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October 27, 2009
Artist Interviews

dresden and johnstonDave Dresden is the co founder of the influential dance music acts Gabriel & Dresden and Motorcycle, remixer for acts like Jewel and The Killers, and the co-author of the dance floor hits “As The Rush Comes”, and “Tracking Treasure Down.”

Mikael Johnston is the founding member of the influential San Francisco breaks and electro house act, and Warner Bros. Alumni “Mephisto Odyssey.” Mikael has also collaborated remixed and engineered with artists such as Jane’s Addiction, Static-X, Los Amigos Invisibles, Soul Coughing; I am The World Trade Center, Smash Mouth, The Matches, The Sounds and Goapele.

Since their inception in late 2008 the duo hit the ground running with remixes of Lily Allen’s “The Fear”, Nadia Ali’s “Love Story”, BT’s “The Unbreakable”, JD Webb’s “Better Man”, The Crystal Method’s “Black Rainbows” and most recently Owl City’s “Hello Seattle.”

The Duo is not just a remix team but are both experienced songwriters in their own right. After a marathon of remixes the guys have begun working on original songs. The two have already collaborated with Nadia Ali for the song “That Day” and John Debo featuring vocalist Mezzo for the single “Keep Faith.” Future collaborations for their forthcoming album will include Morgan Page, Jan Burton, Jess, and David Penner of Andain.

Our ClubDistrict crew spent the afternoon with Dave Dresden and Mikael Johnston at a Los Angeles recording studio as they mixed-down their new track "Ciao Bella". Later that night Dresden debuted "Ciao Bella" to a sellout audience at Playhouse in Hollywood, CA. Look out for the video interview and behind the scenes footage of Dresden & Johnston coming soon to ClubDistrict TV.


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CD: You both come from extremely successful backgrounds, Dave Dresden in 2008 you shocked the electronic music world by parting ways with Josh Gabriel, the number one question on everyone's mind is "why the split"?
Dave: We both felt it was time to experiment apart from each other. We had achieved really great things in a very short period of time, but we also discovered a lot of things about ourselves that we wanted to do, that were not congruent with each other. Josh wanted to make an all-instrumental techno record and I wanted to continue to make more vocal songs. The kind of songs that make people put their hands in the air. Of course some day we may enter the studio again, or even tour together again. The possibility is there. We always made music that made us feel good and I’m sure that these feelings of nostalgia for what we did will drive us back into the studio once more, but for now I’m very happy with what I’m currently doing.

CD: Mikael, you have stepped into a position once held by Josh Gabriel and I must say, you did not disappoint; what was that feeling like?

Mikael:Well, what many people don’t know is that I’ve actually known Josh even longer than Dave. I’ve known both of them for over 10 years. Before Dave and Josh met, Dave and I talked about working together. Unfortunately, the timing just wasn’t right; I had a full plate with my project "Mephisto Odyssey" over at Warner Bros. When I heard that Dave and Josh connected and I heard their music, I was very happy for both of them. I don’t feel like I need to fill Josh’s shoes; we both have our own styles and production ideas. Some are similar and some are very different. I think that where all three of us are very similar is in our belief that everything starts with a good song. I’m confident that if Dave and I stick to only working on good songs the fans of G & D will embrace everything we do.

CD: Since coming together in late 2008 you both had the opportunity to work with many accomplished electronic music artists, Dave Dresden how exciting was it to work with The Crystal Method?

Dave: I’ve always admired the Crystal Method. As a journalist they were one of the first bands I interviewed. I always respected the fact that they were easily approachable and down to earth. Through this we developed a friendship. They were always supportive of the work I was doing both as a journalist and as a producer and recording artist. When I came together with Mikael last year, (who started out on the same label with them in the 90s “City of Angels Records”) they immediately embraced the project and offered us the opportunity to remix a song on their new album “Black Rainbows.” Ken and Scott are the types of people we like to work with and hope to work with again. People with extraordinary talent, people you can talk to, people you can relate to and that tell it to you straight.

CD: And Mikael Johnston, you had the opportunity to work with Nadia Ali, the voice behind "Rapture" and "Love Story", how was that experience?

Mikael: Nadia Ali is the most beautiful, talented, down to earth and professional singer I have worked with to date; and I’ve worked with a lot of singers over the years. I can’t really say enough good things about this woman. She is simply amazing and we’re both honored to have written a song with her for our new album. What makes this experience even more special is the fact that I actually got to sing on that song with her.
Listen to Love Story

CD: Dresden, you worked with Jess Brieden as Motorcycle on "As the Rush Comes", one of the most beautiful songs ever created, is there a chance that we can see another project between Dresden, Johnston and Jess?

