Last Updated on Monday, 03 September 2012 22:03 | Hits: 1063
Josh Gallahan aka Rudi Dittmann has been writing and producing music since 15 years. He was taught classical music when he was young and has been living in Germany the last years. Josh is better known for being the right hand studio mastermind for ATB, who has been tearing up the dance floors with tracks ever since his smash hit, the now classic 9PM (Till I Come). Josh has been producing with ATB since 2001 and in that span has helped produce unforgettable ATB tracks like “Sunset Girl”, “Summer Rain”, “What about us” and “Chapter One”. He also has produced known artists like Talla 2XLC, Alex Morph, Kurd Maverick and is well known as mastering guru. Besides that he is part of the project “Jades” with unforgettable tracks like “Wrong medication”, which got signed to German based record label Kontor and Armada. In 2011, Josh Gallahan entered the Top 30 at The DJ List. We went for a chat with the German studio wizard.
Hi Rudi, how are you? Hi, just got back from touring and I’m already pretty busy in my studio.
Where are you from in Germany and what was your childhood like. How did music play a role for you? I was born in the Ruhrarea in a small Town called Herdecke, but I always lived in Bochum. My whole family is very musically and besides flute I’ve learned guitar and trumpet. My grandma played a few instruments and she started to teach me when I was 3 years. In the age of 14 I wanted to play my own stuff cause I was bored from playing Bach, Mozart and Beethoven all the time. Not the best music to impress girls... That was the time when I started to play drums autodidactically. But it was not that easy to compose a song just with drums. At this point I started to play piano, also learning by doing.
You had a classical music education. Why did you get involved with electronic music? Well, my kindergarten day friend Timo Becker was a DJ back in 1996 and with another guy they did their first productions. But it took them a long time to play catchy melodies. One day Timo asked me to come to the studio and I was totally stunned seeing all this electronic Equipment. Then they asked me to play some melodies and I sat down in front of the Roland JD-800. It was the first synthesizer I played with and I thought: 'Oh my god, who shall handle all this knobs and controllers?' I didn’t knew at this time, that the JD-800 has nearly the most knobs of all synthesizers... At this time I’ve finished my school with the German general qualification for university entrance I thought about studying marine biology. But I was totally fascinated from writing my own stuff and playing different sounds that I decided to do music, just music.
One of your early musical inspirations is Duran-Duran. Why is this and what one track fascinated you so much where you had to wonder, how did they produce this track so perfect?
o be honest, there is only one track I love from Duran, and it’s “Ordinary World”. This track totally touched my mind back in these days and it still does today. This track builds up an unbelievable feeling for me which gush’s in the chorus like a river runs into a lake. The harmonies are affecting and the arrangement is simply perfect. And I love the guitar in the solo part. A stunning melody. That’s what I feel when I hear Ordinary World.
What artists from EDM inspired you in the 90s and why? A lot. I grew up in the middle of a newborn music scenery. A lot of the EDM started back in Germany and the big raves in old and dirty factories where totally defining for me. But I think that Jam & Spoon, Snap! inspired me most, just to name a few.
How were you able to get a foot into the dance music scene? You started to produce with ATB in 2002. How did you meet and how has your relationship with Andre developed over the years? Andre and I met first in 2000 and we went to some clubs in our city just to party. So it started with a friendship. One day he had a serious technical problem in his studio and I fixed it. To double-check everything I played a melody on the keyboard just to make sure, that all things where functional. Andre heard the melody and said? What is it? You have to record it. That’s what I did and that out of that our first track “Halcyon” accrued.
What is the most important thing you have learned from Andre for music and in life? I’ve learned how important it is to work with people that are down to earth, loyal and not envious. For me that’s the most important thing when I start working with people. When you recognize that somebody is not on the same wavelength it’s nearly impossible to be creative. But for sure I’ve learned a lot during producing with Andre. He has so much experience in the studio and on stage. He showed me how to stay creative, to work fast, to be critical with your own work, to get out of uncreative phases and how to reinvent yourself from time to time.
How would you describe your sound? Would you ever consider taking your sound in another direction in the future? As a producer it’s totally important for me to work in different directions. It gives me the opportunity to mix these directions to a new sound what’s fantastic. As producer I have a rule: If you don’t go forward, you go backwards. And also as artist Josh Gallahan it’s necessary to move my sound in a new direction. Music a creative thing and you never know what ideas you’ll get tomorrow. Never say never.
How would you describe the studio relationship with ATB? Do you guys have certain roles? Is this the classic producer/DJ relationship or is it deeper?
