Gabriel & Dresden release first album in 11 years after fans eagerly fund Kickstarter
When DJs Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden opened a Kickstarter last November to help fund their first album in 11 years as the trance music duo Gabriel & Dresden, the former admits they weren't sure if they didn't just make "the dumbest move in our careers."
It didn't take long to get reassurance from their fans -- within 37 hours, Gabriel & Dresden surpassed their fundraising goal of $30,000, and they ended up receiving more than $73,000 from 700 backers. And after the pair initially planned to release the album on their own without the backing of a label, Anjunabeats Records -- a hugely successful dance music label founded by British trance icons Above and Beyond -- swooped in after hearing an advanced copy and offered to handle the business side of things.
Though that lengthened the album's production timeline by about six months, it was worth the wait for fans who'd been asking Gabriel & Dresden to make another album for more than a decade. "The Only Road" was released by Anjunabeats on December 15, and Gabriel & Dresden talked to AOL about the unique creation process behind their second LP, which surely satisfies fans with a modern update to their emotional, melodic sound -- which many fans can say they directly contributed to one way or another.
AOL: What gave you the idea to do the Kickstarter campaign and take a different approach to making your first album in 11 years?
Gabriel: The real reason is the music industry has changed so much, it's really hard to go to a label these days and say, “Hey, give us enough money so we can not work for 4 months” — we’re two people and each of us have a family. The advances these days just aren’t big enough for us to do that. But we kept getting a lot of people asking when we were gonna make new music. And we thought maybe we could use Kickstarter as a way to connect these people that have all wanted a new album and our inability to make one because we haven’t been able to get the time.
What were your expectations going in? To get funding in a day and a half must have felt pretty great.
Gabriel: When we pressed “go,” we didn’t know if we made the smartest move or the dumbest move in our careers.
Dresden: It’s so true, we were so nervous.
Gabriel: It just could have gone either way. We even got some feedback from industry people who said they were scratching their heads. It was a gamble, but we felt those fans were there, and this was a way to connect. And getting ideas from people was a lot more inspiring than we thought it would be.
Dresden: We really built a community around making this record from the start, and we got to know our fans through the people who gave us money and interacted with us on social media. It was like kind of getting to know your customer, so to speak. And that was really rewarding to us.
If fans donated enough money, they could directly help with the music creation process. Could you tell me some more about that?
Dresden: We did two different tiers. One was a blog that linked to Soundcloud, and we called that the “advisory board.” And there was about 20 of them, and we let them in on full tracks and asked for their feedback on everything. Then there was also an Instagram we made private, it was more for the daily progress of what we did that day and what was interesting. And we ended opening that up to all our fans because we really liked the feedback we were getting from people. That was the most special part of it for me, the Instagram (@gdinsidetrack).
What were some other rewards for the Kickstarter that fans ended up earning?
Gabriel: The most interesting part of this process in terms of the Kickstarter was that we attracted two big backers who donated enough money to come to our studio with us while we were working on the album and make music with us. We didn’t know what would happen, but we ended up making two good friends. And so we have two of the tracks on the album that we made with two different people who we’d never met before ["Free Your Mind" with Nick Ford and "Jupiter" with Greg Tseng]. But they knew enough about our music that they wanted to work with us. And we’ve gone to events with them now and hung out, and it’s all kind of come full circle.