Gary Richards is a man with many roles. He's the founder and CEO of HARD Events, a company on the rise thanks HARD Summer, the immensely successful Holy Ship cruises, and putting together amazing parties like Go Hard Toronto across North America. He's also a full on DJ/Producer under the name Destructo with a growing pedigree of tracks under his name like the memorable future house tune "Higher", and his latest West Coast EP that went all G-House.
In anticipation of Go HARD Toronto at Echo Beach on Saturday, May 30th with headliners Eric Prydz and Dillon Francis - EDM Canada had the opportunity to talk to Gary Richards about his music, his love of Toronto, discovering new talent like Cosella, Go Hard, and even got a few time management tips. Check it out and enjoy:
How do you find the time to create music, tour as Destructo, and run HARD Events?
It's tough but I got a good team. I'm pretty diligent with my time. I don't watch TV (laughs). People always ask me if I watched Game Of Thrones but what I do is pretty much music, the office, touring, and my family. That's pretty much it, I don't have time for other stuff. But they go hand in hand as everything I do with the touring helps with the festival, and when I'm at the festival it helps with my music. It's all connected in some weird way.
Got any time management tips?
I just love what I do because I'm so into it. I don't wake up in the morning and be like “fuck, I gotta go to work”. Everything I do is fun and exciting. I'm never tired or bored. If I had a mundane job I'd probably procrastinate. But everytime I check my email, it's exciting. There's always cool stuff happening and it keep me motivated. You gotta love what you do and then time management just becomes part of your life.
A few months ago you released your West Coast EP and introduced the world to “G-House” (future house and rap) – what's your next project?
I got a bunch of remixes and originals I'm working on. I've got a couple of remixes from some big named acts that I don't want to say at this point. I will also have another EP ready for release in the summer time. Definitely a lot of new tracks in the works and have been working hard in the studio. I'm actually going over there in a couple of hours.
Do you have any ambitions to release a full length album?
I'd like to do an album but sometimes but I feel like people's attention spans aren't really there to focus on a whole album. It's weird because I come from an album background as I used to own my own record label. I love listening to albums start to finish but what I'm doing is more based in clubs and club tracks are digested one at a time. But when I have a concept that makes for a full album, then I'll make an album. But I haven't really gotten there yet. But I felt that the West Coast EP was a full EP as I thought that the tracks felt connected together and it would be something that you'd want to listen from start to finish.
When you first came out with your sound it was pretty ahead of its time and now everyone is doing it. We've got talented people like Tchami out there. Is future house here to stay?
I'm not really a sub-genre type of guy, I'm more into good music. You mention Tchami and he's someone that's here to stay. He makes great tunes. He definitely has a style and a sound. I've been asked this question a million times and all I've got to say is that the cream rises to the top. Genres come and go but its the artist that stays.
If the artist is making dope tunes then that's great. If people go one day and say “Oh, I'm tired of future house, I want to hear banana house” or whatever you want to call it – it's just about good music. There are so many different sub-genres and that comes and goes.
"To me a rave is an illegal party with a bunch of kids."
Good music is good music.
Absolutely, it's a proven fact.
Is HARD Summer a rave or music festival?
It's an electronic music festival.
How did the term “rave” get such a comeback? Every time I think of a “rave”, it's a party at some abandoned warehouse back in the 1990s.
Totally, that's what I always say. To me a rave is an illegal party with a bunch of kids. These festivals cost upwards of 10 million dollars to produce. I've never been to a 10 million dollar rave. For me a rave costs something like 10 grand to make. That's my definition of it but everyone else has their own take. I just feel like the word has a bad stigma to it and we're doing large scale events. In my opinion, that's not really what a rave is. But that's just my opinion and whatever people want to say, they can say it.
"I think the 3 best cities for electronic music in North America is L.A, New York, and Toronto."
Tell me about HARD Toronto, has HARD been to Toronto before?
Yeah we've done a bunch of stuff there. We did a tour there in 2010 with Crystal Castles, Rusko, and Sinden at the Guvernment/Koolhaus. Then I did a show at Fort York with Justice and M83. I did my Ship to Ship tour at the Hoxton. I've played Digital Dreams multiple times. Now we're coming back for this show at Echo Beach.
I have a huge lover affair with Toronto. I really love it there, I think the 3 best cities for electronic music in North America is L.A, New York, and Toronto. The people there just go hard. They want to party, they are always up for it, and they love their music. I play a lot of festivals and at some places I have to alter my sets a little bit because I go too deep then people won't really respond. But in Toronto the deeper I play, the more they're into it. They're really know whats going on with electronic music there.
In terms of lineup – how did you put the HARD Toronto lineup together?
HARD Toronto is there to give people a taste of what HARDfest but with using only one stage. I love hip hop, I love electronic, rock, house and all of these different styles and that's what makes HARD unique. So I just try to get a blend of a little bit of everything that we're about.
