Behind the Scenes at Governors Ball with Gorgon City

By: Carl Lamarre
Image via Capitol Music Group
Image via Capitol Music Group
  TAGS:   Article, Exclusive, Festival

On Friday afternoon, Gorgon City set a packed Governors Ball’s Gotham tent ablaze opening with their smash hit, “Coming Home.” Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott manned the DJ Booth, bringing fellow UK vocalists Lulu James and Josh Barry along for the ride to accentuate their ‘90s house-inspired dance tracks. Thousands of fans took cover from the light New York City rain to catch the action.

Flash back four years, and Gibbon and Robson-Scott were working on solo projects from their bedrooms. Despite their uncanny abilities to craft infectious beats alone, each envisioned more. They joined forces and things picked up immediately.

In 2013, the North London producers ballooned into stardom with their singles “Real,” featuring Yasmin and “Intentions,” featuring Clean Bandit. In 2014, they released their debut album Sirens, which was a dance-laden album packed with a lot of zeal and energy. Vocalists like Kiesza and Jennifer Hudson helped instill a pop sensibility to the record and fans couldn’t get enough. After such an engrossing album that had people dancing endlessly, G.C. is hoping to deliver more tunes for their dance crazed fans.

So far this year, the group performed at Coachella and this past weekend took the stage at Governor’s Ball. We had the opportunity to catch up with Matt of Gorgon City and spoke to him about the group’s success, their debut album Sirens, the lessons they’ve learned as a group, their love for Drake as an artist, and how the live show has become the driving force for the entire project.

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You guys recently performed at massive festivals like Governors Ball and Coachella. How was that whole experience?
It was amazing. They were probably the biggest crowds we’ve played to with the live band and some of the best crowds we’ve probably ever played to just in general. So yeah, it was amazing, man. It was pretty good.

It’s been six months since you guys released Sirens back in October. Looking back at the project now, are there any changes that you would have made sonically?
We were really happy with it. It happened organically, the production process. We worked quite quickly together. Because there’s two of us, we can make decisions quickly. We can just be like, “No, that’s not good. Yes, that’s good.” Before we started Gorgon City, we had solo projects. Everything takes a lot longer when you’re doing stuff on your own because you never know whether it’s good or not, or whether you’re happy with it. It’s given us more ideas to carry on making music and kind of experiment even more. That’s what we’re doing at the moment in the studio in L.A. recently. We’ve been writing with a lot of American artists in L.A. It’s going really well. We’re actually quite far into the second album. So it’s exciting, man.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned since joining forces with Kye?
You know, I was writing tracks with vocalists, but the lyrics were more clubby and more hooky. Now, we’ve learned a lot about actually writing songs with meaning to them and being able to connect with people through lyrics rather than through sounds. I think that’s been a massive thing for us. Like learning that and also just learning how to translate songs into a live show [has been big for us.] Before, we were just DJ’s, now we’re part of a live band.

You just mentioned the impact of working with various writers. On Sirens, you guys had Kiezsa, Yasmin, and Emeli Sande, just to name a few. Do you plan to use those same writers again on the next album or are you guys venturing to find new writers?
At the moment, we’re writing with new people. But we definitely want to work with some of the people we worked with on our first album. For one, they’re obviously a part of our crew and they’re friends with us and stuff; they’re also amazing at writing. We have a good relationship with Yasmin. Yasmin has been with us since the beginning of Gorgon City. “Real” with her that was kind of like the beginning of Gorgon City. So I think we definitely want to get her on another track on the second album. Maverick Sabre is another one. He’s an amazing writer. So we’re gonna work with him again.

That’s great. What we loved about Sirens was that you guys had a very diverse line-up in terms of the vocalists on the project. You guys had Erik Hassle, Jennifer Hudson, Katy B, among others. Which vocalist surprised you the most in terms of their performance?
The most powerful vocal was Jennifer Hudson. Kiesza wrote the song with us, but we were blown away by the actual sound of Jennifer’s voice. We were like, “Whoa. This is incredible.” She transformed the song. It was incredible to work with that vocal. We got to process it ourselves, mix it, and get it sounding right with the beat. That was probably the best vocal that I’ve ever worked with, you know as a producer. That was great. Everyone killed it on that album, man. We’re so happy with all the vocals.

Who are you guys working with and who would you love to work with in the future?
We just got a couple of tracks from this guy called Parson James, who is a new vocalist. He’s originally from a small place in South Carolina, but I think he lives in New York now. He’s got this really cool kind of gospel vibe. He’s amazing. We did two tracks with him. We’re also working with new people next week, as well. After that, we’ll be going back to the U.K. and doing some work with some British artists, as well. We don’t really have like a wish-list at the moment. We’re kind of just interested in hearing new voices.

One of our favorite tracks off of Sirens was your cover of Drake’s “Doing It Wrong.” What made you guys decide to go in that direction?
It was actually for BBC Radio One, which is like a live launch thing where you go in and do a performance of one of your singles. Then you have to do a cover and you can choose any track. We were working with this girl Liv, who’s on our album and sang the track “No More.” She’s a big fan of Drake and we’re big fans of Drake, as well. She just suggested this song and we were like, “That would be cool.” She sang it in the studio and we’re like, “Wow. You make it sound different and interesting.” So we were like, “Let’s just produce it into a remix and kind of do it live.” We never thought we would put it on the album. We thought we would just make it for that one performance, but we really liked it. It went down really well, so we put it on the album. I think Drake is an artist that always looks to the U.K. for inspiration. He’s done collaborations with Sampha, who’s a U.K. artist. He’s always has his ear to the U.K. He’s really kind of innovative with his ideas. That’s why his music is so good because it has influences from everywhere. It’s not just kind of hip-hop. It got influences from R&B and Soul and U.K. dance music and stuff. He’s a cool artist to cover.

Sharing a bill with him at Governor’s Ball makes it seem like it was meant to be!
I don’t even know if he’s heard it, man. Like, hopefully he has. We know he said we could use it, because obviously it wouldn’t have been on our album if he hadn’t. But I don’t know if he has properly listened to it.

What else do you love about Governor’s Ball?
New York is one of our favorite places to play. We’ve done some great shows there recently. We’ve sold out all our live shows there. We did Irving Plaza and Highline Ballroom. We really love playing there and we’re always looking forward to getting back to New York and smashing it with a live band.