A little over a year has passed since Gareth Emery launched his Electric For Life radio show as a new chapter in his enduring career. Fast-forward to this very day and the radio show has claimed a spot at the pinnacle of Electronic Music, leaving no questions as to why the legendary artist is frequently touted as “dance music pioneer”. We got to sit down with Gareth to talk about the successful first year of his EFL (Electric For Life) radio show, the ‘Electric For Life 2015’ tour and compilation, and his forthcoming artist album.
How have you experienced the first twelve months of the radio show?
It’s been pretty amazing. I thought people would be upset that we were retiring the Gareth Emery Podcast. But right from Episode 1 of EFL, people were actually happy about it. The Podcast was great in the early days, but the format and music had become tired. A year later, people have really embraced Electric For Life.
Could you explain where the name ‘Electric For Life’ comes from?
The name originally meant that you’d be listening to dance music for life. People who enjoy our sort of music don’t usually listen for a few years and then move on. It becomes their entire life. Even the ‘retired’ ravers I know who’ve stopped going out are still blasting dance music at home. So that was where the name came from. But it’s grown to encompass the values that mean the most to us. Amazing music of course, but open-mindedness to other music styles and genres, incredible parties where all are welcome, and doing good for others. That last one is important. We’ve already raised quite a lot of money via our Electric For Life foundation and that’s a big part of EFL.
Recently, you’ve rolled out the Electric For Life concept to some of the most illustrious venues in the world as a live happening. Could you tell us something about how the initial concept of the radio show turned into a string of three full-fledged events to celebrate its one-year existence?
After EFL had existed only a few months, I was already seeing EFL caps and t-shirts in the crowd. The Electric For Life merchandise was outselling the Gareth Emery merch from the moment we launched it (and it still is). Isn’t that crazy? So there was a lot of fan demand. We had already decided that my three arena shows would be all-night, open-to-close sets, so doing them as EFL shows made a lot of sense. After all, it was the first time people could come and hear the same diversity of music at my gigs as they hear in an EFL episode.
In a regular two hour DJ set, there is a lot of music that I support on EFL, but don’t have time to play. But on the EFL tour, you get it all. From downtempo and chillout right through to 138 trance. So these sets became the living version of the radio show. In the end, we added an extra tour of ten all-night club shows to lead up to the arena shows, and virtually every one of those sold out. It’s been a crazy few months really.
Can you unveil how much work it takes to produce an entire radio show every week?
The production process for a regular show is surprisingly short. After 300 episodes of The Gareth Emery Podcast, and 50 of EFL, I have become quite adept at doing the show start-to-finish in 2-3 hours. I have a great team that helps me a lot with A&R – they know exactly the sort of music I like. So from the moment I sit down to produce the show, they’ve already taken the 500 promos and releases of the week and whittled them down to the 70-80 that fit my taste the most. That helps a lot.
Nothing is really too challenging, unless I’m in a hotel with slow internet…. That certainly slows down the process. Also, if I’m in my studio, my mic sounds great. But when I’m travelling, I’ll record the voice-overs in my room. And not all hotel rooms sound great. Sometimes I’ll be piling up blankets and sheets to try and make my room sound more like a studio.
Going all out with these shows for the one-year anniversary of Electric For Life creates huge expectations for the celebrations of any future landmarks. Do you have any ideas on how to celebrate the next few anniversaries?
I think our biggest achievement this year was #EFLDAY, which we just did at the weekend. It encompassed a 24-hour live broadcast – with 18 hours of guest mixes from some of the biggest artists in the world – followed by a 6 hour live broadcast from Sydney, Australia. The response we got from the artists and fans was insane – Twitter was just going crazy all day. After a day like that, a lot of people were asking me what’s coming next year. And that’s going to take some planning. We are going to go bigger for sure. But I’ll sit down with the team in the next few weeks and work it out.
While you’re in the middle of your Electric For Life tour, you went on to compile a three-disc ‘Electric For Life 2015’ compilation. How did you find the time for this?
Quite honestly, it came from two members of the EFL team: Roxanne – my sister and the Electric For Life CEO – and Adam. They had discussed it between themselves to release an EFL compilation, but knew I was working on my artist album and on a major tour. If they had asked me, I would have said I didn’t have the time. So instead, they went and prepared the idea and then presented it to me. They basically said: “Look, here’s the artwork. It’s done, and we’ve already licensed all of your favorite tracks from the year for a shortlist. You just need to pick the final tracklist and it’s done. Just say yes!”. So I said yes.
What can people expect from this compilation?
It’s just a reflection of the best music from the EFL show and from the EFL tour. It’s the perfect reflection of my sound right now.
Would you say that the chosen records are your favorites tunes of this year?
Most of my favorites are on there, yes. There were a few we couldn’t license, but we managed to get the majority. When I listen to the album, it’s a very accurate reflection of the tour.
Why have you opted for the three parts to each feature a different genre?
It’s not so much a different genre, but the three CDs form one long set. The first is opening, deep and progressive (perfect for the car). The last is very trancy, the sort of sound you find at the end of my sets. And the second is somewhere in the middle. I just approved it as one long set, and each CD is a section of that.
Will your forthcoming artist album also comprise those styles or will you focus on defying those limitations?
It’s pretty varied. A few tracks are very deep, and that is definitely influenced by my EFL shows. On the other end, a few are super trancy, especially my new collabs with Christina Novelli and Ben Gold. But the album doesn’t quite cover as wide a range of styles as EFL. On EFL, you’ll occasionally hear a bit of melodic dubstep and I don’t think anyone is looking to hear that on a Gareth Emery album.
Is there anything really exciting looming on the horizon that we should definitely keep an eye on?
Album 3, which will be coming out early next year. It’s the most excited I’ve ever been about anything in my career so far.
Happy with all that Gareth Emery has brought to the table so far? This is where you can listen or download Gareth Emery’s ‘Electric For Life 2015’ compilation.