After traveling the world as one of England’s top resident DJ’s with Godskitchen, AJ Gibson took a break from dance music, got a job, and started a new, humble chapter in his life. “I basically started everything over,” said a relaxed AJ sitting in his Hatton Park, Warwickshire studio. “I went through some changes and went back into the real world.”
About 12-15 years ago, AJ developed a friendship Adam White, who produced the Euphoria albums and was Paul Oakenfold’s radio producer for a time. “Adam was a very talented, classically trained producer making really good records,” AJ remembered. “He asked my opinion of his work, and I honestly told him they (tracks) needed a bit more bounce in them even though I was regularly playing his tunes at Godskitchen.” After inviting himself to work in Adam’s studio to possibly provide some fresh insight, which he declined, the two carried on their friendship but at times didn’t talk much for 3-4 years. “That’s when things really changed in my life,” AJ said with a cheeky raised eyebrow. “I met the most wonderful, supportive girlfriend anyone could ask for, and I started to entertain the thought of learning how to produce.”
Having gone into the studio years ago with veteran producer, Scott Mac, AJ realized that DJ’s can have an input on how a track sounds but he didn’t always feel this way. “We as DJ’s didn’t need to do that,” AJ bluntly said, “That was all left up to the studio engineers.” But, being away from DJing as long as he had, and still having the passion for the music, AJ began to talk again with Adam about what he wanted to do.
“I wanted to get with Adam, who himself had taken time off from the industry, on the weekends and bounce around ideas,” AJ said. After a few months of enjoying themselves, the two had a reckoning and decided they would work exclusively with one another. “Adam told me he hadn’t enjoyed making music this much in a long time, so that’s how all this started, really.” And, in the past 18 months, the two have seen great success with every track being signed and more importantly, Adam has started to come into his own as a newly rejuvenated studio engineer creating sounds he never before produced.
Going back a bit, AJ experienced some unavoidable difficulty in the industry. While DJing, and on top of his game in the early 2000s, the EDM bandwagon explosion occurred causing many producers and fans to give the Trance genre but a second thought for many years. Now that he and Adam have joined forces and experiencing a rebirth of sorts, the two are beginning to make their own niche in the industry by rebranding themselves in their own way.
The Whiteroom, which was one of Armin van Burren’s most successful Trance tracks that was produced by Adam and Andy Moor, was a very classic sounding song with orchestras and choirs. AJ’s recent remix brought a more tough, uplifting, bouncy feel and is a beautiful example of how their different personalities complement each other. “Adam’s passion is producing, and mine is DJing,” said a smiling AJ. “It’s that combination that is making this music so good, I think. I always said that if I was going to get back into this, I was going to work with an engineer who knew what they were doing, and to have met someone who has that knowledge and who you’re best mates with, well, it’s a rarity in this business.”
And, having that companionship and being able to push one another is an issue that AJ sees with up and coming producers who work with engineers. Many will simply use samples from loop packs that have been purchased from the likes of world-renown producer, Dave Parkinson, who works exclusively with Amplifyd Music, and basically copy and paste them into their productions. “If you’re going to do that, you need to make it your own,” said a blunt AJ. “There needs to be more creativity and inspiration when doing that.”
The way AJ gains inspiration of what to release is by listening to music during the day while performing his work as an electrician. “Adam asks me to send him a few tracks of what I like at the moment as we talk daily between studio time. I then send him a mix every month as well as audio clips of various examples,” explained AJ. “I view each track that we do as a portion of a DJ set instead of making track after track.” It is this DJ mentality that doesn’t pigeonhole AJ and Adam into one sound and allows them to imagine how the song would sound when playing to a room.
AJ’s two latest original productions, both released by Paul van Dyk’s VANDIT recording label, have been showcased with a guest mix on his VONYC Sessions radio show. “Krystalized” and “The Whip” are not surprisingly described by AJ as “different sections of a DJ set.”
“The Whip” was inspired by a conversation whereby Adam asked, “Are you cracking the whip, AJ?” thus persuading Adam into creating harder beats that he had never made before. “He called me one night very excited and wanted me to listen to the hardest record he ever made,” exclaimed AJ. “I was so happy for him!” With “Krystalized,” AJ and Adam simply came up with a melody and took it from there.
What is important to AJ at this point in his career is to become more serious in the way he handles himself and his music both publicly and with social media. “I used just to want to be everyone’s friend, but in this industry, you need to look after yourself and work with the right team of people who have the same values as you,” declared AJ. “It’s a tough world. If I’m going to be a DJ doing producer sets, I need to make music for every part of my set otherwise it’ll just be flat.” And these things take time. AJ knows that you can’t rush into returning to DJing, but he feels that there is still room for him in the industry to perform live. “I’ve got the CV, and I’ve been on the circuit with a lot of the DJ’s who are playing now,” proclaimed AJ. “With the addition of all the festivals and big events happening all across the world, I think there still is a market for me.”
With more releases on the way and a good friend in tow, AJ gave a little sidebar story that we think you would find interesting of a 17-year-old youngster named Mark Gillespie, who was an office worker at Godskitchen 20 years ago. “He didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, didn’t party,” AJ distantly remembered.” Throughout his time there, he learned about the industry. About 10 years later while Godskitchen was doing well, the now-grown Mark worked heavily on Godskitchen’s compilation album series with Sony Music. Mark discovered a 15-year-old Scottish producer on MySpace and approached Godskitchen co-owner, Chris Griffin about signing him, and came to an agreement to do so. Mark came back with the young Scotsman, whose name was Calvin Harris. Mark is now Calvin’s manager and is the CEO of 360 Management who have just taken on the legendary Pete Tong as their President.
It’s stories like this that prove to be successful in this business you must have a quality team of people around you who are willing to go the extra mile to do their part to ensure greatness. AJ has found that with Adam White.
“I always thought that this was going to be fun, and it’s turned out to be just that.”
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