Gareth Emery has been one of the biggest artists in the electronic music scene for over a decade now, having worked with some of the most renowned names in the industry. He also has owned his own label, Garuda Music, since about 2009. Following his performance at FreakNight, we were able to talk to him about some important topics in our music scene: His latest album Drive, the DJ Mag Top 100, the cancellation of day two of FreakNight, the video of a girl signing for her deaf friend that went viral, and his next album.
His Recent Tour & FreakNight
Gareth has been on tour for his latest album Drive and has been literally everywhere at this point. “It’s been awesome, definitely the biggest one I’ve ever done. What was also cool is going to a place I have never been before… you know New Orleans, Columbia NC, Madison WI. Those are towns that don’t see a lot of dance music action, so yeah, it’s been pretty amazing.”
FreakNight is a festival that he has been to a few times before and he thought it was “awesome.” He went on to note that “it’s an amazing show to play at and the venue is incredible. It’s just so cool to see it get bigger and better every year.” Behind the scenes though, we actually were dangerously close to a repeat of Paradiso 2013, when his set had to be pushed back following travel delays. “We literally landed in Seattle seven minutes before I was supposed to go on stage.” But the real story of FreakNight came one day later.
In the wake of the night two cancellation, Gareth recognizes the importance of context. Much like the rest of us, he doesn’t have all the facts and can’t make an exact assessment as to how that should have been handled. “There are just so many reasons why a show of that size should be canceled. What I will say is: I do think when you are making the decision to cancel a show like this, it’s always key to really look at all the circumstances.”
With those circumstances, we all need to remember that “a death at any sort of show, or festival is an absolute tragedy. However, when you have the numbers of people in attendance that we get at dance music festivals.. this stuff happens because of the sheer volume of numbers. If you take 100,000 people all going out for the night (not at any festival, just where they lived) whether it’s playing beer pong or drinking too much at the local pub, people do end up dead.” Many people outside of our scene seem to either forget (or intentionally ignore) that “this is not unique to dance music. It happens at rock festivals and country music festivals”.
“When you have circumstances like a bad batch of drugs made it’s way into the event and the police genuinely believe if people go to the event they’re in much more danger than if they go somewhere else. Then I think that’s a legitimate reason to cancel the event.”
In the case of FreakNight, we can only hope the right decision was made.
Harm Reduction vs. Drug Prevention
Education is also one of the key aspects in making a serious dent in reducing harm to the people who attend these festivals, plain and simple. As the major data as shown us, the war on drugs has been an abject failure. “They just say ‘no, don’t do it,’ and criminalizing the people who do drugs just doesn’t work and doesn’t make the party any safer.”
It’s clear that there is a serious problem we are facing in order to get those common sense measures put in place because, “unfortunately once you get up to these levels, the people who make the decisions wherever these shows take place, you’re talking about major political figures who would have to appeal all ranges of society in order to win votes.” But there is light at the end of the tunnel. The best example is states starting to legalize marijuana. He points out that once you take that illegal aspect, the mindset changes.
“We’ll probably have less people doing it because it’s not fucking cool any more.”
It’s beginning to work with pot legalization, and we would only hope that further de-criminalizing would do the same for other drugs.
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