Dave: Yes, that’s in the works actually! We’re very excited about this. At the moment we’re just trying to lock down some times that work for everyone so we can get in the studio. Jess just finished her latest solo effort and is getting ready to release it. Once that’s in order we’ll have a chance to enter the studio with her with big things in mind.
Listen to As the Rush Comes

CD: Your remixes are truly incredible masterpieces, how do both of you approach each project without stepping on each other’s toes?

Dave & Mikael: We spent a lot of time before we started our first remix (Lily Allen) figuring out what each of us was going to bring to the table and how best to work together, and that has only gotten better and become more refined over the months. We finally feel now is the time to really focus on originals. It’s through the remixes that we learned to work together and became ready to create original material.

CD: Now let’s talk about your original works, are they collaborations as well?

Dave: Yes, definitely… although the methodology often changes as we learn to work with each other more efficiently. Sometimes we work in the studio together from the start. Maybe I have some drums or a melody, maybe Mikael does and we bounce off each other. Sometimes one of us will bring an idea at some stage of development to the studio and we’ll both vibe on it. In fact, we’ve even traded parts over the net when we’re not in the studio if we’re feeling inspired.

Mikael: In the case of “Keep Faith” which will be one of our first singles, Dave had written the original idea with John Debo and Mezo. Dave brought the idea to me and we reworked it into what we have now. While in the case of the song we’re doing with Nadia Ali, “That Day”, it started as a demo I wrote 5 years ago that Dave liked and wanted to rework alongside our friend David Penner who is a founding member of Andain. We also just wrote an instrumental with Penner called Redhead, which started on guitar, yet has no guitar in it whatsoever. We never know where we’ll end up when we start something.

CD: Ok, Lily Allen's "The Fear" video, why were you two not in that video, I think a cameo appearance would have been sweet?

Dave & Mikael: We both agree! But unfortunately that song and video were written and finished long before they started having people remix it.

CD: As veteran producers you have amassed a lot of great equipment to work with, however; we hear Sara Cooper, your publicist, hooked you up with a new technical gadget. What was it and what possibilities has it created?

Mikael: Oh, you must be referring to her relationship with Dave Smith instruments. She had arranged for us to get a private demonstration of their new Tetra analog synth before it’s release. I think Morgan Page even had a hand in it’s design… We love that box. It’s like having a 4 voice prophet with sub oscillators and analog feedback distortion built in… All this in a package small enough to carry in a small backpack, and weighing only a few pounds. It’s really incredible and we got one of the first ones issued.

CD: You both have had great success both producing and remixing electronic music, Dave and Mikael, which single track of yours is your most favorite?

Mikael: With Dave I’d have to say “That Day” featuring Nadia Ali. Previously, I would have to say I’ve had a couple projects I’ve loved. Working on the Jane’s Addiction remixes, I love the Mephisto track "Some Kinda Freak" which found it’s way into the film Hostel (and I love horror films so that was thrilling for me) and a lesser known song I wrote called “Watch You Go” which Dave and I are revamping.

Dave: That’s like asking me what’s my favorite child; I’m not sure I can even answer that. I love all of my songs both past and present all for different reasons.

CD: What can we expect from Dresden and Johnston in 2010?

Mikael: You can expect a lot of surprises. Expect the unexpected. But of course we are working on a full-length album, which will yield several singles. We just finished a remix for the song “Hello Seattle” by Owl City, which will hopefully come out by early next year. We’re also talking to a few record labels that are interested in our music or production. I’d like to let everyone know we just launched our new website and Dave and I both contribute to this site on an almost daily basis. We blog about new stuff, we post tracks, teasers, videos, photos and free downloads (both past and present). We have quick links to our Myspace, Facebook, YouTube and Podcast. Our fans can also interact with us there by commenting on our blog posts or emailing us directly (and we do get back to everyone as soon as we can). You can find us at www.dresdenandjohnston.com

Dave: I’d like to make the connection between G & D and D & J, which means songs that mean something and instrumentals that take you somewhere. I feel like the last 6 months of us working together, I can say with confidence, that we’re well on the road to making that happen. We’ve really taken the time necessary not only to get comfortable artistically working together, but also making sure we’re able to work in a studio environment that offers us the very best in instruments and recording equipment, both vintage and new.

CD: Any thoughts on 2012?

Mikael: You mean the movie with John Cusack?!?

CD: Your best advice for today's young emerging producers stepping into your shoes for the first time?

Dave & Mikael: Listen carefully to what your favorite artists and the most successful artists in whatever genre you love are doing, and ask yourself, "why is this successful"? What is it about their production, songwriting, mixing etc. that makes this stand out above the rest and then try to emulate that process with your own music in your own style.


Find Dave Dresden and Mikael Johnston Online



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