Andre and I we have our strength in different areas. That’s great because of this we are complementary. I’m quite fast when we need a special sound; Andre has always a very clear idea of how it should sound in the end. So it’s mostly a very fast process to capture the ideas. When it comes to the producing site, it depends on the track. What we often do is to work separated on a track. It’s great because after 5 hours it’s not easy to judge a track, an arrangement or the sound of a production. But if someone with fresh ears enters the studio, it’s amazing! In between 5 minutes you have an analysis of the track and that’s absolutely invaluable!
In 2005, you produced two trance anthems “Manifesto” and “Carry me” with hard trance pope Talla 2XLC. What was it like working with him in the studio? It was really nice to work with Talla. He was in a situation where he seemed to reinvent himself and so this collaboration was a kind of experiment. But I think it worked well. We never met before and so we both didn’t know what we could expect.
Was their any reason why you broke off your working relationship with Talla 2XLC? After “Manifesto” and “Carry me” we’ve had a lot of changes in our company. That time I decided to focus on my own stuff and we’ve lost sight of each other. Talla and I are still friends, but sound wise we’ve developed in different directions.
Your project Josh Gallahan started out well for with two hot tracks “1st Strike” and “Resistance”. Were you surprised by the big success of the tracks? For me it was a big challenge after 12 years of producing music to go on stage and to present your own music and your own project. And for sure I was really happy about the success of these tracks. I tried to expect not too much and it feels even better when you recognize, that the people love your track.
Both tracks were signed to Kontor Records. Was there a special story how you got signed by this famous German Label? Well, I know Jens Thele (CEO Kontor Records) for many years and we worked together because of ATB since years. I think it was just a question of time that we would start collaboration.
“Sternwanderer” is one of my favourite songs on “Distant Earth”. This is a real gorgeous ambient track. When listening, it seems you can imagine a story being played out. For this track you have used your alias “Anova”. What inspired you behind this track and did you have to bleed a lot in making this track? Sternwanderer (Enlish: star walker) is a very important track to me. That’s the reason I decided to use my alias “Anova”. We wanted to create a feeling, which transposes the listener into another world and fades down all things around. Btw: It’s inherent part of my in-flight relaxation playlist on my iPod. It takes me to another dimension.
Your newest track “Chapter One” is really a fantastic track with so much energy, the way a trance track should always be. There is a fine catchy melody in the break. In all a very well produced track. What inspired you too make this track and what was the most difficult part of the track while making it? Sometimes I don’t know where my inspiration is coming from. I just recognized, that I’m much more creative in the evening and late at night. All daily things are done, no more phone calls. A glass of wine, dimed and cosy lights and I’m ready to be creative.
But for sure inspiration has a base, and I think, that touring inspires me all the time. You collect so many impressions when you are that often on the road that they are slipping directly into the music. The most difficult part was the decision: what melody is the best. It’s funny, sometimes I’m playing 10 melodies and after a while I’m not able to judge which one I should take. At this point I send my stuff to Andre. Fresh ears, fresh mind, and in the end it works.
Will this track get any remixes and if so, from which artists can we await remixes? For myself I have a lot of ideas to work on “Chapter One” again to make a new remix. But I need a little more time to take one step back to reinvent a new version.
Your new remix of ATBs "Killing Me Inside" is released on the ATB - Distant Earth Remixed album. How do you approach such a remix? I absolutely love Sean Ryan’s voice and before I started the remix, I had a lot of ideas about it. I started with some beats to get a better feeling for the track. The original version is about 124 BPM and I wanted to make a more danceable version. So I stretched the vocals to 130 BPM. After that I was looking for a melody that transports the heavenly and emotional feeling oft the vocals to the instrumental part. And I think, that’s the typical element I’m trying to place in every track I’m doing.
You also made a worldwide very successful remix of Axwell's "Heart is King". What can the people expect at in the second half of 2011? Right now I’m sitting on some remixes and I’m pretty busy to collect ideas for my new single, which will be released this year. On the other hand I’m touring a lot till the end of 2011. So lots of new music, lots of gigs worldwide and in between I’m doing a lot of mastering for different projects like Eddie Thoneick, Dabruck & Klein, Moguai and many more.
For all technical freaks out there, what studio equipment do you have? I’m an Apple follower. I use Logic Pro on my Mac Pro and a lot of plugins. I’m in love with my access Virus TI, my Yamaha NS-10 and my Event 20/20 monitors. Years ago I had a big studio with mixers and stuff like that. Nowadays you don’t need this setup. On the road I’m working with my MacBook pro, the Korg Micro Key and my Audiotechnica Headphone.
Besides the PC, with what piece of equipment could you not live without? Very easy: My Access Virus TI. Christoph Kemper, mastermind of access music and founder of this masterpiece, is a very good friend of mine and as he showed me his “baby” first time, I fell in love with it. The integration is great and the sound simply amazing. I love it when I get so many possibilities like in this machine.
