Destructo Talks FriendShip 2020, Working With Ty Dolla $ign, and More
By Shirley Ju for BPM Supreme
All photos courtesy of Falcon Publicity.
Destructo is way more than just a DJ. For over two decades, real name Gary Richards has been paving the way for dance music, bridging the gap between EDM and hip-hop while creating his own lane spanning all musical genres including house and g-house. He’s also a music executive, concert promoter, producer, and founder of HARD Events, and more recently, the music cruise FriendShip.
Having launched music festivals since 2007, the 48-year-old is no stranger to the necessities of a live show. What used to just be one big full-blown party quickly shifted into the importance of the message: dancing, living in the moment, and simply enjoying life. The only thing that matters is spending time with your loved ones and the priceless experiences you share.
If you’ve been to HARD Summer, you know the energy is through the roof. Destructo has since taken the festival and turned it into a cruise. Rave on a boat with all your favorite artists? Count us in. After his departure from HARD Events, he transformed his original Holy Ship! Concept into FriendShip, again stressing the value in quality time with good company. The moments aboard are irreplaceable.
We caught up with Destructo to discuss his new single “Twisted,” his DJ gear setup, his long-time friendship with Ty Dolla $ign, plus more about this year’s FriendShip taking place January 6-10, 2020.
Talk about your new single “Twisted” being inspired by g-house.
Well, I’m a huge fan of Mobb Deep. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to work that sample into my set or work that song into my set for a long time. I’ve just been working on it, refining it, and finally got it done!
You actually sample Mobb Deep’s “Got It Twisted” from their 2004 album Amerikaz Nightmare. Talk about their influence on your music career.
Every time I went to a club back in the day, there was a lot of hip hop DJs playing all the Mobb Deep stuff. They were huge influences growing up, pretty much been listening to them my whole life. My whole childhood. [chuckles]
You’ve been combining dance music and hip hop for a while. What is it about Destructo’s style and sound that fans love?
I guess it’s the variety. I feel like you get the best of both worlds. You got rap, then you got house. I try to mix it together in a unique way that creates something new and special.
What are you most excited for with FriendShip 2020 happening in January?
So many things! Making new friends. Just being with my friends, and being back on the ship!
Tell us more about your friendship with Ty Dolla $ign.
I met him a long time ago, maybe five or six years ago in the studio. We did a song called “Nobody Else.” When I met him, I didn’t really know a lot about him. But when he came to the studio, I’m like “wow, this guy…” Musically, he’s incredible. He came to some of my shows then I went to his house and we made another track called “4 Real.” I’m such a huge fan, he’s such a sweetheart and good guy. We just had a good relationship over the years.
The bill is stacked! How do you go about picking who’s on the bill?
I pick the artists who want to be a part of the party and of course make great music that all fits together. Try and give people different genres and interesting things they may have not seen before. It’s like I’m DJing the artist lineup.
What sets this year apart from the rest?
This year is going to be different because it’s our second year doing FriendShip with my new team (LiveStyle). We really got a handle on how to put things together and we’re just going to one-up on last year now that we know what we can do. Take it and make it better, plus the line-up is pretty diverse. I got Green Lantern and Apache Indian, I’m trying to pepper in some reggae on the beach. We have more time on the beach! We’re going to be at Coco Cay, so we get to see the sunrise on the beach. Just taking all the experiences that I’ve had over the years and trying to one-up it.
Can you bring us back to when you first came up with the idea?
Back in the mid ’90s, I went on a cruise ship from Miami to the Bahamas and it was probably one of the best times of my life. I always felt like if I could recreate that or emulate that — then in 2012, I was fortunate enough to get a ship and then a sea. It’s almost been 10 years now of producing cruises. It’s just a great place to have a party like this. There’s really no place better suited for what we do than on a cruise ship.
How difficult or easy was it to implement?
It’s definitely not easy, but I got a killer team and we know what we’re doing. It’s a difficult task but it’s well worth it in the end when it all comes together. We’ve been planning the whole year, it’s definitely not something that we just whip together at the last second. [chuckles]
What are your fondest memories on the ship?
Oh man, there’s been so many. More than anything, it’s just the friendships that we’ve made throughout the years. And the music! We’ve had people get married. We’ve had people who have babies, and made babies. People who have met people from all around the world. It’s really a place where people come together for four or five days and create lifelong memories.
You’re embarking on your Twisted Tour after the boat. What can fans expect?
I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how I’m going to roll with it. I’m going to try to go in a different direction with those sets. Longer club night sets, try to play multiple hours. Take it deeper and play something different than what I’ve been playing. Right now, I’m getting ready to play 10 to 15 sets over the next two weeks and almost every one of them is different. From reggae to house to banging festival to underground. For this Twisted Tour, I really want to take it deep and go play for a long time. Long sets!
What’s your set-up like?
It’s pretty simple. I just use CDJ-2000s and a NXS2 mixer from Pioneer DJ. Just a standard set-up that most DJs use. Nothing too fancy. It’s just the music, it’s the way I put it together.
Favorite song to drop in a set?
Ugh! There’s a lot. I always like to play “Dare You 2 Move” (feat. Problem). People really seem to like when those couple notes come in, they get wild. I’m going to play a lot of old stuff too. On the cruise ship, I might do a set of all my new songs. I’ve never done that before where I play a full hour and a half of just my tunes. I think it’s time.
Do you ever get nervous?
No. [laughs] Only if it’s a show where I’m out of my element. Sometimes, I’ll play for a crowd that doesn’t know me. But I don’t really get too nervous anymore. I perform a lot. I enjoy it.
What’s your favorite remix you’ve ever done?
I did a remix for Depeche Mode for a song called “Soothe My Soul” which I really dig. I owe a lot to Depeche Mode so that’s a good one for sure. Because they’re one of the first groups that I heard where they made electronic music a melody that inspired me to one day be a part of electronic music, and just music in general.
Where do you see the future of dance music headed?
People always ask me that question. It’s like the flu, it comes and goes but it always comes back stronger. I only see it getting bigger.
Any other projects you’re working on that you want to mention?
I got a couple new tunes coming. I got a remix for Idris Elba. I got a couple with TroyBoi. I got some new house records I’m working on for the tour. I’ve got a record with Kevin Gates, Yo Gotti, and Denzel Curry coming out. I got a lot of new music coming!
How’d you get Kevin Gates on a record?!
That’s a long story. [chuckles] But I got him to do something for me. I’ve been trying to get this record together and it’s finally going to see the light of day in 2020, so very excited.
About Shirley Ju
Shirley Ju is a Los Angeles-based journalist as well as a Digital Content/Artist Relations Manager at LA’s Power 106. She lives and breathes music and if there’s a show in LA, you can find her there. Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, the hyphy movement is in her blood. She also graduated from UCLA and is going on 10 years in Los Angeles. Shirley contributes to several publications including Variety, LA Weekly, REVOLT, and more. Follow her at @shirju on both Instagram & Twitter.