Dave is carrying the Gabriel & Dresden torch while Josh focuses on his health, and he talks about how life as a duo can take on many forms.
It was only June when we last caught up with Gabriel & Dresden at EDC Las Vegas. At the time, they were talking about how things were starting to return to “normal” after the pandemic, but also that nothing was truly normal. Even with so much yet to change and settle into our new normal, there was one change neither of them expected. Only about a month after EDC, Josh suffered a heart attack and announced a hiatus from the scene. Thankfully, Josh is making a terrific recovery, and while he’s not ready to start touring, he’s been quite busy in the studio and more.
Since then, Dave has carried the Gabriel & Dresden torch on behalf of the duo. I got to see him perform the set of a lifetime supporting Above & Beyond at Brooklyn Mirage about a month after Josh shared his news. It was as if Dave was channeling the spiritual energy of Josh, and with the energy of two in the body of one, he was just unstoppable.
When Dave returned to Brooklyn recently, I sat down with him at Quantum to talk about all the news, all the changes, and life in general. As always, he was energetic, upbeat, and friendly. And there was also honesty and vulnerability that only comes from years in the scene and sharing a bond like the one he has with Josh. Make no mistake, Dave, Josh, and everyone close to them got quite a scare and immediately went into caring mode to be sure that Josh would be alright. Thankfully, not only is he alright, but he’s recovering swimmingly, and the Gabriel & Dresden brand is taking on a new life that may only come from near death.
Listen to the entire, near-seven-hour Club Quarantine Classics set from Quantum Brooklyn, read on for the full interview, and note that we finally found the source of Dave Dresden’s boundless energy – he runs on Dunkin’!
Welcome back to Brooklyn! How are you doing since Josh has been out?
Actually, we’re doing great. When it all happened, it threw me for a loop emotionally and spiritually. But I made a commitment to Josh that I would carry on Gabriel & Dresden. I told him to just focus on getting better. So he basically went offline for two months and really started getting serious about his health. Then about five months ago, he just called me up and said, “I’d like to make music today.” So we got on Zoom, where we make music together, and the ideas just kept pouring out. We were feeling very creative at that moment! I’m just really proud of Josh for how much he’s taken his health seriously. He’s super solid right now, and I’m really excited to be working with him.
It’s awesome to hear you say that, but it’s also impressive because you’re a duo, and you are two halves of a whole. You have different desires that complement each other so much. It seems like a really nice balance.
Yeah, he complements me. For example, the artwork for this tour was all basically Josh just doing his design work. I initially gave him a few ideas, like… remember in the 90s when we had flyers parodying Tide boxes and other popular products? I thought there was something to that idea. But then there’s also something to be said about Club Quarantine, and we asked, “what are some symbolisms of club quarantine?” Out of that, Josh started doing these drawings of stuffies. And I said, “That’s cool!”
I mean, that’s become the brand!
Right?!? And stuffies wearing sunglasses. It was my daughter’s crazy idea to put sunglasses on all her stuffies and put them on my DJ booth while I was doing the stream. And I’m thinking that she has no idea what sunglasses mean in dance culture! But yeah, he’s been doing a lot of complementary work behind the scenes, and, most importantly, we’ve been pushing forward in the studio.
So you’ve been in New York City twice as a one-man show. Your set supporting Above & Beyond at Brooklyn Mirage was truly outstanding!
You know, there are only a handful of shows that you’re going to remember forever. And that was one of them! It’s not usually in a non-headlining situation that I feel that way. But that night was so special; that was a beautiful night!
It was special! But tonight, you’ll be deep in the Club Quarantine zone with an OTC of CQ Classics. How do you prepare for such entirely different shows?
I’ve actually been preparing for this set since I started Club Quarantine. I’ve always had a handful of classics in our DJ spread besides our own music, of course, like 10 or 15 uber classics. But once I started doing the streams and doing them for ten hours, I pulled out different hard drives that had been in the basement for ten years and started building a library. So the preparation for this night was built on what I was putting together while I was streaming and knowing what songs I really fucking love. Also, seeing the chat room respond to different things. Like, I didn’t know Sandstorm was still that popular! [Laughs]
The preparation for this night has really been an ongoing thing, and the only thing I did for tonight was to narrow down the main playlist to the trance and progressive songs that were in it. There are 600 songs in the main playlist and 407 in the trance and progressive one. So that tells you what the lion’s share of the CQ Classics tour is all about. But there’s no Fatboy Slim; there’s no Prodigy. There are a few Underworld songs that I think fall into trance, but that’s really it.
The Gabriel & Dresden brand has weathered so many storms over the decades. What can fans expect to see from this latest iteration in 2023?
I do believe that we’re going to get Josh Gabriel in the DJ booth again this year. He’s been doing a few things around Spokane, just getting back into the swing of it. I don’t want to mess up his regimen. I’m very, very mindful of his regimen and how important it is. We’re creatures of habit, and touring is not natural. There’s nothing natural about waking up in a hotel room. There’s nothing natural about flying. There’s nothing natural about staying up all night. I want to make sure that he’s 100%. And that he is 100% on board before we get back into it because I’ve got this; I’ve been doing this for 35 years.
It’s not the same as when we’re together because there’s magic in our combination. There’s a translation of what Josh does that I can’t do. As we get older, I think I’m really honing in on what I know Josh will like. But I’ll play him something, thinking that he’ll like it, and he’ll tear it apart in five seconds. I usually say, “Oh right, how did I not think of that!”
We rely on each other when we’re together. But I’ve got this, and I want him to be 100%. I told him, “I’m totally cool if you never want to work again. I’d love you to tour again, but no pressure.” There’s also something to be said about not touring and staying home. Yesterday Josh was working on a new song we’re creating. He’s charging forward. If he was on a plane flying to Boston yesterday, he couldn’t have done that. We’re doing double duty this way.
Yeah, it’s nice when duos can do that.
It really is!
Aside from Gabriel & Dresden, what have you seen happening in the live music space? There still seem to be a lot of changes happening as a result of the pandemic. Any thoughts or predictions on how this will shake out?
I mean, it’s hard to say. I still don’t feel like dance music touring is where it was before 2020, and it may never be like that again. It’s harder to tour overseas right now. We used to do several tours a year overseas, and we haven’t since COVID. Most of the DJs that I know who were doing overseas shows are also not really doing them as much as they used to. So, I still feel like we’re not quite back to where we used to be.
Let’s wrap up with a fun, personal question. As a lover of the outdoors and wilderness, what do you enjoy about an urban jungle like NYC?
The chaotic energy. Like the constant sirens. It’s funny when I landed in New York, David Morales called me (cause I’m not dropping names). I had just walked out of the airport. And there’s a…
[Dave makes siren sounds] Woo, woo, woo! …he’s like, “Man, where are you?” And I’m like, “In New York. I just landed.” He’s like, “Oh shit, how did I not know that?”
[Dave makes more siren sounds] Woo, woo, woo! You know, like constantly! There’s a chaotic energy to the city that is completely unique to New York. And what I love about New York is that there are places you can go, like Central Park, where you’re like, “Wait, I’m in the city?” And places in Brooklyn where you can’t fathom there’s a forest in the city. You can find pretty much anything you want in New York, and it’s exciting to be here. I grew up here, so It always still feels like this used to be your home base. That will never change.
[Dave glances at my phone] Wait, this is all transcribing, live?!?
Yeah, it’s transcribing as we speak.
When I used to be a writer, I just had to fucking type it out, and it was so tedious. Gotta love technology!
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