As one of the most influential and innovative artists in electronic dance music, Gareth Emery really needs no introduction. He rose to fame in the early 2000s and has continued on with an accomplished and impressive career ever since. Giving us timeless tracks like “Sanctuary” and “Concrete Angel,” among many others, headlining massive festivals around the world and producing one of the most enjoyable podcasts on the web, Emery is truly in a league of his own.
Last weekend during his ongoing Electric For Life tour, the DJ touched down at Toronto’s Uniun Nightclub for what was truly an incredible show. Running through songs new and old, and a whole bunch of trance and progressive gems, Emery delivered an epic 6 hour set that those who were in attendance won’t soon forget.
After the show, I had the honor of sitting down with Gareth for an exclusive interview. Eager to chat and friendly as ever, the producer spoke with me about his upcoming album, preparing for a marathon set, his current tour, the state of trance, and more.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
So you played at Uniun tonight, which was a change for you because usually when you’re in Toronto you play at The Guvernment, which no longer exists anymore. How did you like Uniun?
Gareth Emery: I love it. It had big shoes to fill but I loved it. Guv is irreplaceable for me. There’s no clubs like Guv anymore. It was kind of the last of those breed of clubs that just went till fucking 9 in the morning. When I started clubbing, that’s what all the clubs were like, and Guv was the last of its kind really.
And you played a 6 hour set tonight. Congrats, first of all. But what goes into planning something like that?
Gareth Emery: Thank you! It’s kind of done in sections. When you do a shorter set, you can pre-plan the entire thing. But with 6 hours, you need flexibility. If it’s just a 1 hour set for a festival, I might plan the entire thing, because your performance is really important. You need to make sure there are no duds in there. For 6 hours though, what you plan wouldn’t even equal what you want to do.
So for a set like tonight, I split it into like 4 or 5 playlists. So there’s the first hour, which is like ambient music. Easing people into it, when it’s still fairly empty. Then there’s downtempo. So like the deep house and the chill music. And then there’s the main set, which is the crux of what I normally do. And then there’s like the banging trance portion, so the harder stuff. And then of course, there’s the Emery classics.
It’s roughly split up throughout those playlists. But I obviously don’t stick to that religiously. In fact, I very rarely know what the next track will be. I mean, once I started the first show on the tour, I found a few combinations that worked well, so I’ll repeat them. But for me, it’s just proper DJ’ing. Just judging the crowd and seeing what works.
And most of the sets on this tour have been around that length, which is great to see. But why have you chosen to move away from the standard 1 hour DJ set and make all of your sets 5-6 hours on this tour?
Gareth Emery: Honestly, I’m just looking to change up the monotony of being a touring DJ. When you’re doing 1 hour sets, things get kinda boring. When you play the same length of set every time, you fall into the same patterns and end up playing the same set. For me, I needed more creative challenge. It’s more interesting. And I also wanted to be able to play music that wouldn’t fit into a normal 1 hour set. Now, I can play whatever I want. And I love that. For the new album, we’ll do a cool tour, too. Maybe integrate live elements into it. That’s my next thing.
I grew up writing music and playing live instruments. So getting up to the decks and pressing play with the same pre-arranged combinations just doesn’t do it for me. The chance to play live instruments at one of my shows would be great.