Gabriel & Dresden return to club shows and introspect on journey to, 'Remedy' [Interview]
Since returning from their 11-year hiatus, Gabriel & Dresden have only yielded gifts—translating their years of absence into producing high-caliber music filled with thought, poignancy, and malleability. Their 2017 kickstarter-funded studio album, The Only Road marked both their second full-length LP and comeback; drawing inspiration from a melodic awakening in electronic music, its introspective indie-leaning structure gained the approval of fans and charts alike. Within a few years, the Anjunabeats act then set about creating another album, officially delivering their third artistic full-length effort, Remedy on January 17, 2020.
Holding two studio albums under their repertoire since reuniting, Gabriel & Dresden now look to a new chapter drenched with the contrasting perspective of veteran DJs reinvestigating their sound. While The Only Road served as an expository dive into the mechanisms of nostalgic storytelling, Remedy takes on a catharsis that speaks in its forthright display of emotion, molding impassioned vocals into the palms of progressive energy.
In the Grammy-nominated duo’s dance gravitation, there reflects a shift in what they hope to bring to their current ongoing North American tour and the connection they intend to hone with audiences. With an emphasis on turning back to a more classic set-up, Gabriel & Dresden have opted for CDJs over Ableton Live, promised a minimum of two hour sets as well as select open-to-close 6-hour ones, and crafted years of footage into a custom audio-visual experience in line with Remedy and its theme of healing through nature.
Find Gabriel & Dresden’s Remedy North American tour dates here.
Congratulations on raising over $120,000 for Remedy through Kickstarter. What led the two of you to turn to your Kickstarter audience once again in the album’s creation?
Thank you!! The reason why we chose to do another Kickstarter was that we just enjoyed the whole process whilst making our previous album The Only Road and feel like the process of doing it really improved the outcome of the music.
When we initially turned to Kickstarter, it was because we had watched Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk called “The Art of Asking,” which she implored in this talk that your fans are out there and willing to help you, you just have to empower them. To this day Amanda is one of the most successful musicians to ever create a crowdfunding campaign by raising well over a million dollars from 25,000 fans.
When we launched the first Kickstarter, we were super nervous about it. We had no idea if it would work, or if people would laugh at us. But on the first day, we were overwhelmed with love and support, and before the 2nd day was over our project was officially 100% “backed.”
This love and support from our fans gave us such a warm feeling going into the studio to create music. We felt like us and our fans were in this together on the journey. We also having some of the backers in the studio working on music with us, whilst we had other backers who had access to daily progress and giving us feedback. It was a new and unique way of making music and we just loved it.
And that’s why we did it once again.
The concept behind Remedy was born from finding peace in nature. Was there any specific moments or events that inspired the need for peace? Is there any particular symbolism or purposefulness in the pinecone as the album artwork?
Just a week after Burning Man 2018, we found ourselves at a party in the woods just outside of Spokane, WA and were once again reminded of the awesome power that nature has on healing our minds from all the daily stresses we incur. At this event, the forest was essentially Ponderosa Pine trees and there were thousands of these pine cones on the forest floor. We kinda knew that the theme of our next album and Kickstarter campaign laid somewhere in the experience we had that weekend but weren’t quite sure how to put that into words. Then we looked at some of the pine cones we had collected that night and it came to us: “nature is the remedy” and we would use the pine cone as a means to symbolize it.
Going into the studio this time around, how did the production and creative process behind Remedy differ from The Only Road?
The production process on Remedy differed significantly from The Only Road in two main ways. One, instead of tracking vocals in the closet of our studio, we decided to rent a fully stocked studio in a quaint beach town in Northern California and tracked Sub Teal’s vocals with a classic ribbon microphone and an analog compressor and limiter. We wanted to really give her unique voice a chance to shine and there is something that real analog gear (and an expensive microphone) could do that software could not.
Conversely, we chose software over analog gear for most of the synthesizers on Remedy.. We have always felt like the sound you get from analog synthesis is worth the extra time needed to record and tweak them, but once we got the hang of how Steve Duda’s Serum worked, we were hooked. Prior to Remedy, we unfairly judged Serum because everyone uses it. It’s been used across the board from hip hop and pop music on through to every EDM genre imaginable, but we were taken in by its versatility and relative ease of use and we are very happy we dove in.
