A Guy Called Gerald, the Funkier Side of Black Dance Music

Since the 80's, Manchester UK native, A Guy Called Gerald, born Gerald Simpson, has proven to be among the most innovative modern music figures. His influence is international, and through his versatility he has spawned genres and generations of music culture.

From his early experimentation with techno and acid house to his groundbreaking contributions to drum & bass music, GCG's art and craft has perpetually evolved regardless of his individual successes in each of those genres. He is perhaps best known for his early work in the Manchester acid house scene in the late 1980s and the track "Voodoo Ray". At that time, he specialized in techno music produced using equipment such as the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer and the TR-808 drum machine (he sourced much of his equipment from Johnny Roadhouse, a second-hand music shop on Oxford Road in Manchester).

„I make music to dance to. If you can't dance to it, it's not dance music – just like if you can't eat, it's not food. (...) I don't mean mimicking soul freedom. Prove your groove." (aguycalledgerald.com). Gerald Simpson has recently released an album called "Proto Acid / The Berlin Sessions" to the Laboratory Instinct record label, runs two record labels and has s radio show to the Japanese Samurai. Neither his schedule is poor; gigs in London, Berlin, Manchester, Montreal, Frankfurt, to name just a few. He has also released several EPs and remixes to labels such Sender, Split, Laboratory Instinct, Rephlex Records, K7, Strange Fruit, even Sony.

(...) they could have ended up thinking dance music was all about some cheesy bedroom freak who had no funk or soul in his bones but had been signed up by his mate who had a quota to fill at some cheesy record label.
Beat Factor: Hello Gerald! Why do you name yourself "a guy called Gerald" and don't use simply "Gerald Simpson"?

A Guy Called Gerald: Because Simpson was my slave name.

Beat Factor: You make music for almost 20 years, right? How do you still manage to maintain your sound fresh and to keep it in the forefront of dance music?

A Guy Called Gerald: I keep it in the fridge.

Beat Factor: Let's speak a bit about your latest project from Laboratory Instinct. It's a double vinyl release and a mix CD called "Proto Acid / The Berlin Sessions". How would you describe the sound of this new album?

A Guy Called Gerald: A smorgasbord of house and techno music.

Beat Factor: The album release was in August. Any recent feedback and comments regarding it? How would you say people received the new material?

A Guy Called Gerald: I've had positive responses from everywhere apart from France. I think most people who have heard me in the last decade were probably surprised as the album not jungle or experimental breaks or something.

Beat Factor: What's the significance of this new album and what did you try to express through it?

A Guy Called Gerald: The significance is you should never judge an artist by the genre you try and put them in. I tried to express the multi-diversity and transmogrification of my writing skills as the first UK house producer.

Beat Factor: A Guy Called Gerald is the owner of two record labels, Sugoi Recordings and PROTECHSHON. What's new on these labels?

A Guy Called Gerald: The labels are basically rough outlines for producing jungle / breaks on one level and on the other level producing house / techno (and anything else unbreakable). The next release on Protechson is the second release in the live series I'm doing but will be recorded at a party in London.

Beat Factor: "Every five minutes there's a new music coming out, but when I check it - it's just the same thing. It's time to move on, I can't wait any longer". Has something changed in your music approach from the last year? If not, what do you think should be changed in the electronic dance music?

A Guy Called Gerald: Something changes in my music from show to show using the feedback of people at the parties I play at as an inspiration to progress in a positive way. I think artists need to stop relying on the machines for the groove – they should actually push the machines to make the groove that they want, the groove that they hear in their head (if they do hear anything). We need to separate the real inventors of groove from the machine operators.

Beat Factor: How much time do you need in order to produce a tune? Is it easier now than back in the ' 90s?

A Guy Called Gerald: I need at least half a minute to set the studio up, and another 15 minutes to create a groove that doesn't sound like a machine. I think after about half an hour you should have something that sounds like it's never been done before if you are not relying on the 4/4 beat to drag you along. Yes, it's 90% easier.

Beat Factor: What studio system do you use at the moment?

A Guy Called Gerald: I use new school retro software.

Beat Factor: You live in Berlin, but at the moment London should be considered a common place for you. Where can you express yourself the best as an artist?

