Figure Gets Spooky With ‘Riddim of the Living Dead’
September 11, 2019
September 11, 2019
As Wet Electric came to a close and Sunday morning rolled around, the sun rose and that meant it was time to recover from the previous day’s fun in the sun (or rain) and kick back at Shady Park for Destructo‘s Recovery Party. Gary Richards was ready for a relaxing day of chilled-out music and micheladas following his closing set at Wet Electric’s RB Deep Stage.
The producer and founder of HARD Events has had a lot on his plate lately. Following the release of his massive track with Ty Dolla $ign and ILoveMakonnen, “4 Real,” which has received a massive amount of mainstream support including radio play on our very own 101.5, and landing back on dry land after his Holy Ship! cruise festival, Richards just recently dropped the long-awaited HARD Summer lineup which was full of many pleasant surprises including the announcement of festival camping.
With his lime-flavored concoction in hand, Richards took the time to chat with us about all of the going-ons in his life including HARD Summer, managing the balance between business man and creative professional, and even divulging the creative process behind Destructo music videos. Check out the conversation below and find out the importance of playing to the weather!
You’re coming off of two Holy Ship voyages earlier this year, your Ship2Ship tour between both of those, and a massive showing in South Beach during Miami Music Week. How has 2016 been treating you so far and are there any highlights to your year?
“2016 has been awesome, I mean, we just got HARD Summer on sale. People love the line-up. We’ve sold more tickets since they’ve been on sale than we ever have, so that’s been really good. I’ve got a bunch of new tunes coming out, I’ve got an EP that I put together; did a lot of it with Wax Motif and we’ve got some vocals from Pusha T, E 40, Kid Inc, so I’m just looking forward to getting that record out. So 2016’s been great!”
Wax Motif was here just the other night. Did you get a chance to see him while you were here?
“No we were like ships passing in the night, we didn’t get a chance to see eachother, but we’re always working together in the studio. He’s awesome.”
Like you said, the big news right now is the HARD Summer line-up. It’s got a wide variety of house music, bass music, hip-hop. What’s the process that goes into curating the line-ups for your events and do you believe that there is a balance you have to achieve in the diversity of the acts?
“Yeah, I mean I try to mix it up and keep it a festival and give different looks. But the process is really just what I like. You know, I kind of know certain things go on one stage and some things go on the other, but I just kind of like DJing the Djs or artists. Instead of like doing a set, it’s kind of like my own, I know on the Purple Stage I’m going to mix bass and trap, and I know like on the Pink Stage it’s going to be house and underground. I just kind of plug into the spreadsheet what I like and try to go lock it in.”
A lot of times you have many up and coming artists on your line-ups. What do you look for in an upcoming or unknown artist and how do they achieve that spot on a HARD Events lineup?
“I just listen to their music. I’ll go on Soundcloud and find shit or people will send me their stuff or other people will tell me that something’s hot. At the end of the day I have to give it the smell test, I have to listen to it. There’s nothing on there that I book that I won’t make sure that I’ve given it the personal once over. You know, and just because I like it doesn’t mean shit, it may be horrible or it may be great, but I just go on what I like.”
With this year’s edition of the festival you guys have added camping, I don’t know how much you can say on that now, but what was your goal bringing camping into the mix and what do you think it is going to bring to the brand?
“Well, the location is a new location and we have a long-term deal there and you know, it’s a really large space and when they do races there they do camping. They provide the facilities, so everything is already there. I though, what better way than to plug it into this event. And it’s a two-day event and it expands, so it just gives us another element. I just went through it with my production director, basically we’re going to be able to do some things there that we just can’t do with a festival of a smaller size, so it’s going to be really cool. We should be making the announcement soon on what is going to be available with all of the camping, so I’m really excited about that.”
Building on your background a little bit, you used to do A&R for Def American Recordings. Can you explain what it’s like working in A&R and how your previous experience doing that you applied to running HARD?
“Yeah, I mean, it’s the exact same. I just get turned on to groups or artsits from going to see them play live, or other friends, or they would find me and I would listen to their music and if I liked it then I would try to sign them. The only difference with the festival is that it’s like you’re on a one night date and with the record label it’s like you get married. So if it doesn’t work out you’re kind of f**ked (laughs). You know at the festival, if they’re really good, they come again, and if it doesn’t than oh well, you booked a dud and you move on.”
Is it difficult managing the balance between business man and creative professional?
“Not really, I think for me it’s kind of like it actually keeps me balanced because I do both things. Like when I’m at the office and I’m just working and working, and then I get sick of work and I’ll just go listen to tunes and then I’ll go to the studio and do that for a while, and then I’ll be like, man, I’m kind of getting over this and I’ll go back to work. They balance eachother and I think they make me better at both jobs, because most promoters don’t do what I do musically and most music people don’t do the business that I do, so I see both sides and be better at it.”
Sounds like you’re always busy.
