[INTERVIEW] Gammer Dives Into His New Happy Hardcore-Inspired Anthem 'Roots', Featuring RUNN
Amidst the ever-evolving dance music landscape, Gammer stands as a pioneering figure, known for his signature fusion of UK hardcore and dubstep. He has racked up over 100 million streams on Spotify alone, along with igniting massive crowds across the world at the likes of Tomorrowland, Ultra, EDC Las Vegas, and Beyond Wonderland, to name a few.
A luminary in both the Monstercat community and the broader realm of EDM, Gammer returns to the renowned imprint, with his festival anthem “Roots.” Teaming up with the exceptional vocalist RUNN, the track will be synchronized with the popular online game Rocket League.
With a rich portfolio of achievements and a steadfast commitment to his craft, Gammer's influence in the electronic music circuit continues to flourish. In an insightful conversation with us, Gammer shared the journey behind “Roots”, collaborating with RUNN, and more!
Check out iEDM's exclusive interview with Gammer below.
iEDM: What sparked the idea for “Roots”? Did this initial concept shift in any way while creating the song, or did it mainly stay close to your first thoughts?
Gammer: I was mostly inspired by the early sounds of Avicii and Martin Garrix. Something about those productions just inspired a sense of harmony and togetherness.
Though the song went through many iterations, that concept of being connected at our roots persisted.
iEDM: How did this collaboration with RUNN get ignited? What was your favorite part about working with her?
Gammer: RUNN had sent me a selection of demos she had been working on and “Roots” was the immediate standout. I was on my way to collect my kids from school and as soon as I heard this vocal I got crazy butterflies in my stomach. I actually had to pull my car over to listen to it again because I couldn’t believe how good it was.
My favorite part of working with RUNN? The fact that we were allowed to just enjoy the process without red tape getting in the way. Too often, you get stuck with A&R and managers telling you what you should be doing or what needs to change. Having the freedom to just create using her amazing vocal made this a track that is pure.
iEDM: Why is RUNN’s voice a solid fit with the instrumental in “Roots”? How did you shape the bassline and effects to establish a sense of balance with her lyrics?
Gammer: Credit where credit is due – RUNN brought the song to me, not the other way around.
Such a meaningful song, I really wanted to do it justice by creating a track that worked in harmony with the vocals as opposed to just creating a generic hard dance banger with a vocal over the top
The actual process spanned over multiple years. I traveled a lot through Asia, taking in the culture of the local dance scene and how inoffensive the music was (whilst still being aggressive enough to work in a rave setting).
In the end I decided to blend Happy Hardcore, Hard Dance, Synthwave and Big Room to play more into that sense of togetherness that we all associate to mainstage at our favorite events.
iEDM: How would you explain ‘happy hardcore’ to someone who has never heard it before? Based on your description, what makes “Roots” fall into this category?
Gammer: Happy Hardcore tends to be uptempo music with big rave synths, pianos, and uplifting vocals. The genre has reinvented itself more times than I can count, but the general ethos remains the same.
Whilst “Roots” isn't a Happy Hardcore track, I definitely used the genre as inspiration. The big Euro Synths, the M1 Piano and Pad structure would be right at home in a Happy Hardcore record.
iEDM: What sequence or specific soundscape in “Roots” pushed you the most out of your comfort zone as a producer, and why? How were you able to bring this component into existence?
Gammer: That f*cking 1/16 bassline was more of a challenge for me than I am proud to admit, haha!
Mostly though, the challenge was listening to my heart and producing a record that *I* liked, without my then manager in my ear telling me ‘other artists won't support this’ or ‘this isn't as good as “The Drop.”’ This song means a lot to me because it represents me getting back to making something I loved for no other reason than it makes me smile every time I hear it.
iEDM: What was the process behind finding and weaving in the “1, 2, 3, GO!” sample before the drops in “Roots”? From your perspective, what makes this such a popular and effective vocal across dance music, or specifically happy hardcore?
