Ahead of his new album Time Travel, we caught up with acclaimed disco remixer and talented producer Gigamesh to chat about the release. Give the first half of the album a teaser listen above and check out more of Gigamesh here.
You first gained popularity with your remixes, many of which went viral. Which was your favourite track to remix?
I don’t know if I can choose a favourite – some of the remixes that are most difficult can be really fulfilling when I finally figure out what direction to take. If I had to choose just one, it would probably be a bootleg remix of Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough I made several years ago, if only because of what I learnt in the process. I essentially recorded every layer of the original song from scratch so that I could give it a heavier drum sound while not drowning the vocal line, and it forced me to really analyse every part of the song in the process. For example, the main melody in the violins is actually really dissonant and chromatic, which would sound strange in many other instruments but because strings sound so naturally beautiful, they’re much more forgiving. Discoveries like that are what I really enjoy about doing remixes.
When you choose a track to remix, do you go by songs you like, what would work well in a club, or in terms of what you could creatively do with the existing piece of music?
It’s a little bit of everything. I do consider the club play potential because I want to be able to play everything that I release, but there’s always a balance between making something club friendly and not alienating people who want to listen to music in other settings.
Did you start out in production with originals or remixes?
Professionally, I started out doing bootlegs and getting hired to remix stuff from there, touring on the basis of that. I’ve had an interest in making original music, but that developed a little more gradually. It was beneficial that I started with remixes, as it forced me to learn a lot of the basics about song structure and how to mix things properly.
Was it DJing very first of all or production?
I played high school dances and things like that but never viewed it as a career path, so I sold my equipment to my brother after high school and he turned it into a career. He now plays in Miami, Vegas and tours internationally a little bit. After I finished college, he was starting to dabble in producing his own remixes and edits, so I helped him out with that and we collaborated on some stuff. That’s ultimately how I got into production, but then I started releasing some bootleg stuff as Gigamesh around the same time and began DJing again shortly after.
What were your influences to produce disco-flavoured music then?
I think I gravitate toward disco because it’s the root of most modern party musi, so it naturally provides a lot of flexibility. Additionally, I feel like my music has always existed in the middle ground between what’s accessible to a mass audience and the more wonky stuff that I like to listen to in my free time, and disco is a good outlet for that because there is such a wide variety of styles.
Your solo album is very much down that path. Is the name trying to hint at some sort of disco revival?
Not exactly – the name is more of a conceptual theme that grew out of the lyrical content, which may have been influenced by some big life milestones while working on the album. In terms of genre, I’ve always had reservations about being firmly associated with disco & retro music in general, so I was aiming to be a bit more forward thinking on the album and branch into different styles without alienating people who are into the music I’ve released to date.
When did you realise you wanted to make an album of solo stuff?
I probably made the decision in late 2013. It came about pretty slowly though, because I’m pretty indecisive and often restart projects. In fact, the first version of the last song on the album is over four years old. However, I’m really happy how it turned out. It was worth the struggle.
How did you approach making an album differently to producing singles, whether remixes or originals?
I approached the album differently as a bigger piece. I primarily wanted to use it as an opportunity to present a wider variety of stuff all in one package. With singles, the tendency is to keep recreating the same success each time and a lot of producers end up rewriting the same songs over and over. That can work really well for some people and I envy musicians who can produce such an identifiable sound, but I fear getting trapped in one “sound”. I enjoy exploring a lot of different moods & tempos, and an album is the best vehicle for that.
Speaking of singles, the one that probably brought you out into the limelight was the one for Mike Posner. How did that come about?
That was actually my first paid remix. His manager reached out to me because I’d entered a remix contest for a Wale track, and Wale’s manager was also managing Posner at the time. I didn’t even win the contest, but he really liked what I made, so he hired me for Cooler Than Me. He sent several remixes of that song to radio stations and DJs were playing mine the most, so the label then decided to make it the single. It was right after Mike got signed to a major label, so everything fell into place.
Have you kept in touch to work together in the future?
Yeah, we actually just co-wrote something which I don’t think he’s going to release because he’s going in a different direction now, but he’s shopping it to other acts. He happened to get in touch with me shortly after I moved to LA a year ago so I went over to his and we worked on some stuff. He’s definitely a good person to know in the pop music world.
When you collaborate with vocalists, do you give them an instrumental to sing over, or write together from scratch?
It depends on the vocalist. Some prefer to start from scratch, but I really enjoy writing instrumentals with a particular vocalist in mind based on their existing music. It’s really fulfilling for me to write that way, because I often have specific melodies in mind. Plus it feels like making a customized gift that we then build it into something bigger and better.
Finally, what are your plans for the next couple of years?
I’m going to keep exploring what I’m doing on this album a bit more. I’m taking piano more seriously and practicing daily, which has provided a huge boost to my creativity. I’m also keen to use more vocal effects – I recently bought a hardware vocoder which I used once on the album and that worked out pretty well. I’ve also been connecting more with vocalists like Kimbra – nothing’s been released yet but I’d love to collaborate with her on some original stuff.