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Gerald Simpson (born 16 February 1967, Moss Side, Manchester, England), better known as A Guy Called Gerald, is a British musician, DJ and record producer.
He is best known for his early work in the Manchester acid house scene in the late 1980s and the track "Voodoo Ray". At that time, he specialised in techno music produced using equipment such as the Roland TB-303 bass synthesiser and the TR-808 drum machine.
Early Influences and Music:
Simpson was influenced by his Jamaican roots; his father's blue beat, ska and Trojan reggae record collection, his mother's Pentecostal church sessions and the Jamaican sound system parties in Manchester's Moss Side area where he grew up.
He absorbed jazz fusion and electro funk at clubs, youth clubs and shebeens such as Legends, St.Alfonso's, British Legion and the Reno in Manchester, where the dancefloor in the early 1980s inspired him to study contemporary dance. Manchester was a hotbed of dance music with black club nights open every night of the week and Simpson spent his time joining in the vibe. Around 1983 with electro booming and early hip hop, breakdancing and b-boy culture making its way from the US, he left dance college to immerse himself in electronic music production. At this time music from Detroit and Chicago - from producers such as Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson was being played by Stu Allen on Piccadilly Radio and imported directly into Manchester's specialist record shops.
Inspired, Simpson began experimenting with tape editing and drum machines and the regular jams in the attic of his house led to forming the Scratchbeat Masters. Using cut up beats, samples and turntables they would challenge other bands and their sound systems. They released a 12" single called "Wax On The Melt", a collaboration between a number of crews and Graham Massey and Martin Price together with whom he would later form 808 State. Their first album, Newbuild, was released in 1988, but he soon left the group to concentrate on his solo work.
Early Releases + Dance Music in Manchester:
The result of heading back into his bedroom studio was "Voodoo Ray", played first at the Hacienda in 1988 and then the underground clubs before entering the UK Singles Chart a year later. It was the first acid house track produced in the UK, and released on a small Merseyside independent label (Rham! Records) based in Wallasey. "Voodoo Ray" entered the UK record chart in 1989 rising to number 12. It was also the best selling independently released single of that year.
Much is written the influence of the Hacienda and rave scene on his music however Simpson was more influenced of the dancers in black club scene in the North of England such as Foot Patrol and the Jazz Defektors who were regulars in the clubs.
Greg Wilson, an influential Northern UK DJ and music writer explains on his blog: "A Guy Called Gerald provides the perfect analogy for what happened in Manchester. Most people would assume that he went to The Haçienda, heard this incredible House music for the first time, had an epiphany, and then went home and set to work on the era defining single 'Voodoo Ray' (which he wrote with Foot Patrol in mind, visualising how they might dance to it). The reality, of course, is that Gerald and his contemporaries were those very kids from Hulme and Moss Side, who brought House music into The Haçienda in the first place. Gerald had already been on the black scene for many years, dancing to Jazz-Funk, then Electro, before starting out with the Scratch Beatmasters as a Hip Hop DJ (MC Tunes rapping). 'Voodoo Ray' isn't an orthodox House track, but a culmination of his influences - The Haçienda providing the perfect setting in which to unleash this quintessential British dance track. Inadvertently bestowing Gerald with his name was Stu Allan - prior to 'Voodoo Ray', on playing a track he'd been given on tape by a local newcomer, he told his Piccadilly listeners that it was by a guy called Gerald from Hulme."
At the same time a track Simpson started before leaving 808 State, "Pacific State", was released and hit the charts. However, according to Simpson, they had finished and released the track without his permission. Although Simpson was credited on its first release on the album Quadrastate both as a writer and co-producer, the dispute escalated as Simpson claimed to have written the entire track. The dispute was eventually settled out of court.
In 1991, after CBS / Sony released Automanikk, he started his own label, Juice Box Records, releasing a string of 12" singles - the seeds of what became known as jungle and later drum and bass. The first singles were compiled and released on his third album 28 Gun Bad Boy (1992). In 1995, his next album, Black Secret Technology was released. A remastered version was re-issued in June 2008.
