Getting to Know the Real Destructo at Snowball Music Festival
Bill Cosby once said, “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” When I think of this quote there is one man that comes to mind: Gary Richards. Gary Richard’s is the ultimate triple threat in the EDM industry—he is a big time producer/DJ and a mega promoter. That’s right he is both Destructo and the owner of HARD, which throws some of our favorite parties like Holy Ship and HARD Summer. This high-profiled man was in Winter Park, Colorado this past weekend at Snowball Music Festival and I got to meet him. There are a lot of bad attitudes in this industry and Mr. Richards isn’t one of them. He is actually the opposite—he is a composed, humbled, and down to earth kind of guy. It was an extreme pleasure of mine to get to know the real Gary Richards and I am happy to say that I get to share it with you.
What has your snowball experience been like? Did you enjoy it or was it too cold? No it’s been great. I mean, I just got off the plane and just kind of went into the tent. It started off a little slow but by the end it was packed. I have only been here a couple hours but it definitely was a great set and a great time.
Why was the set a little bit late? I have no idea they just told me I was going to go on a little bit late. When I do festivals, like HARD, we run on schedule. If they’re late then fuck ‘em they lose their time.
You seem to be a triple threat in the music industry. I’ve been wondering what came first: being a promoter or producer? Uhm, well at first they kind of came at the same time but you know I just started my own club called the Sermon that was a 6 A.M. afterhours party. Me and my friends used to dress up like Priest and tell people to “come to the Sermon” on Sunday morning. And, we didn’t have a DJ so I kind of took the reins. It was pretty horrible and nobody showed up but I kept at it and it eventually picked up.
How old were you and what year was this? This was in 1990 and I was like 18 years old.
Can you explain why and how you are able to do both (promoting and producing) so well? Well I think they feed off of each other. You know, most people that are promoters… they promote because they want to make money and you know its business. And for me, I promote music and I DJ because you know everything I have done is because I love this music particularly and I just ended up being really successful. But like when I program my festival its not like I’m programming an hour long DJ set. I’m programming over 2 days, 60 artists, and their sets and how they link together. I know how to program an 8 hour block, you know like on Holy Ship, what goes on in one room. I come at it not like who is going to sell the most tickets but you know I go “what is going to make for the most fun that I would like to see?” And then just everybody else and it just kind of fucking, people like it!
Everything seems to sync so well at your events. Where here it is not so much but it is still appreciated. Well I know, yeah. Everybody is doing their best. And you know, for me I’m a DJ so you know like I know what the DJ’s are thinking, what they need, and also think I am respected by my peers because it is different than the money hungry promoters. Like, I don’t think I’m that guy and I think everybody kind of knows that so it depicts the difference.
I’m starting to understand that and it is great to see. So, as I stated, you have been around a long time. What has it been like to see EDM grow so much here in the U.S.? I mean, it’s amazing. You know, 5 years ago I told my wife “daddy is going to retire” (he chuckles) and you know I was always a cool techno DJ and nobody cared and I was going to give my records to my kids and then I said “I’m going to do one more event,” you know I’m just going to try and do it… because I was in the record business for a long time and I wasn’t doing festivals and stuff and then no one buys records and so I thought that I had to switch to do a concert because it is a business, you gotta keep it going. So, I started HARD and it just went crazy and now the whole thing has gone crazy. To me, it is a lot sweeter because I’ve seen the ups and downs of it and you know, most people have only seen it the last few years. For them, it is like boom! And for me, I have been struggling for a long time and to, like, see it come through it is the sweetest thing on Earth.
And, I can tell because of your struggle you are much more humbled about it and that is totally respectable. Yeah, yeah. Well and also all the artist I have worked with, and bands, and things I’ve realized that if you are a real deal musician or whatever you don’t need to have attitude or rank over people. You know you just do what you do because you are good at it and you don’t have to like… put my name at the bottom or the top or the beginning or the end or whatever, we are going to do a good job. And you know, other people that are unsure of themselves they have to fight for their… because they’re unsure and they don’t know if they are good or not so they might act like they’re cocky. And for me, I just feel lucky because this gets to be my job. This is my job where I get to have a vodka soda and talking to you and I can’t believe it.
And, you are having an after party too. Do you have anything in store for that? I definitely have a completely different set. You know, I have been around a lot of times where DJ’s play the same shit over and over. I always try to change it up so I have a different vibe and I hope it works.
Your sound is quite classic—is it hard to stick with the house sound? Not for me. Like, I have a tempo and it is just a tempo. You know, when you hear a trap or hip hop song that I really like… I always stay at that house-disco, like, that is just my vibe… and I always think “oh I’m going to drop it after this song” but I might not ever do it because it fucks up the vibe of the song. And I’m all about keeping it smooth the whole way through. What is cool though is that it has come back around. I play a lot of times where dubstep is the thing and I think that people are getting burnt out and then they hear me play a bassy-house version of that, kind of, and it is still fun and got the low-end. You know, I got three rules: keep it techno, keep it funky, and keep it bangin. Those are the three things I have to work in but mostly you gotta keep it funky… like, if it gets agro… you know, it is kind of cliché but you want to see the girls dancing. You know, if the girls aren’t feeling it then why are we doing all of this? Who wants to go see a bunch of dudes dancing… you know, I would go to a Rage Against the Machine concert.
For me, house music is sexy so I definitely appreciate what you do. What is weird is that it all has come back around. When I started HARD it wasn’t really that thing and now it seems like that thing is what everybody is getting into so I’m just so happy because that is what I do because I don’t change with the trend—I just do what I do.
What do you think of the Colorado scene? Well what I have seen of it… I have done 2 or 3 shows here and the first show we did here was on a Monday night it was Crystal Castles with Rusko, and Sinden was playing… and like, it was a Monday night that felt like a Saturday night! It was like 4 in the morning and there was so much energy. The people here are amazing like they go hard and are deep in their music. We’re wanting to do more stuff here we are just figuring it out. I get it live it is a little more… seems like people like to smoke their weed here, it is a little more heady, a little more dubby trippy but I think we can infiltrate it with house in there.
My last question flows in quite nicely… I just got news that you’re throwing an event at Red Rocks. Could you give us a little bit more inside detail? We’re probably going to announce the line up by the end of this month and it is definitely a variety. I always try to mix it up but I think you guys will be really happy because there is some trap, some house, some techno, and there’s a little bit of everything. You know, I wanted to keep it in that dubby vibe a little bit but keep it HARD. I think the key with keeping it HARD is variety. You know, like we did a party in New York called “Turkey Soup” and it was like I started out playing minimal techno, Yelawolf did a rap set, then Flying Lotus did a funk set, A-Trak played hip hop, and Tiga played techno again… and it all works. So with HARD, it is like a melting pot but just keep it quality.