It is a bright Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles and Guy Gerber is in his basement. Absorbed in making the final touches to his new Fabric CD before he jets off to Frankfurt later today, he doesn’t hear my phone calls. Eventually he picks up. His delicately accented voice is chirpy and a smidgen restless. Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Mr Gerber is arguably one of the greatest talents in the electronic music world today. An intently prolific producer, he is renowned for his melodic, emotive and timeless creations, and his seemingly effortless ability to evolve the techno genre. Nonconformist by nature, Gerber is someone who maintains his artistic integrity at all costs, earning him longevity and admiration from audiences worldwide. Over the last couple of months his heart and mind have been spinning into overdrive. Life threw a couple of explosive situations into his personal life, let’s just say. As always, he has successfully channeled his emotional energy into his music production, exemplified mesmerizingly in his EP “Mirror Game” recently released on Visionquest. He has also produced his Fabric Live CD which is coming out in June, “Steady” an EP for his outstanding label, Supplement Facts, and a new album due to be released later this year.
What were your inspirations for The Mirror Game? First, whatever I do I try to stay as different as I can from other things. Especially when today music sounds very similar. My influences are more indie music. I don’t listen to that much techno at home. Basically I played bass guitar there with high notes, which is for me more like The Cure, like Joy Division, but the idea was to make it work as a club track, but also as a song. I tried to keep the rhythm as warm as I could. I don’t use midi so much; I play everything with my hands, and I try to not use the computer so much. So it’s a little bit more off beat..
How would you say your music and your approach have evolved over the last few years? While most people are trying to produce inside the computer and using more soft synths - which sounds pretty good, I don’t have anything against it - but just for me, I enjoy buying more equipment. And I use more analogue stuff, eg analogue compressors and some equalizers. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years.. It keeps me excited since I’ve been doing this for so many years.
So can you describe how the magic happens in your studio..? My studio is like a toy room. Everything is connected, and I just jam with it. It’’s like a one-person band. I always start with recording - I don’t think, I’m already there. I’m always like this, with everything actually.
[He pauses to reflect for a moment] Maybe I should be more thoughtful regarding some things.
You’ve just finished making your Fabric CD. Can you tell me a bit about it? I decided to make a 70 minute composition that’s almost like a 70 minute track, instead of just connecting tracks. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. And since I’ve also been working with P Diddy and I was also doing some Indie stuff, I was getting a little bit bored of just making normal tracks. So [with my approach] I didn’t need to make an intro and and outro [...] I could start putting in other melodies. It created..like a journey inside my soul. A collection of moments... This was all made in 3 ½ weeks. So it’s like 70 minutes inside my mind and heart.
And was anything specifically going on in your heart..an external story? My life is known to be very dramatic. I’ve had a lot of dramas with my heart in the past decade. Girls come and go; the music always stays. Me, I [get] so down, but I’m actually also kinda enjoying it. I push myself there, and then I just put it all out. Afterwards, at some point, I’m relieved. I try to squeeze everything out, instead of keeping it in. A lot of people try to hide their emotions. My mother always said ‘Only strong people are not afraid to show their weaknesses.’ Me, I’m just like that. I’m very emotional. That’s the way I am.
It’s funny..I’m shy..I usually don’t read my interviews, and I don’t watch videos with me. I don’t like to watch myself or read myself.
How did you stay faithful to your artistic values and true to your roots when working with a commercial artist such as P Diddy? I think it was another proof for me that whatever happens, I always stay myself. And I just took it as a challenge to express myself musically within a different medium, but not to let the medium control me. Maybe it was a good decision, maybe it was the wrong decision...because it was difficult and it took me ages to finish it. I wanted to do something very credible, but it wasn’t easy to get there.
Are you excited about the P Diddy album? I’m very excited. A lot of people, especially here in the States, have some fixation about electronic music, and because of his name, it’s an opportunity for people to listen to music that they would not ordinarily listen to. [Electronic music] is booming here, but it’s mainly commercial - and horrible music. [P Diddy] had been listening to EDM for ten years, and going to dc10 and more underground places. Also I think artistically, I reached a few peaks there - at least for me. I’m always trying to push it forward, and challenge myself, and not repeat myself. And I think I managed to do that in that project.
And what’s the concept behind the project’s name, 11:11 ? It’s two words, like a date, when 2 words collide and a gate to another dimension is opened.
I’ve noticed you have a passion for visual art, taking time and careful consideration with Supplement Facts cover designs.. Yes, I like when it’s intimate. And since with electronic music there are no lyrics the name of the track and the visuals are very essential to understanding the world of the track.
Names are very important for me. Now I have to come up with 17 new names by tomorrow for each of the segments of my [FabricLive] composition since the journey of the CD moves from hope to despair to sexuality...etc. And I don’t feel that my brain is...
..up to it? No.. Right now I’m on the edge... [he laughs]. Because I’ve been working so hard to finish this and.. yeah..I’ve had some personal stuff to deal with.