Juice Box Records + Jungle:
Juice Box Records was an independent record label in the United Kingdom, based at Riverside Studios in West London. It was established by Simpson in 1992, after he left SME Records, and closed in 1998. It took its name from the sound system that Simpson operated with MC Tunes. The label provided an outlet for seven years for Simpson's work, with thirty three titles released under various other pseudonyms such as The K.G.B. and Ricky Rouge, and collaborations between Simpson and artists including Lisa May, DJ Tamsin, Goldie (as 'The 2 G's'), and Finley Quaye.
The label has been identified as being responsible for influential releases that provided the blueprint for what was to become jungle then drum and bass, with early singles on the label described as "genre-defining". The early singles on the label were compiled on the LP 28 Gun Bad Boy, of which Simon Reynolds of Melody Maker stated in a review of the album, "If there was a blueprint for what would transform rave into jungle/techno, then this is it.". It is regarded as the first full-length Jungle album ever released.
Reynolds also stated in a Melody Maker article in October 1994, about Simpson's Juice Box-era music, "Gerald's tracks take the jungle mesh of polyrhythms, cross-rhythms and counter-rhythms to new levels of insane detail." Gerald's Black Secret Technology LP was released in 1995 and reached UK Charts #64, including contributions from Goldie and Finley Quaye, In 1998, the label closed, with Simpson relocating to New York.
1997 - 2013 Releases:
In 1997, he moved to New York and, in 2000, released Essence on the independent label !K7 Records. Essence was Simpson's first song-based rather than dance/club album, featuring guests such as Lou Rhodes, David Simpson, Lady Miss Kier and Wendy Page. In January 2005, he released a more ambient album To All Things What They Need, also on !K7 Records.
In August 2006, Proto Acid / The Berlin Sessions was released on the German label, Laboratory Instinct. A continuous mix album, it was recorded live in Berlin. The second album in The Berlin Sessions series was released in 2010 : "Tronic Jazz / The Berlin Sessions.
"How Long Is Now" EP was released on Bosconi Records in 2012.
In 2013 the album "Silent Spread Sound Spectrum" album was released on the Society of Sound - a subscription based music retail project by Bowers & Wilkins audio equipment company. Subscribers receive two albums per month curated by Peter Gabriel and the London Symphony Orchestra.
"The entire track was performed by Gerald live (in the Big Room at Real World Studio) from two laptops captured into a Pro Tools HD system. Audio resolution was high throughout this project with a 24 bit resolution and a 96kHz sampling rate maintained from creation through to capturing the performance. A few additional sounds made it onto this album that were taken from 1986 - sampled from a vinyl release and incorporated into this composition."
"I am fascinated by the science of sound. Silent Sound Spread Spectrum (SSSS) or S-Quad or Squad is allegedly a technology used by the US Department Of Defence that uses subliminal programming carried over ultra-high frequency broadcast waves. With this system, planting inaudible messages directly into the subconscious becomes very easy to do and everyone is susceptible. This composition is about 50 mins and it follows no specific style. It should leave the listener refreshed and relaxed." A Guy Called Gerald
2013 - Present:
Simpson has been touring steadily worldwide preferring to perform his own productions Live In Session.
On 2015 Simpson is concentrating on a new album and developing a "Live In Session" experience - "a new way to present the music live based around the idea of being in the centre of the dancefloor and at eye level... I am looking to create a space which mimics the studio environment - not only that - because I would be in the centre of the dancefloor so I can monitor everything around me and be at the same level - eye-level with the presumed dancer. This way it makes it easy for me to create the atmosphere and the rhythm suitable for the individual dancefloor. Kind of like an open kitchen in a restaurant - it's an open kitchen in a club bringing the food to the people instantly - as soon as it's produced it's already on the dancefloor. What I'm looking for in 2015 is sound reproduction in the clubs being taken a lot more seriously than in the past."
A Guy Called Gerald