Guy Gerber on his scorching Fabric mix and how Facebook affects the electronic scene
It's been a big year for Guy Gerber. The Israeli native, who recently relocated to L.A., has created a Fabric album that's been garnering a lot of attention for all the best reasons; he's also been collaborating with P.Diddy on a project and just released a new track, "Steady," on which he plays bass guitar. In a previous life, not only did Gerber play national-level soccer, but he also dabbled in a rock band or two. We caught up with the impresario to talk about his collaboration with Diddy, get his thoughts on the Fabric album and the electronica scene, and ask how music compares to soccer as a career.
See also: Guy Gerber at Beta, 10/13/12
Westword: One of the things you're known for is the live component of both your recorded music and your shows. Can you talk about what it's like to play instruments in an electronic setting?
Guy Gerber: When I first started playing, I was in a transition from making things for the guitar to things for the sampler. From that, I started to get booked as a live act, and after that, I started to DJ. I think the transition was very difficult to make, because there wasn't a scene with this kind of music. It was more drums and horrible electronic music. It took me a long time to figure out how this thing is done based around how to compress things, but in a way, it made me very different from everybody else, because I was just trying to make new music.
I was imagining how it would sound, but I wasn't really listening to others. And I wasn't part of the scene, so I could do what I want. And with the instruments, for me, when I listen to it, even if people don't like electronic music, they share some base ideas, so people like it as well. Say, if you use a guitar instead of a keyboard -- it keeps things more fresh. Bass and funky stuff can be boring, but if you do the same kind of melody but play a bass guitar on the high notes, it's a fresher sound.
Tell us what it was like to put together your Fabric 64 mix earlier this year.
The main idea was not to use just my own tracks, but rather to create a whole composition just made for that moment. Besides one track that already existed, all the music was made around two months. I had to come up with a scene -- what exactly I wanted to say and how I would start would be the direction of the mix. And I also felt that it had to be...not really brave, but not the most ordinary thing to do. To make an album, it has a specific sound, and I thought people would appreciate it. I just got into the studio. I started experimenting with some sounds, and anytime I'm doing that, if it's a track, it's a track.
But if I'm doing an album, it has to have some kind of concept. While I was searching for the theme, I would play this stuff and try not to use a computer as much. So I also came up with the idea that I would use a drum machine, instruments and vocals. Then I started traveling. I was traveling for, like, four days, and in those four days, I created 45 minutes of it because I thought it was easier to create it on the fly rather than try to fix what existed already. In the end, it was very rewarding. I think a lot of people liked it.
And how did your collaboration with P. Diddy come about?
He said, "I really like your stuff. We should do some stuff together for my album, maybe for a remix." When I got there, they put me in the studio and said, "You can use this, this and this." But I was like, "What? What do I do, what kind of music should I do?" And I just started jamming. I wasn't really interested in doing something ordinary, but he heard one of the loops I was doing, fell in love with it, and said, "Why don't you do just a whole remix version for my album?"
So I was working on it, but after a while, I was changing it so much, and at one point, I came up with something really different, so we said, "Let's just make an album out of it." So we have a new album, a new project, 11:11. It's a date when supposedly two worlds collide and open another gate to another dimension. And, yeah, that's kind of like me and him, meeting together and doing some stuff; we're both from different worlds. It's coming out very soon.
Having traveled around both Europe and the U.S., what are your impressions about the differences and similarities between the scenes?
I would say that electronic music kind of exploded in Europe; it came out of social revolution. So it was like the computer getting to the world, and then a lot of people lost their jobs because of this, and they were unemployed, started to take drugs and ecstasy, and the music evolved out of this generation. It had people rebelling against some other things.
In the States, it's more like a trend, but it's booming so much. I would say, first, I'm very happy because it's also the music I like, and I was exposed to so many people. When I got into electronic music, I tried to get deep into it, where it started and why it started. It started with these people in Detroit.
Today, people like hard tracks in the States, and it's very rave-y, in a way similar to, I would say, almost to heavy metal. Why young people like heavy metal: They can release themselves. But I don't feel that it has a lot behind it, even though most of this music started in the States, in Detroit and Chicago. I think America contributes a lot, but the fact that the scene is so big right now, it's because of the party rather than the music. That's my insight about it.
Where do you think it's going to go? Do you think it'll burn out, or keep dividing into genres, like rock and roll?
I would say this is turning into rock and roll for sure, because I think it already is. I think it's so big, so of course people ... You know, there was disco, then rock, so I'm sure there will be a moment when people will get fed up with it, but it's not going to disappear, because it's so big. Maybe the rock will come back, or hip-hop again, or I don't know what other genre. But a lot of people from Europe criticize the States, kind of in the way I said -- but for me, it's not really a big problem that it's commercial. I don't like the music at all when it's commercial, but in a way it's exposing also, in the end, a lot of underground artists to more people.
And it's part of the era that we're living in. There's a lot of information, Internet, Facebook and likes. So people generally don't go deep into things. It's not only music. Everything is fast: You can browse, and if you're bored, you can move to another page. Before, popularity was measured by being cool, being underground, being different, but today it's if you have a lot of likes. It's a number, and people are doing a lot of stuff just to get liked.
So where is this going, in five, ten years? I would say artistically the production is not really interesting, but at the same time, culture is, maybe -- I don't know -- maybe the quality is getting minimized, but at the same time it's very interesting what's happening. It's kind of ridiculous. The world is so connected everywhere I go. Because of Facebook and the Internet, you talk to a person and you immediately know a few other people who know him.
I think it's going to get bigger and bigger, people will get fed up with it, for sure, because there's not so much behind it from this commercial music. Also, this music doesn't have lyrics, so there's not so much behind it. But it's not going to disappear, because it's already way too big. It's become a legitimate genre. It's not going to disappear.
You played soccer at a national level before you got into music. What are some of the similarities between the two career choices?
For me, soccer was a way to escape my thoughts. I was playing all the time. I had a lot of things going through my mind all the time. In soccer it was easier, because you have to react all the time, you don't have so much time to think. Music has been my best friend since I started making it when I was seventeen. It was kind of like a therapy, so maybe soccer was also therapy.
At the same time, I like to be challenged, and both things are very challenging. And for me, the challenge, I would say -- first, both are very creative. Soccer playing is very creative. I could express myself in that way. But one of the most interesting things about it, now that I'm thinking about it, is I like to think there's a situation -- you get into the situation, and in the end, you get out of it. So you solve the problem, solve the plot, by doing things before you can think about it.
Even traveling right now -- I'm just in fucking nowhere. I had to find this hotel, I missed my flight and this and that, and I have to go in this really, really, really weird place, and because it's a connection, I have to go to the airport by myself. They told me my spot was 500 meters away, but of course it wasn't. I had to find this car behind another car, and all this stuff. I like also the adventurous part of music, and soccer, too -- you just go on a field and have no idea what's going to happen, how the opponents will be, how you're going to play.
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