Wolfgang Gartner Talks New Album, Cat Cancer and Return From Health Hiatus
The California DJ/producer drops comeback album '10 Ways to Steal Home Plate.'
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. If you asked Joey Youngman, he'd have to agree.
“I'm getting back into dance music,” the producer better known as Wolfgang Gartner says. He removed himself from the arena completely almost a year ago exactly, calling off his tour due to cardiac trouble to complete mental fatigue. He'd never taken more than two months off at a time since he started touring internationally in 2003.
“It was just 12 years of pent up travel anxiety, and I just crashed,” he says.
Today (Jan. 29), he marks his return with his sophomore LP, 10 Ways to Steal Home Plate.
“As I made this announcement for the album, I was really caught off guard,” he says. “The amount of people that responded and said 'we can't wait to have you back...' I expected it to just fall through the cracks. I thought I'd been out of the loop so long, I expected it to just be over.”
The title reflects the album's diversity. Each track exemplifies Youngman's broad tastes and chameleonic abilities. You'll find everything from funk to disco, electro, and big house bangers. What you won't find is filler. It's his grand entrance back into the game, not that a year is much of a hiatus, but in the quick-moving waters of the dance music world, 12 months can be an eternity.
Fans might picture him holed up in his home studio, furiously working these past few months on the sounds of his return. In actuality, Youngman finished most of these tracks before his break began. So what's he been doing all this time?
“I just did whatever the hell I wanted.”
After a few months, Youngman was physically prepared to come back. Mentally, not so much. He decided to give “Wolfgang Gartner” a break for a full year, focusing instead on being a caregiver for his 17-year-old cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, who'd been diagnosed with cancer five years ago. His little buddy was involved in the production process of the album “quite a bit.”
“That's actually true,” Youngman laughs. “Just by being on my lap and providing emotional inspiration by purring, and then transferring that energy to me.”
Youngman read up on acupuncture massage and got really great at delivering kitty medications. As he cared for his cat, he bettered himself. The good news is, Mr. Bigglesworth is still with us, but that's not to say he was a crazy cat man 24 hours out of the day.
Youngman is one dude who can't let music go. He put together a collaborative project with some like-minded friends, and the result was some sultry, soulful, sexy R&B. He's always love Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, and Eric Bellinger, but he was surprised to hear that side of himself. It was explorative. It was redefining. It was exactly the change of pace he needed to clear his mind, boost his ego, and reinvigorate the 128 bpm beat in his heart.
“It has completely re-inspired me,” he says. “I couldn't use any of the sounds that I've used in these soul songs that we're doing in dance songs. I couldn't sample myself. The vibes are so polarizing, but stepping away from producing original dance tracks for the last six to nine moths, I feel like (caused my dance vibes to) bubble up creatively more than it ever has.”
He encourages his peers to take a stab at walking away, a sentiment that comes across on 10 Ways to Steal Home Plate's cover art. A little boy stands over a laptop, hammer in hand, a “warning” to the world that sometimes, you've got to disconnect to connect.
“I think there's a lot of bad things coming out of our increased use of the Internet, social media, and our increased use of these technological devices,” he says. “(Musically), I think the increasing reliance on just a laptop is taking away a lot of the analog sounds you could add that I use in my music ... Ease up all this stuff. Ease up on the social media. Ease up your computer. Take some time to walk around outside.”
With that in mind, Youngman once more dives deep into whatever it is he's missed.
“I'm looking back at all of 2015, all the dance music that was put out, everything that charted well and didn't chart well, new trends that are happening,” he says. “Once I've done that, I can go 'alright, here is where dance music is, here's wha I like, here's what I don't like, here's what Wolfgang Gartner sounds like. How can I make new dance music that's fresh, that will work in clubs but also work in people's cars and sounds like Wolfgang Gartner, but that also sounds like something from five years in the future.”
With the release of this album, he's relieved to know there are still people excited to know what that sounds like. Even more so, for the first time in a long time, he's excited, too.
Wolfgang Gartner's 10 Ways to Steal Home Plate is now available on Kindergarten Records and can be purchased here.