Published on June 25th, 2012 | by Amanda Stamelos0
Exclusive Interview: Joachim Garraud at Spring Awakening Festival
Before Joachim Garraud got up on stage to play his epic set at Spring Awakening Music Festival in Chicago last weekend, I had the pleasure to sit down with the Space Invader himself and have a great conversation. It was my first time conducting an interview with a world renowned DJ, so to say that I was a bit nervous would be an understatement. Thankfully Joachim’s jolly and friendly demeanor put me at ease right off the bat.
EDM Insider Amanda 1 : You have been DJing and producing for a while, what are your views on the evolution of electronic music?
Joachim Garraud: You’re right, I feel like a dinosaur sometimes. Because when I started DJing I was 16 years old, and this year I turned 43. When I first started, I didn’t consider it to be a “job”, it was my hobby. I first started DJing for free, and one day I was given the opportunity to get paid for my hobby. It’s crazy and unexpected that now, DJs have become main stage acts, we travel first class, we stay in 5-Star hotels, have private jets. When I first started DJing, it was a way for my friends and I to share music and have a good time—there was no business associated with it. And now EDM is making a strong impact, especially in the USA. It is cool how this movement has made us famous, which is cool and I have a fantastic life, but we just have to think about how in the past it was all about the love of music and it wasn’t about the money and fame. I am happy because the evolution has been great for me and I appreciate the fame that comes along with it. But I when I still preform today, I feel the same excitement about the music that I felt when I played for my friends back when I was 16 years old.
EDM Insider Amanda 2: Who has been your favorite DJ/producer that you have collaborated with?
Joachim Garraud: Many of the DJs that I collaborate with are my friends, so it would be rude to have to choose a favorite. David Guetta definitely stands out, but I’ve also had the pleasure of working with Bob Sinclair. I also love collaborating with Steve Aoki.
EDM Insider Amanda 3: How would you describe your signature sound and style?
Joachim Garraud: It’s hard to say because as a DJ, the job is to make people dance. At the same time it DJs help people discover different music that isn’t being played on the radio. When I first started DJing, I just played tracks that people never heard before. Now things have changed with the EDM evolution. DJs are becoming famous and more mainstream, and people come to shows specifically to see the DJs so they have to play their own hit productions. The people expect more “commercial stuff” or want to hear tracks that they hear on the radio, which for me isn’t what I believe DJing is about. I like to play my own stuff, even if it isn’t necessarily on the radio. I just want to share good music with everyone. It is great how the EDM evolution is putting electronic music on the radio, but it’s also great how there is still an underground electronic scene. I like how there is still both aspects.
EDM Insider Amanda 4: So tell us a little about your fascination with Space Invaders and the motivation behind your logo.
Joachim Garraud: (Giggles) I was looking for a symbol for electronic music because when I first started DJing, I did not go by my own name or show my face, so I needed a symbol that could be understood by everyone and all generations. So I thought the Space Invader logo matches well with the type of music I play, the electro, and there is a strong link with video games. This is part of my generation. I grew up with these types of video games. At the same time I was looking for a universal symbol. The logo provides no question of religion, sex, skin color—and this is exactly what EDM is.
EDM Insider Amanda 5: How has your classical training in piano influenced your producing?
Joachim Garraud: Luckily, music has always been part of my life. I started playing the piano when I was six years old in classical music school. After that, I learned how to play the drums and I was exposed to a heavy classical music education. But if you wanted to be a “cool kid” and actually have friends, you couldn’t just stick to the classical music style from a century ago that you were taught in school. So I started mashing music on a computer. Today in my life I have many hats. I am a producer, I compose music for different people, and I also have a preforming hat when I go on tour. These hats all fall under the umbrella of music. Today I am so lucky that I can carry out my job on my laptop so I can travel and produce at the same time. This way, I can create tracks on the plane, and that night I can play that same track on stage. This is an ideal and the dream life for me.
EDM Insider Amanda 6: What are your upcoming plans for the summer? Do you have any new projects in store?
Joachim Garraud: Yes I have something very exciting coming up. I am launching my own label in the USA—it is called Space Invaders Music. On September 1st I am moving “my mother ship” and bringing my family to LA. I am doing this because I want to make more music in the US and start recording in the studio. I have already made some tracks with Chris Willis, Steve Aoki, and Perry Farrel. And all of these new projects are going to be released on this brand new label in September. I am also currently touring and find myself in a new city or country everyday. My schedule is very busy at the moment.
EDM Insider Amanda 7: How did it feel to perform in front of billions of people back when you rang in the new millennium at the Cairo Pyramids?
Joachim Garraud It was a once in a lifetime experience. It was broadcasted to over 2 billion people through different TV channels. It was crazy to imagine that for thirty minutes I felt that all the eyes of the world were looking at me. In terms of production, it was exciting to perform in front of the Pyramids because to me, they are a huge symbol of the world and civilization. Especially enjoyed linking the sci-fi, alien, Space Invaders theme with the pyramids. And it was crazy to do the show in the dessert, especially for the turn of the millennium. I was in production for 18 months just to prepare for this show. It was a lot of work because it was for a long set. It is crazy to think that I was preparing 18 months just for a 5 hour long show. Only for 5 hours! If you could only imagine how intense those 5 hours were. Concentrate 18 months into 5 hours of playing for millions of people in front of you. The venue was so vast and open-from the stage I couldn’t even see where the crowd ended. It was cool.
EDM Insider Amanda 8: How do you prepare for performing for a music festival vs. a club?
Joachim Garraud There is a difference. When you are playing in a club you have two to three hours or so to bring the audience into the journey with you. When you play at a festival you only have one hour. One hour is very short. From the moment to play your first track to the last track it only ends up being 12-14 songs. So when you can only play 14 songs, you really have to choose the best ones. For example, for today I prepared a lot for my set because I know Chicago is very cool city. They are educated in house music and dub step and the new electro music movement. I tried to build a set that incorporates techno and house references to the brand new dub step sound. I was looking for the best options that I could play today and I chose about 30 tracks. So when I am up there, I will be able to look at the audience and pick the best songs based on the atmosphere and where the crowd takes me. On top of that I produced an exclusive video effect that incorporates references to “Chicago” because when you have a visual that says, “We are in Chicago” the crowd is just with you even more.
EDM Insider Amanda 9: So why the keytar?
Joachim Garraud Come on! The keytar is my baby. I can’t perform without it. The keytar is the best link between the audience and I, and it is a way to keep the music going. I am tired of seeing DJs play their pre-recorded one-hour sets through their laptop and just pressing the play and stop button. I do not like to “fake it” and pretend to turn the knobs on the decks in front of a live show. I like interacting with the audience, not minding if I make a few mistakes in the transitions. When I play the keytar I feel like I have a direct interaction with the audience. People tell me that my sets are more than just the classic DJ set –it’s more of a concert and a live act. That’s the best compliment I can get from my fans. When I bring the keytar on stage, I feel completely naked in front of thousands of people. The keytar pushes me to play my best possible and I like sharing that emotion with my audience.
Article by: Amanda Stamelos