What is your biggest strength in the studio? Hm... not easy to judge it’s own strength. But I would say, that I’m really good in assembling ideas of other people. When I work for example with Kurd Maverick and he explains me his sound idea, I’m really quick in realizing it. That’s very important for me cause if you need too long for every step it will stop your creativity and that’s the worst thing can happen. Let’s say, I have a toolbox in my head, which allows me to create nearly every sound, and feeling I need. On the other hand lets talk about my enervations. Sometimes I’m on a point where I don’t know how to go on. No ideas, no nothing. Either I stop working and start a new try the next day or I ask Andre (ATB) for his opinion and mostly he hears my stuff the first time and has thousands of new ideas. That makes a team complete.
With what musician would you like to be locked in the studio with for 24 hours? Madonna.
You are not only a famous producer, also as DJ you are performing all around the globe. How do you prepare yourself for your gigs? Do you have a special ritual? Are you still nervous? Two hours before my gig starts I’m always sitting in my hotel room, listening to the current hottest tracks to get into the mood and to feel the energy of the music even before starting the show. And, to be honest, I’m still a bit nervous before going on stage. For me that’s kind of necessary to push myself to the limit. But after the 2nd transition I’m getting more relaxed and I’m full of adrenaline.
Your sets are very energetically. One could almost think you have exactly the right track for the right time. How do you decide what track you will play as next during your set? I’m always trying to read the crowd when I’m entering the venue. That’s the reason why I’m trying to be there one hour before I start. This gives me the opportunity to study the crowd and to decide, what direction I’m going that night. When I’m on stage I’m studying the crowd while spinning, too. That helps me to choose the right track at the right time.
I can imagine that you're getting tons of new tracks and promos. How has a track to be, to go into the DJ case of Josh Gallahan? For me music is a very emotional thing. A track has to touch me in any way. No matter if it’s a moving melody or a catchy groove. I’m very open-minded when it comes to music. When I close my eyes and I’m starting to forget things around me, it’s a pretty good sign.
You are well known for your direct interaction with the audience during your performances. How do you stay in contact with your fans worldwide when you are not touring? Well, I think the magic word is “social networks”. Fans will find me on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/joshgallahan) and on twitter (http://twitter.com/joshgallahan). For me it’s very important to have a direct contact to the people. There’s nothing better than getting unfiltered reactions and opinions from the crowd. That’s the reason why I’m doing all my social network stuff by myself.
What do you think about the German Trance scene? It has been suffering since years. It has a strong and healthy underground scene with producers like ATB, Blank & Jones, Talla 2XLC, Martin Roth, Kyau & Albert, Marc van Linden, Ronski Speed, Stoneface & Terminal etc doing all they can to keep trance alive in Germany. The German trance scene is an interesting thing. On one hand we have a lot of worldwide sappers of EDM, on the other hand, Trance gets no medial support in out country. Sunshine Live, the No.1 EDM radio station, is the exception. Our neighbours from the Netherlands are getting much more support for Trance music. They have hundreds of big trance festivals; we do have more mixed festivals like Nature One, Mayday or Sonne Mond Sterne. It’s kind of strange: The prophet has no honour in his own country.
You're played beneath others at huge festivals like Nature One, Germany; Cifco San Salvador; Autodromo Ecocentro Queretaro, Mexico or Electro City in Poland. How is it to stand in front of so many people? Is it a big difference to play on such huge festivals or at clubs? Are you still nervous before you're playing? Well, it’s always a great feeling to stand in front of 10.000 people and to be honest, I’m always kind of nervous. But after the 2nd track I can feel the energy from the crowd slop over me and from this point I’m just happy and full of adrenaline. Gigs at a club are mostly different. It’s a more intimate feeling, the crowd is very near, the sound is very direct and the whole atmosphere is different.
What are your five all time favourite tracks? Energy 52 – Café del mar (Three N One RMX) BBE – Seven Days One Week Andain – Beautiful Things (Gabriel and Dresden unplugged Mix) Nalin & Kane – Beachball Jones & Stephenson – The first rebirth
What are your current five favourite tracks? Kaskade feat. Mindy Gledhill – Eyes (Extended Mix) Adele – Set fire to the rain (Thomas Gold Mix) Mike Koglin vs. Genix – Helion (Norin Rad Remix) Estiva - Next Level (Original Mix) ATB feat. Sean Ryan – Killing me inside (Josh Gallahan RMX)
Where do you see yourself in five years? In 5 years I’m quite sure that I’m still on stage and in my studio. There’s much more to come. In addition to that I can imagine producing new talents and writing tracks in other genres like pop music. But one thing is
To conclude, what do you do to relax? I love playing basketball. I started when I was 10 and I can’t live without it. To leave the daily live behind there’s nothing better for me. I have a basketball hoop in my garden. Best thing you can do if you need a break from studio work. Besides this I love hanging out with my family or friends having a good time. And of course I love fighting with my dog.