Both Sub Teal and Jan Burton have been integral collaborators for you in the past. Specifically, Remedy features Sub Teal on several of the tracks. How has that relationship grown over the years?
We first worked with Sub Teal on a song in 2011 for a compilation album called “Mixed For Feet” on Armada Music. We loved how her voice harked back to a bygone era of voices we liked from the 1980s such as Siouxie Sioux from Siouxie & The Banshees and Robert Smith of The Cure. She even had some resemblance to Nico from The Velvet Underground.
When it came time to record The Only Road in 2017, we were huge fans of how she had worked over the years to improve her vocal range and it’s attributes. And the excitement from our fans on the four songs she recorded for that album confirmed what we believed. So it just made sense to make even more songs with her on Remedy.
“Remember” contains vocals from a new feature Centre. How did you come to connect with the rising artist?
Our vocalist Sub Teal also had a vintage clothing shop in Spokane, WA and would throw very intimate dance parties in the store with her and Josh playing once a month. One patron was a guy named Brayden Schmick, who came by because he loved Anjuna and was curious about the events. When we found out he could play the viola we invited him over to the studio for a little bit of fun and planned on using him in that capacity on Remedy. A couple of weeks later he also mentioned that he was a writer and vocalist and asked us to send him something to write to, and a few days later we got the demo back with “Remember” over the top of it. We knew right from that moment that the song was special and needed to be a part of the album.
What are you most excited about for the Remedy North American tour?
The most exciting part of any album tour for us is to see people loving the songs that we spent so much time perfecting in the studio.
We have already had the chance to see this with the first couple of weeks of the tour, and as we go later into the tour, folks will be that much more familiar with the songs.
What changes to the setup can we expect?
Up until this point in our career, we have always wanted to just “let the music speak” (to quote Kaskade) and haven’t ever taken the time to incorporate any visual aspect to our show previously. With this album, we wanted to really take the nature angle and bring it to the stage visually. Over the years we have recorded a lot of footage from our hikes and also footage from the 4 videos we shot on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and we have gone and created our own visual accompaniment to all the songs in the show. This includes lyrics as well as immersive manipulated visuals. We now are firm believers that both the sound and the visuals need to be addressed in order to put on a proper show and tour in 2020 and we are glad we took the time to work on them.
You mentioned the shows would potentially see Sub Teal perform live. If so, has there been any special preparation into that?
We toyed with the idea but after crunching numbers and time we wanted to save the idea for a time when we could focus on incorporating her into the show the right way. Since we’re already expanding our live shows to music + visuals we didn’t want to take on too many things and not be able to deliver the best show possible.
Coming off a year of touring across festivals, venues, clubs and more, what experiences are you looking to bring into the Remedy tour?
We mainly played festivals and multi-artist bills in 2019. Festivals are great because you can play to so many people at once and gain new fans. But the experiences we had on the road last year probably won’t play much of a role in the album tour. As every stop on the tour is at least two hours, we will be able to expand what we were doing on the festival stages and be able to tell a much longer story with the music.
As we have already started the tour, it’s taken a bit of getting used to since we played for so many festivals in 2019 as well as Anjunabeats tours in North America and the UK.
As much as we love festivals, we are so glad to be back in the clubs. We just love to tell a story with music and that can only be done with a longer set time.
Any last words?
We would just like to thank all the people who have supported the Kickstarter campaigns. Without these backers, we wouldn’t have had the chance to take time off the road and focus on making the last two albums as fast as we did. It would have taken 4 years to make Remedy and The Only Road had we not been able to take the necessary time off from touring. This support fast-tracked us into giving our fans two albums we are proud of in half the time.
We also would like to mention that if any artists want some pointers in creating a crowdfunding campaign to help them get ahead in music, we’d love to help out. We can assist in pretty much all aspects of any crowdfunding campaign whether it be Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe or Patreon.
We are so lucky to be living in a time where this kind of collaboration is possible and we’d like impart our knowledge with anyone who’s interested in learning how to do it. Send us a DM on any of our social media channels and we will be happy to help!