Guy Gerber has had a meteoric and at times slightly unconventional rise to the top from the early days of his productions on Luciano’s Cadenza, John Digweed’s Bedrock label and first artist album on Sven Väth’s Cocoon imprint.
Fusing techno beats with live instruments has given him that indie edge, that has often seen him classed as a dance music outsider.
But he’s happy with this mantle and welcomes it, with a flurry of releases and DJ gigs all over the world, a second stint as Pacha resident in Ibiza looming this summer — with his unusually named Wisdom of the Glove night — and a new album project with none other than rap’s leading statesman P Diddy.
This is a man who has his sights firmly set on the prize, so we decided to quiz him on his studio techniques...
How have you developed as an artist during your production and DJing career?
“Well I think that with the many years I’ve been doing this, I've got more confident about what I am doing and I feel more freedom to improvise, whether it’s in the studio or whilst I am playing in a club. After so many years of doing this job, my working method is still a little bit stunted and my patience for small details is very small, therefore I almost managed to keep sounding like myself because it’s just the way I make my music, the zero thinking before I start a project is something that is very recognisable. “I also never follow trends and try to do classy things that can't be put on a timeline. I think that’s the secret of staying successful for many years, it’s to make sure you stay honest to yourself and always try to look for something new that will challenge you, so you can stay fresh and not repeat yourself.
Trying to be like this is how I maintained the same amount of passion that I had in the beginning of it all. I try not to take everything so seriously because in the end it’s all about the party, enjoying good times with good friends, I try to never forget this.”
You’ve recently been holed up in the studio with P Diddy — how did this go?
“A lot has been said about this project, it is called 11/11 but nothing has been released yet, therefore I would rather wait until it’s out, before discussing it in more detail.
I can only say that some moments of this project will surprise a lot of people, and in general I’ve got to say that Puff is definitely a cool guy to work with.”
When can we expect the next artist album?
“Well, I released one last year — ‘Who's Stalking Who?’ and another one before that, ‘Fabric 64’. That was actually a whole new composition that I made just for them, but both were kind of a journey, mixes that were made in short periods of time, unlike my next album — that is part of a process of years, it’s taken so long because I have been busy doing loads of other stuff.”
What defines your sound?
“My sound is defined by the studio that I'm working in, as I travel a lot, but I will quote Miles Davis who once said, 'Man, it takes a really long time to sound yourself', and I believe that I do have a signature sound, that at its best is warm and analogue, and has many frequencies to it, yet is not really perfect. Sometimes there are very intense mistakes in it, but as an overall it's very emotional and melodic. I also use a lot of drum machines and play around with the high notes of the bass guitar, so it’s slightly indie and kind of techno at the same time.”
Tell us about your current studio set-up?
“As I am constantly changing cities, I work in different studios, but I never give up on using the Eventide H8000, a few synths from Roland, the Juno 106, Juno 60, SH101 and Jupiter 6, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, Elektron Monomachine, Yamaha DX7, my vintage Music Man bass guitar, Fender Rhodes and my Manly Variable Mu compressor.
Of course, I have quite a few drum machines, like the Machine Drum and the Miami Bass, which is an analog clone of Roland’s legendary 808 drum machine, and a new purchase which is the MFB Tanzbar (a totally amazing analog drum machine).”
What are some of your favourite bits of gear?
“When I'm in my own studio I have a whole rack of Neve summing modules and some API compressors and EQs, lots of guitar pedals and a collection of old and weird synths. I also have a really nice pair of Focal monitors. And of course, I own quite a few bits of software by the amazing Native Instruments and Sugarbytes.”
When it comes to working in the studio, what are some of the processes that you employ?
“I usually try not to think so much and just jam with a synth or a drum machine, and record the whole session and later edit the better parts. My favourite synth for this is the Roland Juno 106, even though there are so many more interesting ones. This is the guy that I always use as it’s so easy to control (I hate complicated synths). I’ll usually either jam and record, or I sequence it with one of my drum machines. Sometimes I will connect it to some delay pedals and flangers, and of course the Eventide stuff. Then I’ll connect it to my rig of API preamp/compressor/EQ, and then into the amazing converter that I have and record into the computer.
“After I have these long progressions recorded I start blending them together and then start looking for the magic moments when two different channels are creating something that I didn't anticipate. After I have a long dynamic thing going, I then record vocals or guitar or basically anything that I feel is suitable until I feel that I have something really special and not conventional, but still communicative enough for people to understand. This way the track sounds a bit more alive and more dynamic. I stopped liking music that sounds repetitive, like copy and paste every sixteen bars. I love when you can hear in the music the artist touching buttons or tweaking stuff. There has to be some kind of intensity in it.”
How would you describe yourself first and foremost, as a musician, DJ or a producer?
“I am definitely first a musician and a producer. The thing I like the most is to create harmonies that touch people and make them wonder why they like them so much.”