Gammer: I'm chronically addicted to saying ‘1 2 3 go’ before every drop live. I think it might be a medical condition, really.
iEDM: How were you able to smoothly transition from such an electrifying drop to the breakdown in “Roots”? What advice would you give to rising hardcore producers on how to do this successfully?
Gammer: I tend to wash out my synths with reverb towards the end of a drop to signal that a gentler section is coming.
To up-and-coming producers – do not underestimate the power of effects (uplifters and downlifters). Transition work really pulls a track together, rather than just finishing your melody and walking away.
iEDM: On a personal level, what story or meaning is conveyed by the lyrics in “Roots”? What line or phrase do you resonate the most with, and why?
Gammer: ‘It's so easy to fall, lose our way in the dark’
With modern dance music culture placing so much of our self-worth in the wrong places (Likes, Views, Streams etc.) we are witnessing a culture of burnout for so many talented artists. This rings true for me as well.
I have been through incredible highs through my career, and I have been through some excruciating lows. When the lows happen, it is easy to ‘lose my way in the dark’ and get blinded by the wrong ideas.
I think it's important to remember that we are all artists just trying to make art and express ourselves. Beyond just my musician friends, we are all just people trying our best every day, and sometimes that feels unbelievably lonely. I love the tagline of the song “we’re in this together…” because I wouldn’t be who I am today without the countless number of people who have helped me find my way out of the dark.
iEDM: Why do you think “Roots” is a great match for Monstercat? What similarities does your signature sound and the imprint have in common?
Gammer: Monstercat were the only label to share the enthusiasm with this record that I have. That's why Monstercat is a good fit – they believe in the music they work with and show that through actually doing the work that allows a song to find commercial success.
SO many labels will tell you how much they love a song, take a huge percentage of it, and then don’t do anything to help it. Monstercat has always treated me well, and I’m grateful to have gotten to work this release with them.
iEDM: The cover art for “Roots” is very mesmerizing and a bit trippy! How would you describe what it depicts? How does the artwork reflect the sonic nature of this track?
Gammer: It's going back to that early Happy Hardcore and rave influence. The signature yellow smiley face. The drippy nature comes from the line in the song, ‘We all have our fractures / can't hide all our flaws.’ Remember, the song is about togetherness. None of us are perfect, but as people, we are all the same. Flawed, and beautiful.
My current manager cares a lot about branding and looks and has tried hard to start to create an aesthetic identity for me, something I’ve never done before. Realizing how much I love the old rave scene, old anime, and certain fashion houses has been eye-opening.
Translating the look of the things that inspire me visually, and turn into my music, has helped me find a deeper sense of pride for my project – and I’m so glad that this has started around a song I am tremendously proud of.
iEDM: What production techniques or plugins were paramount when crafting the instrumental for “Roots”?
Gammer: The running Synthwave bass was the hardest part of this record for me. I'm a big Synthwave fan and wanted to have this 80s running bass throughout the song.
In the end, I programmed it on an iPhone app and imported it into Ableton. Then layered it with my Virus C and did some fancy low-end work to keep it psychoacoustically interesting but also tight.
iEDM: If you could perform “Roots” at any festival or location around the world, where would you go and why?
Gammer: Mainstage Tomorrowland would be a dream come true!
I’d also just love to look around anywhere I’m playing right before the vocal comes in and see all the smiling faces, turn the booth monitors all the way down, then close my eyes and to get to hear people singing along to the song. I know that’s more a feeling than a festival or location but I’m excited to connect with crowds over this song.
iEDM: You have a bunch of exciting shows coming up! What are you most looking forward to in the next few months?
Gammer: I’m super excited to come back to LA in a couple of weeks to celebrate 15 years of my friends, Da Tweekaz. I’m also so ready to get to travel to Asia some more and eat some good ass food!!
Photos courtesy of Gammer and RUNN