Gavin Griffin, also known as GMJ, has been a prominent figure in underground electronic dance music for over two decades.
Forging a successful career as a DJ, event organizer and producer, Gavin is a pioneering force in the Melbourne scene and has performed in all corners of the globe.
Since 2007, GMJ has delivered over 300 releases & remixes on iconic recording imprints including Proton Music, Replug, Sudbeat, Anjuna Deep, Particles, Parquet, Balance Music, Baroque, Balkan Connection, Iboga, onedotsixtwo, Open Records and many more.
It is an honour to welcome Gavin as only the second artist on the Deep Down Roster.
We recently sat down (remotely – since he is literally on the other end of the planet) with Gavin to catch up with him ahead of his Into Fruition release with us, coming out on Friday February 18.
Deep Down (DD): You are known for producing deep, emotive progressive house. Your tracks blend spacious melodies with tight percussion. How did you arrive at this sound? Take us through that journey please.
GMJ: It’s a lifelong (since first discovering electronic music) journey, shaped by many things, many events and experiences over the years! As a punter listening to mind blowing music, refining the ear. Then getting into DJing taught me more about structure, blending and the journey I loved in sets.
Production started almost a decade after DJing for me, so when I began producing I already knew the sound I wanted, and from there it was, and still is, a constant process of refining both my ear and the tools I use to get the sound out.
Since I started producing I was already really deeply connected to the progressive sound through artists such as Sasha & Digweed, and that had become my primary sound and where I felt at home.
DD: If I did math right, you have 300 original tracks and remixes to your name. What is the secret to pumping out such quality content at high volume? Do you have a set process or formula you follow for each track?
GMJ: As with anything creative, inspiration can ebb and flow, but I have been through and continue to cycle through heightened stages of output where things can be written fairly quickly. Sometimes momentum can really carry and a few tracks can come out of that.
I don’t use any templates or formulas when writing, even though I might reach for some similar samples or synths in the process.
DD: Do you consider yourself a producer first or DJ?
GMJ: That’s a tough question! I started DJing and that was my first passion, but these days more time is spent in the studio making music. Honestly, I love the combination and they are both a passion.
DD: You launched Meanwhile Recordings with your partner Matty (Matter) just over two years ago. In a short time it has been one of the most respected tastemakers in the progressive house scene. What would you say has been the secret to the label’s success so far?
GMJ: Matty and I are lucky enough that over the years we have built a really strong network of friends and artists around the world who have also been very happy to release on Meanwhile since our inception.
We are passionate about a certain sound for Meanwhile: deep and emotive, forward thinking music that transports the listener into higher states of awareness. A “cosmic” sound.
We are also passionate about production and the sound quality, and we stick true to this for all our releases and keep a high bar. We are lucky enough to have great support from our back end A&R, James Warren, with fantastic release write ups as well, which means we can really focus more on the creative and fun stuff; Signing great music for the label, and design which Matty himself keeps evolving!
DD: Could you tell us a bit about your studio set up. Are you a gear head? More into virtual instruments?
GMJ: I have a 27inch Imac 2020, Adam A7X monitors, A Motu MK5 ultralite soundcard. Using VST’s such as Repro, Hive, Omnisphere, Battery and also working with Loopcloud and Splice a bit to chop stuff up.
Hardware-wise I have a Dave Smith Prophet Rev 2 & Prophet 12, a Pioneer Toraiz AS1 (Dave Smith single voice), and a Big Sky Reverb. In general, I use the virtual more, but trying to force myself to use the gear more and do in a lot of tracks!
DD: What was your inspiration for the track you released with us, Into Fruition?
GMJ: The intention behind Into Fruition was to create a space of presence where you are open to the energy and sound that is coming through in the moment. That then unfolds and becomes the story of the track as it comes Into Fruition.
DD: Australia had one of the tougher lockdowns. What was it like for you? Were you just locked up in your studio?
GMJ: In 2020 I was still working as a cinema manager and, of course, cinema was one of the first things to shut and last to open!
I live right on the national park, so, for me, 2020 was a positive year. We started our label Meanwhile, and I was at home in the studio a lot, and in nature. I was very lucky in that way compared to many!
2021 I found more difficult in a lot of ways. I guess 2020 we were all steeled to get through this and move to the other side, but then the other side didn’t come and as with most people, you get fatigued. The output with the music was still there and many positive things happened in 2021, including starting working for Proton, but overall it was more taxing with the lockdowns, which is a natural thing.
DD: We are in a new year. One where the COVID madness will hopefully be soon behind us. What can we expect from GMJ in 2022?
GMJ: Let’s hope this madness will subside soon! Well, I have an exciting year ahead! Gigs with my friends at Morning After Agency are happening that are very exciting including Enchanted Garden with Matter, alongside Guy J, Alex O’Rion and Marsh. Interstellar Groove Festival and a few more local surprises coming up!
Matter and I return to Rio in May as well, which we can’t wait for. I am also in talks for a South American tour at the moment which would be epic, and I am in Europe from late August until ADE this year, with a number of gigs on the horizon!
Release wise, I have a lot of cool collabs coming to light this year – with Matty of course, but also some new and return meet ups! Also have solo originals and remixes for Meanwhile and others including, of course, Deep Down 🙂
DD: That sounds like a busy year! Any words of wisdom for the DJs and producers that are looking to follow in your footsteps?
GMJ: Stay authentic to the sound that is in your heart and soul. Try not to get too attached to outcomes like where you think tracks should end up; this causes heartache.
Try to write regularly, even if it is only a few minutes a day! The act of opening and starting something creates its own momentum.
Keep going! Creativity ebbs and flows and sometimes stepping away is a great way to return inspired.
Into Fruition comes out February 18 on Beatport.