Interview: Galtier

Interview: Galtier

Geelong’s Galtier has an open-faced attitude to production, drawn from years of genre-traversing experience on the DJing circuit, and gathered influences from beyond the Continent.

Geelong-based avant-club producer Galtier (Jiah Wells) is a rarity on the Australian contemporary electronic music scene at the moment; actually adamant on breaking ground and approaching creativity with fierceness rather than formula, to come up with energising, future-forward music that stands out a mile amongst all the generic trap-infused house bangers clubgoers seem to have no problem continually lapping up of late.

Galtier challenges convention with his music, and has soldered a style all of his own – but at the same time, it’s not chin-stroking shit, either – this is music with a firm stake in dancefloor action. Unfortunately for many left-minded Australian club music fans, this kind of creative and influential stuff is not embraced nearly as much as it should be by the general listening populace, with the more idiosyncratic Australian underground producers often relocating overseas to position themselves into scenes that are more responsive to their sound, and to get the club and radio gigs they deserve – such is the case with Galtier, who performs his second last show in Australia tonight, before heading to London indefinitely.

But not before he helps kick off the inaugural launch of B2B2B, which sees underground purveyors Surface Tension get behind a new club concept devised by Will Bockman and Shobu (Dan Gorza), that will showcase the most inventive and adaptive underground / future-forward club crews and individuals in Perth, who will all play in a high energy b2b mixing style. As well as a headline set, Galtier will be getting in on the b2b action – which means he could potentially go in with local crew Mandem Mitch, DJ NSFW, Bixxler and more; we’re predicting some very hectic fun up on the Flyrite stage.

Pilerats checked in with Galtier, post Galtier checking-in for his flight to Perth. Galtier revealed himself to be an experienced, thorough and thoughtful producer; whose ambition and insight as an artist are very much reflected in the inventiveness of his musical output.  

You have a pretty cool name – Jiah.

It’s an Indian name, pronounced “gee-ar”… it’s actually a girls’ name. When my Dad was younger he liked Tarzan and Tarzan had a son whose name was Jai so I think it evolved from that, but he didn’t realise it was an Indian woman’s name. 

What was it like growing up in Geelong? Were you heavy into music as a kid or was that not the done thing in Geelong?

I grew up in a place called Torquay, which was literally five minutes from the beach. Dad tried to get me into surfing and stuff, but I didn’t get way into it, I found other paths like music and art and so on, but I still head down to the beach for a surf with Dad every now and then. It’s interesting, I’ve always been into the arts, and was a huge bookworm, but I was actually more of a combination, coz I used to be a real outdoorsy type too, I was always exploring as a teenager - I used to climb loads of trees, I actually had the nickname Monkey!

You started DJing quite young right… 16?   

I started DJing at 16 and got into the scene, and chipped away at it bit by bit. When I got to 18, I was just playing in venues in Geelong, playing for a bunch of dudes called The Kick It crew. We got some decent sets actually, supporting Yolanda Be Cool, Bagraiders, that sort of thing. Then I made my foray into the Melbourne scene with the All Good Crew, they gave me sets supporting acts like Girl Unit, Bambounou, Funktion, Pangaea..

Bambounou was an amazing gig actually… I’d just had some of my productions released on this Swiss record label Files Recordings, and I played one of my new tracks and he actually got up on stage and asked me ‘what is this track?’ and wanted to know what it was and I had the opportunity to tell him that it was my track, and he was absolutely blown away that I’d made it, he shook my hand.. that was a huge honour, to have someone that you look up to appreciate your work. I’d actually, on the sly, prepared him a CD of music that had the track on it, so I gave him that and he was impressed with my organisation!


If you were producing so young, I imagine your taste wouldn't have been as mature as it is now - what kind of music were you into when you first started producing, and how has that developed to the style you're producing now? 

