Gareth Emery Takes on Bullying With 'Saving Light' Charity Release on Monstercat
The horrors of bullying are far too familiar for many people. Gareth Emery, Standerwick and HALIENE dropped music with a message yesterday (Jan. 30) via Vancouver label Monstercat.
Their single "Saving Light" is full of emotion at every turn, from the HALIENE's incredible vocals to the gripping production and lyrics that speak to the soul. The track also comes complete with the powerful music video below.
After being a victim of bullying for some time, Emery made the decision to use his talent to benefit causes that combat the cruelty that so many experience. To make his voice loud and clear, 100 percent of the first month's proceeds from the track will be donated directly to the anti-bullying group Ditch The Label.
Billboard Dance spoke with Emery about the track's inspiration and how he will continue to use music to take a stand against bullying.
What’s the meaning behind the title “Saving Light”?
HALIENE would answer this question better than me, but it was a deeply personal song for her, and my take on her lyrics simply wouldn't do her incredible work justice. But at it's root, it's story of one person helping another in their time of need, and being their "Saving Light."
How did you link up with Standerwick and HALIENE on the track?
This song really began when my sister and manager Roxanne arranged a writing session in my studio, with her, HALIENE, Matthew Steeper, and KARRA. I was supposed to be joining the session to write something new from scratch, but I was having a incredibly shitty day and was distracted by various work problems, so instead I gave them a fairly basic demo that Ian (Standerwick) and I had been working on and said "See if you can write anything over that - I'll join you in an hour." About 55 minutes later, they called me back in, and vocal for "Saving Light" was basically written. It happened unbelievably quickly.
What was the creative process like in deciding what you wanted the track to sound like?
Once we had the vocal, there was a lot of soul-searching to try and get the music right. We knew pretty much immediately we had a very special vocal, but at that point, our music was a pile of shit and didn't really do it justice. So for six months we kicked around various ideas. Should it have an EDM drop? A dubstep section? Literally every idea in the book was tested. In the end we settled on a very classic trance interpretation, and after considerable testing in my sets and nearly 20 versions, it was ready.
The music video is incredibly powerful – how did the concept come about?
Given the nature of the song, we didn't want a standard dance music video of Ian and I bouncing up and down at a festival. F--k that. So we started thinking about making something that would provide hope for those dealing with adversity. Bullying became a natural theme after that, but Roxanne and I are in our 30s, so we knew our 'take' on the subject would likely miss the mark. So we got in touch with Ditch The Label, who have the world's largest anti-bullying hub, and worked with their founder Liam Hackett to make sure the storyline portrayed this horrible issue in an authentic and sensitive way to the nature of bullying in today's youth. Lee Jones, the director, was the real star of the show though, taking a couple of pages of "ideas'" from us and turning it into such a tear jerker.
How do you think music is going to continue to play an important role in combating some of the hateful rhetoric that’s being seen?
It's important. I never want to get overly preachy, or diverge into PSA territory, but I think if you can get that balance right of taking a legitimately cool trance song that's going to be played at the world's biggest festivals this year, and add on such a powerful message, you have to do it. I hope we got that balance right.
When you were going through difficult times, what music or messages did you hold on to to ease the pain?
Knowing that other people are dealing with the same issues and hearing from those who had the same problems always helped me a lot. The comments section of the music video already has over 1,000 comments, many sharing stories of bullying - some people that have beaten it, and others that are still struggling. The YouTube comments section gets a bad rap, and often deservedly so, but some of the messages of support I've seen today are incredible, which also is a testament ot the incredible community Monstercat has fostered.
What advice do you have for people who are being bullied right now?
I'd like them to know they're not alone, as much as they feel like it, and as hard as this is, talking to someone - whether it's a family member or professional support group like Ditch The Label is the first step to getting out of this horrible cycle. I've had many dark times in my life, which might surprise kids who think "successful" artists have it all figured out, but we don't. And one thing about dark times is they have a way of tricking us into thinking they're going to last forever... which simply is not true. There is always hope even when you can't see it at the time.