It’s a family affair and a career for Seattle DJs Gem & Tauri

The Electric Daisy Carnival is at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next weekend (Friday-Sunday) – I covered it as a reporter in its first year at Sin City in 2011, and then for six consecutive years. It’s one of my favorite music events on Earth, and one of the reasons is the opportunity to discover and hear new electronic dance music artists and their work.

Seattle DJ duo Gem & Tauri are rocking the EDM world. Gem, name not DJ Emma Montalvo, is married to Jeff Montalvo, known in the music world as Seven Lions. Tauri, Courtney Simmons, who is not a DJ, is the couple’s girlfriend. Gem & Tauri answered questions Tuesday night ahead of EDC Las Vegas 2022:

How were Gem & Tauri born – how did you meet and how did you come up with the name?

Simon: We met at a Burning Man fundraiser party in June 2018 and became very close friends, which eventually turned into a romantic relationship. We were on the road with Jeff for a couple of his shows one night in Colorado at Mission Ballroom at the end of 2019 that he needed a first game for, so Emma and I agreed to freestyle on a stage massive and very intimidating for the first time. together, and the crowd seemed to receive him very well.

We decided that our house duo finally needed a name, and Emma came up with the idea for Gem & Tauri because I’m a Gemini and Emma is a Taurus. We’ve both DJ’d separately at parties for years, and Emma has opened for some of Jeff’s tours in the past. Once we realized how great our chemistry was together on stage, we decided to continue as a duo.

After the world turned off and everything was online, we started a weekly livestream together, and I think that’s what really brought our music project to life and we realized what a passion for us.

Are you based in Seattle, and what sparked your interest in EDM – house, bass house and techno?

Montalvo: Jeff took me to my first EDM event in 2007. Everything was tough after that. EDM events became a major interest for me and after a few years of exploring all genres of dance music, I found myself gravitating towards the house scenes more often than not. I like a simple beat and a groovy baseline. I also discovered that I enjoyed a melodic, dreamy voice, and then came my love for melodic house and techno.

Simon: I’ve lived in Seattle all my life and grew up listening to house and trance. Music has always been my place of happiness. My mother always played trance when I was young, so I will always have a deep love for it. But I’ve always loved the party energy of house and the way it made me want to dance. We wanted to combine our love for beautiful melodies with fun and groovy house and techno, which inspired our sound.

2021 was your first appearance at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas – how did it go?

Montalvo: 2021 was our first time playing EDC Las Vegas, and we were excited to be a part of it. The Parliament Art Car is such a great atmosphere, and we were lucky to have all of our friends there to support us. This is another event Jeff took me to when we were younger, I believe it was in 2008 when it was held in Los Angeles. When the event moved to Las Vegas, we started going back in 2014 when Jeff was playing Bass Pod.

Simon: It was amazing! I first attended EDC in 2013 and was blown away by the level of production, and it has only gotten bigger since. I never imagined having the opportunity to play a set at such an iconic festival, and we are beyond grateful for how well it went on the Parliament Art Car. We don’t have any flames in our sets yet, so it was pretty cool to have the flames in front of us in time to the music.

And you come back this year and open the main stage, Kinetic Field, on Friday night. What does it do?

Simon: Honestly, I don’t think I’ve internalized how epic it is. I’m so nervous and excited! The stage is huge and I have seen absolute legends on this stage. I am beyond grateful to my team and everyone who supports us and makes this possible. I have the impression that everything goes very quickly sometimes.

Honestly, I have to work to remember to slow down and show myself some love for our accomplishments because I’m a little hard on myself to always work harder and achieve more. It’s definitely a moment I can be proud of – I can’t wait to feel what it’s like to be on such a big stage and have that emotional moment of connecting with so many people at once.

Montalvo: It’s crazy ! It’s huge for me. It’s hard to express how I feel right now. All that comes to mind are nerves. I’m sure I’ll have more to say when I step off stage. I feel truly blessed to be asked to perform such an iconic scene and honored to share this scene not only with my girlfriend but also with my husband who performs later that night. Not to mention all the incredible artists in between. It’s gonna be a good one.

Tell me about your partnership with Seven Lions.

Montalvo: We’ve always been DJs and never thought we were going to create our own music, but Jeff really inspired us and encouraged us to venture out and embrace our creative side.

He helped us with our first EP while we sat in the studio and worked on the songs together. A few years ago, I discovered my love for songwriting and conveying emotions through lyrics. I’m still a big fan, but I love going to songwriting sessions with singers and making magic happen.

Simon: I’ve always had a deep love for music and DJing has always been fun for me because I was able to share it with others. I guess I may have had some mental blocks which is why I never thought I could produce my own music, but with Jeff’s encouragement I fully embraced that creative side of me- same and went to a production school to better understand composing music.

I’m having so much fun with new ideas and new projects and I’m so excited to see how we evolve. I will be forever grateful to Jeff for his faith in us and for trusting us to perform on big stages with him. It really gives us a push in the right direction, and the pressure was the best thing that ever happened to me.

What were your favorite festivals, places and cities to play? I guess the Gorge Amphitheater is one of them.

Simon: The Gorge was my very first festival in 2012, and it really blew my mind how amazing and beautiful this place is. The memories I made at The Gorge growing up really shaped my love for live music and the whole community, and performing on that stage last year was a moving event for me.

It was definitely one of the best times of my life. There are also so many amazing cities that we got to travel to and meet amazing people and explore. Before the music, I hadn’t really traveled much, so it was really fun to see the world.

Montalvo: The gorge is up there with the best outdoor venues in this country. I loved being able to open Chronicles 3 last year as well as Red Rocks. One of my favorite places to play, however, is Bill Graham in San Francisco. It’s a special place for me, and it was so good to open the Hall of Fame tour there last year alongside all of our beloved Ophelia Records family.

Which DJs and non-DJs do you admire and inspire you?

Simon: Well, my favorite artist growing up was Kaskade, and I loved the funky Daft Punk vibes. Our first EP was inspired a lot by Camelphat, Tinlicker, Gorgon City and Duke Dumont. I’m always so inspired by artists who can include beautiful chords and melodies in their music, but also make it tough and groovy and be so fun to dance to.

I’m super inspired by groovy house bands like Kyle Watson, Westend, Funk Hunters and Marten Horger. When I’m not listening to EDM, I also like classic rock like Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Fleetwood Mac, Queen – musicians who can rock a good guitar solo.

Montalvo: My favorite DJs in the EDM space are Pan Pot, Funk Hunters, Artbat and Anna. Outside of EDM, I’m a big fan of what I like to call Dad Rock, which is basically everything my dad listened to when I was younger. Some of them include Fleetwood Mac, Cat Stevens, Queen, Depeche Mode and David Bowie.

What’s next for Gem & Tauri after EDC Las Vegas 2022?

Simon: We have some very good things in the works, new music in the works for this year that we are very excited about. We are working on an idea to eventually organize our own shows and put talented artists in the spotlight to perform on stage with us, to give them the opportunity that has been given to us. We have a ton of amazing festivals that we’ve been asked to play. Hope to see you all at some of them!

To learn more about Gem & Tauri and EDC Las Vegas, visit instagram.com/gemandtauri and lasvegas.electricdaisycarnival.com.

About John Villalpando

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