A Guy Called Gerald: I'm actually from Manchester and I'm living in Berlin. London is for the Pete Tong's and Judge Jules type people.... They took house music to another level. I'm not worthy of that kind of mass production house-type thing. I'm more of an artist straight-to-the-people kinda guy. I can probably express myself best as an artist at a gig because at a show there is nothing in between me and the people (apart from maybe the sound guy).

Beat Factor: For those who didn't catch anything yet from you, what should they look forward to at the moment? But in the future?

A Guy Called Gerald: They should look forward to hearing the last decade and a half of the history of dance music that was denied to them by the mass media. I think they are very lucky to have a second chance. I mean, they could have ended up thinking dance music was all about some cheesy bedroom freak who had no funk or soul in his bones but had been signed up by his mate who had a quota to fill at some cheesy record label.

My aim is to give the machines some emotion in my productions and when I play out live. And when I say live, I mean LIVE, not playing mp3s with some dj software. I'll be giving the audience the experience of the difference between the mp3 and a 303.

Features Archive

[2008]

A Guy Called Gerald, the Funkier Side of Black Dance Music
PUBLISHED

October 5, 2006 at 12:20 PM CEST

WORDS

Dragos R

Beat Factor: From your point of view, there's a battle on the dance music scene between the young DJs generation and the old (school) one?

A Guy Called Gerald: I don't think there is an old school generation of dance music DJs as far as I'm concerned. Most of the old ones are fat balding white guys who can't dance in the first place. I think the young DJs seem to be following the balding old ones and not dancing either. They use the label of dance but it almost sounds like a ridiculous idea. Someone into dance music should know how to dance. If I didn't enjoy dancing I wouldn't have gone out and bought a drum machine in the first place so I could have continuous rhythms to dance to. . I think sometimes people forget DJs are there to be selectors and not rock stars. But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter – the actual feeling of the funk is so far removed from the music that even when I go out and try and get my groove on it feels like I become a spectator sport for the dance floor – it's so alien to express yourself to dance music!

Beat Factor: What's your concept regarding "A Guy Called Gerald"'s music? Are the new tracks like a challenge, or do you want to stick to the "Gerald" style?

A Guy Called Gerald: All the time I aim to make something completely new.

Beat Factor: In what manner do you think an artist gains exposure in the front of media? And in what capacity do you think media can turn a simple producer into a future hero?

A Guy Called Gerald: Most artists gain exposure through the media if the PR person that they are paying to communicate with the media writes a press release that says "this artist is the best thing since sliced bread" and then sends it out to the media. I've found that most media now just cut and paste what the press release says.... In a way, computers have made the entire creative structure of everything from making movies to writing articles about an artist, one-dimensional. It depends on how much money the artist or label has to spend whether the simple producer is turned into a future hero. But these times are dying.... With the MTV generation coming of age, a younger generation is finally seeing through this financially trumped up showbiz freaks. Media is fragmented a lot more now too and people get there information in so many more ways.

Beat Factor: Where can people see you in the next months? Do you have a special future gig that you'd like to share it with us?

A Guy Called Gerald: Yes, I'm going to be doing gigs in places like London and other bigger cities but it would be nice to play in more alternative places outside the main media zones and play some of the smaller cities. I dream of doing an Eastern European tour that maybe would take me into Asia – just doing small towns and cities. Maybe I could even expose people to an alternative type of black music outside of rap. It seems like in this new century, everyone who's black and a musician is supposed to be a rapper and a hip hop dj. I would like to expose them to the funkier tronic side of black dance music.

Beat Factor: Robots kill humans VS Humans kill the robots?

A Guy Called Gerald: Humans make robots.

Beat Factor: What new technique relevant and useful innovations do you think that the last years brought us?

A Guy Called Gerald: Mass communication of the internet and the greater compression of information.

Beat Factor: Do you consider that the 21st century is built around the idea of "fast-food"?

A Guy Called Gerald: Yeah, I think so, I think that's the way it is being mapped out. But there are movements of people who live more of a "boutique" style life who are more interested in individuality, personal experience and independence.

Peace Gerald
foto: ©Kniestphotography.net
special thanks to Megan @ A Guy Called Gerald

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