound, a huge departure from the disco house grooves he made previously under his real name Joey Youngman, was instantly massive and launched a string of tracks that topped the Beatport chart. In 2010, Wolfgang was nominated for Best Remixed Recording and signed to Ultra records for a worldwide deal. With the mainstream success of producer/DJs David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, and Chuckie, will Wolfgang Gartner be the next big electronic superstar?
DJ Ron Slomowicz: So, you started as a house guy, how did you end up in the electro world?
Wolfgang Gartner: I still am a house guy, man. What I do now is still house music. So to me it’s not like I switched worlds. To a lot of people it seems that way, but what I do now is still house music to me, so, calling it something else just doesn’t work for me.
RS: Maybe the names have changed, but there is definitely a change in your sound.
Wolfgang Gartner: Yeah, I was kind of BSing. I completely switched over my sound. It’s still house music. It’s just a natural progression. I mean I was doing Chicago disco house for ten years. I was playing shows in 2006 and I was playing records from 2006 and mixing them with the records from 1996 and they sounded exactly the same and they mixed together perfectly and that’s when you know the music hasn’t evolved in ten years, and I reached that point. It was a very sudden point, and I don’t know what caused it. There wasn’t a specific incident, but I was like 'I need to push the boundaries of music and do something futuristic and forward-thinking and advance music in some way rather than regurgitating the sound that activates the dopamine receptors in my brain. I actually need to work on something- put some more effort into it and spend some more time on it and have a vision rather than doing the same loop over and over again that I’ve been doing for ten years.'
RS: Was there a track that you made that was that a-ha moment for you?
Wolfgang Gartner: Yes, “Squares” was the first electro track I ever made and within two months of making it, it got licensed to Rockstar games, one of their racing video games. That was the biggest thing that ever happened to me in my entire music career and that was within two months of making my first “electro track.” I was like “ok, this is it, this is what I’m doing now” and it just snowballed from there and the first thing on my label was “Front to Back,” that hit No.1 on Beatport and that was the second thing and I was like, “ok, this is, I am now Wolfgang Gartner, this is what I’m doing and this will probably be the name I use for the rest of my life.”
RS: The name Wolfgang Gartner, where did it come from?
Wolfgang Gartner: I stole it from the soccer coach of the soccer team of the college from my home town, Cal Poly. His name is Wolfgang Gartner and I just ran with it.
RS: Talking about making tracks, what digital audio workstation/software are you using?
Wolfgang Gartner: I use Abelton Live for software and I have a ton of hardware but I don’t use very much of it anymore. On most of the stuff of mine that’s out right now, there is a lot of analog and hardware being used .
RS: I was going to ask about that, what analog keyboards are you using?
Wolfgang Gartner: Dave Smith Poly Evolver is what I’ve used on most tracks. I’ve used it pretty much on every single track I’ve made, all of the distortion sounds. People have mistaken it for me sampling Justice because there is a sound that I do that sounds like Justice, but it’s the distortion circuit off of the Dave Smith Poly Evolver. I don’t know if that’s what they’re using, but whatever it is, that’s kind of become my trademark- in Illmerica I use it a lot. It is basically a distortion circuit being smashed and rammed. There is a Dave Smith Prophet, which is a classic analog, and the Poly Evolver is a step up from that, which is the Prophet plus 2 digital oscillators, so it's analog and digital and a bunch more routing options; a very modular synthesizer. I use that and a lot of the Moog stuff like the Voyager and the Fatty.
RS: When you spin are you doing CD, Laptop, or Vinyl?
Wolfgang Gartner: Still CDs, CDJ-2000’s.
RS: With the little thumb drive?
Wolfgang Gartner: I am not even using the USB yet- I have heard so many horror stories. I am learning to switch over, and I’ve got the RekordBox software and I’ve got a USB stick and I’ve loaded all of my stuff on there, and I’ve figured out how to do it, but I don’t feel comfortable enough in the middle of this tour to switch over to USB. I think I need a little bit of time at home, just a week or two to just lock it down, and whenever I do do it I think I still need to travel with CDs and have like three USB sticks for backup because I’ve heard horror stories of people just sticking those things in and just getting the error message.
RS: And so you’re not going to be spinning on laptop anytime soon?
Wolfgang Gartner: I don’t think so, man. I mean, I'm PC except for my iPad, which I love, but it’s not a computer and I would not trust a PC for a live performance, I just wouldn’t do it. I realize they are inferior computers to Macs, but there is so much work and time to switch over to a Mac and then rebuy all the software and plug-ins and everything, so for now I am PC and that is what is holding me back. I grew up on turntables and CDs are the same thing to me and I still like doing that. When I do mixes at home, like the Essential mix, I used Ableton because I had to do a lot of very intricate stuff and I think I played 60 tracks in two hours which is doing stuff that you can’t do live physically. So when I do mixes at home I’ll mix them in Ableton, but to do the live thing I still need to have two Decks and the only reason I would switch over to a computer is so that it could send mini time code to lighting to the video programmer so that we could actually sync the stuff. But Traktor doesn’t have that yet and Traktor is the only platform where there are two CD players. Ableton does have that, but I don’t want to do Ableton live. I don’t want to switch that way.