At what seemed like an unlikely moment to strike, 2016 has brought the return of Wolfgang Gartner behind the release of his sophomore LP, 10 Ways To Steal Home Plate. The release of the album, the Wolf’s first major offering since 2011′s Weekend in America, finds Gartner in refreshing form, pushing his legendary house craft into a new, pop-inspired chapter. Ending a year-long hiatus and preparing to tour again for the first time, we caught up with electro-house icon ahead of his upcoming performance from Avalon Hollywood on Saturday, March 5.
What’s the reaction been like to your new album?
“It seems like it’s been really good. Actually the best reaction to anything I’ve done in years to be honest, at least that’s the vibe I’m getting from the outside world and the interwebs. It had been 5 years since I released my last album so I really had no idea what to expect or what people expected, so I’m enjoying watching it unfold and slowly branch out and reach more peoples’ ears.”
The record comes at a time when the line between pop and dance music continues to blur beyond distinction — a year since Gartner, real name Joey Youngman, was an active part of the dance scene. Nearly five years since Weekend In America, Youngman’s new full-length is a far-cry from his debut offering.
Has releasing your album changed your outlook on dance music?
“Yeah it did in a really strange way. [In 2015] I was off doing a bunch of urban side projects, this R&B collab, making a lot of instrumental hip hop beats, and just completely in a different place musically. Then the album came out and it threw me back into that world. I started seeing familiar faces and listening to other new music that was out there and it reignited the spark. I started thinking I wanted to do it again. I think the thing that fundamentally changed my outlook on dance music was taking a year off from it. Releasing my album was just the cherry on top that helped me realize how much I still love this music.”
Gartner’s wording is almost poetic. Listening to 10 Ways to Steal Home Plate, his connection to genres outside of dance music is immediately clear. “I wasn’t paying attention for the better part of 2015 though, so when I started paying attention again, it was interesting to see what had happened while I was gone.”
What do you find inspiring right now?
“Most of what’s influencing me right now is pop music honestly, that’s where all of the real innovation seems to be happening. I hear beats like Max Martin’s beat for The Weeknd “I Can’t Feel My Face” and get super inspired by stuff like that, it sounds like a funk track from the late 70′s but it’s fresh. It’s a massive pop song by a massive artist and it’s playing on every radio station, but if you try and imagine that somebody just sent you a soundcloud link with this song on it, it’s a mind blowing song. And it influences me to make dance music when I hear stuff that blows my mind from any genre.”
The influence is clear to see on tracks like “Y.W,M.O.” and “Hurricance Slurricane,” which blend elements of funk, disco, and hip hop with Gartner’s signature sound.
Last year, Wolfgang sidelined himself from touring due to health issues. Thankfully, Gartner is rested and ready for the booth again.
Has your outlook on touring changed? Will you be doing things differently this time around?
“For sure. Touring had become the focus of my career and really the focus of my life. I don’t think that’s a healthy way to live. DJ’ing has been a passion of mine for 20 years, and I have to maintain that passion for it by not doing it too much. [But] I’m definitely ready to be back behind the booth. There’s a saying in this career, ‘you get paid to travel, you play for free.’ But on the flipside, I’ve been holed up in my studio and my little bubble in LA for like a year now, and I think I’m starting to become Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining.’”
Wolfgang’s comeback performance falls aptly timed with the seven year anniversary of Avalon’s CONTROL night in Los Angeles. “The last time I was in a club was the last time I played one,” Wolfgang jokes. With a legendary track record for commanding a DJ booth like a minister commands a pulpit, something tells us his return to the booth will be well received.
What’s your connection to Avalon and CONTROL?
“Control and Avalon have kinda been like my home in LA before I even moved here 5 years ago. When I was living in Austin and just starting up the Wolfgang Gartner project, Control was one of the first big shows I played in LA and it became a staple on my tour schedule. So there’s definitely a sentimentality associated with it, the club, being in the green room (which is actually red), it just feels like home. The crowd always gives it.”
With the re-ignition of his passion for DJing, Wolfgang is poised to reintroduce himself to the scene which is hungering for his caliber of talent. And with LA in his crosshairs, he couldn’t have picked a better setting to complete his triumphant return.
Tickets for Wolfgang Gartner’s performance from Avalon CONTROL are available here.
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