“Yeah, I’m pretty busy… and I have a family too, so that’s the third and most important job.”
Destructo – 4 Real (Featuring Ty Dolla $ign and ILoveMakonnen)
You frequently collaborate with rappers. You just released “4 Real”, co-produced by Wax Motif, with Ty Dolla $ign and ILoveMakonnen. What’s it like working with rap vocalists as opposed to artist who rely more heavily on melody and vocal aptitude?
“Well, Ty is really melodic, Ty’s like a singer and a musician. But it’s great. Everyone I’ve worked with is different and unique, and they’re all so good at what they do, I’ve been super lucky. Knock on wood, every session that I’ve ever had with a vocalist has turned into an awesome song. But, you know, whether they rap or whether they sing melodies, I don’t think it matters, it’s kind of the same. I’m always trying to figure out how to make a hook in the record that’s memorable, whether it’s sung or rapped, and weave the music around it to make it all one thing.”
Absolutely. And “4 Real” has a really great video to accompany the song. What is the creative process behind a Destructo video and particularly with “4 Real” how do you believe that video correlates with the song?
“Well usually what I do is I’ll send the song to my girl, Agata, who does the HARD videos too and then she comes up with some crazy ideas. I’ll sometimes give her themes of what I want. Like for ‘Dare You To Move’ I explained to her that I wanted to be in a car and this and that, and for this one I just kind of threw her the song and said ‘I think this one is going to be a really important record for me, do you think you can come up with something?’ I didn’t really have a concept or idea and she was like, ‘lets do the rap video, but like with a twist where the girl in the rap video kills you guys. Something where she’s the star, instead of you guys.’ Cause, you know, in a lot of rap music videos they always make the women look kind of bad. So she was supposed to kill us, the blood was supposed to be running down my head, and you see Makonnen throw up, and you see Ty, but with all of this going on in the world, I didn’t want to have this bloody, messy video. I told Agata, ‘I like your idea, I think it’s cool, but lets make it more colorful and make the blood pink and purple, and do something different, and that’s kind of how we came up with it. For me it’s just cool to get Ty and Makonnen together in the same room all in one day and be able to do something cool like that.”
And continuing on music videos, one of your older videos is for the track “Technology.” The message of the video is really heavy-handed and dark. With this one, and a lot in the past, what is it about G-House, Tech House, and just house in general that applies so well to these themes?
“Well, that one once again was Agata, that was like the first videos we did together. That was all her idea. I made that song and she was like, ‘I got this idea for a video for that song and I want to run it by you.’ She sent me the treatment, and I was like, you’re f**kin’ crazy, that’s sick. And I swear, I think the video cost, I mean, videos now cost 10x what she charged me cause I think she wanted to just show me how good she was. And it’s cool that it’s her, because a lot of times I get grief about that video, but it was her idea, so to come from a female. If it’s from a male perspective then it changes, but I got a lot of flak for that video, then she stepped out and was like, ‘I’m a female, this is my idea,’ and then it kind of took the heat off me a little bit. But, you know, it was cool, I mean that was the first video we ever made so… I was pretty hyped on that.”
Destructo – Technology (Official Video)
Sometimes you just have to go for the crazy ideas (laughs). Well, you just headlined the RBDeep Stage yesterday at Wet Electric and you’re about to go out here and play at Shady Park. Wet Electric was a pool party show and this is a daytime show; how do you think the atmosphere of a daytime/pool party show affects the vibe and the music that you play out?
“I love daytime events. I learned a while ago when I was on a boat in Australia and I was playing with a friend of mine that you’ve got to play to the weather. That’s kind of the sign of a good DJ. Depending on what the mood is, you’ve kind of got to feel it. It doesn’t need to be late night to enjoy this type of music, it’s nice to be out in the sun. But I’m going to play a different set today, not so heavy, a little more fun. Daytime vibes instead of something bangin’.”
What is your favorite track to play out right now?
“You know, all my new tracks (laughs). There’s this new track out called ‘Vibin” by Motez that I’ve been playing out, I played it out last night and it’s been received well. There’s a lot of new stuff from Dombresky. A lot of the stuff that’s on the bill for HARD. It’s weird, they go hand in hand, it’s usually what I play in my sets that I’m going to book. Herobust, I’ve been kind of getting into some of his stuff. Waxy’s new stuff, I played a couple of his unreleased tracks last night that I’m going to release on my label.
And finally, can you give some advice or a strategy for upcoming producers to make a name for themselves?
“I think the best strategy is to be unique and be relentless. Be original and if you have something really good just don’t give up. Keep at it and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away.”
There it is! Don’t forget to catch Destructo at HARD Summer this July where he will be playing with the artists he curated himself including Ice Cube, Major Lazer, Porter Robinson, Dillon Francis, Flosstradamus, Pretty Lights, Madeon, and many, many more!
Tickets to HARD Summer can be purchased here!
Photo: Jacob Tyler Dunn