When I first started DJing, I was playing drum ‘n’ bass and jungle, so I’ve moved on significantly since then! But at that time I hadn’t really started producing yet, and I didn’t really know where I wanted to go with my music, then when I started experimenting, it was a jungle-tech style, like Urulu’s Kookaburra EP was a massive inspiration at the time. Then I moved into techno, then really decided the style I liked was more of a syncopated rhythm, UK-inspired techno sound that doesn’t strays away from 4/4, then I discovered the whole grime scene, then realised how much these two things correlated. Naturally, I wove various genres into a kind of similar sound to say, what Night Slugs are doing.

Your work now seems to sit well in that ‘oblique club music’ genre descriptor term that Melbourne Air Max ’97 coined. Super inventive, percussive-driven, stripped-back, industrial… future-dance.

Like Air Max97, our sound is about separating yourself from the music everyone else is making as much as possible, whilst also having qualities people can relate to, so its not too bizarre, and so I can experience some minor success. But I definitely try and stretch the boundaries as much as possible these days, to give it a bit of a ‘wow’ factor.

Obviously your sound is different to the ‘new Australian sound’ that has grouped together artists such as Flume, Wave Racer, What So Not, etc. and placed them into the spotlight. Do you feel as if you fit into any particular scene in Australia, as an Australian producer? To my mind the music you’re making puts you more in allegiance with the US and UK underground scene.

I haven’t ever really associated with the Australian scene to be honest, or found a home here for my music. However, I do regularly communicate with Strict Face, from Adelaide, and AirMax97, from Melbourne. I’m actually relocating to the UK in a few weeks, actually, so these shows coming up – in Perth and a three-hour set in Geelong, for the club night I started a few years ago, FaceCheck – will be my final Australian shows.

 For sure, I’ve found that the interest for the style that I’m pushing has emanated from Europe in particular…Krizzli and Lemonick from Switzerland, She’s Drunk from Berlin, even from America - artists like Korma, Kreuger, Spurrs, Mike G, YNGN. There’s a tight knit international community of producers that I’m a part of, and it’s a real honour to be a part of it, and have people recognise and share my music through that association. It’s nice, you feel as if you’ve finally established yourself, I feel very at home in this scene.

A few Australian producers I’m familiar with have moved over to the UK in recent times – UNTZZ 12” from Adelaide come to mind, and Kito and Reija Lee, and Mike Midnite, a Perth grime producer whose been in London for the past few years, but who recently returned to Perth. UNTZZ just played on NTS Radio and scored a set at Bradley Zero (Boiler Room)’s Rhythm Section – the UK definitely seems to fit certain producers better as a location to work from. 

Yeah, UNTZZ are doing an amazing job right now. For me, the UK’s a good place to go, because I’m also a primary school teacher, so I can get work over there, so I thought I might utilise both aspects of my life, work heavily in the studio and try and get gigs at night and do relief teaching during the day. I already have a set lined up in Paris, actually, at a party called [Re]sources, when I arrive – it’s an EP launch party for the Amen remix EP, which is a split vinyl from Tommy Kid, CDBL and Mad AM. I remixed the Tommy Kid track, Suspect, there’s remixes from She’s Drunk and Krizzli too, who will both be playing, Valentin is someone I’ve been working with, so super excited to meet him in the flesh for the first time.

You seem quite focused on your remix work in particular at the moment – there’s been a lot of remix output from you of late. Is this deliberate? What’s your plan for 2015 re: originals? 

Yeah, I want to be more remix-based at the moment. I’ve been working on a lot of original material, very heavily, but I really want it to be on-point. I want this fourth release to cause some serious waves, some full-blown, proper, 100% production quality, so I’m spending time refining ideas so I can find something that will leave a mark in the scene. I’m working with a number of record labels overseas – I can’t say who yet – but there’s the prospect of some original vinyl 12” releases coming out, which I’m really excited for. Which is also why I’m putting so much time and effort into it. I’ve got a few dubs sitting there – I think once I get to the UK and put myself into that mindset they’ll come to life.


Friday, February 30 - B2B2B Launch Party, Flyrite, Northbridge.


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