RL Grime is one of our key dudes, we love him to death. He's really come a long way. His big trap/hip hop sound is the essence of what we do. Same thing with Dillon Francis, he's a character and we built both of them from day 1. Both of them are from L.A. and they really represent what we're about. And then we are bringing Prydz and Big Gigantic, who are totally from opposite sides of the spectrum, but they all fit together. I've been good friends with Claudia from Crystal Castles for a long time.
I met the Cosella dude when I was last in Toronto at the Hoxton. Every gig I go to I usually get a lot of people coming up to me and giving me their USB drives so I can listen to their stuff. I try to listen to it all but it's tough these days with everything I do. When I ran a record label, that's all I did. But when Anna Lunoe or Motez were playing at the Hoxton, a track came on and Cosella told me it was his. We were both downstairs and everybody was stomping on the floor boards above us and you think that the whole floor will cave in (laughs).
"If I hear the track, and play it in my set, and I dig it, I'm in. That's how I found Deadmau5. That's how I found Calvin Harris."
When I heard the track, I said “Wait, that's your track?”, and when he said yeah, I told him that I played that track all the time. It got me excited to listen to his drive. So the next day at the hotel I was trying to find his drive and I couldn't find it at first, but once I heard that track from one of the drives, I knew it was his. That's when I knew that I had to get him on the HARD Toronto lineup, and when I told him he was just blown away. I even popped his track into my set the next night. The track was called Cosella - “In My Roots”, it's sick. That's how you do it, by giving people opportunities that deserve it.
Sometimes outside promoters come in to a market and they put together a huge lineup but they forget the local guys. So big ups for bringing Cosella in.
That's what HARD is about, it's about discovering new shit. That's how I've always done it. I don't need to see 12 other festivals booking Cosella to book the guy. If I hear the track, and play it in my set, and I dig it, I'm in. That's how I found Deadmau5. That's how I found Calvin Harris. I heard his music, thought it was dope, and I booked it. Nobody told me “hey man, this guy is going to be big!”, and that's what happened to me since I've been involved with electronic music. I just go in with my gut and 9 times out of 10 I'm right. I guess I've got a good batting average, and I hope to keep it going.
You named Eric Prydz as the main HARD Toronto headliner - how big is Eric Prydz right now? Do you think he is at the top of the game?
I just like his sound. I think there are a lot of people that are in his world, but are not as legit as him. He's just got this extra little thing that is a cut above everyone else. That style is something I'd like to have more of at HARD, but it's tough for me to find guys that are really quality like him. I just love all of his shit, including his Cirez D project. I always play his tracks. I'm just glad that he's down with what we do and I'm happy to get him involved.
As far as on top of his game, I assume so. We played together at a Digital Dreams afterparty at the Guvernment and I played right before him. I was playing full on G house, hip hop, house – and the crowd was just loving it. And then he went on and it was fucking awesome.
I really appreciate that you have such good memories of Toronto – that's awesome.
I'm not just saying that because I'm talking to you, I remember when I first DJ'ed there at this small club and everyone was in the DJ booth, everyone was having a good time. Even at the hotel, whatever floor I stay in, people there are partying. I guess that's what they do in Toronto on the weekends. Other cities are not really like that. If there's a big event then everyone at the hotel goes to the event. But in Toronto, it seems like the land of the night. There's something about that city that people like to have fun.
Besides playing at HARD Toronto, you're booked for Ever After in Kitchener, and the first FVDED music festival – you're very busy in Canada this summer.
I'm also booked for Shambhala in B.C. That one is really cool because the guy that runs it was on Holy Ship and while I was DJ'ing he asked me if I wanted to be in Shambhala, and I said “hell yeah!”. I didn't know at the time what he was talking about but then all of a sudden I was on the bill. I checked it out and it looks really cool. But I'm so stoked for HARD Toronto at Echo Beach, I can't wait. For me that's the big one, that's the big daddy.
Got any future plans for HARD to do more events in Canada in the future?
We're always looking to go grow and find places to do shows. When the right opportunity pops up, we'll be there. It's tough to enter a new market and you don't want to upset the apple cart of what's going on there. But if there's room for something like HARD, then we want to go and deliver. I'm a big fan of Canada, I've had a great run up there. I played on New Year's Eve in Quebec City for the ball drop and I was the only DJ there. There were 80,000 people there and it was insanity. I've got good connections up there and I want to keep it going.
My thanks to Gary Richards for the interview.
Make sure to grab your tickets to Go HARD Toronto which will be coming to Echo Beach on Saturday, May 30th. With a lineup that includes Eric Prydz, Dillon Francis, RL Grime, Big Gigantic, Destructo, Tokimonsta, Ethan Kath, and Cosella - it's going to be a great time. Click here for more ticket information.