TEN QUESTIONS WITH: A GUY CALLED GERALD
Earlier this year, A Guy Called Gerald (Gerald Simpson) made his Laboratory Instinct debut with a 'drop-tech infusion' mix of Dell & Flügel's Superstructure featured on the duo's Study For A Skyscraper EP. Now the British acid house pioneer and drum'n'bass legend is set to issue his own full-length on the German imprint, the appropriately-titled Proto Acid The Berlin Sessions. Having literally influenced generations of music-makers with an incredible discography that's grown incrementally deeper since the ‘80s, the Manchester UK native and now Berlin resident executes the infectious seventy-one-minute jam with a masterful meticulousness (elaborating on the running time, Simpson says, “I tried to keep it compact and tight. Usually, on laptops I like to do an eight-hour set.”)
Drenching Detroit-styled techno in sparkling electro, the set, recorded live in one session using two laptops and a DJ mixer at Gerald's Diehold Studio on February 11th, 2006, flows with a relaxed ease. With one exception (“Auto Rebuild,” the third track, is a remake of 1990's “Automannik”), the album's twenty-four raw, club-oriented tracks are all new and were created over the last year in Berlin. Simpson doesn't waste a moment, immediately invigorating the set with a pumping tribal groove (“Marching Powder”) before moving on to the steely funk-throb of “The Strip.” The mix's strutting electro strain makes its first appearance in “Auto Rebuild” and dominates thereafter, though its presence is subtly modulated from one cut to the next, at one moment oozing a house vibe and the next techno. “Skitzoid” casts a mechano spell, “Night Flight” breezily rocks, and the jacking cut “Voltar” broils feverishly for almost eight minutes. At this stage in his career, one might assume that Simpson has covered every base imaginable, but apparently that's not the case. Referring to the new release, he says, “It's the culmination of a dream I've had since I started making music, and that's to take the studio into the club; this album is snapshot of those possibilities.”
1. Proto Acid The Berlin Sessions is obviously different from your last full-length To All Things What They Need. Did you deliberately set out to create something different from it, or did the tracks simply develop that way of their own accord?
It was prepared in a way that it could be performed in a club. I was invited to a series of small sessions with friends where I would jam live and I prepared tracks especially for these nights. All I can say is the secret to this formula is there never is a final mix. What I mean is, every time I perform this material live it's always different. You may recognize the melodies and some of the loops but every time they're crafted together in a different way. This particular session is just one jam.
3. Aside from a few snippets here and there, the new album eschews vocals. Why did you decide to exclude vocals?
4. Interestingly, track thirteen (“Bumpt”) signals the set's first presentation of a conventionally recognizable 'acid' sound.
6. What prompted the move to Berlin and what's the experience been like thus far? Do you find Traum and Kompakt influences, say, seeping into your work as a consequence of living there?
I decided to move because I feel like I shed weight when I move—psychologically and materially. I moved here because the clubs never shut; I need to get my groove on and there's nothing like a 12-hour stint in the studio and going out and getting your groove on before going to bed.
I love living in Berlin. I love the clubs. I like the Sender and Boxer Sport labels a lot and a lot of the other small labels doing electronic music here. I'm not too much into Kompakt's main stuff. I try to enjoy other people's music without being too influenced by it. The thing about Berlin is, it's all about electronic music and club music, and there are very few cities in the world left like this. There are other scenes here as well but the underground is alive and kicking.
7. Given that you've amassed such an extensive discography, how difficult is it for you to come up with and get excited about new material that's different from what you've done before?
8. You've seen not only a lot of artists come and go but trends too. Did you ever find yourself being seduced by such trends or at least drawn towards or influenced by them or did you always have the discipline to focus completely on your own direction without being sidetracked?
I suppose I look at it in a different way. I see all these trends influenced by me and a few others who were pioneering the way in the early days so I suppose there's no need to follow really. I think it's healthy that these 'scenes' exist and probably a good idea that they disappear after a while. I think if you come from the generation I come from, it seems a little bit immature to follow trends.
Really abstract stuff... sound libraries... I'm making myself a collection of Roland Juno 106 sounds using soft synths to regenerate the sounds. I get really excited about these things because I can build a tune out of a sound.
You can expect new music from Sender Records, from Perlon, from my own two labels Sugoi and Protechshon. I'll be launching A Guy Called Gerald Records for a reissues series, and there'll be a tour after the new album is released in August.