With so many young producers and DJs making dance music these days, Gabriel and Dresden make their mark as veterans with a hell of a lot of perspective. Together, Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden have been making music for about 14 years, minus a small hiatus. Add to that another decade (plus some) for Dave “the Wave’s” history as a DJ and Josh’s time producing music, and you have a lot of time stacked up. They have seen the industry grow and change and have a lot say about it. We were fortunate enough to sit down with them before the launch of their Classics Only tour in PDX.
[divider]Genres and Finding Music[/divider]
Somewhere along the way, Gabriel and Dresden got couched as Trance DJs and producers but we don’t think that’s quite right. Their music has always existed outside of easily definable categories but because their tracks were often played by Trance DJs, they were cast into this genre. Something that Dave says has sometimes “worked to our advantage and a lot of times it’s worked to our disadvantage.” That ambiguity is a big motivating factor behind the Classics Only tour – it gives them a chance to reestablish who they are as producers and DJs.
No doubt then, they have some pretty strong feelings about genres. From Josh’s perspective, “Genres only serve one purpose, and that’s to separate people.” We can’t count the number of times we have heard ‘Oh, I don’t like that genre.’ Genres have a bad rep for prohibiting someone from listening to music starkly different to what they already know, regardless of whether or not they may like it. And if that music happens to exist outside of easily definable genres, the problem is amplified. People fear the unknown. To combat this, Gabriel and Dresden, focus on the feeling and the journey rather than than playing to a genre. What’s better than going to see a DJ that weaves an interesting story rather than a collection of Beatport Top 100s? It’s easy to forget that good DJs are there to be expressive when so many stick “this artificial idea that you have to play within a genre.”
Dave added that genres are really a thing of the past, “because that was the way you could categorize music in a record store.” Now that brick and mortar stores are on the decline – especially for dance music – a new methodology for finding music is needed. Since genres have evolved to be more like “feelings and moods,” keywords and tags often get you exactly what you are looking for. If you go to Soundcloud and plug in “bouncy techno” you’re gonna get bouncy techno. I guess if you wanted to get real technical you could maybe call that a sub-genre but ‘mood’ makes a hell of a lot more sense to us.
Josh remained a bit more critical of labeling as a whole, telling us that genres are bit like “blinders put on by people who want you to consume what they already have.” That makes sense – sell people on Trance and then put on a Trance show and play Trance music. It’s much easier to market than ‘epic Trance with a side of emotional deep house, smothered in a progressive vibe.’
So, how do we combat this narrow-minded approach to music? The answer, besides “Find a DJ”, is to spend time looking for music.
Dave: Start with a record you love. Follow that artist. Check out the label. Maybe follow the label. Then check out some of the artists on that label…
Josh: Read about the people that put the label on, and then read about the school they went to. And look at other people that went to the school and look at other labels those people are on. Be a detective.
It’s all about going further down the rabbit hole until you’re not quite sure where you are but for whatever reason, you love it. Kinda like when they debuted Libre Slang – the mashup of The Shin’s New Slang and Olaff Stuut’s Libre at last year’s Paradiso.
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