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Ge-Ology Interview

Electronic funk fiend, hip-hop beat maker and all round innovator Ge-Ology plays his first UK show on 6th February at London's Gramaphone, for 1 Xtra DJ Benji B's Deviation Sessions.

Known for his work with a host of artists including rappers Mos Def and Talib Kweli, and his own, tripped out electro-hop beats, Ge-Ology is one of the most original DJ/producers out there. We got him on the phone to talk DJing, beat making and the digital world…

You're playing your first show in the UK on 6th February. Are you looking forward to that?

"Hell yeah of course! Been wanting to do this for a long time, it's my first time playing there, but I actually spent New Year there a year ago now."

What can we expect from your show? Are you DJing or playing live, or a combination?

"Mainly DJing, it depends on how we formulate the whole night, but me and Benji B always have a great chemistry when we play. It's one of my favourite combos when me and Benji play together. My set is gonna be all over the place. If anyone's ever seen me play, I go all over, I take people on a journey from this place to that place to the next place, without them really realising that the genre even changed. I just want to play stuff that makes people shake their ass and have a great time."

A lot of people know you for your productions for Mos Def and Talib Kweli amongst others. Are you working with any other rappers at the moment?

"I'm doing more than just hip-hop, some people know that, some people don't know that. There's so many artists that I've worked with, from Jill Scott to Vinia Mojica, to Jem. I mean Jem is, like, very different from what most people know about me, but I did that stuff. I did her biggest song 'They', it went to number six on the charts, and I produced three tracks on that album, it went platinum. My range is far, I can do any kind of sound that I want to do. "I'm working on a bunch of different things, there's two different projects, loads of remixes, I'm not gonna let it out the bag yet, but even on the visual arts side, too. I've done so much, from 2-D, to 3-D, mixed media, painting, design, a lot of album covers, I've done a lot over the years. I did the 'Body Rock' cover from back in the day for Rawkus. I do all kinds of work, I'm going to Las Vegas in a couple of weeks, where I'm going to be DJing and projecting my work on the walls as well, so that's gonna be a mixed media Ge-Ology!"

Your own productions seem to combine electronic sounds with samples. How do you approach the production process?

"I love electronic music, but I love acoustic music also. When I first started as a kid, playing instruments, cornet and trumpet, I was doing that before anything else. But I didn't really have a passion for those instruments. I played for a long time, but I didn't have the same passion as when I started DJing at the age of 11, I was kind of caught up in DJing. That's when my passion came, and it led to me making my own beats when I got to high school, and I was in a group with Tupac Shakur and Darren Bastfield who went by the name of Pace Rocker, and my man Dana, called Mouse aka Slick D, and we all formed a group together called Born Busy, and that's how the whole production thing started.

"Back then, I didn't have, nowadays everybody has loads of equipment, today you can have a computer programme like Reason. Taking it back to the '80s, we didn't have that kind of technology. We had to find ways to make it happen if you didn't have access to the machines. I learnt a lot from having nothing, and my style developed from me trying to make more from the little I had. Nowadays, over the years I've been collecting instruments, I have all kinds of vintage synths, electric pianos, drum machines and samplers, so I have a lot to choose from. From digital software to physical machines, MPC 3000, MPC 2000, the SP1200, Fender Rhodes, a Juno 60, a Moog, a lot of different choices. I try to combine a lot of different things into the sound depending on what I'm working on. There's different textures, and I like combine shapes, sounds and colours. I like to do the same thing in my artwork."

Do you still dig for beats in a world that has become so digital?

"I definitely think it's had a great effect on the up-and-coming producers and their way of doing things. Being old school but in a new school sense, I always adapt to the new ways of doing things, the technology, but not depend on it either. I like to dig, I'm a huge record collector, I always like to have physical product. I have to have my vinyl. But at the same time technology has allowed me to tour with a smaller bag of records and Serato and a laptop. That way I can travel to a bunch of different countries, and not have to pay for the insurance and extra weight. But at the end of the day I love my records more than anything. I like to find drum sounds, and I do a combination of things, where I make the sounds myself. I have my drum records, where I know I can get a certain snare, or a certain kick. I try to make it original."

What have you got coming up production wise?

"A lot of things, I'm working on some remixes but I have to see how they work out. I got to make sure that they make the cut. If those things work out well, you're gonna hear about it soon. I want to take some things in a different direction that people may not be expecting. It's still in the same realm. I'm all about the funk and the soul. No matter what it is, no matter how you translate it. Whether you translate it in an electronic way, or natural and acoustic. I love analogue sounds. It's great that digital technology allows us to do certain things, but I have to keep it warm. What I want to do is take people on a wider journey. 'Ge-Ology plays Ge-Ology' was like an introduction, it was more of a retrospective. I still have a lot of music which I haven't released yet. I try to create music that's timeless, that's still relevant years from now."