There’s no question that Gary Richards is one of the hardest working individuals in the music industry. On the one hand, he plays the role of zealous entrepreneur and mega-party promoter as the CEO/founder of HARD Events. On the other hand, he plays the role of eclectic DJ and g-house extraordinaire as Destructo. Balancing one of these careers would likely prove more than enough to hold most of us over, but Richards accomplishes both duties (seemingly) with ease: “They really complement each other and make me better at the other job,” he says. “It really keeps my head in the game on both ends.”
East Coast Or West Coast:
East Coast man, there’s something about this place that makes me feel like at home. I don’t know if it’s the people, the music or the reception, but it’s got it all.
Revive 2Pac or Bob Marley? Wow, that’s a tough one… but I have to go with Bob Marley. Bob Marley is like my second god, his music and what he stood for really vibes with me personally. No hate 2Pac fans.
If Trump wins are you moving to Canada?
I actually don’t know what I’m gonna do if that f*cking loser wins.
Your current tour is packed with a wide variety of artists and genres, what does it take to be a Renegade?
I just think of mixing and matching styles, people who like taking changes, people who think differently. I took a play off Afrika Bambaataa’s “Renegades of Funk”, then Rage Against The Machine did a cover of that song, it’s essentially people who do cool shit to good music, and still have good taste.
Is it about merging genres together?
Yes, I like the idea of coming to a show and hearing different styles in one place, instead of the same thing. I think people have been really receptive to it, everyone’s come out. Every night has been a different vibe, it’s been cool to bring all these different people together.
Now that it’s coming to an end, what are some of the best surprises from the Renegade tour?
The LA show was amazing! Ty Dolla $ign, Too Short, and E40, came out. For me, it was a party with all the guy’s I’ve been in the studio with coming out, playing live, and supporting; it was really special. Next weekend is New York, Atlanta and Philly! We’ve had some crazy vinyl, underground parties after some shows, played a few BBQs with Sita Abellan, who’s from Spain.
You’ve played twice at Shambhala, what keeps you coming back?
Man just the people, they’re all so appreciative there, they get what I am doing, they love great music. It’s cool to be free in the woods and everyone knows what they’re doing there. The whole experience is a great atmosphere. I’ve been there twice now, but hopefully they’ll have me back again and again.
How do you prepare for a 6-8 hours morning sermon set?
I’m a bit of an overachiever. I trained Jiu Jitsu so I don’t get tired or anything. Musically, I prepare this set over the span of a year, you know, I through some songs into the folder as I hear them. I usually structure it and plan it around the sunrise, some tunes are played before the sunrise, some after.
HARD Australia is coming up, how are you keeping consistency in HARD while bringing it to an entirely different crowd?
I aim for a little bit of both, I ask my partners there what works best in Australia, I try to take what they tell me. My goal is just to bring HARD everywhere. You know, some people take the name and run it through the mud, but for me it’s gotta be something that I’d want to go to. I don’t care if it’s big or small, as long as it’s quality; that’s the formula.
Was #ShipFam something you had in mind or did it happen by itself?
I didn’t have anything in mind, but this is what happened with Holy Ship. I was just thinking “where can we listen to good music in a cool environment?” and I got so lucky to have that boat and the ShipFam took a chance for me to do this crazy event, and we all became buddies. It was never anything that I really thought of, but it definitely has been the greatest thing that’s come from this festival.
What else came out of this?
Well in fact, as I was playing the morning sermon at HolyShip! Robbie, the Pagoda Stage owner came up to me and asked “do you want to play at Shambhala?” and then when I got there, I knew there was something else. There’s definitely a crossover in the audience. People who enjoy going to HolyShip! go to Shambhala and vice-versa.
"No one really knows this, but Shambhala will be part of next year’s HolyShip! Can’t spill much details, but it will be great to have them there!"
What can we expect from next HolyShip 2017?
Anything from surprise performances, a full curated line up by yours truly, there will be 7 rooms (last year had 5). This year I’m actually bringing the artists I listened to when I got into this music to HolyShip. Everyone wants the big names, you know, I’m glad we got Pharell, Tiesto, Skrillex, and others, but for me, it’s about who they haven’t seen, the cool shit they haven’t heard.
"I bet you 99% of HolyShip! has never heard of Marcus Wide and Doc Martin, and these were the people who got me into this scene."
What ‘s one of the craziest experiences in your last twenty years of hustle with HARD and as Destructo?
“Well bringing Marcus and Doc to HolyShip! is kind of surreal, because they always saw me as a solid musician, they always saw me as ‘that surfer kid who always comes and hangs’, and not really a musician, now I’m introducing them to what the fuck I’m doing.”
They have no idea that little hustler kid is now running show, which is why it will be a great surprise to re-introduce their talent to the scene, and give them the recognition they deserve as musicians. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here.
What’s your advice for anyone starting a movement or becoming a taste-maker?
I think wether you’re an artists, curator or someone managing an artist, or whatever it is you’re pursuing, it’s always gotta be original and unique and quality and never give up. If you believe in your heart that you got something special that everyone needs to hear, no matter what the fuck anyone tells you, you just run with it and make it happen. That’s what I did, everyone told me what I was into was lame, everyone told me it was bullshit, but I loved it and stuck with it.
It took me 20 year, but eventually it blew the f*ck up, because I stuck to my guns and it was original. I always say, be relentless, be original. Hopefully you know what you’re doing; the problem is when people think they’re dope but they don’t know what they’re doing.