Gabriel & Dresden

As avid trance fans, we were stoked to chat trance, among other things, with Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden before their set at Prime Boston last weekend. Between the two of them, from forming a duo in 2001, to splitting in 2008, to re-joining in 2011, the guys have released the sounds of techno and house, and even a radio hit, in addition to the trance we and many other fans know them for. Read on to hear their take on the US’ trance scene, the commercialization of EDM, and their favorite remix done by another artist.

Describe your sound with three words.
Gabriel: Mind, body, soul.

Can you recall the point in time you realized this would be your career?
►Gabriel: I knew in 2001 there was no looking back. I bought my first synthesizer in 1981 and then I was hooked.
►Dresden: I knew from the first time I made people dance on a dancefloor in 1988 that I needed to do this forever. I was playing Depeche Mode remixes and early house music records.

Would you consider working with JES again under the Motorcycle moniker?
Gabriel: Not only will we consider it, but if that person will deliver JES to us, we will make music with her tomorrow.
►Dresden: JES and us have been like threatening for years to work together but it never works out.
►Gabriel: We welcome the chance.

What do you think about the trance scene in the US right now?
►Dresden: I don’t think trance is healthy right now. I think a lot of the people who were considered trance a couple of years ago have switched to electro house music. Trance sort of ran out of ideas. I think dance music as a whole is more popular in this country than it ever has been, and that’s going to open up a lot of avenues for good music in the coming years.

What do you think about the commercialization of EDM?
Gabriel: I think it’s horrible.
►Dresden: It’s just not good for the product.
►Gabriel: Here’s the thing… it depends who you are and what your goals are. I got into dance music because it was forward-thinking and the people who made the music wanted to communicate something all for some reason other than making money because there was no money to be made in 1992 DJ’ing. The commercialization of anything… when you do that… you get out different things because all of a sudden people are doing different things for different reasons. The reason of money never ends up yielding the right results for a person like me, an idealist.
►Dresden: It’s a different game now. It was bound to take over; computers are part of everybody’s lives and analogue anything is not a part of anybody’s lives anymore. Electronic music is the natural music that would be made with computers.

Along with that – the evolution of technology over the past 10, 20, 30 years – have you guys welcomed the changes or has it been difficult to adapt from what you started with?
Gabriel: I’ve always been into technology and pushing things, so I’ve never been scared of technology. It’s always a tool.
►Dresden: We also appreciate the classic analog approach to things. You know, getting out a synthesizer and taking a patch from nothing into something, and running everything through real compressors that do the real thing. There’s really no comparison, but it’s not really convenient. If you’re traveling every weekend to DJ, you can’t bring your compressors with you. Technology has made producing easier. It’s all cool, we welcome it all.

What are some things you always bring to a show with you? Or as Tony Arzadon calls it, the contents of his headphone case, aka his “DJ purse.”
►Gabriel: Okay, so what’s in our DJ purse? Basically everything to survive, like passports…
►Dresden: … we have earplugs, toothpaste – because you never know when you need to brush your teeth – and vitamins.
►Gabriel: Computers, hard drive, thumb drives, GoPro camera, iPad, gum.

What’s the best thing about working as a duo?
Gabriel: You have somebody else to play [laughs]. No, it’s like having another set of ears, somebody to bounce off of.
►Dresden: The things that make us great are so hard to explain, and it’s those things that make us work as a duo as opposed to working with somebody else or alone. Also, there are two different people to do two different things so we can divide and conquer, which makes us more effective.

Can you remember something wild somebody in the crowd has done during one of your performances?
Gabriel: One time, when we were playing with CD players, somebody actually grabbed the CD player while the CD was in it and shook it, and the music stopped. There have been other things, like people having sex…
►Dresden: Really?
►Gabriel: Russia, man.

Do you have a favorite remix another artist has down of one of your tracks?
Dresden: The Dave Aude remix of “New Path” is one that unfortunately never got released. It was demo six or seven years ago but even to this day, we could still play it and rock a dancefloor.