Interview by Tosh Giles
After joining forces in 2001, Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden took the electronic music steam by storm as they quickly rose to the tops of charts and won awards. This success was followed by a few years of silence, but not for long.
Gabriel and Dresden are back and ready to shake up these scene with open-to-close sets of nothing but the best classic trance tracks! These shows are a staple for any electronic music fan, new or old. We caught up with Dave Dresden to talk about the tour.
You’ve long been Bay Area heroes! Tell us what this show means to you.
We both live in Oakland and back in the day, we were just starting out and Spundae were the only people who would book us and people were aware that we were from the area. Over the years, it’s funny how a lot of people now think we’re from Europe or somewhere else and are always blown away that we’ve lived here pretty much since the beginning of Gabriel & Dresden.
This Ruby Skye show is very special a number of reasons; first of all, it’s the longest show on the tour. We’re thinking seven-plus hours but lets try to go for longer. I feel like if we’re doing our job, we can play all night. You know, we have so much history in Ruby Skye, so playing some of these old rooms that we have so much history in is so much more special. You connect these records to times past and it helps bring out that emotion that we’re trying to project onto the crowd. Also, it’s cool that we don’t have to fly, but just drive over the bridge.
Speaking of old memories, trance has a way of imprinting on memories and changing lives, which is especially true for your tracks. What does this tour mean to you?
This tour means reconnecting with our old selves, old fans who we haven’t seen in years. Trance was special because we loved how it made people feel good. There’s so many records! It’s been so much fun going back and listening to all this music again for a reason; because we’re going to go play it. It brings all these old memories of old experiences back. I’ve had more fun in the last few months as we’ve been putting this tour together musically than I have in years. I think that is saying something about the music of the era that we are playing. It’s really special.
What do you think of the shift in producing style to slower BPM which, to me, often doesn’t have the same emotion?
Times have times changed and the meaning of trance has changed to what it is now. I mean, a lot of the guys who got known in trance wanted to go for the money and who could blame them? I feel like the tide is turning and trance has a chance again. We need more DJs like Solarstone, and fans going out and supporting them and giving them a career. There’s the whole 138bpm thing, but if I want to listen to that, I’d rather go back and listen to old Ferry Corsten tracks.
Trance just needs more innovation. I think we are using this tour as an excuse to get back into the mindset of where we were when we made this music. Maybe we can be inspired to make new music that feels and sounds like it used to. I would see that as a natural progression of this tour. I’m not saying it’s gong to happen but…
You’re almost halfway through your Classics Only tour. What has been the most impactful moment (or highlight) of the tour thus far?
Well, we’re four gigs in and the Phoenix show was a highlight because I didn’t expect it to be what it was. It felt like sex all night long. When we went on, there were people there ready to dance. We’ve been playing a different set for each show and it’s been a lot of fun to have to think about DJing this way like we haven’t in years.
What challenges did you face when planning this tour and the sets you will be playing?
I think the hardest part was convincing the promoters that people are ready to hear one DJ all night long. At first the promoters were like, “Hmm, we’ll do it if they play a two hour set, that’s the longest we think the crowd can be interested in a DJ.” We showed them Max Graham and had to explain the concept of playing a lot of different music from the era. They understood that.
Finding the music wasn’t too hard. We went back and did some research into our old set and found the records that we played a million times over. Some of our music was hardest to find because it was on old hard drives that haven’t been used for years. I had to search for cords and buy a hard drive toaster so we could take the drives apart and plug them in. It was so much fun. We felt like kids again. It’s like we became historians of the era.
Did you make any remakes or updated versions to yours or others’ tracks for the tour?
The only thing we did to the music was edit tracks and remaster a few of them. Everything else is the original version of the songs and a few legendary mashups. There’s this mashup of Arcadia and Jase From Outer Space that we’ll play because our fans associate us with that mashup. We never really played Arcadia but we always played that track.
We want to give fans an authentic experience of what it was like to see us in 2005.
Electronic music has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Which artists would you say have kept the emotion and beauty of trance alive?
That’s a tough question because I am not caught up on current trance music. I always love what I hear on Solarstone’s radio show. I feel like he’s leading the charge to bring back the feeling of trance music. I don’t care for the “uplifting” trance much but who am I to judge what others like? They don’t have the same history with music that I do. I heard Paul van Dyk – For an Angel when it was a new record. I know that Ferry Corsten did Adagio For Strings first. I loved Thrillseekers songs before they had vocals in them. I even have Jono Grant’s remix of Strike – U Sure Do.
How has becoming a father and growing older impacted your music and career?
It’s certainly limited how much music we can make. It’s hard enough being away on weekends but when you have to make music in a certain window of time, it can be hard. It’s not always when creativity strikes. Having children has really grounded me so much that I feel like Josh and I are in a place where we can make something great again. “Watch this space,” I say.
Would you like to add anything else to the interview?
Of course I want to thank Trance Family SF for always supporting us and helping us reach our fans in San Francisco. Thanks to the fans for making this tour possible. It’s such an amazing feeling to have something you made 10, 12, 14 years ago still making people feel good all these years later. That’s because of our fans who kept this stuff alive.
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