A Guy Called Gerald
29 Aug 2018
“You greedy rat head fuck.” Not one to mince his words and why should he? Gerald Simpson AKA A Guy Called Gerald has spent the last 30 years since the birth of acid house at the forefront of sonic innovation. He’s therefore got precious little time or respect for the lack of authenticity from artists such as EDM’s Deadmau5.
Gerald returns to Sheffield with a spectacular live show soundtracking his journey through acid and jungle as part of an international tour. He’ll actually be performing from the middle of Southbank Warehouse’s dancefloor and with no expense spared in terms of the lighting and sound design, it’s shaping up to be one of this year’s most unmissable events.
What advice would you have given yourself when you started out 30 years ago?
The first thing I would have said was: never let anyone in your studio.
At what point do you think you were happiest as an artist?
I was happiest at the mixing console – at every point in my life – there’s never been any change, it’s always been the same.
What’s been your most memorable club experience?
Micro-office in Shibuya-ku in Tokyo. They managed to fit a Funktion One soundsystem in a tiny space and somehow tuned it to the size of the room and it was absolutely amazing. Just goes to show if you put as much energy into the sound as you do into the bar it creates a phenomenal experience.
What ambitions haven’t you fulfilled during this time? Have you ever wanted to move away from music?
My ambition to become a political assassin has not been fulfilled. Haha, I move away from music every time I have to leave the studio. I would love to achieve total anonymity.
What most excites you about contemporary technology – has it gone too far or are you still excited about its potential?
Totally excited about it. I love the virtual world that creates the music I live in. I’m excited about soft synthesisers, soft effects, soft sequencers. I’m excited about things that I know will come to pass with the development of nano-wire, graphene and machines that will be able to run longer and faster than ever before on less power. I’m excited about the fact that the spreading of knowledge and with that the ability it gives people to create their own power generation and their world around them. It will give people more opportunities to link and collaborate the more they can connect online.
Should music be political?
Definitely. It’s always been political. I could imagine a tribe of people at the end of the day sitting around the fire, taking turns sharing their stories about their times – teaching stories about the past so they can be more careful in the future. This was the politics of their times. I refuse to be insulted by having to listen to thieves from the major record industry feeding us regurgitated rubbish from the past and calling it ‘pop’ music or whatever. Most of the music that we hear on the radio is from the same major labels who own the copyright on the music and collect royalties. The difference now is we have more of a choice, if you know what to look for and where to find it.
How do you relax?
Ride my bike.
When was the last time you were asked for a request and what was it?
I usually get asked for ‘Voodoo Ray’ but I don’t play at the kind of club where people will request.
When was the last time that you were blown away by a piece of music or live performance?
Ryuichi Sakamoto was incredible. He was playing with an incredible soundsystem on two grand pianos – one was being computer controlled by the other one. This blew my mind.
What’s your thoughts on the current trend of dance music and orchestras such as Hacienda Classical?
They needed a new way to monetise pop house and that’s the way to do it. I haven’t got a clue about current trends of dance music – I wouldn’t know it if it hit me. When I was interested in dance music trends people were dancing. Dance music rarely has a connection with dancing anymore. I’ve always been more interested in dancing than the music. I do dance music because I am interested in dance.
Has anybody else irritated you as much as Deadmau5 recently?
I think what people tend to do is they follow the pattern. If people like him become successful then you get people like ‘Marshmello Man’ or ‘Dildo Man’ – I don’t know. Their modus operandi would make more sense inside of rock music. To me, it’s like the Spinal Tap of dance music.
You’ve played Sheffield a number of times. What’s your impression of the city and how would you compare or contrast it with Manchester? You’ve lived around the world but could you ever see yourself settling down here?
Actually, it’s not far off my map of places to live. If anyone’s got a big basement that I could move my studio into, give me a call. Definitely Sheffield is an industrial city with a history of electronic music, like Manchester. It’s also northern which has the best of everything – people can actually understand what I’m saying instantly, so you can have a laugh northern style and understand without upsetting any cunt. When I was in Belfast people were trying to explain to me they use that word as a term of endearment with friends. I said, “mate, I’m from Manchester, ya cunt!”
What would be your key words of advice for those wanting to make a career out of music? Are there any local artists you’d be interested in collaborating with?
Learn to dance. If they can dance, tell them to send me some music to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m not interested if they can beat-match and how many famous DJs they know – I’m not even interested in the techniques they use to engineer in the studio. All I want to know is, can they dance? For real, true school.
You’ve described yourself as an experimentalist. What’s next?
I’m experimenting with deep pressure sound. Deep sound diving.
A Guy Called Gerald celebrates 30 Years of Independence, Saturday 22 September, Southbank Warehouse.