Following their debut in 2001, S.F. trance producer-DJs Gabriel and Dresden quickly gained recognition in the EDM scene for putting feel-good lyrics and melodies over progressive house beats. Shying away from one-dimensional beat reverberations on dynamic tracks like "Arcadia" and "Tracking Treasure Down," the talented duo had scored 19 No. 1 Billboard Club Play/Dance tracks and mixes by 2007. However, after touring extensively in the midst of their success, the producers Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden decided to take a break and focus on their solo careers.
Reuniting in 2011, Gabriel and Dresden lost no time assimilating themselves back in the EDM scene, releasing new tracks on Armada Music and playing sold-out festivals around the world. Dave Dresden recently spoke with All Shook Down about renewing the duo's chemistry, the importance of lyrics in EDM tracks, and how social media has come to play a big part in the group's career. Gabriel and Dresden headline ETD Love at the Regency Ballroom with John O'Callaghan, Myon and Shane 54, and more this Saturday, Feb. 4.
What's been the biggest change you've seen in dance music after returning from your three-year hiatus?
A lot has changed in dance music in the three years since we decided to take a break. Where dance music used to be relegated to either VIP "bottle service" nightclubs or illegal underground parties, now it's firmly entrenched in the mainstream with the masses. EDM now also has tangible stars such as Skrillex, Deadmau5, Avicii, David Guetta, Tiesto, Afrojack, Armin Van Buuren, and Swedish House Mafia -- artists that people who don't regularly go to clubs are familiar with and aware of. It also has a culture that thrives at the festivals and on the Internet. It's the talk of the live concert business. Back in the mid-'00s, most people asked, "Which radio station do you work at?" when you told them you were a DJ. Now it's something cool and mysterious.
What is different now when you two play together? Have you guys learned to work out the kinks that lead to your separation?
We respect each other's talents more. During the break, we each collaborated with many different artists and learned a lot about how to be good, collaborative partners. You will never see us fighting over the timbre in a noise build or whether we need an eighth-note snare roll at the end of the breakdown. We both now know when the other makes a stand for something, we should at least try it out.
Since you guys are back in the studio this year, what directions are you headed in terms of music styles? What different sounds/genres have you seen grow in popularity that you would like to incorporate in your new releases?
We have always strived to make music that takes you there. Write songs which mean something and talk to the listener on a deep emotional and spiritual level. This will not change. We have been listening to and studying a lot of dubstep and electro-house tunes and understanding their sonic profiles. Not to copy, just be inspired by. We have been experimenting with an open palette of sounds and textures and getting very excited with what's coming out of the speakers. We have our first single coming out on our label Organized Nature via the Armada label on Feb. 20 called "No Reservations." This track will give a nice hint to where our future sounds are going to lie.
What are your essential technological tools in the studio?
The essential tools for us have always been simple. We need two Mac computers, with Ableton and Logic, FXpansion - DCAM: Synth Squad, and the entire Waves bundle of plugins. We are on the road so much that we end up making most of our music in hotel rooms and airport lounges. We're putting together a great studio right now so that we can properly mixdown and produce the ideas that we start all around the world on the road.
You guys released Mixed for Feet on Armada last year. How do you manage to dwindle down all the electronic music these days into a select few tracks?
The process was simple. We chose moments that moved us. We stopped looking at tracks as entire songs, but more like 32-bar pieces of a puzzle that we could put together into two distinct sets. We also wanted to celebrate our history in a new context, which is why so many of the a cappellas of our classics made it onto the compilation.
Will there be a new album this year?
Now more than ever, it is important to make great singles. We made an album in 2006 and we're still proud of it, but we'd rather focus our time on making songs that have great impact and then collecting them annually with a few additional tracks to make an album.
What inspired you guys to release 8,000 Twitter Followers Bootleg Pack, a compilation you released when you reached 8,000 new followers?
We have always looked for interesting and innovative ways of giving our DJ mixes, bootlegs, and mash-ups away to the fans. The fans were asking for these tracks over Twitter for a long time, so we decided that it would be a cool way to celebrate the 8,000 fans who decided to put us in their lives on a daily basis by giving them away when we hit that milestone.