Nearly six years after my first chat with Gabriel & Dresden, I was eager for an opportunity to catch up with Dave [Dresden] after a headlining set at Igloofest in Montreal. Both times he didn’t hold back any thoughts, which truly makes for a great interview. Keep reading as he talks about traveling, the current state of trance, and saving lives.
So this is your first time at Igloofest. Are you cold?
■ Yes. I heard about Igloofest and I thought it was in Iceland or something; I didn’t know it was in Montreal in the wintertime. It’s a great idea, unlike most places. And in order to stay alive out there you have to dance or gtfo.
It’s a great place. Did you arrive today?
■ I literally got here, had dinner, and came to play so it wasn’t anything super cool. I leave tomorrow to go to Vancouver.
That must be one of the toughest parts of the job, going in and out so quickly.
■ You never get a chance to experience a city so when I do go to cities I try to get out and do things but the problem with living in California is even if you leave at 6:30 n the morning, you’re landing at 4:30 in the afternoon and it’s almost dark.
If you had to choose a few cities to revisit and explore more, what would they be?
■ I’d like to explore Montreal more because I haven’t really seen this city. Every time I come I land in the afternoon, DJ, and then leave the next morning. I’d really like to spend a few days in Shanghai and experience that city, too.
Last time we talked was in 2014 in Boston, and you didn’t hold back on any of the questions.
■ We still don’t.
You had said trance is running out of ideas, and that was almost six years ago…
■ Trance is really running out of ideas. Trance is like everybody trying to keep their job. Everybody is creating something that’s going to rock the dance floor but it has no new ideas because everybody’s just trying to keep their job. This is a tough industry. Every music had its day; jazz had its day, folk music had its day, rock and roll had its day. Trance had its day and it was 20 years ago but it still exists and it still has pockets around the world where it’s popular. I really got into trance music in 1998 because it was amazing.
Where were you?
■ I was actually living in Connecticut. I used to go down to the New York clubs — Tunnel, Twilo — that were playing real trance music and I heard it and I was just like, “This is really some next level shit.” It was hard and banging but it was also musical and it took you places that made you feel emotions that were really deep and they stayed with you for weeks. Now I don’t mean to sound like the old guy — I’m 50 years old, I am an old guy — but this music doesn’t do the same thing it did for me 20 years ago.
I’m sure you’ve noticed a shift in crowds over those years, too.
■ Definitely and the shift of the crowd is they don’t know the difference. They only know that they like trance and you can’t tell people they’re wrong. I let people like what they like and enjoy it; I never talk shit about it on social media and never tell people what I really feel about it… but here I am saying I really wish trance music would bring some new ideas to the table. I’m a producer and I should be doing this, too.
So why aren’t you?
■ I should be. It’s a double edge sword and it’s a very complicated beast but I just don’t feel the same affinity to trance I did 20 years ago when the originators of the genre were making records.
Do you see yourself shifting to something else then?
■ The thing is that any time you include four chords in a dance music song, it’s trance. House always has two to three chords, techno has one to three chords, but trance has four chords. It’s hard to say where music is going. For us, it’s always about the song, not the genre or the tempo. That’s how we make music. That’s why I’m not trying to innovate trance, I’m just trying to make great records for us and the Anjuna crowd.
And we do appreciate that. You guys also recently ran a Kickstarter.
■ Kickstarter is a thing where you put a business plan out. Basically you write a business plan and people are buying in at certain levels and you have to service them, so the higher they pay, the more you have to service them. It’s really about giving your time to the people who paid you to create the product that you’re making. We did a Kickstarter over two years ago and we made The Only Road and then the new Kickstarter to create Remedy, the new album that was released today. I’m still paying those people back in my time and our time whether it be the people we call on Skype and have an hour-long conversation with them, or people coming to our studio and making music with us and it’s on the album. There are all kinds of different levels for the Kickstarter and I think it’s a really unique way for artists to get funding for something they want to create. I don’t know why every artist isn’t doing this; I think there are a lot of people that could get their fans to buy in and join the crew.
Do you have plan to do another?
■ You know what, it’s like a woman giving birth. I had a baby and now I need to feed her. I don’t know what’s next for us, probably to make another album, and it will probably be funded with Kickstarter and working with the people that love our music to create this music.
The trance crowd is very loyal, and different than that of other genres.
■ Totally. These people like to feel. They want to feel, they want to be connected, they want to be part of something. That’s one of the things about crowdfunding that’s really cool is that you really do feel connected to the thing you’re supporting and you know it’s more than just giving money. Whether it be coming to help create the music or helping to promote the music, it’s a collective community thing and that’s what we created with the Kickstarter — a community. If we did another album with this thing, it would be a community created to make it.
Incredible. Otherwise, you’re off to Vancouver next. What’s after that?
■ We have a whole tour planed until May, 24 cities in North American and then we’re going internationally to China, southeast Asia, India, Australia, continental Europe. The other day we were on A State of Trance and I was in the chatroom and saw Russian, some Asian language, Spanish, and eastern European languages and I was just like, “This is amazing that we’re part of something that’s literally an international language” and it’s just amazing to be part of something that connects people who have different ideologies and beliefs but at the same time just love to get lost in the beat.
Is there anywhere you haven’t been yet that you’d like to go?
■ There are many places I haven’t been… most places in Africa, I haven’t been to Nepal, a couple countries in South America. This has taken me to most countries in the world and it’s a blessing and I’m amazed I get to do this. Every day I wake up and there might be problems in my life but I get to do this and it’s amazing.
What you’re doing also helps other people’s problems.
■ Absolutely, that’s the thing. Last night just before the album was released, I said to one of our singers, “Our music is about to be released and we’re gonna save some people’s lives.” We get emails all the time saying things like “I was about to kill myself and I heard your music and it saved me” and it’s mind blowing that the things we’re doing — what comes naturally to us when we go to the studio every day — is saving people’s lives. We’re very lucky and blessed to be doing this.