What do you do to relax your mind? To relax my mind? I started reading again, which is great. I’m reading this hilarious book called The Money Shot, by Christa Faust. It’s kinda like sophisticated Pulp, it’s very cool.
What are your memories of growing up in Israel? For me this is the most complex place on the whole planet. So small, yet affecting almost all the countries in the Western world. Religion, blood-shed for almost thousand years; controversy- almost everything is controversial over there. But at the same time people are really straightforward, and very true. There is no place for superficiality there. Friendship is the most important thing. And these are the kind of values my parents gave me. I was playing soccer since I was 8 years old until I was 18. I was on Israel’s national team. I was almost like a professional soccer player. I was 100% dedicated to it. 7 days a week. But I decided this was not for me. Then I started playing guitar when I was around 17, and then I became too conscious. I started to read philosophical books. I became romantic. Everyone around me took years to get over it because they were sure I would be a soccer player.
How did your passion and talent for music develop? How did you get into electronic music, stuff from Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine? Yeah, I started out listening to The Smiths, Joy Division - especially Johnny Marr from The Smiths. And I was writing, mainly lyrics. And I saw myself as a writer. But I realized that my power was in the melody, because it paints a very vivid picture for what I want to express. My art is about making people ask questions, hopefully about themselves, so I like to keep it open. I didn’t grow up part of the scene. So when I was listening to more alternative music I couldn’t share it with a lot of people. I was exploring on my own..It wasn’t an easy task. I had no one sharing with me, teaching me. But this made me who I am.
I noticed you’re playing B2B with Seth Troxler at DEMF this year... First, he’s a very close friend to me. And when we play, there is always magic. There are so many moments when we just look at each other and we’re like, ‘Wo, what the fuck is going on?!’ - Many moments when I don’t even know if it’s me, or him...We blend into each other so well. It’s not like we practise.. we just play, and you know, it’s something special what we have.
Can you tell me about the format you use in your performances? I’m going to change it very soon. I might be moving to Traktor with their new system because they have a really cool new feature. But I have a lot of stems, most of them are new that I work on and I just jam with them. And I have a controller and a synthesizer. Sometimes I play with it, sometimes not. But it’s there. It’s not always easy because I can’t really play hits, or my own hits partly because I’m bored of them. So it’s a very challenging process.
What do you see yourself playing or producing in 3 - 5 years? Hopefully only songs and not so many tracks. I’m still going to make tracks because I love dance music, I love going to clubs and I like the parties. But I would be happy if I was mainly doing albums that have songs, lyrics and singers and mainly stuff like that. And hopefully doing some soundtracks.
What’s your favourite club to go to when you’re not DJ-ing? Generally when I’m not DJ-ing I prefer not to go to clubs. I started [laughs] going to VIP clubs where there’s horrible music. Shitty music which you can laugh at, rather than cool places that are really hype and where I know all the people.
And there are many more girls at these other places ;) I think it can be more fun, because it’s ridiculous.
Would you say you’re a bit of a workaholic? Do you ever go away on holiday to a mountain/beach/nature..? I’m actually very lazy. I don’t finish things on time. I love the beach, but I’m not a big fan of actual nature, no. I’m a very urban person. I need some things going on around me. Now I’m actually just starting to really enjoy LA after two months stuck in the f***king basement. For a few months I’m not going to do anything. I’m just going to have fun. I finished this album, I finished this other album, I finished the release. I’m just going to be extremely free. Chill out, make some noise, create some damage, make some problems...yeah!
Now you’ve seen substantial success..how much are you driven by - or addicted to - the fame? the money? Fame takes away my privacy, and generally I love privacy. Money just makes your appetite bigger, unfortunately. But I want to reach a point where I can support my whole family so my children can have at least what I had. So yes, I need to work for that.
If you were not an artist..what would you be?
I think I would be a very good conceptual artist. One who talks about art but is not really doing anything. Just creating things that people will want to talk about.
At school, I was challenging the teacher all the time..You know ‘what’s the purpose of art? etc We had an assignment to do part of the human body. I was like “ I’m not doing this. I suck at this. I’m not a good illustrator.’ And the teacher insisted. So I took a nylon washing-up glove, put water in it, put a stick in it, and put it in the freezer. I made a hand-popsicle. When I presented it in class I said my art is against museums (which charge so much etc), that it’s ephemeral and that it’s going to melt any second. And it was already melting and it looked really bad. And [the teacher] couldn’t say anything. Because it was art, and it only took me one minute to make it.
[ Guy makes a Bloody Mary and keeps talking..]
Do you have any regrets? I have A LOT of regrets. But it’s better to regret something you have done than what you haven’t done. Unfortunately, it seems like if I look at my life, I didn’t learn enough. I’m still working on it. One thing for sure, do NOT go with young women. I’m only attracted to young women, I don’t know why. And I’m not the most normal person in the world and I drive them mad a little bit.
My inspiration is like my battle against women. They love me so much they want to kill me...