British trance DJ and producer Gareth Emery is a man who does not shy away from discussing controversial topics with both fervour and integrity. The 38-year-old possesses obvious EDM passion and talent, particularly in the trance genre, in which he has won the coveted A State of Trance Tune of the Year award three times; most recently for his 2017 hit with Standerwick, Saving Light.
However, Emery is arguably just as well known for his forthright opinions as his music-making prowess. The Brit caused a stir back in 2013 when he publicly condemned EDM magazine DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs list, which markets itself as the world’s biggest music poll, typically attracting over 1 million annual votes. Emery opened up on Facebook about receiving an unsolicited phone call from a PR company who informed him that a competitor to appear on the list had spent $15,000 on Twitter advertising alone. His response was to tell his fans not to vote for him, and that each time someone buys a ticket to see him at a club, he considers that to be a vote.
More recently, Gareth Emery used another social media platform, Instagram, to share his views on the controversial topic of ghost production in EDM. As expected, he had plenty to say. It’s quite clear that Gareth Emery approaches the ghost production debate with an open mind, emphasizing that it’s a much more complex topic than the black and white way people in EDM often portray it.
Emery admitted in his Instagram post he has ghost produced several tracks from the Armada / Garuda catalog, and these experiences have led to a positive attitude about ghost production. Quoting him verbatim, “I don’t have anything against using engineers to polish up a track…it’s no big deal having someone else work on the production. Did The Beatles produce their own music? Of course not.”
In fact, Gareth Emery goes on to freely admit, with a refreshing level of honesty, that he has hired producers to add polish to some of his own tracks for which he didn’t have the time to finish due to his hectic DJ lifestyle, much of which is spent touring. His 2010 hit, Sanctuary, features Mark Frisch and John Galatis as producers. Additionally, I Will Be The Same, also from 2010, includes Emma Hewitt and Francis Hewitt in production roles.
What is patently evident about Emery’s views is that he sees a place for ghost production within EDM. Critics tend to not consider the range of factors at play in the production of many EDM tunes when they blindly lambast the practice of ghost production. Emery’s articulate post highlights that there is a real need for talented people who can fine-tune tracks and add finishing touches that busy DJs just don’t have the time for.
In fact, the use of ghost production arguably improves the creative process because it gives big-name producers and DJs more time to make music and write songs. All of these benefits occur while the ghost producer receives a fair payment for their work, so one has to wonder what all the fuss is about.
Gareth Emery is another name in an ever-growing list of DJs to publicly admit enlisting the help of ghost producers. If a man at the top of his trance game who is often outspoken on the issues he discusses can take such an open-minded approach to ghost production, surely critics will begin to consider the other side of the argument soon. Time will tell.