SmartBlog has a chat with legendary producer Gerald Simpson, better known as A Guy Called Gerald. Credited with producing one of the first British acid house tracks in the ’80s and later having a deep influence on jungle, drum’n’bass, and techno, Gerald’s sound is strongly tied to not only the UK club scene, but its wide impact beyond. Currently residing in Berlin, he’s still influencing people and putting out albums, most recently Tronic Jazz: The Berlin Sessions.
He will be playing a live set at Smart Bar on June 18 for the Dotbleep 10 Year Anniversary Party alongside Dotbleep founder Justin Long and Josh Werner. Tickets are available here.
Q: It’s sort of hard for me to decide what to ask you, as it seems like you have been part of so many important aspects of dance music. When you first started, did you have any idea that it would evolve into what it is now?
Gerald: No, when I first started I was a dancer and I was literally making music personally for myself to dance to. I wasn’t thinking of anything else but my self – I was just making personal dance music.
Q: Were you dancing to it in your living room? :)
Gerald: No, I was studying Contemporary Dance and I couldn’t find any music that suited the way I was dancing. So I gave up my turntables and got a drum machine.
Q: What propelled you to take it out of your living room? If I recall correctly, you took a track to the Hacienda and they put it on?
Gerald: It wasn’t as simple as that. I was asked by Rham Records to take the test press around to clubs in Manchester to hear what it would sound like in the clubs. The Hacienda happened to be my local club. That came later… I had been going out dancing in Manchester since I was 14. What propelled me from making music purely for myself to releasing music was the frustration that there was nobody else in the UK at the time who seemed to be interested in promoting black dance music.
Q: Did that change after that?
Gerald: Yes, it did because people found ways to make money from this type of music. Once it entered the commercial chart system people became more aware of it.
Q: Since this is Chicago…how did you discover acid house?
Gerald: I discovered acid house by listening to Piccadilly Radio in Manchester. There was a DJ called Mike Shaft who played American imports. Here’s a video of one of the local parties in Moss Side in Manchester from 1986.
Q: Ah yes, I saw that video! Their dance moves blew me away; people don’t dance like that anymore! Since you are a dancer, do you still dance? Are we going to see you on the floor at SmartBar? :)
Gerald: We’ll see…. depends on the music :-)
Q: Speaking of which, you’re playing the Dotbleep 10 year anniversary. Do you have a connection with Dotbleep?
Gerald: No this is the first time with them. SmartBar put us in touch.
Q: Do you have anything in particular planned for that set?
Gerald: I never plan my live shows – it’s all about the feeling on the night. I find it very frustrating planning – it gets in the way of the creativity.
Q: Are you still using the dual laptops with Reason?
Gerald: I am.
Q: So we talked about the past, but what are you listening to these days? What’s inspiring you?
Gerald: It’s hard for me to find new music to listen to. I’m a bit tainted – I feel like it’s trying to find love in a brothel. It feels like a lot of people are following the money instead of putting emotion or feeling into their music.
Q: Why do you think that is? Or maybe… what do you think it would take to change that?
Gerald: i think that this music was better in its raw form but i dont think theres a way back but fortunately you got me :)
Q: We do! And I can’t wait to hear your set on Saturday! :)
Gerald: Thanks – looking forward to Saturday. I haven’t played in Chicago for about 15 years!