GAIST are gaining pace. And Stu Allen and Adam Wagstaff are now finding their tracks on the playlists of the Techno elite; people like Claude VonStroke, who is a vocal supporter of the UK duo. The pair are very switched on and know exactly what they want to achieve – before they even got management and a booking agent, they’d sorted out their own label (Kontakt Rekords) to release an EP, a monthly podcast which is professionally syndicated, and played Sankeys Ibiza, We Are FSTVL and Zoo Project. A&R Simon Huxtable met up with Adam to talk about how the pair feel about blazing quite a trail in the UK Techno scene.
Hi guys, thanks for finding the time to chat to us at Decoded Magazine. How are you?
We are good thanks, After the amazing intro you just gave I think it would only be fair to say, uhhh, busy!
Talk us through your histories. How did you get into dance music and where did you guys meet?
For me (Adam) it began when I was 15 when I got my first drum kit. Percussion really got me engaged in music, I think even now that still shows in our productions and even in our sets. Stu has always been a fan of the technology, deep down he’s a geek at heart, anything with flashing lights and buttons seems to draw him in. We first crossed paths when we were booked on the same bill, our sets both got cut short and we went back to back. We enjoyed the night and instantly clicked – playing together became regular thing and it was only a matter of time before we ended up in the studio.
Did you click musically straight away, or was there a bedding in period?
I think it really was instant, people who were there at that first gig have always said that it looked planned, which in total honesty, it wasn’t because we didn’t even know we were both playing.
How did you arrive at the name GAIST?
We both were writing under different names at the time, but wanted to write techno which we loved. Weirdly, we were both committed to other projects that pushed us toward ghost producing for ourselves – strange, I know but it happened. GAIST being accent Gaelic for ghost and Stu having Scottish roots its just sorta fell into place.
I mentioned in the intro you were pretty single minded in your career. Has your ground work been beneficial in attracting bookers and agents?
I think having a very clear idea of what you want when entering the industry helps you get through some of the difficult stuff. Like when people are saying they love your music, but are just looking at how to exploit you and move on. It allows you to see past that as you only want to work with people that have the same goals in mind. We could just sell out and write music we don’t care about but what would we have at the end of it all?
Tell us about playing at Sankeys Ibiza – must have been pretty special…
Sankeys……..Its a special place for everyone who plays there. Its one of the few places in ibiza where the whole crowd are there for the music and not just to check in on social media.
Where else has been a particularly memorable gig for you?
One of our most memorable gigs recently was in a venue we had never heard of in Chester. The live rooms played host to a local promoter (I:AM), we were playing alongside Mark Fanciulli. He totally smashed it and we were on after. It was Halloween, 2:30am and we thought that the crowd would have very little left in the tank, But we hit the decks to a rapturous cheer and the whole place just went off! It was a bit surreal as we had been gigging for a couple days straight and we were pretty tired too, but the crowd lifted us and we just did it right back. We played till close and not a single person left the dance floor. Huge respect for Chester, we can’t wait to go back.
Lets move on to your DJing a moment. As a duo, how do you prefer to play together?
We often get asked this, its tricky to explain. We see lots of other duos play and it seems a little robotic and awkward. But for us it just feels pretty natural, as long as we both have some kit to play with we can keep creative which I think is key to a good performance.
Do you like to have a game plan for the set, or do you chose tracks solely on crowd interaction?
We always like to open with a statement of intent. This is usually a track we both love or an into we have prepared. The first 3 tracks for us are crucial, it allows us to gauge the crowd and see how they are feeling, We kinda let them shape the set for us. We never take our eyes off the crowd, its all about what they feel, deep down we just want to be on the dance floor too, so if it looks like its going off, we know we are doing it right!
Thats actually great advice, and some we see less of now with everyone buried in their laptops. So where can we see you play this year? Any New Years plans yet?
Our gig schedule is drawing to a close for 2015. We are moving studios at the end of November and so we have had to take a few weeks to get our heads straight. But with this comes lots of time in the studio playing with some new toys, and finally getting some of those ideas that we have come up with on tour onto a track. We have some pretty exciting projects in the pipeline and we can’t wait to work on them.
Can we talk about your productions now? I’m quite fond of your track ‘The Drums’ from the Damage EP. Just my kinda gritty vibe. How do you like to work in the studio? Do you each have defined roles?
Yes we do, While nothing is set in stone we seem to find ourselves working on the same aspects in our tracks. I always seem to be to the guy saying “listen to this”, it could be a bass line, a synth or a few chords. When it comes to the nuts and bots (as we like to call it) Stu comes into his element. It’s not always the case, but it works well for us. The best advice we could offer to anyone is another set of ears, just letting someone else be involved can move things along so well.
Which do you find naturally comes first. The groove or the bass line?
Bass line… For us it’s always the bass line. I think we need something to make us feel the track’s intensity. It’s just that simple.
Some of the sounds you use are insane. Like in Kode, how did you design that lead tapping sound?
Ha, that’s a interesting question, Stu was playing in the studio with Kode and it was lacking something, He moved to a CDJ2000n of all things, he loaded a few elements of the track into the decks and started to mess about. I suppose that’s where the DJ side of us came right into the centre of one of our favourite tracks.
Would you like to pass on any useful production tips for making great techno?
We still feel that we are learning something on a daily basis. Never assume that you know it all, Listen closely to tracks that you aspire to be like. There is no 100% correct formula as things are always evolving, so don’t assume that you’re doing it wrong too!
What’s new on the production front, and have you got anything out now we may have missed?
Unfortunately we can’t say at them moment, but 2016 is set to be our best year yet, and to say we are excited is a massive under statement
We’ve been talking for ages, and I’ve not had a chance to ask you about Kontakt, your label. Hows that been going, and was it harder to organise than you imagined?
Opening a label was something that we never thought we would do, But suddenly it became on option and we took it. It really is a million times harder than it seems. It demands a lot of time, and just recently we have had to make the choice between Kontakt & GAIST. But as things begin to settle down we totally intend to keep releasing, in fact we have some great material from some brilliant artists which we look forward to sharing with you.
Guys, its been a blast. We wish you all the best for the future. Anything else you’d like to add?
No that seems pretty much it, we are really are excited to get out playing in front of everyone next year, so if you get that chance to come check us out, come say hi. Thanks to everyone at Decoded Mag…….Keep up the great work.
Photo Credits : Johnny S Photography
01// PQM – Are You Sleeping (Matador Remix)
02// Kane Roth – Turn it Up (Iry Mix)
03// Sian – Medicine Man
04// Oliver Koletzki – Iyewaye (Hatzler Mix)
05// Julian Jeweil – And We
06// Stefano Pini – Obix (Fabio Florido Mix)
07// Reinier Zonneveld – Trackstomp
08// SUDO – Invisible Space
09// Belocca – Don’t Make Me Wait
10// Alessio Lerma – White Rabbit
11// GAIST – Frequencies (ADE Mix)